Roger Federer

A forum to discuss all things Roger Federer, not relating to specific matches.

Fed presser 2

160 Comments on Roger Federer

  1. Montreal plays quicker than Cincy; according to some Cincy was getting slower, so Rafa could win there one year (in 2013). Wherever Rafa has had successes, it’s always the courts slowing there!

    Fed didn’t have much success in Canada, as the scheduling didn’t favor him or any of the big four; it favors its own players like Raonic. At Cincy, Fed always gets the night matches whilst his fellow big four members get the day sessions and have to battle not only their opponents but also the heat and the humidity.

    Fed skipped the Canada masters many times (2005, 2012, 2013, 2015). Fed won Canada in 2004 and 2006 but each time he lost early at Cincy; the best he could do was final at Canada and won Cincy (2007, 2010, 2014). Lets see what he can do this season.

  2. And Fed lost at Montreal each time he played there – 2003 lost to Roddick; 2007 lost to Djoko; 2009 & 2011 lost to Tsonga (didn’t play in 2005, 2013, 2015).

  3. Yeah, this whole idea that Cinci is like a skating rink compared to other hard courts is not true… Maybe the time of day has something to do with it? But Montreal has always been a fast court, no slower than Cinci. I don’t think there’s any rhyme or reason to why Federer has had relatively limited success in Canada, while absolutely dominating in Cinci. It may have more to do with other non-court speed factors. I know that the Cinci tournament has been traditionally swelteringly hot, but I don’t know if it’s more or less hotter than Montreal/Toronto.

    • Cincy in August is certainly hotter and more humid on average than anywhere in Canada, although the one day I spent at the Rogers Cup in Toronto was plenty hot. The humidity was not that bad. Miami in late March could probably beat out both of them in August for heat and humidity combined.

      • Ramara,

        I live in Delray Beach, Florida. It’s about an hour’s drive north of Miami. You are right about the heat and especially the humidity. It can beat both Montreal and Cincy!

        This is one of the worst summers we str having in southern Florida.

  4. The chart that Joe posted debunks pretty much all the classic court speed beliefs. It says Madrid is the slowest, even though everyone in the world has always claimed that Madrid is a faster clay court because of the altitude. Basically, when it comes down to it, none of the masters courts are “fast” at all! I guess it makes sense that so many people have been complaining for years about the relativ slowing of courts across the board.

    • Yes, Kevin, though as the site notes, actual court speed is only one factor. Still, it’s hard to deny that there has been a general slowing down of courts across the board for the last 15 years or so.

    • Don’t think anyone’s ever said Madrid court is the fastest. It is rather the ‘conditions’ that are fastest. The altitude factor is massive.

      ‘Conditions’ cover multiple things and court speed is one of them. Type of balls, weather, altitude are three examples of other factors.

  5. It’s interesting to note that none of the current players have won a HC Masters during the time when the courts are supposed to be quick or very quick (i.e. Prior to 2003).

    Fed won Canada (Toronto) in 2004 and Rafa won Montreal and Madrid indoors in 2005 and Berdych at Paris 2005; so they’re the few who won when the courts were not yet being slowed down too much.

    I remember Paris Masters in 2010 was one of the fastest in years and Sod won that one. Michael Llodra played his beautiful S&V game and almost beat Sod in the SF if not for a shanked FH, what a shame.

    I really think the main beneficiary of the slowing HCs is Djoko, who almost swept up all the slowed down Indoor HC events (4 WTF from 2012-2015, and three Paris Masters from 2013-2015), though to be fair to him, he’s pretty good at Shanghai too (3 titles) when it’s a quicker HC than most; he also won at Montreal in 2007 and 2011.

    The speed Djoko had at sweeping up the Masters titles was scary, 25 Masters plus 4 WTF in six years from 2011-2016, with 5 in 2011 and 6 in 2015!

  6. I wish Federer wins another FO before he retires. I know chances are he will not. He played 5 finals there. Only Nadal kept him from winning more. I guess in 2018 he should play less HC tournaments and take FO seriously. I guess I want it in the same way Rafans wish at least one more AO title.

    • I was quite disappointed that Fed skipped RG this year. I hope he does not make it a habit. I guess Rafa can be very I itmidating at RG but so is Fed at Wimby, Novak and Fed at AO. I guess at his age he has to be judicious with his scheduling, would be a shame if it’s RG that suffers because of it….

      • From what I’ve heard recently, Roger plans on playing at least some of the clay court season. I’m guessing he will play one or two clay court masters and Roland Garros.

  7. Federer casts doubt over Paris show
    AFPOct 27, 2017, 10:48 PM

    The world number two, who will have a bye in the first round at Paris Bercy, said he will make a decision on his appearance in the French capital after the ongoing tournament in Basel where he made the semi-finals on Friday.

    “I’ll decide when it’s over this weekend what to do with Paris,” said the 36-year-old Federer after defeating Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.

    “I’m hoping to play there, but there’s also a good possibility that I won’t. It depends on how I feel.

    “We’ll see what happens, health is always more important at this stage of my career.”–ten.html

  8. Most likely he won’t play, I guess. To play three events in four weeks, and obviously two of them have to be B2B week, not good for a 36 yo. We saw Rafa at 31 played B2B at Beijing/Shanghai and he struggled more at Shanghai.

    I think Fed will just focus on Basel plus WTF.

  9. Federer wins Comeback Player, Sportsmanship Award and Fans Favourite for the 1000th time. I wonder if he is not embarrassed with this ATP farce, year after year after year?

  10. For Kavita, Joe Smith et. al., an opinion piece from The Economist:

    Sorry, Roger: Rafael Nadal is not just the king of clay
    The Spaniard has overcome unusually strong opposition to rack up 16 grand-slam wins


    One of the best arguments left to Mr Nadal’s supporters is that Mr Federer padded his statistics in the weak era of 2003-07, before Mr Djokovic and Mr Murray reached their primes, and when a young Mr Nadal was primarily a threat on clay courts. The Swiss maestro enjoyed years swatting away lesser lights, whereas Mr Nadal has spent much of his career doing battle with Mr Djokovic and Mr Murray.

    At majors, the Spaniard has faced the other three members of the Big Four 13% of the time, and won a remarkable 74% of those meetings. In contrast, Mr Federer has played his Big Four peers in just 9% of his grand-slam matches, and won only 42% of them.

    The average grand-slam title run requires beating a set of opponents that the typical champion would defeat 23% of the time. Only eight of Mr Federer’s 19 major titles have come against competition more difficult than that. But 13 of Mr Nadal’s 16 championships have required him to confront harder-than-average obstacles.

    • Whatever else the article shows, it doesn’t show what its title suggests. In fact, it says nothing whatsoever to rebut the claim that Nadal’s claim to overall greatness rests primarily on his unparalleled dominance on clay.

      Even if the author’s use of elo shows that Nadal has faced more difficult slam opposition, on average, it doesn’t even attempt to factor out the relative difficulty of his non-clay slam titles. And no amount of difficulty-adjusting is going to come close to equalizing the three fold difference between 18 non-clay slams (Roger) and 6 (Rafa).

      Btw, I thought you hated elo (though not ELO, I hope):

      • No I like ELO, just not elo and twisted shite used by “bloggers” like Kavita to form preformed conclusions.

        And your conclusion from the article and Rafa on clay is par and supports my view about selective bias, echo chambers and strawman arguments (not necessarily in that order).

        Besides, since we’re being selective, last I checked, 10:1 >> 18:6.

        (Not to mention 9:3 in slam h2h including 4:3 off-clay. Fed won all slams except for RG losing in the 3rd f**king round in 2004 when he turned 23, and Rafa wasn’t even there.).

        Stop blaming Rafa. Fed is good on clay. That’s about all. MAYBE Top 20.

        Hope this helps!

        • Here is a good follow up from the writer of this article (Jeff Sackmann of TennisAbstract)…

          A Preface to All GOAT Arguments

          “I made the case that, because Nadal’s paths to major titles had been more difficult (the 2017 US Open notwithstanding), his 16 slams are worth more–barely!–than Federer’s.

          “It may be true that Nadal is better than Federer, and we could probably make a solid argument based on the stats. But a rating of 18.8 to 18.7, based on 35 tournaments, can’t quite carry that burden.”

          What this article is good at proving is that the assumption that Federer is GOAT by the Federazzi faithful religion is based on over-simplified conjecture and confirmatory bias.

          • If someone is a fun of Djokovic, Federer or Nadal, that person is justified in believing their idol is the best tennis player ever. I am not going to argue with a Rafafan about that. I would say Fedal are very close overall considering all factors I am aware of.
            Rafa is not just the king of clay. Yeah, we can say that he is one of Kings of tennis in general and that would be true. If he’s ranked as a King of tennis, then he is not the only one. Djokovic and Federer are there too, as well as a few more names.

  11. No, it’s not good at “proving” that at all.

    You still haven’t addressed my claim above:

    “Whatever else the article shows, it doesn’t show what its title suggests. In fact, it says nothing whatsoever to rebut the claim that Nadal’s claim to overall greatness rests primarily on his unparalleled dominance on clay.”

    Spelling out the point. The article claims that Rafa is “not just the king of clay.” It then goes on to provide some statistics that purport to show that he has faced superior opposition, statistics that are drawn primarily from his slam victories on … clay!

    It’s not in doubt that Rafa is the king of clay. What the original article doesn’t show, and in fact doesn’t even try to show, is that he’s king off clay.

    • Why should I when your ears are obviously plugged?

      Hint: No one said he’s the King Off Clay. (It’s statements like that that make you the King of Strawman Arguments Joe Smith but that’s just a matter of opinion, no ELO to support it I’m afraid.)

      Just like Federer is even further away from being the King off grass/hard.

      Unplug your federazzi earplugs and take the red pill Joe Smith and it shall set you free.


      • No, Hawkeye, my ears are wide open. Like you I have my biases; if there is any difference it is that I’ve never seen you admit to yours. In any case, I’d rather focus on the content of our disagreement.

        Clearly, the title of the article you posted means that Rafa is more than just the king of clay. I agree that it doesn’t mean that Rafa is king off clay, though I think that claim is relevant to the discussion, as I’ll try to show. Charitably, the title means something like this:

        “Rafa has a good claim to be the tennis king overall, all things (and court surfaces) considered.”

        The problem with this claim is that on 3 of 4 surfaces that tennis is played on (taking up about 3/4 of the calendar year), Rafa is -in the context of GOAT contenders- good (grass) to average (outdoor HC) to bad (indoor HC). In other words, his claim to overall greatness rests overwhelmingly on his undisputed claim to being GOAT on clay.

        The article then tries to provide some elo-based evidence for the above claim, which attempts to assess strength of competition. The problem with the evidence in the context of the article is this:

        A player gets the most elo points for wins over top competition. Nadal therefore gets a ton of points for his many wins over top competition (Nadal, Federer, Murray above all)… the vast majority of which have come on clay. Should elo points gained overwhelmingly on clay be used to support the claim that Nadal is the king of tennis overall? In my opinion, no, and this for two reasons.

        First and foremost, greatness in tennis is not about beating great players. It’s about winning big tournaments. As I’ve said a number of times, the difficulty (and value) in winning a big tournament such as a slam consists primarily in winning 7 straight matches against the field. I also showed how Nadal in particular cannot make the claim that doing so is easy, given his frequent losses to lesser lights.

        Second, even if we’re just considering elo rankings on their own terms (individual victories rather than tournament titles), given the context of the article, the author’s use of the relevant evidence obscures the fact that Nadal’s claim to elo points, hence overall greatness according to the article, rests overwhelmingly on his unparalleled dominance on clay.

    • ““Whatever else the article shows, it doesn’t show what its title suggests. In fact, it says nothing whatsoever to rebut the claim that Nadal’s claim to overall greatness rests primarily on his unparalleled dominance on clay.””

      Hint: It doesn’t say otherwise.

  12. Taking a closer look at the above article shows just how misguided its methodology must be. Forget about Federer for a moment, and focus on what the author says about two Nadal slam victories: 2013 RG and 2017 USO. According to the author’s elo calculation, the former is worth nearly *3* times as many slam victories as the latter: 1.65 vs 0.6!

    That is totally absurd even on its own terms. Yes, Nadal had to beat world #1 Djokovic in 2013, but apart from that his draw wasn’t that hard. The author mentions #10 Wawrinka, who had recently pushed Novak to 5 sets at the AO. Nevertheless, at the time Stan had never won a GS, and in fact had only advanced beyond R4 at a slam twice. He had never taken a set off Nadal in 9 meetings.

    This year, of course, Rafa had to beat del Potro, who was objectively a more difficult opponent than Wawrinka was in 2013. Apart from Anderson in the final, he also had to beat Dolgopolov and Rublev. Sure, it wasn’t the toughest draw ever, but it is hard to see how the data could support the author’s claim that Rafa’s victory in 2013 was worth nearly 3 times as much as this year’s USO.

    Actually, there is one way, and that is if he thinks that the victory over Novak at RG 2013 counts more, in and of itself, than winning the entire 2017 USO. Again that is absurd, and reflects a gross misunderstanding of where the difficulty in winning a GS title mainly lies. It mainly lies in winning 7 consecutive matches against the field, rather than in winning one match against one of the world’s very best players.

    • Your confirmatory assumptions Joe Smith.

      “objectively a more difficult opponent ” hahahahaha *objectively* hahahahahaha

      Just like GOAT, right?

    • Well, here are some objective facts.
      On my side:
      1. Delpo had won the USO previously, beating Nadal en route.
      2. He had advanced far at slams several times.
      3. He had just beaten Federer in the previous round.
      4. Stan had advanced beyond R4 at slams only twice previously.

      On the other side:
      1. Stan was ranked higher at RG 2013 than delpo was at 2017.
      2. Perhaps you could supply some others, but I can’t think of any that are relevant.

      My claim that Delpo was objectively more difficult was merely a reflection of my definition of lesser lights. I agree the question is not so straightforward, obviously.

      • “My claim that Delpo was objectively more difficult was merely a reflection of my definition of lesser lights.”

        Replace “objectively” with “subjectively” and your statement would be correct.

        It can’t be “objective” if it’s based on your definition, yes?

        Let’s make today about you learning the difference between “objective” and “subjective”.


  13. Now consider another misguided quote from the above article, repeated by Hawkeye, which goes to the heart of the “weak era” hypothesis:

    “…Mr Federer padded his statistics in the weak era of 2003-07, before Mr Djokovic and Mr Murray reached their primes, and when a young Mr Nadal was primarily a threat on clay courts. The Swiss maestro enjoyed years swatting away lesser lights, whereas Mr Nadal has spent much of his career doing battle with Mr Djokovic and Mr Murray.”

    The quote suggests that if only Nadal had been given the opportunity, he too would have enjoyed years swatting away lesser lights. Unfortunately for the author and the whole “weak era” hypothesis, the statistics prove otherwise. Consider the following list of all of Nadal’s slam losses since 2005, the year of his first slam victory:

    2005: Hewitt (AO); Muller (W); Blake (US)
    2006: Injured (AO); Fed (W); Youzny (US)
    2007: Gonzalez (AO); Fed (W); Ferrer (US)
    2008: Tsonga(AO); Murray (US)
    2009: Soderling (FO); Injured (W); del Potro (US)
    2010: Murray (AO)
    2011: Ferrer (AO); Djokovic (W); Djokovic (US)
    2012: Djokovic (AO); Rosol (W); Injured (US)
    2013: Injured (AO); Darcis (W);
    2014: Wawrinka (AO); Kyrgios (W); Injured (US)
    2015: Berdych (AO); Djokovic (FO); Dustin Brown (W); Fognini (US)
    2016: Verdasco (AO); Granollers (FO; walkover); Injured (W); Pouille (US)
    2017: Fed (AO); Muller (W)

    Define a “lesser light” as a player who has not previously won a GS. Then, out of 30 slam losses since 2005, Nadal has lost *21* times to lesser lights, only 9 times to champions (counting Wawrinka 2014 in the latter category). 70% of Nadal’s GS losses have come to lesser lights!

    What does that tell you? Two things are worth mentioning. First, swatting away the lesser lights 100% of the time ain’t that easy, to put it mildly. Second, Federer’s run from 2004-2010 AO, when he went *six straight years* without losing to a lesser light at a slam is beyond incredible. By comparison, Rafa has never managed a single year without losing to a lesser light, as defined above.

    To repeat: by far the most difficult factor in winning a GS in tennis is winning 7 straight matches against the world’s 128 best players. Yes, winning a slam which also involves beating an all time great such as the big 3 is (in general) even more impressive. But it doesn’t count for nearly as much as many Nadal partisans think it does. And beating the lesser lights all of the time counts for much more than they generally think.

    • 1) you have to take into consideration Rafa’s age at 2005-2007; he’s beating everyone on clay at the FO, but he’s losing to guys five to six years his senior on the other surfaces; not surprising because he’s still developing his game on the other surfaces. Just see how did Fed fare during 2000-2002, losing to many lowly ranked guys at the slams who were perhaps a few years older than him?

      2) Rafa has his injury issues, as early as 2005, it’s not surprising that he knees gave way to injuries so often, almost every year, from 2005 to 2013! To expect him to keep winning, especially on tricky surface ie grass was expecting too much from him; it’s no coincidence that he was losing early at Wimbledon after 2011, when he suffered a major knee issue in 2012.

      3) since 2008 when Rafa started reaching his peak, he had not lost to lowly ranked players except at Wimbledon (from 2012 onwards). He had his injury issues when he lost to Sod at FO, Murray, Ferrer and Stan at AO. Sod had since became a top five player, not just a player on a hot streak or did nothing after that. IOWs, Rafa has only lost to quality players at the slams (excluding Wimbledon) from 2008-2014. Tsonga, Delpo, Sod had gone on to become top ten players at least; Murray and Ferrer were already top five players when they beat Rafa.

      4) 2015 was Rafa’s worst year (not unlike Fed’s 2013) when he started to lose to any Tom, Dick or Harry at the slams (except Djoko of course, where he lost to at the FO). His 2016 was plagued with injuries not unlike Fed’s 2016.

      5) Fed started to lose more often at the slams starting from 2010 when he’s approaching 30 so Rafa losing his edge as he approached 30 was also to be expected. It’s just that Rafa was more injury prone and so he had fared worse (than Fed) at the slams.

      6) perhaps we have to look at Djoko, who happened to be great on the HCs like Fed; Djoko’s run at the slams from 2011 to 2016 was even more impressive than Fed’s imo, as he had to beat Fed or Rafa or both at the slams many times. He was rarely injured too.

      PS. Rafa had to face Djoko 7 times in slam finals, winning 4 of them (ie 4:3 vs Djoko); I don’t see why we have to exclude the FO from that, when they met only 2 times at FO (Rafa’s fave) final, once at Wimbledon (neutral ground) and 4 times at the HC slams (Djoko’s fave surfaces).

      Fed and Djoko met 4 times in slam finals – twice at Wimbledon and twice on the HCs; Djoko was 3-1 vs Fed.

      Rafa had not met Murray in a slam final but they had met nine times at the slams from AO2007 to FO2014); Rafa was 7-2 vs Murray – 3-0 at Wimbledon, 2-0 at FO, 1-1 at AO and 1-1 at USO; Rafa had the upper hand in that rivalry.

      • Well, you can try to explain away Nadal’s GS losses to lesser lights. The fact remains that the large majority of those losses have been to such lesser players. Even at RG his only loss is to a lesser light. He’s great against the best players at slams, but not so good against lesser players (at least as compared to Fed and Novak; I’ll say more about the latter below).

        To be clear, I’m not criticizing Rafa for those losses. Rather, I’m responding to people (like the author of the above Economist article and many other Nadal fans) who try to devalue Federer’s slam victories by claiming that most of them came during a “weak” era when it was supposedly easier to win slams.

        The point is simply that Fed’s slam titles from 2003-07 were not at all easy. They had much more to do with Fed’s phenomenal tennis level than they did with his allegedly easy opposition. Again, it’s not at all easy to beat lesser lights all the time, and exhibit A is Nadal’s extensive record of slam losses to lesser lights. Even during his best years (2008-10; 2013; 2017), Rafa lost many matches (7) to lesser lights at slams.

        That’s the norm even for great champions, and that’s what makes Federer’s record during 2003-07 so impressive.

        • Nah, Rafa only lost at Wimbledon, after 2011 to ‘lesser’ lights! What are you talking about?? Murray, Delpo, Sod or Ferrer were no ‘lesser’ lights! I’ve explained that.

          Also, beating Sod at FO in 2010 final when he’s already a top ten player won’t be called besting ‘lesser’ lights! Ferrer too at FO final in 2013 was no lesser lights esp on clay; he finished that year as no3, ahead of Murray and Fed, he’s certainly no lesser lights.

          Come on, Fed was losing to lesser lights back during 2003 when he was 21/22, why don’t you include that year? Or include the whole of 2010 and not conveniently stopped at AO2010? He lost at FO to Sod and at Wimbledon to Berdych (both ‘lesser’ lights according to your definition). Also imo, a former slam player should also be considered a ‘ lesser’ light when he’s ranked 30 or worse, he’s even a more ‘lesser’ light than a top 10 player who had not won a slam.

          • Well if Soderling and Ferrer aren’t “lesser lights,” then guys who primarily played Fed early in his career such as Roddick, Safin, Nalbandian, and Hewitt are definitely not lesser lights as those four were all better players than Ferrer and Soderling.

        • Nah, Fed’s records weren’t as impressive as Djoko’s run from 2011 to 2016 imo. Just look at who Djoko had to beat in those six years! He hardly lost early at the slams; what’s even more impressive was his performances at the Masters and the WTF, not even Fedal could match his records at the Masters; and Fed couldn’t win at the WTF four in a row when Djoko could.

        • Lucky, “lesser lights” is the term used by the author of the article Hawkeye posted. It’s a term referring to players that Federer had to face from 2003-07, and it’s used to denigrate his slam titles during those years. I gave the term an objective definition. If you want, you can offer an alternative; otherwise we’re just trading opinions.

          You’re still not getting the main point. Yes, Fed (and Novak) has lost to many lesser lights over his career, though not as many as Nadal (starting from the year each became a GS champion for the first time). However, he went a very long stretch -six years, from 2004-AO 2010, in which he didn’t lose to one.

          That’s incredible, don’t you agree?

          If you don’t, it must be because you think Fed was facing very easy opposition (apart from Rafa and Novak) during those years. But again, I can point to objective facts that suggest otherwise. You say Soderling, Ferrer, and del Potro aren’t lesser lights. Fine. But in that case I would say the same about Hewitt, Safin, and Roddick. The objective difference is that none of former had won a GS when Nadal lost to them; all of the latter had when Fed beat them.

          • Joe, are you kidding? Hewitt was beating Fed when Fed was 19! Fed was beating them ( Hewitt, Safin and Roddick) because they weren’t good enough to beat Fed once Fed hit his prime. Safin managed to beat Fed at AO2005 though. How do you explain Rafa beating them too once he hit his prime?

            Weren’t Sod and Delpo beating Fed at the slams (2010 FO and 2009 USO respectively) during the period 2004-2010? Did Hewitt or Roddick beat Fed at the slams during that period?

  14. Let’s delve a bit deeper into the strength-of-competition issue as it relates to the Federer-Nadal GOAT comparison. Consider GS finals, the biggest matches in tennis as reflected in the points at stake (800 for a single match). Nadal fans often give the impression that Fed’s larger number of GS titles have come against significantly weaker opposition in slam finals. Is that true?

    Limiting ourselves to lesser lights for the moment, 5 of Nadal’s 16 titles, a little less than 1/3, have come against lesser lights: Puerta (2005), Soderling (2010), Berdych (2010), Ferrer (2013) and Anderson (2017). By comparison, 6 of Federer’s 19 GS titles have come against lesser lights, an almost identical percentage. The only relevant difference, perhaps, is that half of those victories came against Andy Murray -before he had won his first GS title (2008; 2010; 2012).

    It’s true that Rafa has had to face Djokovic in a GS final more often than Federer: 7 vs 4. Two of those finals were on clay, so it’s only 5-4 off clay. Nadal has never faced Murray in a GS final.

    In short, imo Rafa has at best a slight edge on this issue. His GS titles may have come against slightly more difficult competition in the finals, but not by that much. Off clay in GS finals it’s basically even.

    • Nah, off clay their GS finals weren’t even.

      Rafa made 4 AO finals, out of which he had to face Fed or Djoko in 3 of them; he made 4 USO finals, had to meet Djoko in three of them.

      Fed made 6 AO finals, met Rafa in 2 of them. He beat Safin, Baggy, Gonzo and Murray in the rest of his 4 finals; how’s that equal or about the same as Rafa’s at the AO?

      Fed made 7 USO finals, met Djoko 2 times but in 2007 Final, Djoko wasn’t as formidable as what he’s since 2011. Fed beat Agassi, Hewitt, Roddick, Murray and lost to Delpo. Agassi and Delpo perhaps were great but Fed clearly had Hewitt and Roddick’s numbers; Murray wasn’t in top five when he met Fed in 2008 final.

      Clearly meeting Djoko in three USO finals counted for something; I think Rafa had slightly more difficult finals there.

      Wimbledon is Fed’s baby so there’s not much to say about that. If we conveniently exclude FO, then we should also exclude Wimbledon.

      • Murray may not have been top 5 at the time of the 2008 US Open final but he did beat world number one Nadal in the semis in four sets. But I suppose that doesn’t make him a legitimate/formidable opponent because he was simply the sixth seed?

        • Benny, you should go by Joe’s logic, when he said Ferrer at world no.5 doesn’t make him a legitimate/formidable opponent! See the double standard?

          • Well I didn’t see that comment. I consider Ferrer as legit opponent for sure. Top three at one point. Great player with great career.

            • You didn’t see it, Benny, because my comments have all been conditional:

              IF Roddick, Hewitt, Safin, etc are weak -which is what Rafa fans like Hawkeye and co. have to claim to devalue Fed’s 2004-07 slams- THEN so are Ferrer, Soderling, Tsonga, etc. that beat Nadal in his prime.

              Of all the players just named (except Fed and Rafa), Safin had (imo) the most talent. It’s not a huge surprise that he could reach a slam final even ranked #88, just like it wasn’t a huge surprise that delpo did this year (not ranked that low, to be sure). Neither was an easy slam opponent.

              In fact, I would never say, categorically, that any slam finalist is weak. Almost always, they had to beat six guys to get there, and therefore are playing amazing tennis. If they are lowly ranked they would have had to beat several top guys.

              Again, what is so difficult (and valuable) about winning a big tournament is the ability to beat 7 of the world’s 128 best consecutively (or, at WTF, to win against the world’s 8 best). By comparison, beating one of the big four in a slam is not, in and of itself, as valuable.

          • Not quite sure why anyone is worrying about a final with Ferrer when Rafa played – and won – one of the all-time great matches with Djokovic to get TO that final (2013 FO). Absurd to call that a “weak” slam. It happens and if anyone wants to try to distinguish strength and weaknesses of slams you should look at more than finals.

    • “Nadal fans often give the impression that Fed’s larger number of GS titles have come against significantly weaker opposition in slam finals. Is that true?”


      • Hawks I’ve heard so many rafans say that. That’s literally the main argument made by Rafans in general when arguing that he is the goat. (Not necessarily Rafans on this site but in general that is a highly common argument)

        • Benny, please provide just one example here or a link to any other tennis forum.

          You’re an awesome Fedfan BTW. More objective than most, including me. Like you (and unlike Joe Smith), I’ve never claimed to be objective.

          Best regards,


          • I can’t stay long.

            This is only fun for a limited time these days.

            It’s like onion rings. The first few are divine but then it gets rather sickly.

          • Thanks hawks same to you. 🙂 And I just meant like actual friends of mine who play tennis with me that are fans of Rafa. Like I said, I’ve not seen that on here but in general a lot of my tennis buds who think Rafa is the GOAT use that as their main argument.

        • Benny, here’s what Hawkeye said a couple days ago:

          “Hewitt made it to one slam final against Federer during the Weak Era where Fed was prime (2003-07 inclusive). Five years with 20 slam finals.

          Roddick three, Safin 1.

          Other than Federer, no other player made it to slam finals consistently from 2003-07. The definition of a Weak Era IMO.”

          Now, I don’t know about you, but to me it sure sounds as though Hawk is claiming that Fed has faced weaker opposition in slam finals. Perhaps he could clarify.

          • Fed HAS faced weaker opposition in slam finals.

            Your reading comprehension skills are improving!

            (Except you missed my point.)

            Re-fuckin-read the last sentence over and over until you see the difference between what I said and what Benny said.

            My God your thick.

            Maybe Benny can ‘splain it to you.

            • More spluttering than clarity there, I’m afraid.

              Benny, I’d be grateful (and very impressed) if you can explain the huge difference that Hawkeye is referring to.

            • Honestly don’t know how to explain lol. I haven’t read it all and, with all respect, I don’t really want to 🙈 (Only because of how much there is to read). Correct me if I’m wrong as I may be totally mistaken but seems to me like Joe is saying that Fed’s weaker opposition in early finals of his career doesn’t have as big of an impact on the GOAT argument as many make it out to while hawks argues otherwise. It’s really a matter of opinion anyways. For me, I don’t really proclaim either as the GOAT I just have a FOAT (favorite of all time 😉) but I do believe that there are many factors to consider in this debate. It’s not all about slams and how these guys won them or who they faced in the finals. A lot of other factors are involved.

            • Don’t blame you one bit Benny. Who in their right mind would want to wade through all that shite. I certainly didn’t. Just picked the first piece of BS in each post I bothered to scan at all.

              Ok, let me have a go:

              “Nadal fans often give the impression that Fed’s larger number of GS titles have come against significantly weaker opposition in slam finals. Is that true?”

              False. Remove “in slam finals” and then I would say that is, in my opinion, subjectively (read: objectively to Joe Smith) true.

              Feel free to twist my words again Joe Smith by taking them out of context and putting words in my mouth for me. Sound good? It should. It’s your modus operandi in 99% of your counter arguments. To be fair, it’s all you got to attack any article that tries to say that Federer is not the defacto GOAT (which IS the whole point of the article ICYMI).

            • Actually both are true. But it’s not just because of who he faced in slam finals during the Weak Era.

              The randomness and inconsistency of the players he faced in slam finals defines The Weak Era which explains Fed’s run that padded his slam total.

              I wouldn’t expect you to understand such “nuances” Joe Smith. It would hurt too much.

    • Joe Smith cherry picking finals LOL.

      (Except when he says it takes seven matches.)

      Hint: Make up your mind and be consistent on both sides Joe Smith.

  15. Now let’s consider Djokovic. Since winning his first GS in 2007, Novak has lost only 8 times to lesser lights at slams, and three of those (Querry, Istomin, Berdych) have been in the last 18 months. Djokovic’s run from 2011-mid 2016 was incredible. During that period of 5 1/2 years, Novak only lost to one lesser light (as defined above) at slams: Nishikori.

    So Novak is in a much better position than Rafa to back up any “weak era” claim, simply because he has shown that he can beat the lesser lights almost all of the time over a long period. He can say, with some plausibility, that he would have won more slams from 2011-2016 if only he hadn’t had to face other members of the big 4 so often.

    How many more? Hard to say. Can he leverage this claim into being legitimately considered for GOAT? Unlikely. From 2011-2016, Novak lost 7 slams; 3 to Nadal, 2 to Murray, and 2 to Stan. If he had won them all, he would be tied with Federer. In that case, Novak would undoubtedly get the nod as GOAT based on strength of opposition. But it’s hard to say where Murray and (especially) Stan fit into the conversation.

    In any case, a 7 slam deficit is too much. That may change, of course, but at this point Novak has to settle for being one of top three.

    • Are you comparing the likes of Hewitt, Safin, Roddick to Rafa, Murray and Stan??

      Djoko, like Rafa, played in a tougher era than Fed’s earlier career from 2003-2007. Had the Djoko of 2011 to 2016 played during 2003-2007, he would be beating Hewitt, Safin, Roddick too and won as many if not more slams like Fed did.

      Had the Rafa of 2008 to 2013 (minus any injury) played during 2003-2007, he probably would have won more too, at least a few more HC slams as there’s no Djoko blocking his way at the HC slams.

      It’s obvious that 2008 to 2014 or 2015 was a tougher era to play in, compared to 2003-2007 or 2001-2007 ( I won’t call any era a weak one, just not as tough). From 2008 to 2014/2015, there were three ATGs playing, mostly in their prime.

      Fed had proven his worth by winning five slams in the period 2008-2015; while Rafa had won eleven and Djoko ten but Fed was hitting 30 yo in the midst of that period, so he had played past his prime in the said period but he’s still competitive though not winning any slam after 2012.

      Your definition of ‘lsser’ light players is questionable, as Kuerten in 2004 for example was already in the downward trajectory of his career, compared to say Sod of 2009 who’s moving up the rankings. Also Ferrer for eg was consistently in top ten from 2007 onwards, he’s certainly no lesser lights than say a Kuerten who’s past his prime from 2004 onwards.

      You’re fond of picking and choosing stuff in Fed’s favor just to make him looks better than he is; he’s an ATG, but whether he’s Goat (if there is one) is questionable. Who knows, Rafa or even Djoko may surpass him in slam titles and overall titles as well.

        • That. He would have destroyed including beating Federer’s level and Rafa’s level during those years (not to mention all of those also-rans during the Weak Era).

          So would Rafa at his peak for that matter.

          I think Zverev has a great Weak Era potential do do the tsame.

          Federer at 21-22 lost in the first round twice at the French Open. And at 23 lost in the 3rd round (without Rafa in the draw) after winning all other three slams that year!

          Stop blaming Rafa.

    • I should clarify what I said about Novak. Instead of this:

      “He can say, with some plausibility, that he would have won more slams from 2011-2016 if only he hadn’t had to face other members of the big 4 so often.”

      I should have said this:

      “Novak can say, with some plausibility, that had he been in his prime during 2004-07 -and Federer wasn’t playing- then he would have won about as many slams as Federer did during that period.”

      I don’t think one can say the same thing of Nadal, owing to his much less consistent track record at slams against lesser lights.

      • “Novak can say, with some plausibility, that had he been in his prime during 2004-07 -and Federer wasn’t playing- then he would have won about as many slams as Federer did during that period.”

        Actually, Novak would have won more and Federer less because Novak has a better h2h vs Fed career wise and in his prime. Novak and Rafa in their prime would both have slayed anytime between 2001-07. And Fed would have much less slams had either one of them been at their prime.

        In my SUBJECTIVE opinion, Novak’s prime best tennis and Rafa’s prime best tennis beats Fed’s prime best tennis on all four** (see note below) surfraces.

        **Four in the Joe Numbering System is three in decimal.

  16. Here’s a formula that is as close as anyone is likely to get to making an objective GOAT comparison. First, one has to count results in the biggest tournaments for all surfaces that tennis is played on, which includes indoor. There isn’t an indoor slam, of course, but the tour finals are the closest thing. Let’s count those (along with the slams), but also discount them in line with current point allocation. Let’s do the same for finals appearances. So, a WTF title counts for 3/4 slam; a GS finals appearance counts for 3/5 slam; and a WTF finals appearance counts for 1/2 slam (it’s .495 but I’ll round up). Roughly, we’re counting points, just as one does during a single season, but I’ll express the result in terms of slam-equivalents.

    Comparing just the big three plus Sampras for the moment (no one else in the open era is close to those four), the numbers come out as follows, listing in the following order. Slam titles, slam finals; WTF titles; WTF finals:

    1. Federer [19 + 5.4 (9) + 4.5 (6) + 2 (4)] = 30.9

    2. Djokovic [12 + 5.4 (9) + 3.75 (5) + .5 (1)] = 21.65

    3. Nadal [16 + 4.2 (7) + 0 (0) + 1 (2)] = 21.2

    4. Sampras [14 + 2.4 (4) + 3.75 (5) + .5 (1)] = 20.65

    As you can see, there is very little between Djokovic, Nadal, and Sampras. Federer, meanwhile, is some 9-10 slams ahead of those three. Counting masters 1000’s will bring Rafa and Novak a little closer but not enough to complicate matters.

    If GOAT means the best player overall of all time as based on the objective measure of performance in the biggest tournaments, then it’s not much of a contest: Federer is the GOAT by a wide margin.

    • Dear friend, you’re beating round the bush here, ignoring the difference in level of competition in the different eras.

      I think Djoko’s four in a row at the WTF was very impressive, considering who he had to beat to win them.

      • I blame Lucky for encouraging Joe Smith Strawman ill considered statements.

        C’mon Lucky, don’t bother.

        His earplugs are fact-resistant.

        He only believes in ELO when it suits his confirmatory bias.

        When it doesn’t, he makes cherry picked statements that ignore context.


      • What’s hilarious is the reaction to what is simply a fact-filled post. Lucky says I’m ignoring the difference in level of competition in different eras. Well, lucky, that’s precisely what’s in question, isn’t it? I’ve said many times: I don’t deny that the 2008-16 era is generally stronger than the 2004-07 one, but I disagree about the extent of its significance to the GOAT debate. Whatever the exact extent of the relevance of strength of competition, it doesn’t come close to compensating for a nearly 10 slam-equivalent difference, demonstrated above, between Federer and his nearest rivals.

        Hawkeye says my ears are fact-resistant, but he refuses to engage when I make a factually based critique of the article he posted. He’d rather hurl insults. If I’m cherry picking and ignoring context, then show it.

        Benny, as a Fed fan, I would think you’d recognize the weight of objective evidence in his favor, as demonstrated above, in the GOAT debate. No one is denying that Nadal is great in his own way, certainly not me. I put him in the top 3 of all time, though he’s much lower off clay.

        Al says I’m over-analyzing and it’s unfair to compare eras. As to the first point, as I’ve said, I’ve basically engaged in a point-counting exercise, so I don’t see how it’s over-analyzing. On the second point, I haven’t exactly compared Federer to Jack Kramer. Rafa and Novak are current rivals, and he over-lapped with Sampras. Seems a reasonable enough comparison, but if you object you can always omit Sampras or simply deny that there’s any sense to the GOAT debate. Maybe that’s right.

    • “all surfaces that tennis is played on, which includes indoor”

      Hint: indoor isn’t a surface. hard is a surface.

      If indoor is a surface, so is outdoor where fed is 10-22 vs Rafa.

      Djokovic, since hitting his prime, is 17-9 vs Fed.

      Seriously man, you shouldn’t bring Nole into this/ It only further diminished the Fake News that Federer is the undisputed GOAT.

  17. Oh my goodness why is this conversation still ongoing? We can’t control which eras they played in. Just let them both be great in their own ways

    • I’d point out that Hawkeye started this conversation by posting a poorly argued article titled “Rafa is not just king of clay,” which didn’t even attempt to argue for that position, but rather tried to denigrate the significance of Federer’s slam titles during 2003-07.

    • Benny, be prepared to lose lots of money then, should Rafa be playing at age 36. Rafa won’t be playing if he’s no longer competitive; if he’s playing he knows he can win, and most likely he’ll limit his number of matches and concentrates more on clay.

        • Joe, that’s because Rafa knew he would be winning again! Isn’t that simple?? We his fans knew it too and never lost hope! And see what we get in 2017?

        • And, that had proven his detractors wrong once again, that Rafa would retire early from professional tennis, saying he won’t be able to sustain his style of play to have a long career.

          They should learn something by now: never write off Rafa Nadal.

      • Only saying this because I feel that his wear and tear grinding style of play will make it tougher for him to play at a high level into his mid 30s.

        • Benny, didn’t you notice he’s no longer playing a grinding style this year? Going forward,I’ll bet that he’ll play more like his RG and Beijing style than his grinding style of his prime years.

          His play at Beijing was truly impressive, even though he had to save a MP against Pouille in R1. I would say the problem with Rafa is his scheduling. When he had to play LC – two singles and two doubles – he was adding to his work load, and instead of skipping the Asian swing to rest and then played the indoor events – Basel, Paris and London – he went to Beijing after just one week rest. His knee gave way and he had to suffer during Paris and London and had to skip Basel.

          As he becomes older, he should reduce his work load accordingly. I think Fed playing till his late 30s serves as an inspiration for Rafa and Djoko. Djoko also said that he would want to play for at least another five years; Murray otoh said that he (Murray) would at best be competitive for a couple of years more, so Murray would most likely retire before those three guys, at least in singles.

        • We’ll see Joe, too early to do any prediction now. Judging from how well Rafa could play these days, if he manage his schdule well, I feel he’ll still be competitive.

    • Have to say,it’s pushing it to describe Hewitt,Roddick and Safin as lesser lights.Five Slams and many Slam finals between them.Unlucky to have met Federer so often.

      • Hewitt made it to one slam final against Federer during the Weak Era where Fed was prime (2003-07 inclusive). Five years with 20 slam finals.

        Roddick three, Safin 1.

        Other than Federer, no other player made it to slam finals consistently from 2003-07. The definition of a Weak Era IMO.

        Hewitt, Roddick and Safin are “objectively” lesser lights compared to Djokovic, Federer and Murray. End of.

        • Rafa was the 2nd best making it to five finals during that period and he was but a pup at 19-22)!

          How many slam finals did fed make at that age? One at 22. And that was during the Weak Era (began in 2000-01 BTW).

          • When Rafa is 36, we can ask whether he made 5 finals, winning two, from the ages of 33-35. Rafa matured earlier than most players. So what?

            • I’m willing to bet a lot of money Rafa doesn’t play like Fed does now when he’s 36. Longevity is an underrated concept to be factored in one’s greatness. I’ve always thought Roger’s longevity is what sets him apart from anyone else.

            • So what?

              So Rafa would have walked over the weak era had he been five years older at the time like the overrated one.

              So what. So take the earplugs and eye blinds off.

              Wasted breath on the federazzi echo chamber.

            • As I’ve already shown, Rafa has never been able to walk over weak competition at slams. No reason whatsoever to think he would have been able to do so from 2003-07. A career’s worth of evidence says otherwise.

          • Again, the point was in response to Hawkeye’s observation that Fed didn’t appear in as many finals as Rafa when he was the same young age (19-22).

            I’m pointing out that Federer has appeared in 5 slam finals at a late age. Perhaps Rafa will match that statistic, but it is very unlikely, imo.

            • Joe, Rafa had not the chance to walk over weak competition during 2008-2014 as the competition weren’t weak then! His problem was his weakened knees; if not he won’t be losing early on grass. It’s no coincidence that he only lost early on grass from 2012 onwards. He would be winning a few more HCs slams if his 2008-2014 self were to play during 2003-2007.

            • Well, Lucky, the burden is on you to show that the competition was weaker from 2003-07 in a way that would make it likely that Nadal would have won more HC slams if he had played then. Here are the players Nadal lost to from 2008-14:

              2008: Tsonga(AO); Murray (US)
              2009: Soderling (FO); Injured (W); del Potro (US)
              2010: Murray (AO)
              2011: Ferrer (AO); Djokovic (W); Djokovic (US)
              2012: Djokovic (AO); Rosol (W); Injured (US)
              2013: Injured (AO); Darcis (W);
              2014: Wawrinka (AO); Kyrgios (W); Injured (US)

              First of all, this is a 7 year period as opposed to 4 (2004-07 is the period of Fed’s dominance). Second, on *all* surfaces, Novak is the *only* player that Rafa lost to during this period who was a slam winner at the time they played.

              Think of what people were saying before Nadal lost to Tsonga or Murray in 2008; Soderling or delpo in 2009; Ferrer in 2011; Stan in 2014; not to mention the people Nadal lost to on grass. Even Murray in 2010 AO was playing in only his second final, fewer than Hewitt or Safin when Fed played them in 2005.

              In all of the just-mentioned cases, Nadal was an overwhelming favorite, pre-match. But he under-performed and lost to players who, at the time, would have been judged fairly weak, not obviously stronger than the so-called “weak-era” opponents that Federer was beating in 2004-07.

              No doubt you’ll say that it’s obvious that Tsonga in 2008; Soderling in 2009; Murray in 2010; Ferrer in 2011; and Wawrinka in 2014, were stronger players than were weak-era Hewitt, Safin, Roddick, Agassi, and Gonzalez (the 10th seed at 2007 AO). I say that it’s not at all obvious, and that by many objective measures, the opponents Federer beat were stronger than the ones Nadal lost to on HC and clay.

              The burden is on you to make the case in a way that at least tries to be objective. Otherwise the facts speak for themselves and the claim stands: Rafa has never been able to walk over weak opposition, even on HC and clay, and even during his supposed prime years of 2008-14.

            • Joe, bear in mind that Rafa didn’t play a full season during 2012 to 2014. Sure, we can exclude 2014, no issue.

              Rafa was playing very well on the HCs from 2009 onwards, reaching 5 HC finals winning 4. Even in 2008 he was playing well to win at Canada and Beijing Olympics, and I bet that had it not for the Olympics, Rafa would not be so exhausted that he lost at the SF of USO to Murray. He had reached SFs at least, with the exceptions of AO2010/2011 when he was unfortunate to get injured during the matches; and he had to miss USO in 2012 and AO in 2013 due to injuries. Had it not for Djoko, Rafa would have won at AO2012 and USO2011.

              Would the Rafa of 2008 to 2013 be able to beat Fed’s opponents at the USO from 2004-2007 and Roddick in 2003? I don’t doubt that he could, and could have won more than 2 USO. The AO? Well, if he wasn’t injured, I don’t doubt he would be able to beat Baggy, Gonzo, Safin, Hewitt; after all he was beating Fed and very close to beating Djoko at the AO, the two best HC players around.

            • Joe, do read more carefully; I didn’t say that beating Safin or Hewitt or Roddick were beating lesser lights;I said beating Ferrer and Sod in slam finals weren’t beating lesser lights. They were both in the top ten when Rafa beat them at the slams whilst Safin was no. 88 when Fed beat him at AO2004.

              You mentioned that Rafa was losing to lesser lights like Tsonga, Sod and Ferrer, but you considered losing to Kuerten weren’t so. You failed to look at their respective career trajectories at those times. Tsonga, Sod and Ferrer went on to be in top ten for a fair to large part of their careers after that.

          • That was the year Sampras started to get beaten (eg by Hewitt and Safin ) .You wouldn’t happen to be a Sampras fan ? In which case ,you’ll dismiss Federers 2001 win over him.

            • Well Big Al we know that guys like Hewitt and Safin were obviously awful players therefore Roger’s wins over them should probably be discounted from his record.

            • Who would dismiss Roger’s grass win over Sampras in ’01 or Bastl’s grass win over Sampras in ’02?

              Not like Sampras’ best days were behind him on grass. Oh wait.

              Nor was Fed’s best days ahead of him. Oh wait.

              Both players were obviously at their respective best on grass, no?

              Try harder “Big” Al.

        • Yeah Benny, Safin was such an awful player he painted the lines against Sampras in a US Open final and beat Federer in AO Semi.
          Not much of a fan of Hewitt but a very decent player and tough competitor .

          The point about Federers win over Sampras 2001 , Sampras was still playing well enough to win the US Open , Federer was nowhere near his peak. But it was becoming obvious he had more talent.

  18. Maybe or maybe not, Rafa fans always get that rammed down their throats, so bloody tiresome, hes playing now and thats whats important to his fans, for gods sake anything else is for the future ….

    • I haven’t read all the comments here, I might read them later if I have the time but I gotta say Joe Smith is making a lot of sense in this discussion, well done.

      4 real your comments are fair and factual.

  19. Let’s consider another attempt to characterize the “weak era” of 2004-07. Here’s what Hawkeye says in a recent post:

    “The randomness and inconsistency of the players he faced in slam finals defines The Weak Era which explains Fed’s run that padded his slam total.”

    Apparently, Hawkeye thinks *both* that

    1. The players Fed faced in slam finals were generally weak (“random and inconsistent”).
    2. The “supporting cast” (i.e. other players beyond those making finals) was generally weak.

    Taking the second claim first, until some criterion/standard is offered to explain why 2nd tier players from 2004-07 were generally weaker than 2008-2014 Hawk is merely stating his opinion and no doubt fervent hope, nothing more. I know of no reason to think it’s true, and can’t think of a minimally objective way to compare the two groups of players.

    How about the first claim? Well, Hawkeye has offered a standard of sorts:

    “Other than Federer, no other player made it to slam finals consistently from 2003-07. The definition of a Weak Era IMO.”

    Is this claim true? Well, let’s start from 2004, which is the start of Fed’s dominance, which lasted through 2007.

    FO: Hard to ignore a guy named Rafael Nadal, who won three straight finals from 2005-07, beating Roger in each one. In 2004, Fed lost early to Gustavo Kuerten, who was a 3 time champ and played like it that day (go and check out the match).

    Wimby: Roddick was finalist in 2004-05; Nadal in 2006-07.

    USO: Hewitt, Agassi, Roddick, Djokovic. Roddick played in 4 career finals; Hewitt 3. Agassi and Novak all time greats at opposite ends of their respective careers.

    AO: Safin (2004-05); Baghdatis (2006); Gonzalez (2007).

    Comment: Hawkeye’s claim, factually, only really applies to the AO, and there really only to Baghdatis and Gonzalez. They, along with Philippousis (Wimby 2003), were the one-timers in slam finals that Fed faced during that era. As I’ve already said, however, Nadal has faced some similar quality players in finals, notably Puerta (2005), Berdych (2010), Ferrer (2011) and Anderson (2017). It’s very hard to see a significant difference between the two groups of players, so if a handful of Fed’s slam victories should be devalued, then the same is true of a handful of Nadal’s.

    In general, however, Hawkeye’s definition of a “weak era” is a poor one for the purpose for which it’s intended, namely, to devalue Fed’s slams won during 2003-07 as compared to Rafa’s slams mainly won from 2008-present. Apart from cutting both ways (as I’ve just shown), it also ignores the fact that almost all tennis, notably the slams, is played in elimination tournaments. If a “weak” player like Baghdatis is in the final, he earned it by beating supposedly “better” players (in Marcos’ case he beat #2 Roddick at the 2006 AO, along with the #4 and #7 seeds). You can only play the person in front of you, and by the final that person has shown himself to be one of two best players in the tournament based on his performance to that point.

    Again, the most difficult thing about a slam is winning 7 straight matches against the field. Unless someone has a way of showing how the entire field of professional tennis players was significantly weaker from 2003-07 than afterwards, Hawkeye’s way of characterizing the “weak era” goes nowhere.

    • Joe Smith doth protest too much about that article.

      So much qualifiers and cherry picking not to mention a few patented Joe Smith straw man arguments.


    • Rafa faced Puerta in 2005 because he’d taken Fed out in the semis! He faced Berdy in the 2010 finals because Berdy beat Fed in the quarters and Djokovic in the semis. Rafa had beaten Murray in the semis. The only slam final Ferrer ever made was RG 2013, not 2011, and that year Rafa had to play Djokovic in the semis. I don’t think you can judge a slam’s quality by looking only at the finalists.

      Re the quote from Rafa. He’s right, of course. You can’t judge players by looking only at the head to head records with a rival. That’s as true this year as it was then.

      • Of course you’re right that you can’t judge a slam’s quality by looking only at finalists. However, it’s very difficult to compare two slams overall quality when they are from different eras. If you have some standard by which to do so, please share. A Rafa fan who claims that the overall strength of the field in 2011 was *obviously* stronger than it was in 2004, without any argument to support it, is open to the charge of bias.

        In any case, as I’ve shown, the most important factor in winning slams -much more important than the ability to beat the very top players- is the ability to beat 7 players from the field consecutively. Inevitably, some of those players will be comparatively “weak,” particularly for a top-ranked player such as Nadal.

        Yet, as I’ve already shown, Rafa has lost many times at slams to players that are not, by any objective measure, obviously stronger than players Federer had to compete against during 2004-07. Nadal’s grass results in recent years speak for themselves in this regard. However, even during his prime years (2008-13) and on all surfaces, he has lost to players who had not previously won a slam or competed in many or any finals. These include Tsonga and Murray (2008); Soderling and del Potro (2009); Ferrer (2011); Rosol (2012) and Darcis (2013). There is no objective basis for saying that any of those players, at the time, were obviously stronger than comparably ranked players during 2004-07.

  20. Unlike many of his fans, Nadal understands something about tennis. From a 2010 interview:

    “Q. I have a different question for you. Everyone in tennis loves Roger, respects Roger. He is said to be the best of all time. Yet two out of every three times you play him, you win. You’ve won six of the last seven times. Who’s a better player?
    RAFAEL NADAL: You like this. You are focused on the Roger thing, eh? (laughter.)
    Yesterday with the clay. Today with the if somebody says I am better than Roger, I think this person don’t know nothing about tennis. That’s my answer.

    Q. How so?

    Q. Yeah.
    RAFAEL NADAL: So you don’t know nothing about tennis.
    You see the titles of him and you see the titles of me? It’s no comparison. So that’s the answer. Is difficult to compare Roger with me now, because he has 16 Grand Slams; I have 6. Masters 1000, yeah, I have more than him. But for the rest of the things the records of Roger is very, very almost impossible to improve.”

    Rafa is a lot closer than he was in 2010, and perhaps one day he will pull ahead of Roger. In any case his logic remains impeccable: Tennis greatness is about winning big titles. As of today, if one counts WTF along with slams, there is still not much of a comparison.

    • Wow! I like that, rafa is honest and sometimes humble, he knows who is the best.

      I wish every injured tennis player a full recovery, next year has to be HOT.

    • In 2010 I agreed with Rafa. 16 was much greater than six with the weak era having ended just a few weeks prior and Rafa missing and injured for most of 2009.

      Since that time? 8-3.

      [any more insults and all 3 of you are going into moderation]

  21. Let’s try to evaluate the “weak-era” hypothesis as it relates to the GOAT debate a bit more precisely. I’ll first try to clarify the key claim made by Nadal partisans. A first pass is this:

    If only Nadal had been able to play during the weak-era as Federer did, rather than have to face Djokovic in all those slam finals, he would have more slam titles than he currently does.

    Now, of course Nadal *did* play during 2004-07, and was ranked #2 in the world for most of it. But Rafa fans protest that he was too young, still just a pup. Their claim is thus:

    If *prime-age* Nadal had played during the weak-era, instead of having to face Novak, he would have more slams than he does now.

    What is prime-age Nadal? We’ll consider a few different options. For now, note that even the above isn’t enough, because it leaves out one crucial thing:

    If prime-age Nadal had played during the weak-era *and there was no other ATG such as Federer around* then Rafa would have more slams than he does now.

    Leaving Federer out is crucial, because otherwise the outcome is very unclear. If Nadal was the same age as Federer would he have more slams? Nobody knows. In any case, I’m almost certain that the above formulation is what Nadal fans have in mind when they invoke the “weak-era” to explain away Nadal’s slam deficit to Fed. I’ll next try to evaluate it.

  22. We need Nadal’s best four-year period to compare it to 2004-07. There are several options, but the one most favourable to Rafa is 2010-13. During that period, Rafa won 7 slam titles and he lost 3 to Djokovic. In a nod to the “weak-era’s” lack of another ATG, let’s suppose that Rafa would have won those matches against a lesser player, giving him 3 more titles and bumping up his slam count to 19. Tied with Roger. Easy, right?

    Not so fast. First, we have to look at Rafa’s overall slam record from 2010-13. He lost to two obvious lesser lights, Rosol and Darcis, and was unable to compete due to injury twice. We have to transfer those results to the weak-era; there is no reason not to. That means he would have won at least 12 slams during that period. What about the loss to Murray (AO 2010) or Ferrer (AO 2011)? Were those players obviously better than, say, Safin in 2005 when he beat Roger at the AO? Not obvious at all. Rafa lost to those guys, and there’s no reason to suppose the result would have been different to comparably ranked players during 2004-07.

    In short, the most the “weak-era” advocate can reasonably say on Nadal’s behalf is this:

    Had Rafa played during the weak-era, and there had been no other ATG such as Fed playing, he would have won 10 slams. Again, however, that pushes Rafa’s total to 19. Isn’t that enough?

    No. It’s not enough, because if we make a comparable assumption for Roger, his total increases as well. The assumption should be obvious. We have to ask: How many slams would Roger have won during 2004-07 had there been no other ATG, in particular, if he hadn’t had to face Nadal at RG? The most obvious answer is: 3 more. In 2006-07 he lost in the final, and in 2005 he lost in the semi; if he had won he would only have to have beaten Puerta to win the title.

    The upshot is this. If we make the requisite assumptions for the weak-era hypothesis for Rafa, his total increases by three. If we make the same assumptions for Fed, his total also increases by three. Again, the “weak-era” hypothesis fails to show what it’s intended to show.

      • Strange, why would he be injured also during 2004-2007?? There’s no Djoko there to push him to his limit (AO2012) that caused his knee issues, that he had to take six months injury break. Why assumed that he would have the same problems on grass (if there’s no one like Djoko) to give him problems during 2004-2007?

        And how’s Rafa only having ‘12’ slams and not more during those time, when he would probably have 5 FOs, three or four Wimbledon, three or four AO and USO? Not impossible or improbable to have at least 14 or even more.

        Well, Fed lost to Nalbandian (twice), Horna, Rafa (who at that time was an upstart in 2005), Kuerten who’s on a downward slope ( check his results during 2004). Just because Kuerten was a former slam winner didn’t make him anymore difficult to beat when he’s no longer playing that well and was going downhill. Kuerten lost in the QF after beating Fed and had lost early in practically every events he played thereafter in that season.

        Tsonga, Sod and Delpo ( Delpo was ranked no.6 at that time)reached the finals after beating Rafa and Delpo won the USO title ( beating non other than Fed in the final). Ferrer and Murray beat an injured Rafa at the AO ( Rafa retired from that AO match vs Murray), both were already top ten players at those times.

      • Well, Lucky, I don’t know what more to say about the injury issue. The fact is, Nadal has been fairly injury prone throughout his career. He’s missed many slams between the ages of 20-30, whereas Federer didn’t miss any. No one knows how many more slams Nadal might have won had he been able to play every slam, but I think it’s reasonable to assume he would have at least 1 more had he been completely healthy.

        However, that has nothing do with any “weak era.” You don’t know that it was the 2012 match with Novak that was necessary for that injury. Something else might have caused it in different circumstances, and the most unbiased, reasonable assumption is that Nadal would have been injured just as much during 2004-07 as he was during 2010-13. (Considering other plausible four year periods, it’s only during 2008-11 that Nadal missed only one slam to injury; but during that time he only had two slam losses to Novak).

        You’re completely missing the point about Nadal’s losses to lesser players. He lost to Rosol and Darcis on grass in 2010-13; why think he wouldn’t lose to comparably weak players from 2004-07? He only lost one slam on grass to Novak during 2010-13, and I’ve assumed he would have won that against a lesser player (along with his two other slam final losses to Novak).

        Fed’s slam losses to Nalbandian are beside the point, since they didn’t occur between 2004-07. That’s the relevant “weak-era” period, since it’s when Fed dominated (except at RG). It’s also why Rafa couldn’t have more than 4 RG titles, the same number he had during 2010-13.

        Again, I’m not claiming, categorically, that Tsonga, Soderling, Delpo, and Murray weren’t good players when Rafa lost to them. The burden is on you to show that they were *obviously* stronger players at the time than were comparably ranked players during 2004-07. Otherwise, they’re no good reason to think that Rafa would have won against their imagined counterparts from 2004-07.

        How would you even begin to do show that the later players were obviously stronger than the earlier ones? I have no idea. I’m sorry, but simply saying: “I just think that Tsonga, Sod, etc. were obviously better” isn’t good enough.

        • Joe, Rafa didn’t win at FO 2004 because he didn’t play there!

          1) you can’t assumed that Rafa would lose at the FO just because he lost to Sod. Notice that he had injured his knee at Rotterdam, after his grueling SF and F at the AO that year in 2009. Had anyone played like Verdasco of 2009 AO, back during 2004 at the AO? Also I doubt Rafa would be playing grinding tennis at that time, had he been born a few years earlier (peaking during 2004-2007) and playing on quicker surfaces during his early years of his career. Note how Rafa played during 2004 as a 17/18 year old; he was playing a more attacking style and stepping inside the court more willingly back then. He won’t be grinding the way he did during his peak years (2008-2012; he wasn’t grinding that much in 2013 though) had he peaked during 2004-2007.

          2) Of course Rafa’s knees gave way in 2012 resulting in his long six months injury break had to do with his grueling AO final against Djoko. His knees were ok during 2011, but after that AO final with Djoko, he had to withdraw before playing Murray in the Miami SF. His grueling clay season only made things worse. Why only after 2011 that he was doing poorly at Wimbledon and not before that?

          3) Do you need to doubt Murray and Delpo? You think they’re lesser players than say Hewitt or Safin or Roddick or Nalbandian? Murray and Delpo both won slams during the strong era when 3 ATGs were playing!

          Ferrer was consistently at no. 5 just after the big four and he was beating most if not all players ranked below him. Sod and Tsonga went on to be top ten players; both did beat Fed at the slams when Fed was still playing well and still ranked no.1 or no.3.

          It’ll be interesting to note that Fed during his peak in 2004-2007 had lost to teenagers like Rafa, Berdych, Gasquet and Murray, all of whom had gone on to become top ten players, that meant their gen would turn out to be playing in a tough era when they reached their peak or prime.

          • Two points. You say:

            “1) you can’t assumed that Rafa would lose at the FO just because he lost to Sod.”

            Response: I don’t need to assume it. Rather, *you* need to assume that even though prime Nadal lost to Soderling, he *wouldn’t* have lost to anyone else during 2004-07 at RG. Do you see the difference? Do you see how hard it is to show that such an assumption is justified?

            You also say:

            “3) Do you need to doubt Murray and Delpo? You think they’re lesser players than say Hewitt or Safin or Roddick or Nalbandian?”

            Response: Again, I don’t need to show that 2008 Murray and 2009 Delpo are lesser players than Hewitt or Safin or Roddick. Rather, *you* need to show that the former two are *obviously* stronger players than the latter three (or comparable players from 2004-07). Otherwise, given that Nadal in fact lost to Murray and Delpo, there’s no good reason to think he wouldn’t have lost to comparable players from the earlier era.

            • Joe, still at it? I thought I explained about Rafa’s 2009 situations? You think the uninjured Rafa of 2009 would lose to Coria or Gaudio at the FO, when the 2005 version of Rafa could beat them?

              How were Hewitt and Roddick great when they were always losing to Fed every time they met him at the slams? At least the 20 year old Delpo beat Fed at the USO final, after beating Rafa in the SF. Fed was no.1 in 2009, won two slams and reached another two finals.

              How was Murray any worse than Hewitt and Roddick when he was reaching slam finals starting from that USO 2008 when he beat Rafa in the SF? He had reached the finals of AO in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015-2016, lost to Djoko in four of them when Djoko was no.1 in the world, and to Fed once. He had also won his slams at Wimbledon twice and USO once, beating the no.1 player Djoko in two of them.

            • “We have to transfer those results to the weak-era;”

              “and the most unbiased, reasonable assumption is that Nadal would have been injured just as much during 2004-07 as he was during 2010-13. ”

              False logic. False assumption. Less taxing playing Weak Era opponents.

              “”even though prime Nadal lost to Soderling”

              No, not prime, injured knees as evidenced from absence in Wimbledon two weeks later.

        • You also conveniently missed the point that Rafa won Wimbledon in 2008 and 2010, and missed 2009 due to injury. He reached the final in 2011 (lost to Djoko). Wasn’t it plausible that Rafa would win three Wimbledon if not more during 2004-2007 or 2003-2007?

          At the AO, Rafa would be formidable too had he not been injured. I doubt he would have any problem vs Safin in 2004 for eg, and Baggy and Gonzo. I give it that Agassi in 2003 and Safin of 2005 would win.

          Rafa was playing well at the USO from 2008 onwards. Like I said, without the Olympics in 2008, he would most likely have beaten Murray in the USO SF, given how well he played from Toronto to Olympics at Beijing. He would give Roddick a good fight at USO 2003. Looking at Fed’s opponents then at the USO from 2004-2007, I think Rafa would beat at least three out of four of them.

          • Nope, I didn’t miss that point. First, because I was only considering the four year period from 2010-13, 2008 isn’t relevant (I can go through the 2008-11 period if you like; the result is the same). Second, as I’ve already pointed out, prime-age Nadal lost twice at Wimby to lowly ranked players (Rosol and Darcis). It’s unreasonable to think he wouldn’t have lost to comparable players had he played during 2004-07, so he would have won at most 2 wimby titles, which is exactly what I have assumed.

            We agree on the number of AO titles he would have won during 2004-07 -two- though for different reasons.

            As far as the USO, again, you are making a tendentious assumption that Rafa would have beaten Murray if only he hadn’t played in the Olympics. The fact is that he lost to Murray, who hadn’t yet made it to a slam final (he would at that tournament). Again, neither Murray nor Tsonga in 2008, nor Delpo in 2009, was obviously a stronger player than, e.g., Safin (2005), Agassi (2005) or Djokovic (2007).

            • Djoko in 2007 was no.3 but didn’t win a slam, Delpo in 2009 was no.6 but he beat the no.1 and 2 players to win a slam. Certainly that Delpo was doing something better than Djoko in 2007.

              Did Agassi win any slam in 2005? Only Safin did win one in 2005. Tsonga and Murray reached the slam final when they beat Rafa, I doubt they were playing any worse than Djoko who made his first slam final at USO2007. Murray was no.6 at USO2008 and he beat no.1 Rafa and lost to no.2 Fed. Agassi had to beat three players in five sets and lost to no.1 Fed in 2005 USO, was Murray any worse than Agassi? I give it that Safin was playing well at AO2005 and he was no.4 at that time.

              Why would the Rafa of Wimbledon 2008-2011or 2012 won’t do better when he played during 2003-2007? He won’t be missing the Wimbledon when he did not injure his knee (the way he did in 2009). He was in the midst of his peak in 2009 when he injured his knee (poor scheduling when he played Rotterdam, DC tie after grueling AO).

              I don’t see him playing grueling matches at AO2004 the way he played against Verdasco in 2009. He would be able to beat Fed’s opponents ( almost all if not all of them) at Wimbledon from 2003-2007 ( would play Baggy in 2006 and maybe Djoko or Berdych in 2007 as he won’t be playing against himself then).

              Again, all these are hypothetical and I don’t see why you’re still continuing with this topic.

    • No doubt they are hypotheticals, Benny. But the whole “weak-era” hypothesis, if it is to have any weight in the GOAT debate, depends on the key hypothetical that I stated above:

      “If prime-age Nadal had played during the weak-era *and there was no other ATG such as Federer around* then Rafa would have more slams than he does now.”

      The important thing to appreciate is that the burden of proof falls on the *defender* of the weak-era hypothesis to establish this hypothetical. And what the above discussion shows is just how hard it is to establish it. Not only does one have to make deeply controversial claims about the relative strength of players from different eras, one has to make assumptions about whether or not prime-age Nadal would be injured as much had he played during 2004-07!

      So your observation is entirely correct, but only goes to show how dubious the whole “weak-era” hypothesis is as a basis for devaluing Federer’s 2004-07 slam titles.

    • Yes Benny, they’re hypothetical and I don’t understand why Joe is still continuing with it. I thought it ended after some nasty exchanges between some posters and Ricky told them to tone down.

      I think we should stop here, no point going on any further.

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