Young ATG v Older ATG as it relates to current tennis

#1
Elsewhere, Tennis Hands posted a detailed list of young v old ATGs. (With incorrect data which I have corrected in the list below).

It allows us to get to the heart of the matter as it relates to current players. The claim often made is that the age difference between Federer and his main rivals is one of the key reasons for his losing H2H record.

The age difference between the players is:

Federer-Nadal = 4 years 10 months

Federer -Djokovic = 5 years 9 months

What happens if we look at Tennis Hands list -focusing on ATGs exclusively from the Open Era with similar age gaps -between 4 and 6 years.

Lendl (born 1960) vs Wilander (born 1964) 15-7
McEnroe (born 1959) vs Wilander (born 1964) 7-6
Lendl (born 1960) vs Edberg (born 1966) 13-14
Edberg (born 1966) vs Agassi (born 1970) 3-6
Edberg (born 1966) vs Sampras (born 1971) 6-8
Wilander (born 1964) vs Agassi (born 1970) 2-5
Becker (born 1967) vs Sampras (born 1971) 7-12

An interesting fact emerges. The H2H corresponds to the generally accepted rankings in ATG lists in 6 out of the 7 cases, regardless of age:

Lendl > Wilander,
McEnroe > Wilander,
Agassi > Edberg,
Sampras > Edberg,
Agassi > Wilander,
Sampras > Becker.

(The outlier is Lendl v Edberg where it is generally accepted that Lendl > Edberg. The 13-14 (4-5 in slams) H2H is very close however. The 5th set tie-break in their final meeting would have swung things the other way.)

So, in all but one (incredibly tight) case in the history of open tennis, the H2H results between ATGs with a 4-6 year age gap reflect the accepted all-time standing of the players involved, regardless of age.

Yet, in the current game we are suddenly asked to accept a further two exceptions.

Federer (born 1981) vs Nadal (born 1986) 15-23
Federer (born 1981) vs Djokovic (born 1987) 22-25

Is this reasonable? Or do the current players results actually accord with the evidence of the previous data? If not, what explains the shift?

Footnote:
If we focus only on players with a similar 4-5 year age gap to Federer-Nadal the Lendl-Edberg anomaly disappears altogether. The winner of the H2H count is considered the greater player in all cases, regardless of age.
Why does Federer-Nadal break the pattern, if it does?

Thanks for all serious replies.
 

Druss

Hall of Fame
#6
Federer and Djokovic played on average 3 times more than the others on that list. Had Fed retired say at 31 (end of 2012) which is the average retiring age of those ATGs, what would the H2H between them be?

PS: Why did you leave out Connors?
 
#7
This really boils down to Federer just being so good. It's the same argument as with clay, had Federer failed to reach so many finals on clay like the third tier Sampras, his H2H against Nadal would appear a lot better.

Same thing with playing so long and continuing to reach finals in old age, had he retired early like the third tier Sampras, Federer would have a positive H2H against Djokovic and much more even with Nadal.
 
#9
I think we all put too much weight behind H2H. Especially anyone who uses it to further an agenda.

If the older player loses: "Who cares? He was old!"
If the younger player loses: "Who cares? He was a baby!"
If the H2H is skewed to a more preferred surface: "Surface specialist can't go far on the other surfaces!"
If the other player mentions an injury or illness: "Last match didn't count because of illness or injury!"
If after all of this H2H is still not equal: "Bad matchup/H2H doesn't matter in the first place."

H2H will never be agreed upon as a criterion because anyone that wants H2H to count is likely doing so in order to skew the GOAT debate in favor of their favorite. The opposite is true for those that don't want H2H to count.
 
#11
Federer and Djokovic played on average 3 times more than the others on that list. Had Fed retired say at 31 (end of 2012) which is the average retiring age of those ATGs, what would the H2H between them be?

PS: Why did you leave out Connors?
Connors age differences didn't fit the criteria.
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
#12
Federer and Djokovic played on average 3 times more than the others on that list. Had Fed retired say at 31 (end of 2012) which is the average retiring age of those ATGs, what would the H2H between them be?
Spencer Gore obviously doesn't like facts that go against his nice & neat little theory.

Like the fact that Edberg:Lendl slightly favors Edberg since in 27 matches they never played on Lendl's best surface (clay).

Or likewise the fact that the Fed:Nadal H2H might favor Nadal since they have disproportionately played so much on Nadal's best surface (15 matches).

Or the fact that Fed's longevity has reduced his H2H numbers against younger rivals (as you pointed out), since he has played so many matches past his obvious prime years.
 
#13
The OP's data analysis is incomplete and naïve. First, he fails to take notice that many of the rivalries he mentions went on for shorter periods of time than what we've seen with The Big Three, so age differences were less magnified by extremes of what stage of career the player was in. Lendl and WIlander, for example, played all their matches in the relatively brief period from 1985 to 1990, and McEnroe and Wilander played all of theirs in the similarly brief period from 1983 to 1989. Second, looking more closely at each rivalry reveals what are likely meaningful age factors. For example, Wilander won his first 2 of his 7 matches against Agassi, then lost the next 5 when he had become older and Agassi had become more proficient, we assume
 
#18
In, 5 out of 7 of those cases, the younger player still has the advantage over the older player, and the Fed h2hs simply follow this trend. It's not actually inconsistent with @Tennis_Hands data, except his data is more complete.

There are quite a few cases in the original data where an older player who is equally great or greater has a losing h2h vs the younger player which simply didn't fit your criteria:
McEnroe (born 1959) vs Becker (born 1967) 2-8
Connors (born 1952) vs McEnroe (born 1959) 14-20
Connors (born 1952) vs Lendl (born 1960) 13-22
Wilander (born 1964) vs Becker (born 1967) 3-7
 
#19
This really boils down to Federer just being so good. It's the same argument as with clay, had Federer failed to reach so many finals on clay like the third tier Sampras, his H2H against Nadal would appear a lot better.
Yes, because the evidence completely points to that conclusion:

AO: Rafa 3 - 1 Rafa
WIM: 2 - 1 Fed
USO: No meeting

H2H other than RG: 4 - 3 Rafa

Considering that, it is probably lucky for Fed that they didn't meet more often.
 

Lew II

Hall of Fame
#20
I don't think the past can tell much to analyse present or future. Current tennis is very different from 50, 20, 10 years ago.

Last 10 slam winners were all 31+ years old, while in the previous 164 slams (since UO 1975) it had happened only 3 times (Connors UO83, Sampras UO02, Agassi AO03).
 
Last edited:
#21
15 of the Nadal-Fed matches have been on clay.

Lendl and Edberg never played on clay.

Do you think Edberg would still have a winning record against Lendl if they had played 15 matches on clay instead of grass/hardcourt/carpet? :)
OP pointed out that Lendl vs Edberg is the outlier. If you rightfully point out that Lendl would most likely lead had they played more on clay this actually further strengthens OPs argument.
 
Last edited:
#22
Federer and Djokovic played on average 3 times more than the others on that list. Had Fed retired say at 31 (end of 2012) which is the average retiring age of those ATGs, what would the H2H between them be?

PS: Why did you leave out Connors?
That is completely true and this is why the Djokovic lead over Federer doesn’t mean much in my opinion. However the Nadal H2H cannot be explained by this.
 
#23
In, 5 out of 7 of those cases, the younger player still has the advantage over the older player, and the Fed h2hs simply follow this trend. It's not actually inconsistent with @Tennis_Hands data, except his data is more complete.

There are quite a few cases in the original data where an older player who is equally great or greater has a losing h2h vs the younger player which simply didn't fit your criteria:
McEnroe (born 1959) vs Becker (born 1967) 2-8
Connors (born 1952) vs McEnroe (born 1959) 14-20
Connors (born 1952) vs Lendl (born 1960) 13-22
Wilander (born 1964) vs Becker (born 1967) 3-7
it is at least debatable whether wilander is really considered greater than Becker. I would say most habe them at least equal if not Becker ahead. The Wimbledon vs AO plays a huge role here. The other examples don’t fit the age difference criteria applied by OP.
 

Tennis_Hands

Talk Tennis Guru
#24
it is at least debatable whether wilander is really considered greater than Becker. I would say most habe them at least equal if not Becker ahead. The Wimbledon vs AO plays a huge role here. The other examples don’t fit the age difference criteria applied by OP.
The H2Hs between older and younger ATGs are not a direct measure of greatness.

They are instrumental in showing the importance of age on the rivalries.

The OP doesn't have a clue what he is up to. His argument reeks.

:cool:
 

ABCD

Hall of Fame
#26
Elsewhere, Tennis Hands posted a detailed list of young v old ATGs. (With incorrect data which I have corrected in the list below).

It allows us to get to the heart of the matter as it relates to current players. The claim often made is that the age difference between Federer and his main rivals is one of the key reasons for his losing H2H record.

The age difference between the players is:

Federer-Nadal = 4 years 10 months

Federer -Djokovic = 5 years 9 months

What happens if we look at Tennis Hands list -focusing on ATGs exclusively from the Open Era with similar age gaps -between 4 and 6 years.

Lendl (born 1960) vs Wilander (born 1964) 15-7
McEnroe (born 1959) vs Wilander (born 1964) 7-6
Lendl (born 1960) vs Edberg (born 1966) 13-14
Edberg (born 1966) vs Agassi (born 1970) 3-6
Edberg (born 1966) vs Sampras (born 1971) 6-8
Wilander (born 1964) vs Agassi (born 1970) 2-5
Becker (born 1967) vs Sampras (born 1971) 7-12

An interesting fact emerges. The H2H corresponds to the generally accepted rankings in ATG lists in 6 out of the 7 cases, regardless of age:

Lendl > Wilander,
McEnroe > Wilander,
Agassi > Edberg,
Sampras > Edberg,
Agassi > Wilander,
Sampras > Becker.

(The outlier is Lendl v Edberg where it is generally accepted that Lendl > Edberg. The 13-14 (4-5 in slams) H2H is very close however. The 5th set tie-break in their final meeting would have swung things the other way.)

So, in all but one (incredibly tight) case in the history of open tennis, the H2H results between ATGs with a 4-6 year age gap reflect the accepted all-time standing of the players involved, regardless of age.

Yet, in the current game we are suddenly asked to accept a further two exceptions.

Federer (born 1981) vs Nadal (born 1986) 15-23
Federer (born 1981) vs Djokovic (born 1987) 22-25

Is this reasonable? Or do the current players results actually accord with the evidence of the previous data? If not, what explains the shift?

Footnote:
If we focus only on players with a similar 4-5 year age gap to Federer-Nadal the Lendl-Edberg anomaly disappears altogether. The winner of the H2H count is considered the greater player in all cases, regardless of age.
Why does Federer-Nadal break the pattern, if it does?

Thanks for all serious replies.
Good thread.
 
#27
The H2Hs between older and younger ATGs are not a direct measure of greatness.

They are instrumental in showing the importance of age on the rivalries.

The OP doesn't have a clue what he is up to. His argument reeks.

:cool:
When the stats are made specific to the current age difference situation rather than your scattergun approach (elsewhere you compare a 4 year 10 month age gap between Fed-Nadal to the 17 year 10 month age cap between Borg-Laver-which is absurd, in my opinion) they reveal that talent, rather than age appears to be the determining factor. With Federer's H2Hs as a strange exception-according to some people.
 

Tennis_Hands

Talk Tennis Guru
#28
When the stats are made specific to the current age difference situation rather than your scattergun approach (elsewhere you compare a 4 year 10 month age gap between Fed-Nadal to the 17 year 10 month age cap between Borg-Laver-which is absurd, in my opinion) they reveal that talent, rather than age appears to be the determining factor. With Federer's H2Hs as a strange exception-according to some people.
Quote where I "compared" 17 y 10 m difference to 4 y 10 m difference.

:cool:
 
#31
it is at least debatable whether wilander is really considered greater than Becker. I would say most habe them at least equal if not Becker ahead. The Wimbledon vs AO plays a huge role here. The other examples don’t fit the age difference criteria applied by OP.
If you read my post I did say that the older player is either greater or equally great. I also said my examples didn't fit his criteria. When you have a list as small as ATG tennis players, narrowing it down further through the OP's criteria decreases statistical power. I prefer Tennis Hands' data which encompasses all ATG rivalries between younger and older players. If you saw his original thread, he had a master list composed of 37 ATG h2hs with a smaller subset composed of 12 ATG h2hs as opposed to the 7 listed here.
 
#32
Quote me, or you are putting words in my mouth.

:cool:
I would happily quote you but someone (a friend of yours?) deleted the thread. You claim to have saved the thread so feel free to quote yourself. You even included a full video presentation of Borg v Laver if I recall? You could re-post that?

Anyway, I'm doing you a favour by using that example. The original list that you introduced to argue your case included 19 year age-gaps, which you then narrowed to 10 years.

I would say my amended list focusing on players sharing the same 4-6 year age gap between Federer-Nadal and Federer-Djokovic was a much more objective and fair approach than using a 19 year age gap (or even 10 years) -but you are free to disagree.
 
#33
If you read my post I did say that the older player is either greater or equally great. I also said my examples didn't fit his criteria. When you have a list as small as ATG tennis players, narrowing it down further through the OP's criteria decreases statistical power. I prefer Tennis Hands' data which encompasses all ATG rivalries between younger and older players. If you saw his original thread, he had a master list composed of 37 ATG h2hs with a smaller subset composed of 12 ATG h2hs as opposed to the 7 listed here.
You think matches between players with a 19 year age difference can be compared to matches between players with a 4 year 10 month age difference?

I don't. I much prefer matching criteria.
 
#34
I see cherries. Cherries everywhere.

And a lot of them are with huge worms in them.

:cool:
i think we should officialy rename them "lewberries"... there's a nice ring to it :)


EDIT
oh crap... just realized those were spencerberries ! :oops:
both look awfully similar... and taste similarly bitter ;)
(both are very appreciated by worms, though)
 
Last edited:

Tennis_Hands

Talk Tennis Guru
#35
I would happily quote you but someone (a friend of yours?) deleted the thread. You claim to have saved the thread so feel free to quote yourself. You even included a full video presentation of Borg v Laver if I recall? You could re-post that?

Anyway, I'm doing you a favour by using that example. The original list that you introduced to argue your case included 19 year age-gaps, which you then narrowed to 10 years.

I would say my amended list focusing on players sharing the same 4-6 year age gap between Federer-Nadal and Federer-Djokovic was a much more objective and fair approach than using a 19 year age gap (or even 10 years) -but you are free to disagree.
Where is your quote?

Do you have anything at all?

:cool:
 
#38
Where is your quote?

Do you have anything at all?

:cool:
Hard to quote from a deleted thread.

But one of your counter examples in my thread about the age gap between Fed/Nadal/Djokovic was Borg v Laver. I thought you had to be joking as Borg and Laver were never considered to be contemporary rivals and the difference between Federer-Nadals's 4 years and 10 months and Borg -Laver's 17 years and 10 months seemed so extreme, but it turned out you were serious.

If it helps you mentioned it in another thread:

Tennis Hands:
"I gave you at least three other examples (one from an article from NY Times, One from a Commentary made by Pancho Gonzales and Kirby, and one from a match between Laver and Borg, (which you tried to brush aside with the comment that they are not considered contemporaries)"

Does that clear it up for you?
 

Tennis_Hands

Talk Tennis Guru
#39
Hard to quote from a deleted thread.

But one of your counter examples in my thread about the age gap between Fed/Nadal/Djokovic was Borg v Laver. I thought you had to be joking as Borg and Laver were never considered to be contemporary rivals and the difference between Federer-Nadals's 4 years and 10 months and Borg -Laver's 17 years and 10 months seemed so extreme, but it turned out you were serious.

If it helps you mentioned it in another thread:

Tennis Hands:
"I gave you at least three other examples (one from an article from NY Times, One from a Commentary made by Pancho Gonzales and Kirby, and one from a match between Laver and Borg, (which you tried to brush aside with the comment that they are not considered contemporaries)"

Does that clear it up for you?
No, because nothing in what you wrote suggests what you claim.

Where is the proof for your claim?

:cool:
 
#40
No, because nothing in what you wrote suggests what you claim.

Where is the proof for your claim?

:cool:
Your own words provide absolute and final proof. In a thread about the age difference of Federer v Nadal (4 years 10 months) and Federer v Djokovic (5 years 9 months) you used Borg v Laver (17 years 10 months) as a counter example.

Again:
"I gave you at least three other examples...one from a match between Laver and Borg, (which you tried to brush aside with the comment that they are not considered contemporaries)"

If you refuse to accept a direct quote from one of your own posts as proof there's little I can do to help you.

But I'll have to move on. I prefer more constructive debates and relevant examples than using 17 and 19 year age gaps. But thanks for your contribution.
 
#41
You think matches between players with a 19 year age difference can be compared to matches between players with a 4 year 10 month age difference?

I don't. I much prefer matching criteria.
You're nitpicking. Connors h2hs bring up some absurd age gaps because of his long career, so feel free to take them out. Laver wasn't even there in his original thread. You'd still be left with a better and more statistically significant sample size composed of 30 or so h2hs.

And 5 of your 7 h2hs support the conclusion that the younger player has the advantage and is consistent with Tennis Hands' findings. You didn't actually disprove him.
 

Tennis_Hands

Talk Tennis Guru
#43
Your own words provide absolute and final proof. In a thread about the age difference of Federer v Nadal (4 years 10 months) and Federer v Djokovic (5 years 9 months) you used Borg v Laver (17 years 10 months) as a counter example.

Again:
"I gave you at least three other examples...one from a match between Laver and Borg, (which you tried to brush aside with the comment that they are not considered contemporaries)"

If you refuse to accept a direct quote from one of your own posts as proof there's little I can do to help you.

But I'll have to move on. I prefer more constructive debates and relevant examples than using 17 and 19 year age gaps. But thanks for your contribution.
This quote doesn't prove what you claim.

You claimed that I "compared" them.

Where is the quote that proves that I "compared" them?

:cool:
 
#45
You're nitpicking. Connors h2hs bring up some absurd age gaps because of his long career, so feel free to take them out. Laver wasn't even there in his original thread. You'd still be left with a better and more statistically significant sample size composed of 30 or so h2hs.

And 5 of your 7 h2hs support the conclusion that the younger player has the advantage and is consistent with Tennis Hands' findings. You didn't actually disprove him.
As I said. You and Tennis Hands might think 10 year and 19 year age gaps from the past have any relevance to the Federer-Nadal age difference debate.

I don't.

Just a difference of opinion.
 
#50
True, but it also points out that H2H is very surface-dependent, which the OP is conveniently ignoring when it comes to Federer:Nadal...
To be honest the surface argument is not as relevant as you might think for the Nadal Federer rivalry. They played 15 times on clay, 3 times on grass and 20 times on HC, which actually reflects more or less the surface distribution on tour. Sure it is a little clay skewed in comparison to HC, as the clay matches are 75% of the HC matches even though HC is represented to a larger extent on tour. However, if we dig a little deeper, we will find out, that they played 6 times on indoor hard and 14 times on outdoor hard, so while indoor is quite accurately represented it is outdoor hard where they actually did not meet as often as they should have if we consider surface distribution on tour (they met one time less on outdoor hard than on clay even though there are considerably more tournaments played there). The point is, on outdoor hard Nadal is actually leading Fed with 8-6 and this was even worse before Fed improved a little during the last couple of years. So while it is of course hypothetical, the indications we have point in the direction, that even if they had met a couple of times less on clay and a couple of times more often on outdoor hard auch that their meetings would accurately reflect surface distribution Nadal would still comfortably lead the H2H. Sorry, but IMHO this cannot be discussed away with the surface and clay skewed arguments, given their respective achievements on that surface Federer has no business trailing Nadal on outdoor hard. I agree however, that the Djokovic Federer H2H is a completely different topic, which entirely follows the usual pattern that the older ATG dominated the younger one at the beginning while the younger caught up later on. The only reason Djokovic is leading in the end is due to the fact, that there were more matches with him having the age advantage than vice versa.
 
Top