A little update on the actual tennis from my end.

Japan.  Love Stan preparing for this last big stretch of HC.  The next few weeks should be loaded with victory and death.

Nick Kyrgios

Japan has a huge draw. Stan, Paire, Kyrgios, Cilic, Simon, Nishikori, et al.  Paire has been playing well for months, it seems, but I see Kyrgios getting by him for a huge match v Cilic/Nishikori. Big time tennis. Here’s what I’m seeing: Kyrgios is going to win Japan and based on his game in general, along with a bit of what I saw today (watch it: Roger-like snappy forehand, Djokovic backhand along with 6’4″ great athleticism) – the fact that he’s back in the game after that little controversy, feasting on the mediocrity, he is coming.  With decent trajectory, he will be winning big big tournaments soon.  Athlete and big, deep guns.  Stan v Kyrgios will be huge (then again, if that sneaky Frenchman beats him in the next match, ha, I guess I wouldn’t be terribly surprised, nor if he got beat in the SF or to hard charging Stan in the F). So did I just shit on everything I just said?

Very tough draw in Japan, couple of guys could win that thing.  But Kyrgios is the future if he grows-up and gets his shit together.  He’s the next level.  Rog and now Djokovic have brought the game to a very high-level – the GOAT all surface, all-court tennis.  But it must keep progressing.  Kyrgios looked absolutely comfortable as hell on the court.  He’s the next.

China is the annual Djokovic trip to Beijing?  He owns the place. Nadal, of course, is in the draw with a pretty clear pass to the SF (Tsonga loss helps) though Jack Sock and, potentially, Fognini are in the way.  Go Jack Sock.  Control your game, deep breaths.  You can beat Nadal.

Djokovic is hitting the ball so well, from both sides.  I watched some of his Zhang match.  Big rallies, great hitting. Djokovic looks so efficient, so solid.  Ball is so deep on his opponent.  And no one can hit with him.  Good luck with that. With all of the hoopla going down now about Novak over Roger, I saw both SF in person at Indian Wells (Novak/Murray and Roger/Raonic).  Roger made cream cheese out of Raonic who had just EMBARRASSED Nadal in the QF.  Roger looked perfect for March.  Djokovic toyed with Murray.

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

But Djokovic was on an entirely different level.  In the final, Roger won the 2nd set TB to get the place into a frothing heap of tennis orgy, but Djokovic more or less routined him: 63 67 62.

China Update: I just watched Nadal v Sock.  Sock looked good early, securing an early break in the first and holding on for 1-0. Then Nadal returned the favor in the second set.  Sock had opportunities to break back but the Spanish Magician spun his little spell on the clumsy American.  Too bad.  I was rooting for Sock to make a move here and establish some confidence against a very beatable Nadal.  Problem is they’re very similar type players, meaning not as much upside for the American.  Poor court positioning, practically on or behind the baseline “Beijing” court sign during rallies.  Not good.  Both players flirted with this strategic dilemma and Nadal actually looked better once he moved forward, became a little more offensive in his play.

But he’s just not the same player.  He doesn’t have the speed or the strength.  Go figure.  Weak serve and his backhand now finds the bottom of the net regularly.  Fun to listen to the announcers try to rationalize this fall from grace for the dopey Spaniard.  They want to talk about confidence, sustaining form, blah blah blah.

Meanwhile, Nadal continues to glance frenetically at Toni throughout the match.  Doesn’t look good.  Not sure what’s going on there, but doesn’t look good.

Speaking of not looking good. Here’s a link to an older blog where I posted a video I took tonight during the changeover between the 2nd and 3rd sets.  Listen to Lindsay Davenport and Paul Annacone try to make sense of whatever Nadal is ingesting there in his chair.  Looks suspicious.  Sure, it’s probably not steroids, but the guy is a wizard, a magician.  He’s been fooling tennis for years (I couldn’t upload the file to this blog, which is why I’m sending you to my old one. Just watch the video.  It’s hilarious).

Nadal Taking Drugs. Lol.

And unfortunately, I have another Nadal post up my sleeve.  So, between some comments on Japan and China, stay tuned for that!

Japan Update: Benoit Paire continues to play well.  I did say I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if the Frenchman beat Kyrgios.  Kyrgios up 1-0 (6-3) and then pretty much dismissed.  Keep battling, Kyrgios.  I still like your game, a lot.

In addition, Nishikori, who is very tough on that court, was still very impressive in his 3 set win over Cilic.  Cilic looked very good in the first set.  Hats off, Mr. Nishikori.

Yep, I’m Fed Up With This Crap

Aside from the blow-smoke-up-Rafa’s-ass line of reasoning that I’m all done with and hope to burn to the ground, the Roger-is-a-mental-midget crap is getting thrown-out the backdoor, too.  Keep in mind, the latter is very much fueled by the former.  Indeed, Rafa’s bloated legacy offers life-support to the amateur punditry that, in some cases, demoralizes Roger’s legacy.  This is ridiculous, this is bananaland.

The people that peddle this Roger-as-damaged-goods prayer are hopeless.


To clarify: his consistency is used against him.

Couple of fun facts regarding this consistency (that has exposed him to loss, i.e., he didn’t duck tournaments or seasons or entire years):

A man has won 40 or more consecutive matches at a grand slam tournament three times.  Roger has done it twice and he did so at two different grand slams (Wimby and USO).

I know you all know this: he has the record for most consecutive grand slam finals played with 10.  He also has the second most consecutive major finals played with 8.  Two different streaks.  That’s consistency and I say all of this only to clarify the exposure, the vulnerability of the man.  He lost some big matches?  Really?  He was in several year after year after year, Einstein

Another stat that everyone’s heard: Roger leads for most consecutive SF at a grand slam (23) and consecutive QF at a grand slam (36).

There are, as you know, other perhaps more impressive numbers, but the point here and now is to clarify the man’s consistency that is OVERLOOKED for some reason.  We’re not even talking about 2015, when at 34 he’s the only guy around to give Novak a legitimate challenge.  Yet, somehow this works against the guy.  Bananas.

That’s the source of the the anti-Fed argument.  That and his H2H with Nadal, which we’ve already determined is rhinoceros turd.

What critics of Roger point to are these seemingly huge matches later in his career, where he crumbled under the pressure and left the court with his tail between his legs.  French Opens, Aussie Open 2009, US Open 2009, and throw-in a few SF, where he had match points vs. Djokovic, or the Wimby 2011 QF loss to Tsonga where he was up 2-0, cruising toward a 7th title.  As if Roger is the only one who has lost big matches.  But again, these Federer trolls insist his armor has cracked too many times.  He’s under indictment.  His legacy is tarnished blah blah blah.

But again, it is so commonly overlooked that he was in those positions to lose.  He made those finals.  He battled through those draws with such class and consistency he was bound to come-up short on occasion.  That’s the story.  You win some, you lose some.  Anything beyond that is a twisted inferior logic writing a broken agenda of some combination of resentment, love loss and special needs.

I myself have acknowledged that Roger’s 2009 AO final v Nadal was putrid.  He should not have lost that match.  Nadal was beaten down from a 5+ hour SF v Verdasco.  Roger was cruising.  He was in command of the tour, still.  That was Rafa’s single AO title.  Maybe he was eating his spinach and Wheaties like a good boy, along with whatever master Toni sprinkled on top.

The argument goes this was the most devastating loss and Roger could never recover.  Something along those lines. Well, let’s gather a little perspective.

In January of 2009, Roger entered the Aussie Open coming off his fifth straight U.S. Open title.  Historically, we know his reign of dominance was coming to an end, but for the sake of the morons claiming that the 2009 AO was the end of Roger, let’s, again, turn to the results.

He lost that devastating 2009 AO to his nemesis.  What happened after that?  Was he finished?  Did he crawl into his hole?  Nope.  He won the French Open just a few months later.  Indeed.  After that, he won Wimbledon for a sixth time. After his devastating loss to Nadal at the AO, he won the next two majors.  What about the 2009 U.S. Open?  We recall a devastating loss in the final that year to Mr. Del Potro.  Terrible loss, sure.  But think about that year, 2009.  He made all four grand slam finals.  He had two tough losses and won two.  The losses to Nadal and Del Potro seem to resonate a bit more than his FO/Wimby back-to-back.  I would say this shows a bit of mental strength, don’t you?  He choked against Nadal?  Choked against D Po?  He made all four finals and won two!  Get a hold of yourself.

Oh, and what did he do after that devastating loss to D Po at the 2009 USO?  He won the next major, his fourth AO (2010) four months later.  Seems like the guy bounced back pretty well from these horrific losses.  He made all four finals!  Five in a row if you count the 2010 AO.  He was 3-2 in those five finals (actually, if you keep going back, he was in practically every final back through ’08 – ’04).  You don’t really want to open the can of worms on this kind of stuff because these petty little arguments like Roger couldn’t recover once Nadal arrived, Nadal owned him, etc., get flushed down the toilet when you really look at the numbers.

After Nadal beat Roger in that ’09 AO, he lost to Soderling at the FO (HUGE upset).  At 2009 Wimby Nadal, #1 seed, withdrew.  Lol.  At the 2009 USO Nadal got straighted 222 by D Po in the SF.  Roger lost to D Po in an incredible five-setter.  Nadal had a shitty ’09.  But that’s not what the marquee says.  It says Nadal embarrassed Roger at the AO.  This is total insanity.  At the 2010 AO, where Roger triumphed, Nadal retired v Murray in the QF.  Is it just me, or is this just a huge misunderstanding?  Nadal is like a magician and the TSQ (tennis status quo) is bunch of suckers.  Wake up!

An acquaintance of mine, and I’ve fathomed this before, has talked pretty extensively of players/their camps/tournament directors fixing tournament draws, avoiding certain match-ups, etc.  I already wrote about this kind of thing recently at Montreal, this past summer.  Nadal’s draw was a joke.  You knew the powers-that-be wanted to get him into the later rounds.  Here’s food for thought: what’s more plausible, his form is so crap that he did actually get routined by Nishikori in the QF, or he took a dive to avoid damaging that that ever important H2H with the big 4?  Comedy central, folks.

A couple of draws that look hilarious:

2013 U.S. Open.  Nadal #2 has #4 in his half (Ferrer).  His QF, SF is Robredo, Ferrer and Gasquet.  Straight-sets through to the final.  Djokovic #1 has #3 Murray in his half and has to deal with Murray, Wawrinka and Youzhny.  Stan takes him 5 in the SF.

My source reminded me that almost ALWAYS Roger and Novak were put on the same half of the draw, so Nadal had a much easier route to the final.  Look for yourself.  It’s uncanny.

Lastly, how about this great end of the draw at the French in 2012.  In the top half at the QF you have Djokovic/Tsonga Federer/Del Potro. Roger goes down 0-2 To D Po and then hits him with a 203 steam-roll.  But that was a tough five-setter. He loses to Djokovic in the SF.  Djokovic, it should be noted, went five with Tsonga.  Tough top half.

The bottom half at the QF is Ferrer/Murray Almagro/Nadal.  Needlesstosay, Nadal waltzed to the Final.  Game over.

Folks, this all just an exercise in love and reality.  Keep it real out there.

Let Me Finish Rafa

Too much delay in writing, especially when I return to talk again of Nadal.  My job has kept me more than enough busy though I have been reading, of course, and as far as Nadal goes, I’ve had it.  Do you know that expression?  It might be quite American, more a dialect of sorts.  It means enough is enough.  Rafael Nadal needs to go away now.

I wrote about his H2H with Federer, how big of a piece of bullshit that remains. The comments and other discussions on the matter, to go along with what is happening in our current time and place, make quite clear that he’s a genuine fraud and has utterly made a mess of professional men’s tennis.  It’s too much.  There’s too much similarity in terms of sport impact between what he’s done to the numbers and statistics in tennis and what steroids have done to baseball in America. The numbers no longer have the same meaning.  Roger Maris’ 61 homerun season and Hank Aaron’s 755 career homerun mark were sport royalty.  That is a sport that revolves around such benchmarks.  Baseball is notoriously built on those kinds of records.  Steroids (Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds, to name ONLY a few) have lit a kind of dumpster fire around baseball and its historically meaningful numbers.

Tennis is similar, in a way.  And what Nadal did was blasphemous.  A clay court schmuck in the tradition of Gaston Gaudio, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Albert Costa and Carlos Moya has won nine French Opens and was able to make similar impact on other clay courts, as well as wreak havoc on other major surfaces.  It’s all been a sham.  He’s a fraud.

I presented some perspective on the H2H with Roger.  Others offered additional insight in the comments and, of course, this is not the only realism on Nadal to be found.

But what I did not address is his current tennis.  Indeed, most of us look only at his past and attempt to make sense of that.  We can go blow by blow, so to speak, with that 23-10 and see more evidence of fraud.

They start off 1-1 on HC (Miami) but Nadal beats him in the SF of FO.  The following year Nadal beat him in 3 clay court finals and Roger beat him at Wimby and the year end Masters Cup.  Record is 6-3, Nadal.  The following year, 3-2 Roger, where he beat him at Hamburg, Wimbledon and Masters Cup, again.  The H2H is 8-6.  And SEVEN of the matches were on clay.  2008 was tough on Roger as Nadal won all three clay court meetings and overcame Roger at Wimby.

12-6 is the record at this point, yet 10 of the matches were on clay.  That’s just to reiterate the heavy discrepancy of said joke of a H2H.

Roger routinely cleared draws no matter the surface, no matter the season.  Nadal failing to advance in other tournaments, on other surfaces somehow escapes the discussion.  Hell, even Nadal acknowledged Roger’s clay prowess: “He’s (Federer) a fantastic player, claycourt player,” Nadal said. “You know, a player who was able to play 2006, 2007, 2008, rafael-nadalfinals, then winning 2009, and then playing the final again 2011, semifinals 2005, you know, I don’t see a lot of players that have been in all that final rounds of French Open in a row, so that says that Roger is one of the best claycourt players of the history probably.”

But people, supposed learned tennis fans, only see Nadal’s dominance (of Roger).  And, yes, we’re not even going to talk about the other surfaces, I promise (oh, I did?  My bad).

Nadal’s current demise is just icing on the cake.  Have you any idea of where his tennis stands at this point?  Sure it’s pretty impressive (ly bad), but are people talking about it enough? I’m not so sure.  Some astute fans have pointed to the blood passport as having a significant impact on drug use in many sports, including professional tennis.  This seems to almost coincide with the Spaniard’s tennis court difficulties that have progressed pretty severely. His 2015 has been awful and his recent Thai exhibition with Novak only highlights how fundamentally flawed is his game (along with how sharp Djokovic is at this point).  He’s 29 and looks just terrible.

I see a recent article that talks of a potential coaching change for Nadal.  This quote is quite tonal in terms of the Nadal patriarchy: “I think you need to ask Rafael,” Toni Nadal told AFP about the prospect of hiring another coach. “But we have a group and I’m the coach of Rafael forever, since Rafael was three years old… and things were always good for us. It’s true that this year he’s going a little down but I am sure the comeback of Rafael is coming soon. Maybe if next year Rafael is playing not too good, then I think he can think about some changes in his game or in his team.”

I think you have to ask Rafael speaks volumes if you ask me.  I almost feel bad for the over-rated #7 in the world.

This brings us to this final HC season leading to the WTF in London.  Some big tournaments are underway (can’t wait to see how the big hitting Canadian Vasek Pospisil challenges Nadal in the 2R in China).

Djokovic and Federer should, again, lead the ATP parade as the men finish a great year.  But please keep your eyes on the Spaniard.  His flounder needs multiple opinions.  And any resurgence must be viewed under intense scrutiny. Please use all manners and resources of common sense to calculate a more equitable H2H if Nadal happens to continue his premature departures from these highly competitive and meaningful tournaments.  Remember, this has been happening for years.

If he can survive some of these early matches and lay claim to a spot in London, he will have a tough time fixing draws, avoiding early threats, or continuing to farcically build any legacy.  Looking forward to some hard, clean tennis.

Nadal v Federer Part Two

The Nadal/Federer H2H

Where does one begin with this positively over-hyped, misunderstood trivia? Well, we begin, of course at 23-10.

Before we begin, one of the main reasons I want to address this “issue” is how unanimous “everyone” seems to be, Federer fan and non-Federer fan alike, on how Nadal just owns Federer.  You, who so willingly want to shout this from the tennis mountain top, what’s your endgame?  What’s your point?  I have a problem with all of the hype surrounding it.  It’s over-valued, exaggerated, and used to reach unreal conclusions about tennis that seem to overlook so much data and eye-test and history and common sense.  But who needs all of that these days; it’s all about bias and marketing hype.

The Nadal/Federer H2H rolls off nearly everyone’s tongue, like a second language, like a conversation from some far off fantasy land.  Let’s re-visit reality, folks.

For starters, 23-10 is pretty decisive.  When the two have played against each other on the tennis court, Nadal has won more often than not.  As I pointed-out in Part I, these kinds of one-sided match-ups can seem more like a mis-match. This happens all the time, like I said, even when the one coming out on-top seemingly every time is an inferior talent. That’s just the way it plays sometimes.  That’s why they play the game.

In Part I, I clarified how the quality of their games (the skills, style and class) determines Roger to be a far superior talent historically (which is where we’re going here).

Roger’s game, as I clarified in Part I, translates to all surfaces of tennis whereas Nadal’s is suited primarily for clay. Roger’s sustainability on the court is enough of a statement to end this part of the mystery.

Take away clay and Nadal is probably following his other uncle into professional futbol. Without that clay-inspired confidence, he’d have almost zero relevance in the sport of tennis.  Get that through your heads.  Nadal’s “mental fortitude” comes from his clay success.  Sure, he’s a great athlete and a brilliant fighter, but to have the success and the relative longevity he’s had, he’s needed clay.  As I said, the Nadal camp realized they owned Roland Garros and that was it, which is not nothing, I admit – it’s a fairly common surface on the tour, a surface of one of the four majors, etc.  But that’s all they had.  Indeed, they chipped away at the other surfaces, starting with grass, progressing to hard courts. Nadal has made a great career for himself.  But it is what it is.  He’s a glorified clay courter who has faired very well against Federer, primarily on clay.

It’s not necessarily when they faced each other, but when they did not.

Here’s a quick run down of when they faced-off:  2004-2005: Rafa 2-1 (In ’04 17 y/o Rafa beats #1 Fed in Miami 3R; Rog beats him in the Miami final in ’05. Rafa then beats Roger in ’05 FO SF).  2006: Rafa 4-2 (Rafa ends Rog’s 56 HC streak at Dubai, then beats Roger at Monte Carlo, Rome and FO, all finals.  Roger then wins Wimbledon and the SF of the Masters Cup). 2007: Roger 3-2 (Rafa wins at Monte Carlo and FO, but Roger ends Nadal’s 81 clay win streak in Hamburg – again, all finals.  Roger wins Wimbledon and the Masters Cup, as well). 2008: Rafa 4-0 (Again, three clay finals all going to Rafa and then he breaks through at Wimbledon). 2009: 1-1 (Nadal beats Roger in the Aussie Open final, his first HC major.  Roger beats him at the Madrid Masters, breaking another of Nadal’s clay streaks.  This sets-up Roger’s FO win against Soderling). 2010: 1-1 (Nadal wins Madrid and Roger wins the ATP tour finals). 2011: Rafa 3-1. 2012: 1-1. 2013: Rafa 4-0. 2014: Rafa 1-0.

Let’s see now: 23-10.  You already know what I’m going to say about the clay.  Rafa is 13-2 vs. Roger on clay.  In my opinion, that’s a pretty significant number that undermines the over-all H2H quite a bit. Rafa gets a lot of credit for the over-all H2H and his dominance of the clay. We’ll get to Roger’s surface dominance later, but what about the nature of the these players’ H2H?

Remember how Rafa burst onto the scene and won four straight FO?  He played Roger in three of those finals, ’06 – ’08 (they played in the ’05 SF). Rafa played him again in the 2011 final. In ’05 Roger was #1, ’06 they were #1 and #2, ’07 same, ’08 same.  In 2011, Nadal was #1 and Roger #3, but we all remember that bitter sweet SF in which Roger beat Novak in four sets. Why bitter sweet?  Because we knew Nadal had Roger’s number on clay, and we were excited to see the Serb challenge Nadal.

BUT the point here is that in terms of the H2H, Roger got himself to those Finals (and SF) to be feasted upon by the dominant clay courter (Roger’s major SF and F appearance numbers are staggeringly historical).  Rafa owned the clay, not Roger.  But Roger at least got to those finals.  This absolutely pads the H2H.  And think of the effect all of this has on Roger’s psyche vs. Rafa.

For shits and giggles, let’s look at some of the other majors that were being contested during that time. Remember, the French Open is not the only tennis grand slam tournament.  In fact it’s #3 or #4 in terms of tennis prestige.

During Rafa’s first French Open run, what was happening at Wimbledon? Roger won in ’03 – ’07. In ’05 Nadal was a 4th seed, but bowed out in the 2R.  In ’06 and ’07 Nadal was #2, made the final and Roger beat him though Nadal did overcome the Swiss in ’08.  Of course Roger has a 2-1 lead over Nadal on the grass.  Roger won again in ’09 where Nadal was the #1 seed, but he withdrew. In 2012, Roger’s last Wimbledon title, Nadal was #2 but lost in the 2R to Lukas Rosol. Insignificant numbers?

What was happening at the U.S. Open during this stretch?  Roger won in ’04 – ’08.  In 2005 Roger and Nadal were #1 and #2, Nadal out in the 3R.  In 2006 #1 and #2, Nadal out in the QF. In 2007 1 & 2, Nadal out in the 4R.  In 2008 Nadal actually #1, Roger #2, Nadal out in the SF.

In the Aussie Open, Roger’s ’07 and ’10 victories again have the two at #1 and #2, but Rafa fails to reach the finals.

Here’s my point, and the numbers bear this out: Sure Rafa has dominated Roger in majors, but Roger’s consistency put him in those FO finals to be beaten by the all-time clay court player. Roger was dominating the other three majors, essentially simultaneously, but Rafa was never around on those surfaces to build a more reliable, realistic H2H.  Rafa had to fail miserably on the other surfaces before finally breaking through in ’08 (grass), ’09 (AO – first HC), and ’10 (USO).

Simply giving Rafa all the credit in the world for beating Roger in those FO finals yet not factoring in the fact that Rafa was already sleeping in his own bed in Mallorca while Roger destroyed those other major finalists is ignorant.  You’re not a very astute tennis fan if you can’t put that together.  Oh (says the imposter tennis fan), if Rafa had made those finals he would have beaten Roger because he OWNS him.  Sure.

I can’t believe people overlook these numbers.  How many times was Rafa a #1 or #2 seed in a major OTHER than the French and he flamed out before facing the big boys?  Nine French Open titles.  Do the math.

I factored in only one withdraw above, I believe.  Rafa’s inconsistency can be stacked on-top of his inferiority on the other surfaces and, voila, you have yourself a whale of a case, Mr. Tennis Status Quo.  Roger’s consistency is remarkable (that has actually hurt him in this case – IF YOU PAY MUCH ATTENTION TO THESE H2Hs).  His insane ability to get through so many draws gets overshadowed by a player’s dominance on clay.

The Aussie 2009, granted, was a disaster for Roger.  For me, then, Roger’s greatness did take a dip.  I mentioned this in Part I.  This body language argument is for real; Roger seems to let-up when facing Nadal.  But the bigger picture yields a much more vulnerable Nadal.  And for me, Rafa’s inordinate amount of success on clay absolutely affects this H2H. This boosts his mental game, no doubt.

Think about those ’04 to ’07 years.  Roger was dominating the tour.  From ’04 to ’06 he won almost 70% of the tournaments he played (look that up).  Guys on tour were clamoring to beat the Swiss king.  Rafa’s work ethic can certainly be traced to his family, his background, etc., but I would add that the desire to beat Roger was probably volcanic.  As I said earlier, the 2007 Wimbledon final loss to Roger was apparently DEVASTATING for the Spaniard, according to Toni.  Rafa is obsessed, clinically.  I think that obsession to beat Roger was the real deal. To a point.

I didn’t even get to some other numbers of Roger’s that I wanted to share, to add to the perspective.

Rafa has beaten Roger on outdoor HC, as well.  He has had success against RF for sure.  But it’s just not that simple. The WTF is a very prestigious event and Roger has owned that surface, having his way with Rafa, too.

In short, I’m not buying whatever you are selling, team H2H.

Again, I’m not sure what the endgame is of these Rafa/Roger H2H advocates.  Are you saying Rafa is better than Roger? Leave me a comment, so I can make my closing argument on behalf of Roger.  Are you saying Rafa’s dominance doesn’t mean he’s better than Roger, but it punches holes in Fed’s GOAT claim?  The GOAT debate is futile, first of all.  But if anyone is making such a claim (one that’s being acknowledged by other sport greats) it is Roger (personally, I am big Pete guy, but Roger’s latest run at 34 is pretty persuasive).  I say we simply analyze and enjoy some hearty debate, but not lose the forest for the trees.

I’ll leave it there for now.  But let me know.  I’ve got a second serve ala Pistol Pete if you think this post hit the tape and bounced wide. :)

The TSQ (The Tennis Status Quo)

I referenced the tennis status quo in yesterday’s post, where I’m trying to qualify one particularly distorted view.

Found this in the mainstream today: Tim Joyce from wrote a piece about the Federer/Djokovic USO final. Here are a couple of passages:

But consider: what if it were Rafael Nadal across the net from Federer on Sunday? Granted, the crowd would have still have likely been in Federer’s favor, but the divide much less stark than it was with Djokovic. And Nadal has the respect (even if it took a while) of both Federer and his fans (and, to be honest, they’ve had to accept it since Nadal has utterly owned Federer his entire career); they can tolerate it when Federer loses to Nadal but cannot accept, literally cannot bear losing to the hated Djokovic. . .

I don’t know if Federer fans will ever fully accept Djokovic as the world’s current greatest tennis player. But it won’t matter, since the record speaks for itself and there is a growing consensus of just how great Djokovic is, as he clearly belongs alongside both Federer and Nadal. And with the fantastic Federer-Djokovic series now knotted at 21 apiece, I can’t imagine what the Federer fanatics will do if their man ends up with a losing record against him. . .

NOTES: Speaking of rivalries, if Federer and Nadal fail to meet in the final months of 2015 it will be the first year since 2003 in which the two famed combatants haven’t played each other. It’s a testament to just how good these two have been for so long that they have faced off in tournaments for 12 consecutive seasons. Such a streak is second in recent tennis history among championship rivals, just behind Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker who met at tournaments 13 years in a row. For further comparison: Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi once had a streak of meeting in eight consecutive seasons; Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe in 11; and Ivan Lendl and Connors in 10.”

You can see the TSQ at work here. He calls out Federer fans, insinuates Roger himself, his box; then he retracts and says this crowd controversy is more of a socio-economic issue, then it’s back to the Fedfans’ fault, etc.

And so it goes: 1) Federer and his fans are arrogant jerks; 2) Nadal owns Federer; and 3) Federer better watch-out or he’ll have a losing record vs. Djokovic.

My favorite part is the little overlooked gem in the Notes: Oh my, 2015 could come and go without Federer and Nadal ever meeting on an ATP sanctioned tennis court!  Holy crap!  Can you believe that?!

Anything to add there, Mr. tennis writer?

This is classic tennis status quo. Keep Federer and Nadal on a level playing field and try to blow us away with this amazing statistic. The numbers game these honks play is a joke. The truth of this fact (that they may not meet in 2015) is that Nadal has taken another break from the tour. Not worth mentioning? Just gloss it over, Mr. Status Quo.

The argument here from this mainstream e-rag goes: Federer’s an arrogant over-rated tennis player; he’s a jerk and he pales compared to Nadal and Djokovic. This sums-up a lot of what I’ve heard lately as tennis charlatans have long begun jumping from the Federer yacht, bound for the Djokovic party boat.

In the event that someone thinks I’m on Roger’s band-waggon, you haven’t been reading this blog. Here’s a recent piece I wrote about Djokovic.

After writing this piece, I got this cool comment:

jane says:

what a wonderful appreciation – thanks for sharing your thoughts. i look forward to reading more of your analysis.


Awesome! Stay-tuned, Jane. More is on the way.

Argument and debate are always welcomed.  But a big pattern seems to be a failure to appreciate the game and all of its characters. Federer is arrogant? So what’s McEnroe or Lendl? Toughen-up!  Stop pushing these weak, emotionally driven eighteen-wheelers of garbage at the tennis community. Proceed with a little more balance, more caution, a little more authentic analysis that isn’t steeped in so much inaccuracy, lack of perspective and bone-headed bias.

One last note on that crowd controversy. New York is a brutal playground. If you follow sports, or humanity for that matter, you kinda get this. MJ had to endure and tame the Garden during his run in the NBA; football and baseball rivals throughout history have had to deal with the tough seasons of New York City fandom. Federer had to deal with a pro-Agassi crowd at the Open. Athletes for decades and more have had to face the great American sports crucible that is a New York City crowd.

The 2015 U.S. Open men’s final crowd had to weather a fat rain delay, so let’s call their passion spiked with a few more New York City cocktails. Do the math, fanboys. This was a great day for Djokovic. Leave it at that. Great athletes often have to deal with quite unfavorable circumstances.

And, again, how do you think that crowd would have treated Djokovic if he’d won five U.S. Opens in a row, owned the sport of tennis, more or less, for nearly a decade? There’s a bit of a legacy there that people kinda respect. Call them crazy. Sympathizing with Nole by packaging his difficult background and whatever other non-conformist factors you use to fit that narrative is a big swing and a miss.

Fans of sport are passionate; bring NYC into the picture and it’s more passionate: you, better than anyone, Timothy, et al., should understand this kind of bias.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Nadal v Federer Part One

Having been a tennis fan most of my life, I have been happy enough to simply watch the big matches through the years and have a few light-hearted conversations about this match or that player with friends or family.  We keep things sensible, i.e., defensible, since saying something too hyperbolic or absurd pretty much kills the conversation.

More recently, I’ve discovered some steamy piles of bullshit on the interwebs that have been a humorous education in how totally delusional and sad some of these aspiring perspectives are of our sport.  I mean really, the GOAT debate alone is ridiculous: hey, you don’t know, don’t have the wherewithal to make such a definitive claim.

I guess if you have to know, start by asking some of the greats who have played because they’re most likely the best sources for such a subjective assessment.  Why not just analyze the sport, sure put things in an historical perspective, but hold-off on sharing your tennis wet dream with everyone.  To shut these people up in the first place, I would venture to say that it’s not very important to the players (again, who knows?).  Sure they are trying to dominate their sport and can make such comparisons like anyone else, but I doubt they spend all hours of the night writing some piece of crap post about how maybe Federer is hurting his legacy by continuing to play.  Pretty laughable, agenda double-dipped bullshit.

One of the things I really like to do is challenge the status quo.

Like I said, and you know of what I speak, the top of the sport debate is something some of these fanblogs love to touch themselves to (it really is a kind of canoodling, lifting one player while deriding another, making a play on one while breaking-up with the other, etc. etc.).The Nedal v Federer rivalry is really not even debatable according to the tennis status quo.  Not only are little fanblogs hysterical daily about this H2H, but even the mainstream media has pretty much thrown in the towel.  The 23-10 is too difficult to discuss, it’s too much dominance from Nedal, etc.  One of the great verbs thrown around by the really astute perpetrators of this cultural ideology is own.  Nadal owns Federer.

If you’re a sensible tennis fan, not a Federer fan, a sensible tennis fan, you have to acknowledge the difficulty Federer has had with Nadal, but you know there is more to that story.  If you watch tennis, you know.  Don’t let that big set of fake boobs fool you.

I had a little bit of this discussion in my comments recently.  I think it had to do with the claim that Federer can not be considered GOAT because of his H2H with Nadal.  That’s a very popular argument that knuckleheads want to make.  And remember (I don’t want you to get too excited): I am not arguing Federer is GOAT; I am simply pointing-out how the tennis status quo might have its head up its ass or its bias has it by the ass).

Are any of you familiar with the New England Patriots?  What do you know about them?  Well, you probably know they won the Super Bowl last year and that gives the Brady/Belichick regime four Super Bowl titles.  Brady has entered the realm of Joe Montana, equaled Bradshaw in number of rings, etc.  Ask a New York Giants’ fan about this Brady/Belichick legacy.  They will tell you that in 2008 and 2012 they beat those same Patriots in the Super Bowl.  In effect, they own the Patriots.  They are 2-0 against them in the one of the biggest sporting events in the world.

I will get more into the Federer/Nadal rivalry shortly, but this analogy, alone, can help make my point.  NFL teams don’t play as much as tennis players.  The games, especially the playoff games and the actual Super Bowl, carry a ton of weight in that sport.  The fact that, more or less, the same Giants’ team (same QB, same coach) beat the same Patriots’ team in two Super Bowls weighs probably quite a bit in the Giants’ “camp,” amongst the franchise’s employees and that team’s fans.  What does common sense say about this rivalry?  In the last 10+ years, the Patriots are 4-2 in Super Bowls and the Giants are 2-0.  The Patriots, despite this terrible H2H, are the more dominant franchise.  This H2H, in the end, does not shit the Patriots’ bed.  The fact that the Giants upset them in ’08 when New England was undefeated at the time, 18-0, had huge historical implications.  But the Patriots’ dynasty is still in tact.  The rivalry has more interest as sports trivia, really.

There are many other examples of this kind of dynamic where a dominant player/team has a terrible H2H with an inferior player or team.  It’s a match-up problem.  Someone has someone’s number.  Happens more often than people realize, I guess.  A commenter pointed-out Chelsea and Barcelona have a similar H2H issue.  All I know is this is often the case in sports.  And the big take-away (the reality) is people don’t generally strip the more dominant entity of its “career” accomplishments because of this particular H2H with an inferior talent.

In both examples, the Patriots and Barca are much more accomplished clubs, but have shown to have difficulty vs this particular opponent.

For me, the eye test is more telling in Federer/Nadal than are the numbers that I want to discuss.  A lot of people point to all of the clay evidence in that H2H, Nadal routinely beating him in those finals, which is about as convincing as saying Norway is a more dominant Winter Olympic country than the US because of the results of cross country skiing.

I would say look to that 2009 Australian Open.  That was a terrible result for Federer.  Mainly because Nadal had to survive a 5+ hour SF v Verdasco.  Roger had a much easier time in his SF. . . and he still lost to Nadal, on that surface.  I think people have those individual match visuals burned into their hippocampus.  Tough to rid the memory of them, Federer’s body language in some of those matches vs. the Spaniard.  Combine these Federer low-lights with those numbers and you have a segment of the sport (fans) running off to deposit that check.  But remember (and I will go into this later), that was the Spaniard’s only AO.  He got one. Good on him. Well done.

For this particular post, I’m pretty much taking a look at three points of analysis that might add a little perspective to this tennis hysteria, might complicate this apparent standard that has some loud mouths claiming that Nadal owns Federer and therefore Federer has lost any stake in a GOAT debate.  Lol.

  1.  Federer is a more complete player, and is more fundamentally sound, simply plays a higher quality tennis more consistently. . .and this is not even a question.  The one arguing Nadal’s actual tennis is on par with Federer’s might not be very familiar with the game.  No need for me to really go into this.  The fact that Roger excelled on all surfaces, yes ALL surfaces, further clarifies this comparison.  In addition, he is playing world class tennis at 34 years of age, presenting even the current #1 player in the world with legitimate challenges while showing a pretty consistent form to destroy the rest of the field. This kind of longevity and consistency is not easy if you have only a big serve, or you’re just a glorified defensive specialist with a deadly backhand.  Roger’s got the entire game and I don’t even have to bring up the aesthetics.  Oops.  Tennis is for the fans.  People will be watching video of Roger’s game in hundreds of years still marveling at the grace and athleticism.  Imagine if he he’d never been brought back to earth by a Nadal or Del Potro or Djokovic.  At least there’s a discussion now.  Be thankful and just shut-up and watch the tennis.  But on tennis alone, the way the feet move, the wrist snaps and the ball comes off the racquet, Nadal does not compare to Roger.  Nadal’s tennis fundamentals are bizarre.  He bullies the game, but ironically has historically set-up eight feet behind the base-line and survived, somehow wearing players out.  Such a physical style.  He wears his style in his face, the scowl that clarifies how brutal this is going to be for the other player.  The game quality argument hurts Nadal, obviously.  Tennis royalty acknowledge this for the most part.  And Nadal is sinking fast at 29, succumbing to age (?), physical deterioration (?).  What does he turn to?  He better chase down those forehands.  In the end, he’s best on one particular surface.
  2. Nadal has a massive reliance on one particular surface.  This is very damaging, in my humble opinion.  He’s a clay court specialist.  That’s pretty much it.  We should give him credit for evolving his game in various ways to succeed on other surfaces, but don’t get carried away.  I’ve read of the post-match devastation after Wimbledon ’07.  Toni said Rafa cried for hours, was destroyed by that loss to Roger.  It went five sets, so anyone watching knew Rafa was closing in on that surface.  He is clay first.  Then he worked his way through the draw at Wimby (clearly with a kind of sole focus beyond the clay).  He got it done in ’08.  Then he moved to hard court school and was able to graduate for a win in ’09 at the Aussie Open (first HC major) and then grab a USO in ’10.  Again, the point is he is a clay first guy.  The camp literally took careful steps towards mastering a winning game on the other surfaces, step by step, one major at a time.  The resume is terribly imbalanced, meaning only that he is primarily a clay court guy.  Roger has dominated on all surfaces.  Nadal was MIA on non-clay surfaces though he later made some specific runs at the other three majors and was able to get five more between those other three.  Well done.  But certainly not in command of the ATP like other greats.  Like I said, his incredible ability to focus – obsess (ala his documented OCD) enabled him to overcome the odds and succeed at the other three majors to some extent.  Kind of a bucket list approach to the career GS.  Roger dominated all of the surfaces between ’04 and ’07 but a great (the GOAT) clay court player was holding court at Roland Garros.  Unfortunately for Roger, this one-trick pony is simply the greatest that surface has ever seen.  But 1-9-2-2 is simply not world beating.  It’s clay reliance.
  3. The H2H is flawed.  This is the biggest whiff of them all.  To be continued. . .

Marking Your Territory

How would you define Bjorn Borg’s dominance?  Ivan Lendl’s?  What about Pete Sampras’ demonstrative GOAT dominion where he euthanized the end of the previous era, built a nice little British-American empire and then handsomely fought off his own demise?  How would you define Nadal’s tenure?  Objectively, fast forwarding another five years into the future, when Roger finally hangs-up the racquet, how would you define his kingdom?

The legacy I want to focus on here, however, is Djokovic’s.  He’s peaking as we speak.  What will his next 5-6 majors and the ATP beneath him feel and look like?  Who will be his rivals beyond the 34 year-old who’s doing everyone a favor, especially Djokovic.

How do you envision the Serb marking his territory? How will we characterize his development as the symbol of planetary tennis dominance?  What surfaces will define him?  What wars will leave their marks and internal scars.  Sure he’s been through a lot to this point, but what defines his next half dozen majors, his next 3-4 years?


I could leave the post there and encourage readers to provide the insight to this topical question.  The point of asking this question is to encourage one to think about the state of the ATP and its roster of major contenders; and, of course, the question urges one to think about Djokovic’s own style, on and off the court.  We did a lot of this after Wimbledon: imagine Djokovic winning or losing the USO.  A loss could have made matters more difficult, wilted some of that lean and mean tennis self-esteem.  But #10 is in the books, manifesting last Sunday in Flushing Meadows.  Now what?

We probably agree that Djokovic will get his French connection in 2016 and complete the career grand slam.  Like the U.S. Open before 2015, he has unfinished business at Roland Garros.  Remember back to the 2014 final.  He comes rolling into Paris having just beaten Nadal in Rome.  He wins the first set of the French final, but the Spaniard inexplicably reels off 3 straight and claims his 9th FO.  2015 had a similar build-up and result.  Djokovic comes into Paris riding high, makes the final, wins the first set, and gets straighted again, this time by the Stanimal.  He has had much difficulty (like so many others) on that particular stretch of dirt.

Certainly, Djokovic will get his eventual French Open title.  You’d have to think he’s quite committed to this goal.  After all, although he is a terrific clay court player, #1 in the world, the surface can complicate tennis careers.  Does he get his one, ala Federer and Agassi, and claim membership of that exclusive club, or add 2-3 FO titles and build a balance that few resumes have?  I think Becker’s difficulty at the French doesn’t help in his quest for FO, but, again, I think he makes it an absolute mission to get the 2016 version, and who knows after that.

I was asked what majors Nole wins next year and I, in Russian roulette style, said French and Wimbledon.  Ha. Not sure who’s going to beat him at his AO, but perhaps a huge 2015 and slowing his roll early in the season will better his tennis for Paris.  I just think he has to be dreaming about the French and might almost unconsciously not begin his 2016 major advance until April.

Speaking of the Australian Open, what more can he do there except win 2-3 more of those, no?  With five in the books, it’s a venue he seems to own.  Getting 2 more of those seems like a foregone conclusion.

I answered Wimbledon above because I think that’s his little back yard at this point.  Pete and Roger did the same with their games: “at the tennis culture capital, this is my tournament.”  Djokovic plays well there; his coach played well there. Two more of those seem pretty likely.


Lastly, the U.S. Open.  I chuckle at the disdain Djokovic fanboys and fangirls threw around at the crowd bias, the Federer favoritism.  As this lack of perspective continues, they love the Swiss because he’s so elegant, so pure tennis.  Fedheads just dominate the sport, follow their idol around and trash talk his opponents.  Does that sound about right, the sort of discourse coming from all of the Djokovic blogs?

How do you think NYC would treat Djokovic if he won five Opens in a row?  No shit Roger’s a favorite, an emotional appeal.  New Yorkers know and love winners.  Federer has such an incredible legacy there, of course he’s going to get some love.  Djokovic won his 2nd, at last.  On that note, watch whatever jeers you heard turn to cheers.  You have to earn the New York City praise.  Did all of the fanboys and fangirls miss that memo?

Having said all that, I think this will continue to be a tough one for Novak (but again, who would be favored against him ANYWHERE for the next few years).  The surface and tennis are a tough combo at the end of the year, the weather can be odd and frankly “it’s a concrete jungle where dreams are made.”  I like him at the USO, on that surface, but even this year, he didn’t seem to have his incredible form (other than on those critical BPs that defined that match).

Beyond the majors, Djokovic should be able to establish that Masters slam by finally winning Cincinnati, not to mention his work will probably continue to get done at the WTF where he’s only 2 behind Roger in that quite prestigious win total.

Should be interesting to watch how Djokovic continues to carve out his legacy.  If you do just some simple math (2 more AO, FO, 2 more Wimbies, 1 more USO), 16 seems pretty accessible, a good round number.  Falling 1 or 2 short of that or tying and passing Roger could be in the cards too.  Passing Roger though would mean such an incredible, description defying run for the ages. Tough to bet against him for 3 and 4 more years.  The math can get a little nutty!

At a glance, some might be dismissive of Roger who at this age is struggling to consolidate these runs at the majors.  But he did so much damage early in his career, of course establishing a run between ’04 and ’07 that was historically silly. After that, he turned to see the tour rise up with two other GOATers in Rafa and Nole breathing down his neck.

Djokovic began his career having to deal with the other two, has overcome them and has 10 to show for it (though that took him 18 trips to the finals).  Does he have an easier run now, it’s all downhill from here?  Does the field have enough to slowdown the Serb (I looked at this question recently).  At the same time, how much did these last 5-6 years take out of the Serb?  That was a difficult ten, no?

Only time will tell, along with the literal and proverbial bounce of the ball.