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How long could Federer play at the top for?

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Post by bogbrush Tue 26 Jan 2016, 11:20 am

First topic message reminder :

It was funny watching the quarter today. As one poster said, Berdych used to trouble Federer but on a court ideal for his play he was dismantled pretty emphatically by Federer. Where he seemed always to be short of time against the big Czech, he looked in control throughout.

The winners almost doubled the unforced errors (so it was attacking tennis) and Berdych looked further away from overcoming him than perhaps ever before. There was the usual drivel from Simon Reed about how Federers movement is "better than ever" but in my opinion he's confusing footspeed with the impact of court position.

What Federer seems to have done is made his court smaller, and in doing so he's made the other guys bigger. It's done simply by standing right up on every shot from return to mid rally and refusing to back off; in doing so he's rushing opponents and giving himself broader angles to play into, as well as cutting down the distance he needs to travel side to side. I thought it was noticeable how many killer forehands he hit - a part of his game that became a shadow of it's former self.

The only requirement for this tactic is insanely good reactions & the ability (which he's always had) to play half or near-half volleys like normal groundstrokes.

The question I'm thinking is; provided he keeps his hand-eye skill (and he'll probably have it in some form for decades), and he stays basically fit, what's to stop him staying in the top 5 for another 4 years or so? There's no sign of others coming through, I think the events are starting to realise they took the slow court thing too far and there are signs of a reversal, and he seems to want it. If he fails to win this Australian Open it's most likely to be because the current established #1 beats him; that's what it's taken to stop him winning the last two Grand Slams after all.

Exactly why will he stop, and when? We all keep predicting he'll fall away but while he's able to reinvent / rejuvinate his game where's the evidence?

As the man says today; “It's part of the reason why I guess I'm still playing. I feel like I'm competitive at the top. I can beat all the guys on tour. It's nice now that in the last three slams that I've been as consistent as I have been,” Federer said.

“I'm playing good tennis, fun tennis for me anyway. I really enjoy being able to come to the net more like back in the day. So I'm very pleased. It would mean a lot to me (to win another major), no doubt about it.”
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Post by socal1976 Fri 29 Jan 2016, 3:37 am

TRuffin wrote:Massive true age decline can happen quickly though.  Fed is holding off father time and modern times have extended the age of top athletes but there is always a cliff coming. Look at Peyton Manning. Two years ago he was breaking every NFL season record in the books, lighting up defenses. Following year- he was on track halfway through the season to do the sae and suddenly arm just got tired and gave out.  Second half of the season and this year his arm is a noodle and he might be the worst throwing QB in the league completely reliant on teammates. Tennis players don't have that luxury.  

No reason to think Federer can't go another couple years at a consistent top level and he can prob turn up at a place like Wimbledon at 40 and still be better than all but a couple players- but at that point, there is no way he will be able to do it consistently.  It's hard for me to see him willing to struggle a lot with the hopes of catching on fire and making a run here and there.

Ruffin I remember all those guys vividly except ali. I think it is hard to make the comparison to Jordan. Sheer athleticism of Jordan made it impossible to like old Jordan even remotely like you could enjoy young Jordan. I mean watching him hit 15-20 footers in the mid post comparing to him flying down the court exploding in the lane and dunking on seven footers over and over again. My favorite Kobe was the same way, when he singlehandedly neutered the Spurs in the Wcf in their second title run. My point is that the physicality in basketball and raw athleticism plays a much larger role in tennis. 

Montana, is interesting in that I am telling you that first year with KC after leaving the Niners he threw a more accurate and better ball than he ever did. I remember Everyone knew Joe was going to leave the Niners and he was a free agent and could sign with whoever. He went to Atlanta to try out Rison and the Falcons Rison said after the hour work out he got on his knees and begged the man to sign with the Falcons. The thing that drove Joe away was not his ability as a quarterback to this day at the end of his career I had seen nothing like it. What got Joe was he just wasn't elusive and just couldn't take the pounding anymore. Now while our British viewers are asleep here is how it finally ties in to tennis. I believe fed will leave for that reason as well. We know he has had back issues if he is in pain he quits. I think if Fed isn't in pain he loves the adulation and the bizarre cult that surrounds him, who wouldn't.  And he will always be good enough to beat almost anyone, why quit and leave all that money on the table?

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Post by Guest Fri 29 Jan 2016, 6:13 am

Born Slippy wrote:I wasn't going to go through and work out when/if his opponents weren't 100%. However, had I included 2008 I would obviously have been criticised (Fed got beaten up badly by Rafa and Andy particularly that year). If leaving out 2008 it was also fairly logical to do the same for 2013.

Knock yourself out if you want to see what the stats look like with the changes you suggest. Probably more constructive to deal with the overall point though but I appreciate that's trickier than making snide remarks about the analysis.

It's not about snide remarks. The analysis becomes fruitless when you make adjustments such as leaving out key years based on the condition of the player. That caveat as a measure then needs to be applied to the opponents if it's critical to the outcome of those matches. As I mentioned, fans of the other players would say the same as me. It's inconsistent.

You asked for thoughts and I gave mine. No harm done.

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Post by Born Slippy Fri 29 Jan 2016, 6:20 am

summerblues wrote:
Born Slippy wrote:Following the debate over whether Federer is far worse now than at his peak, I have done a little comparison of results against the top guys who were around a few years back and are still going strong now.

[...]

I'm perfectly willing to accept he's more inconsistent and his stamina isn't going to be as good. However, with the various improvements he's made, when it comes to the matches with his main rivals it would appear his level remains pretty similar to his peak.

Thoughts?
First, I will start by saying that I agree that he is not miles and miles behind where he was in 2007/2009.  But, nevertheless, let me also chime in with counterpoints to your points:

1.  Player is measured by all kinds of measures, and you just happened to pick one where Fed has held up pretty well.  But there are also quite a few measures which show Fed declining.  Perhaps the most critical one:  From 8 slams in 2007/2009, Fed won 5 titles and had three losses (2x Nadal, 1x Delpo).  He also had one win against Nadal, and two against Djokovic.  In the 8 slams in 2014/15, Fed won zero titles, and his losses were: 3x Djokovic, Nadal, Gulbis, Cilic, Seppi, Wawrinka.  He had zero wins against either Nadal or Djokovic.  From this angle, 2014/15 looks rather significantly worse.

2.  You picked 2007 and 2009, but those were not really Fed's best years.  His best years were likely 2004-2006, or at most 2004-2007.

3.  While Fed has kept his overall level close-ish to where he used to be, it is also quite clear how he has achieved it.  He had to de-emphasize baseline game where he can no longer last with the top players, and he instead worked on improving his attacking game.  It is to his credit that - in not so friendly conditions - he has been able to do fairly well.  Nevertheless, at the end of the day, he has had to compensate for his aging.  And as he ages further, his game will deteriorate more and he will run out of areas where he can compensate by tactical adjustments.

I think he is close to where the decline will become very visible in results.  I expect he will be out of top 5 by YE.  I could be wrong - I would love to be wrong - but I will believe it when I see it.

1. Take Djokovic out and Roger has won 4 of the last 7 slams though, which would start to compare somewhat to the 5 out of 8 in 2007 and 2009. I suspect he's also lost less sets in his last three slams (before running into Novak) than at any three slam in his younger years. I agree the Seppi result wouldn't have happened at his peak but it's looked just as unlikely since - it was a very freakish result.

2. I obviously can't really do a comparison to 04-06 as the other players were very young at that point. Fed was still only 25/26 and 27/28 in the years picked, so extremely hard to sensibly argue he'd declined at that point.

3. I don't disagree with this. I've acknowledged elsewhere that Fed's ability to adjust and re-invent is remarkable and testament to his greatness. I also expect him to start to dip, although I think it will be slower than you suggest. I think he will definitely still be top 4 (despite the reduced schedule) at YE. I do think a younger Fed would still have found it very hard to beat current level Novak or indeed Murray from the baseline though. They would have pinned him into his backhand corner and errors would have eventually come.

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Post by Born Slippy Fri 29 Jan 2016, 6:50 am

Just checked my point on sets lost in the Wim-Oz run of slams (up to but not including the Djokovic round):

15-16 - 2
07/08 - 5
06/07 - 1
05/06 - 6
04/05 - 4

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Post by Born Slippy Fri 29 Jan 2016, 7:09 am

legendkillarV2 wrote:
Born Slippy wrote:I wasn't going to go through and work out when/if his opponents weren't 100%. However, had I included 2008 I would obviously have been criticised (Fed got beaten up badly by Rafa and Andy particularly that year). If leaving out 2008 it was also fairly logical to do the same for 2013.

Knock yourself out if you want to see what the stats look like with the changes you suggest. Probably more constructive to deal with the overall point though but I appreciate that's trickier than making snide remarks about the analysis.

It's not about snide remarks. The analysis becomes fruitless when you make adjustments such as leaving out key years based on the condition of the player. That caveat as a measure then needs to be applied to the opponents if it's critical to the outcome of those matches. As I mentioned, fans of the other players would say the same as me. It's inconsistent.

You asked for thoughts and I gave mine. No harm done.

If you think it makes a difference then explain why. You want me to remove 2009 yet Fed went 1-1 with Rafa that year before Rafa was injured, so why remove it. Rafa also went 2-1 against Fed in 2012 and 2014 so again I fail to see the relevance - it isn't twisting the data. Removing Fed v Murray results from 2014 also makes no difference (other than to game percentage).

As you say, you can obviously comment how you like but if you are going to declare analysis fruitless it would be better if your point had some logical weight.


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Post by Guest Fri 29 Jan 2016, 8:53 am

Born Slippy wrote:
legendkillarV2 wrote:
Born Slippy wrote:I wasn't going to go through and work out when/if his opponents weren't 100%. However, had I included 2008 I would obviously have been criticised (Fed got beaten up badly by Rafa and Andy particularly that year). If leaving out 2008 it was also fairly logical to do the same for 2013.

Knock yourself out if you want to see what the stats look like with the changes you suggest. Probably more constructive to deal with the overall point though but I appreciate that's trickier than making snide remarks about the analysis.

It's not about snide remarks. The analysis becomes fruitless when you make adjustments such as leaving out key years based on the condition of the player. That caveat as a measure then needs to be applied to the opponents if it's critical to the outcome of those matches. As I mentioned, fans of the other players would say the same as me. It's inconsistent.

You asked for thoughts and I gave mine. No harm done.

If you think it makes a difference then explain why. You want me to remove 2009 yet Fed went 1-1 with Rafa that year before Rafa was injured, so why remove it. Rafa also went 2-1 against Fed in 2012 and 2014 so again I fail to see the relevance - it isn't twisting the data. Removing Fed v Murray results from 2014 also makes no difference (other than to game percentage).

As you say, you can obviously comment how you like but if you are going to declare analysis fruitless it would be better if your point had some logical weight.


Let me shoot this down. Does the data include the ill fated WTF 2014 walkover?

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Post by Born Slippy Fri 29 Jan 2016, 8:59 am

Sure - and if I remove it, it gets replaced with another Fed win.

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Post by Guest Fri 29 Jan 2016, 9:08 am

Right, so let me ask why a match in which a racquet was never swung has more consideration than matches actually played? I get you are not trying to upset the feelings of Federer fans, but equally fans of Nadal have got their asterix marker out in previous debates.

Cherry picking stats can be a rocky road when equally fans of other players would argue the same criteria be applied to their favoured player when talking matches played against one another.

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Post by Born Slippy Fri 29 Jan 2016, 9:14 am

Oh sorry - I thought you meant the 2014 Fed v Murray wtf match (which may as well have been a walkover). It obviously doesn't include actual walk overs - they aren't countable matches.

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Post by Guest Fri 29 Jan 2016, 10:03 am

Tis true. At least Andy made it on court.

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Post by Henman Bill Fri 29 Jan 2016, 1:04 pm

Just a theory but he could sustain himself at the top for another 1 to 2 years then suddenly suffer enough physical decline, slight motivational decline and preference to be at home with the kids, that it pushes him into the #5-#10 region. Then, playing in this region, he quickly loses further interest. Goes from top 4 rank to retirement in one year around 2017. Perhaps with an injury or fitness issue thrown in.

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Post by coolpixel Fri 29 Jan 2016, 1:27 pm

i think most people are giving him 1-2 years.

it's possible that he will lose the top 4 spot within those 2 years, but i guess what we are really saying is that even if he slips to say #7 or #8, there's no one outside the top 4 to consistently beat him.

he will lose points not because he exits early, but simply because he isn't playing in enough events.

i think a while back, Serena entered events at her will and fancy and her ranking slipped. everyone knew though that she was unofficial numero uno.

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Post by Jahu Fri 29 Jan 2016, 1:58 pm

Top 5, another year.

Top 10, 2 years.

A few ATP 500, another 2 years.

A few ATP 250, another 5 years.
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Post by lags72 Fri 29 Jan 2016, 2:37 pm

I also would think around another two years more at a high level.

Every chance that this new season will be very respectable ; but, beyond that, an inevitable level of decline that I suspect will gradually sap his own motivation, along with a natural desire to spend more time with the tribe at home. Plus, the travel must surely become tiresome at some stage - although he does always say he doesn't find it a problem ; I guess given just how much assistance he gets when travelling and the overall comfort and style in which it all happens,  it's not as bad as for the average Joe.

All that said, it's pretty remarkable that he remains a more convincing contender on Tour - including at the Slams of course - than everyone but a handful of players, all of whom have far less mileage on the body clock.

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Post by lags72 Fri 29 Jan 2016, 2:54 pm

It just occurred to me that the thread title could read .......

".......at the top for....?"

OR

".......at the top four?"

Cool

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Post by barrystar Fri 29 Jan 2016, 3:01 pm

End of 2017 will surely have flushed out any remaining chances he has as a true slam contender.  After that it's down to what he wants out of the sport.  

You've got to imagine that the way he plays he could still beat plenty on tour well beyond 2017, maybe the odd run through a slam draw until he meets a real contender.  Connors played a fairly full schedule until he was 39 and managed the USO semis at 38 or 39.  I'd be surprised if Federer kept on like that with his family and all.
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Post by lags72 Fri 29 Jan 2016, 3:18 pm

Connors did play on till a ripe old age as we know, and that last late USO SF run was certainly quite some achievement. But .....I seem to think (?) that beyond about 35 he was - mostly - chalking up victories in a lot of very low-key events and against a lot of fairly ordinary opposition.

Much is made also of Agassi's longevity & late success, not least his last Slam title at the AO. But even he was still 'only' 32 when that swansong victory came in 2003 ; and perhaps fair to say that the draw panned out somewhat fortuitously that year : the highest-ranked player he had to beat was ranked 15, and none of his other opponents was even inside the top 30.

Both Connors and Agassi had fantastic careers, and longer than most of the open era, age-wise. Nevertheless, they were not immune from the passage of time ; and nor will Federer be.

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Post by bogbrush Fri 29 Jan 2016, 3:58 pm

I already rate Federers longevity to be far superior to Agassi and Connors.

Agassi had times in his career when he disappeared from sight and slipped right down. Federer has sat at the top table for the whole time, contested every Slam and been at the business end of the vast majority, won the Masters six times.

Connors, as lags says, was there but a token presence in most cases whereas in the last 3 Slams the only man keeping Federers hands off #18, #19 and #20 has been Djokovic.
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Post by JuliusHMarx Fri 29 Jan 2016, 5:02 pm

Connors, in 1987 (age 34/35) got to the semis in both the GS he played in - losing to the eventual winner I think.

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Post by TRuffin Fri 29 Jan 2016, 5:02 pm

socal1976 wrote:
TRuffin wrote:Massive true age decline can happen quickly though.  Fed is holding off father time and modern times have extended the age of top athletes but there is always a cliff coming. Look at Peyton Manning. Two years ago he was breaking every NFL season record in the books, lighting up defenses. Following year- he was on track halfway through the season to do the sae and suddenly arm just got tired and gave out.  Second half of the season and this year his arm is a noodle and he might be the worst throwing QB in the league completely reliant on teammates. Tennis players don't have that luxury.  

No reason to think Federer can't go another couple years at a consistent top level and he can prob turn up at a place like Wimbledon at 40 and still be better than all but a couple players- but at that point, there is no way he will be able to do it consistently.  It's hard for me to see him willing to struggle a lot with the hopes of catching on fire and making a run here and there.

Ruffin I remember all those guys vividly except ali. I think it is hard to make the comparison to Jordan. Sheer athleticism of Jordan made it impossible to like old Jordan even remotely like you could enjoy young Jordan. I mean watching him hit 15-20 footers in the mid post comparing to him flying down the court exploding in the lane and dunking on seven footers over and over again. My favorite Kobe was the same way, when he singlehandedly neutered the Spurs in the Wcf in their second title run. My point is that the physicality in basketball and raw athleticism plays a much larger role in tennis. 

Montana, is interesting in that I am telling you that first year with KC after leaving the Niners he threw a more accurate and better ball than he ever did. I remember Everyone knew Joe was going to leave the Niners and he was a free agent and could sign with whoever. He went to Atlanta to try out Rison and the Falcons Rison said after the hour work out he got on his knees and begged the man to sign with the Falcons. The thing that drove Joe away was not his ability as a quarterback to this day at the end of his career I had seen nothing like it. What got Joe was he just wasn't elusive and just couldn't take the pounding anymore. Now while our British viewers are asleep here is how it finally ties in to tennis. I believe fed will leave for that reason as well. We know he has had back issues if he is in pain he quits. I think if Fed isn't in pain he loves the adulation and the bizarre cult that surrounds him, who wouldn't.  And he will always be good enough to beat almost anyone, why quit and leave all that money on the table?

Actually, Montana was traded to the Chiefs, he was never a free agent. Out of friendship and respect, Eddie told him they would trade him to any team he wanted other than a division rival contender so Montana was able to pick and choose more like a free agent, but the move was actually a true trade. The behind the scenes stuff with the 49ers and Montana/Young is pretty interesting. pm me if you want the long story :-). The LA division of the company I was with handled Montanas Sega endorscements and a lot of 49ers promotion.

Like I said to Laverfan- Montana did start off great and throwing well with the Chiefs. That game against the Rams he lit it up and so on. Had some great moments.. but his surgically repaired elbow did start to fail and he was losing arm strength. Like Manning now, he could rely on accuracy, touch and his insane ability to see the windows open before they did, but by the end of second year, he couldn't drive the ball like he could before(though he never had the strongest arm anyway) Like you said though about the pounding and injuries with Montana and I agree it could happen with Fed. Montana was afflicted with horrible headaches towards the end as well which sadly continue and we now know is concussion related. I tend to lump all that in with what I call age related decline. I think it's just how people label different things, but I see part of the aging of an athlete as his body becoming more likely to be injured and less likely to heal quickly, and also the loss of mental edge and drive that an older athlete can't get back after an injury that a younger guy can. Something has to give:-)

I've seen you talk a lot about your battles with Fed fanatics at the time over the belief he started to decline in his late 20's- 2009,etc, and you feel he didn't and this late run of his proves it so. I disagree to a certain extent. I'm sure some of the fanatics went overboard in arguing he was in a steep decline, but I think most knowlegable watcher understood that it was a combination during that time of several factors. One- a slight lessening in athletic ability, 2. a slight loss of focus and desire. 3. the coming of age of his younger rivals who kept pushing and pushing to break through. All is natural and happens to all atheletes, especially at the top. Also, the prior generation usually catches up to the style and game of the top dog as it's a benchmark they can strive for. Its harder to be the hunted. Certainly, Nadal has always struggled with that. He likes the chase. Most greats have had to have breaks just from a mental standpoint to keep the desire and focus strong. Whether it be sudden temporary retirements like Jordan, self imposed breaks like Agassi, Ali's draft suspension years, or injury breaks like others. Most also have longer offseasons to recharge. Tennis is more of "you have to be on all the time" sport and we've seen time and again guys who just played on and on get burnt out in their mid to late 20's.

Also- in all my years around athletes- the vast majority of them lost some athletic explosiveness around 27 on. Especially ones that relied on muscle twitch like tennis players. For years, that was the age we saw a decline happen. So I think some of those that saw that happening with Federer should be cut a little slack because much of that was based on true factual data that was known at the time.

What most didn't see coming was how modern nutrition, training,etc has pushed athletes forward. In all my years, I never expected to see guys like Stan winning slams at 30, guys like Ferrer who couldn't even make a dent in his early prime against the competition of Feds generation able to be a top 8, top 5 player year after year in his 30's, qbs like Brady playing fabulous near 40, on and on. There just isn't a precedent for it in modern times. Sure back in the old days of split sports/tours, part time players, less professionals guys could hang in there for years, but in todays world? amazing.

Also- even us Fed fanatics and certainly the haters didn't realize just how otherworldly his talent was and that he could sustain these levels for this long.

Federer was still uber successful and winning plenty at the time, but I do think Federers results declined a bit from all the things you mentioned- younger rivals pushing him, coming of age, but also from all the things I mentioned. Everyone has their time, no one can be at top forever as there are too many factors, all the things we mentioned and more, that are trying to tear them down. There is a reason no one has been able to be a continuous #1 for as long as Fed did- or in top 2 or top 3- all records he holds. IT's really hard.

I think he lost a tiny step and his focus wasn't as sharp. There were also things like- after AO 10 title when he did play fabulous, he and Mirka both had viral pheumonia and both had a short stay in the hospital. Fed lost his whole February training block. I remember Luthi or someone saying when Fed showed up for I think Dubai that Fed has just hit the practice courts for the first time 2 days prior. Fed also started to show interest in other things- he made a big trip to Africa for his foundation, came back and immediately went to a tourment. In other words- his focus wasn't 100% on tennis anymore.. all that saps the edge a little. Now something did reinvigorate and motivate him. Maybe he just wasn't ready to give it all up and decided to refocus. To his credit he has evolved his game massively and we all see the results. If he had stayed playing the same as 2009 like most others- then we would have seen a real decline in level and all would be saying- see he did decline then. Feds the one who actually turned all that around- to his credit.

Comparing Djoko level at that age as proof decline doesn't happen isn't a true valid point though because we can point to tons of greats who did decline. Sampras, McEnroe, Nadal ,etc.. Djoko is really unique and I don't know if you saw the Gilbert interview I posted pre AO- but he talks about it- Somehow a guy who was the clear #3 behind two guys- one from his own generation and one from the older- somehow has midcareer improved immensely and overtaken them. Overtaking Federer was expected given the age difference, but to so thouroughly dominate his own generation now- is amazing. Fed had a different level than Djoko did at 25 and Djoko seems to have a different level than Fed did at 29. It's happens. Will he at 34 though? that's an interesting thing to watch.





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Post by TRuffin Fri 29 Jan 2016, 5:06 pm

bogbrush wrote:I already rate Federers longevity to be far superior to Agassi and Connors.

Agassi had times in his career when he disappeared from sight and slipped right down. Federer has sat at the top table for the whole time, contested every Slam and been at the business end of the vast majority, won the Masters six times.

Connors, as lags says, was there but a token presence in most cases whereas in the last 3 Slams the only man keeping Federers hands off #18, #19 and #20 has been Djokovic.

Federer could win all 4 majors in a year at the age of 40 with the type of draws Agassi got at his last 2 major wins. I'm kidding a little, but not completely.

Connors did have some great results but he also wasn't in the full time grind of it all- week in and week out. He picked and choosed his spots. Fed is getting there but still playing a packed schedule during certain times of the year. I think Federer at 40 could train like a devil for 6 weeks, show up at Wimbledon and do pretty well.

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Post by summerblues Sat 30 Jan 2016, 5:29 pm

Born Slippy wrote:1. Take Djokovic out and Roger has won 4 of the last 7 slams though, which would start to compare somewhat to the 5 out of 8 in 2007 and 2009. I suspect he's also lost less sets in his last three slams (before running into Novak) than at any three slam in his younger years. I agree the Seppi result wouldn't have happened at his peak but it's looked just as unlikely since - it was a very freakish result.
Seppi is just the most extreme case, Federer also lost to Wawrinka and Cilic in the last 7 slams.  He might have lost to either of them individually even in his heyday, but not all three within 7 slams.  Also, just because he lost to Djokovic 4 times, it does not quite mean he would have won them all without Djokovic.

Or, look at it differently.  Fed's 2007/09 slams results were similar to (in fact, better than) Nole's 2014/15 results.  Yet it would be very far off the mark to suggest that Fed's 14/15 was anywhere near Nole's 14/15.

The sets lost along the way through the tournament do show Fed is still playing well, but comparison to early years is not fair I think.  Once again, you need to go no further than to look at Novak now.  He is losing more sets in the early rounds than Fed, but that does not mean he is less dominant.  He just knows that he can play at 50-60% and cruise through.  If he accidentally loses a set somewhere, he just steps it up and plays the rest of the match at 70-80% and all will be well.  Fed can no longer do that.  He needs to avoid long matches or else he will be out of gas in the later rounds.  But the downside is that he cannot take those early matches easy.

Prime Fed was like a phenomenal race car.  Yes, you could maybe change the tires, make some additional tuning changes, rev up the engine some more, to get more out of it, but it was astonishing anyway.  Today's Fed is that tuned up car with the best set of tires and everything optimized to perfection.  Yet, even with the pedal to the metal, it does not quite race as fast as the older version did while in the cruise mode.


Born Slippy wrote:Fed was still only 25/26 and 27/28 in the years picked, so extremely hard to sensibly argue he'd declined at that point.
I am not saying he had declined at that time, I am just saying it was not necessarily his best years.  Sort of like looking at Djokovic in maybe 2012-13.  He was not old, yet he was not playing as well as in 2011/15.

Born Slippy wrote:I do think a younger Fed would still have found it very hard to beat current level Novak or indeed Murray from the baseline though.
Oh I do not disagree with this, but the decline in his baseline game still makes a huge difference.  Let's say that maybe at his best, Fed would be able to win 40-45% of baseline rallies against Novak, and let's say that maybe now the number is more like 25-30%.  In both cases you could say that Novak beats him in baseline exchanges, but 40-45% success rate gives Fed far more options than 25-30% rate.

At 25-30% rate he will often need to go for low percentage attacks that may only give him 35-45% success rate, whereas at 40-45% he would be able to bide his time better.

There is no question that the decline in his baseline game is a huge impediment in today's tennis which is normally played mostly from the baseline.  Fed is, better than most, able to force the issue and reduce the importance of the baseline, but even so, the deterioration in his baseline game cannot be fully compensated for.


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Post by CaledonianCraig Sat 30 Jan 2016, 7:44 pm

Another thing people must ask themselves here (mainly Roger's fans) is what do they see as an acceptable level for a man of his age? If they still crave dominance then they may not enjoy him continuing though I do say I don't see many posters here that hold that view. If they have enjoyed the last year or so where he has won titles (Masters at that) and reached slam finals though lost them then that (I would say) certainly still falls into the bracket of playing at the top. Now for Roger to remain at this level he needs to avoid either his form falling off a cliff (no sign of that going by this Australian Open) or we'd need to see a surge in players younger than him raising their game and others returning to form. Well going by this Australian Open you could say Milos Raonic is making a surge but nothing else to shout about from other youngsters and so on that front Roger looks set for now to be looking good to continue playing at the top for now and I'd say this will continue at least for this year and possibly more.
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Post by summerblues Sat 30 Jan 2016, 10:10 pm

CC, I do not know about others, but I would prefer to see him play as long possible - whether or not he remains near the top.

Obviously, everything else being equal I rather he wins his matches than not, but I like Fed mostly because I enjoy the game he plays - win or lose.  If he were playing at 40, and losing mostly in the 1st/2nd rounds, that would still be fine by me.  I would get to watch his game for those couple of matches.  And why not?  It is not like that would prevent me from also following whoever would be the hot shots at that time.

But I imagine he would find it boring.  Tennis is not like golf where the old legends can come in for the majors, stick around for the first couple of rounds; feel like they are part of the tour and have fun.  Tennis seems to be more lonely that way, and going from tournament to tournament just to show up would not be fun for him, so I am sure he would quit long before he would decline that far.

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Post by Born Slippy Sun 31 Jan 2016, 12:12 am

SB - my point (and the stats I showed) were really to address the point which seems to be made every slam at the moment. The argument seems to be that because a 34 year old Fed is only being beaten by Novak it's a weak era and somehow a slight both on Novak and the younger players.

I'm not really seeking to argue he is better than 10 years ago - just that he has kept himself close enough to that level that it's no surprise he's still top 3. I'm also really focussing on his run from Wim 2015 to now, which I would argue has been a far higher level than in the previous year.

For what it's worth, I'm fairly convinced Fed would have won the equivalent slams in 06-07 playing as he has over the last 6 months, albeit he might have lost slightly more sets.




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Post by summerblues Sun 31 Jan 2016, 3:40 am

BS, fair enough. From the way you worded your initial post, I thought you were focusing on Fed's level - and suggesting it is almost as good as back then - rather than trying to compare overall competition level.

I do not feel very strongly about the competition level. Not quite sure I would agree that Fed would have won those slams playing at his current level, but not quite sure I disagree either.

I do tend to agree that with his current level, Fed would have been in the top 3 or thereabouts at any time.

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Post by lydian Sun 31 Jan 2016, 2:08 pm

This is a good discussion on tennis & age. Old seems to be the new young in tennis...the average age of the current top 10 is now for the first time >30yo...13 years ago just before Fed win his 1st slam it was 24.5yo....that's a huge difference. In fact there are now no players in the top 10 younger than that 2002 average! Think on that change...plus the fact there are only 6 players under 25 in the whole top 50...6!!!

There are now 32 players in the top 100 over 30...with 5 more within a few months of 30.
Indeed >50% of top 100 are over 28. Only 18 players are under 25. So almost laughingly tennis is becoming an "old mans" game so we shouldn't be surprised at the longevity of any of them now, Federer included. There are still others older than him playing good tennis too. Karlovic is nearly 37 for example and ranked #22.
Ferrer isn't far behind Federer age-wise and it took Murray to beat him in QF...he's been staple top 10 for a decade. Lopez is over 34 and regularly top 15-20. It's a new era of oldness...

Even yesterday we saw almost octogenarian man Daniel Nestor, ok he's getting on for 44 (!), reach the men's doubles final...with over 37yo Stepanek!! This meant to be a variant of the game which needs fast reflexes. We see old man Paes still doing well also. So this tends to support that hand/eye co-ordination doesn't really slip much. That means if Federer can stay fit and adapt his game with the times (as he's done) then there no reason in my opinion why he can't go deep in slams at 37-38yo. Didn't Haas at 35/36 beat Federer a couple of seasons ago also? He's 37 now but really only dropped off tour due to chronic and longstanding injury. With little breakthrough talent coming through its pretty much unchartered territory the game is moving in...so in many respects why compare stats from a few years back as clearly something has changed in the game?

What I'm saying is don't be surprised by Federer per se...because longevity has become the norm, not the exception anymore.
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Post by bogbrush Sun 31 Jan 2016, 2:42 pm

I dunno, you can forget doubles - that's always tolerated veterens if they have the right techniques. That's even more so now when great doubles techniques is so different from singles and nobody of note plays the format.

As for top players, there's only Federer actually doing anything interesting post 30. Ferrer just does what he always does.

The issue, as we've all discussed many times, is the game has changed so much it places little value on flair and inventiveness. The 18 year old McEnroe wouldn't make the top 100 in this sport and would soon give up.

There's only the one left, and he's the exception because he's old enough to come from a different starting point in the game, and he's capable of reinventing his game a few times.


Edited: Because it was almost unintelligable and my compliments to lydian for being able to make a coherent reply.


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Post by lydian Sun 31 Jan 2016, 2:55 pm

Sure, I agree Federer has the unique skill mix to be able to adapt with the times, and court slowing has negated the need for high risk tennis which usually needs younger legs to make it count. However, I'm not so sure that's the only factor (court conditions) here anymore. You would expect the grind of slower courts to age players more quickly due to longer matches...but we don't see that. We can't deny the tour has hardly changed guard at all either since 2010 or so.
Basically, the playing level of the guys is being maintained through age...Ferrer is where he always was, same for Lopez, same for Karlovic, same for Federer (barring Nadal/Djokovic maturing) - what is different is that these plateaus were never as long before. It's more than just courts...it's science of nutrition, training methods, recovery methods, better treatments, racquets/strings, footwear...which is all adding up to perhaps another 5 years on peak playing careers with the tail off also being much slower rather than the cliff it used to be. I also think we just happen to have a dearth of talent right now due to the uninventiveness of coaching techniques for the past 10-15 years...or rather current coaching trends block/negate flair players...but that's a whole different story though.
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Post by Guest Sun 31 Jan 2016, 3:21 pm

Look no further than Bolliteri and that was back in the 80's! Already he was encouraging a uniform approach which was later enhanced by coaches such as Gilbert/Rasheed/Cahill.

I think with the conditions has encouraged a uniform game. Is there purchase really for other styles in this current climate? Someone would argue yes, I'd say no at this point. We marvelled at Raonic's play this week which offered up some refreshing offence, but is he going to maintain and persevere with that over a season?

Look at the LTA and that already Downey is under pressure. Coaches and players already frustrated that no changes have occurred and this is reflected in the non-existent number of juniors in the Slams.

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Post by Henman Bill Sun 31 Jan 2016, 4:02 pm

The other thing extending the plateau could be financial incentives being higher than before. People starting to do the math and realize that if they just play for another three years they can live a life of luxury thereafter AND support wider family AND never have to work again.


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Post by coolpixel Sun 31 Jan 2016, 4:13 pm

financial incentives is a valid point but don't think it applies to Federer. he is close to being tennis's first 100m man.

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Post by Henman Bill Sun 31 Jan 2016, 5:25 pm

Maybe you are right, I was thinking more of the likes of Ferrer, Berdych, Tsonga, Stan the man. Players in the 5-50 region.

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Post by Jahu Sun 31 Jan 2016, 5:42 pm

coolpixel wrote:financial incentives is a valid point but don't think it applies to Federer.  he is close to being tennis's first 100m  man.

Djoko is only $3M away from Fed 94/97M, so by USO Djoko should surpass Fed and reach 100M before Fed.

Assuming inflation and prize money that has doubled on most tournaments on last few years, Djoko would be behind in real terms.
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Post by EdWoodjr Sun 31 Jan 2016, 6:41 pm

Djokovic as ruthless, clinical & boring as ever.
Zzzzzz.

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Post by Haddie-nuff Sun 31 Jan 2016, 7:24 pm

In Feds case its not the money that is the incentive its the adulation. he loves it don't think for one minute he doesn't .. though it may not come as welcome news he is conceited... fame is addictive

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Post by Henman Bill Sun 31 Jan 2016, 7:42 pm

Wow, Djokovic really going to overtake Fed. I suppose Fed has more career earnings overall though (with sponsorships/endorsements etc).

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Post by coolpixel Sun 31 Jan 2016, 9:46 pm

Federer has some lifetime deals such as Rolex and I think Gillette. But don't forget that sponsorships and prize monies only keep going up, so it's not surprising that Djokovic has come close.

Re adulation: please show me one top 10 player in any competitive, widely followed sport, who doesn't like the fan following. Why pick on Federer alone for that? Of course he enjoys the fan following. Who wouldn't.

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Post by TRuffin Sun 31 Jan 2016, 11:09 pm

Has anyone read about the Laver Cup tournament federer and godsick through their agency are creating? Federer had the idea of a tennis version of the Ryder cup in golf and honor laver too. Will pit the top 5 Europeans against top 5 rest of the world. Every year except for Olympic years. Seems to be on track to be a reality in 2017.

In a way- it's a clear indication that Federer is preparing for his post career, adding in business ventures. However, it also seems he's defintly planning to play 2017 and expects to be a top player still. It sounds like it's only for active players and federer talks in the interview like he's playing in it- talks about teaming with nadal or djokovic in doubles,etc

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Post by Born Slippy Mon 01 Feb 2016, 12:10 am

Read about it. Total mismatch at present though if it was the current top 5 from each:

Novak, Andy, Fed, Stan, Rafa (46 slams and c. 100 masters)

Kei, Isner, Anderson, Raonic, Tomic (0 slams 0 masters)

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Post by Born Slippy Mon 01 Feb 2016, 12:11 am

Also question why it's needed and when it would be played.

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Post by summerblues Mon 01 Feb 2016, 4:39 am

Slightly off-topic, but I have a question for those of you who believe that the prime age in tennis has shifted over time from maybe early/mid 20s to maybe mid 20s/early 30s.

If you take that view, should you not also view the Big 4 as somewhat overrated?

The generations before them may have had maybe 5-7 years of available prime years, and so will the generations after them. But they were lucky to start their careers at a time when one could dominate in teens/early 20s, but finish them at a time when one can still play well into their 30s. If so, did Big 4 not effectively have more time at their disposal to collect the trophies, compared to other generations?

And does that not diminish their achievements at least a little bit?

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Post by Haddie-nuff Mon 01 Feb 2016, 7:01 am

coolpixel wrote:Federer has some lifetime deals such as Rolex and I think Gillette. But don't forget that sponsorships and prize monies only keep going up, so it's not surprising that Djokovic has come close.

Re adulation: please show me one top 10 player in any competitive, widely followed sport, who doesn't like the fan following.  Why pick on Federer alone for that? Of course he enjoys the fan following. Who wouldn't.



You Fed fans are soooooooooo predictable.. why am I "picking" on Federer.. because the topic is about Federer its not about other players... who said other players wouldn't ..oh really !!! however I will say they don't make it quite so obvious. and they are not at normal retirement age

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Post by CaledonianCraig Mon 01 Feb 2016, 7:21 am

No it doesn't diminish them it elevates their achievements throwing longevity in there as well.

Let's just say the big four were disqualified from slams and had been for the last couple of years then no doubt you'd have Stan gobbling up slams perhaps and elevating himself into legend status. People would then be speaking highly of his achievements. In short there are always slams and they need to be won by somebody. Novak is filling his boots right just as Rafa and Roger have done in the last decade or so - that is three of the most successful players of all-time locking horns in the same time span. Is it no wonder nobody else has had a look-in?

And luck doesn't come into it that they have had longer at the top. They were super-talented enough to breakthrough at a young age and have looked after themselves and beaten off injury and poor form (sometimes) to stay at the top.


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Post by Haddie-nuff Mon 01 Feb 2016, 7:33 am

Well the exception to that was Borg who ended his career prematurely for no other reason than he fell out of love with tennis and had other personal issues.. had he not done so I wonder how history would have been re-written as he was only 26 yrs old.. one of the finest athletes and with no physical problems or injuries that were known.. its hard to say how it would have panned out

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Post by socal1976 Mon 01 Feb 2016, 8:14 am

summerblues wrote:Slightly off-topic, but I have a question for those of you who believe that the prime age in tennis has shifted over time from maybe early/mid 20s to maybe mid 20s/early 30s.

If you take that view, should you not also view the Big 4 as somewhat overrated?

The generations before them may have had maybe 5-7 years of available prime years, and so will the generations after them.  But they were lucky to start their careers at a time when one could dominate in teens/early 20s, but finish them at a time when one can still play well into their 30s.  If so, did Big 4 not effectively have more time at their disposal to collect the trophies, compared to other generations?

And does that not diminish their achievements at least a little bit?
 
Not really because that is counterbalanced by the strength that comes from globilazitation, increased professionalism, and more money bringing more competition and raising the stakes. In the early 80s someone asked Mac what he did to stay in shape his answer was I play tennis. this tells you how much more involved preparation is today than it ever was.  The demands of cross training, the discipline of the academy system, and more athletes from places like Serbia and Russia who never produced players before has made it harder to dominate not easier. In the past tennis was still a country club sport dominated by middle and upper class kids from a handful of countries. The pool of talent, the stakes involved, and the work ethic required to dominate is harder than ever.

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Post by barrystar Mon 01 Feb 2016, 9:25 am

socal1976 wrote:
summerblues wrote:Slightly off-topic, but I have a question for those of you who believe that the prime age in tennis has shifted over time from maybe early/mid 20s to maybe mid 20s/early 30s.

If you take that view, should you not also view the Big 4 as somewhat overrated?

The generations before them may have had maybe 5-7 years of available prime years, and so will the generations after them.  But they were lucky to start their careers at a time when one could dominate in teens/early 20s, but finish them at a time when one can still play well into their 30s.  If so, did Big 4 not effectively have more time at their disposal to collect the trophies, compared to other generations?

And does that not diminish their achievements at least a little bit?
 
Not really because that is counterbalanced by the strength that comes from globilazitation, increased professionalism, and more money bringing more competition and raising the stakes. In the early 80s someone asked Mac what he did to stay in shape his answer was I play tennis. this tells you how much more involved preparation is today than it ever was.  The demands of cross training, the discipline of the academy system, and more athletes from places like Serbia and Russia who never produced players before has made it harder to dominate not easier. In the past tennis was still a country club sport dominated by middle and upper class kids from a handful of countries. The pool of talent, the stakes involved, and the work ethic required to dominate is harder than ever.

I basically agree with this - but would suggest one counter argument, not necessarily a winning one.  In Mac's day there were far less tournaments at which all the top 20-50 participated, not even the Aus Open.  Today there are at least 13 (Masters plus Slams), and the WTF which draws the top 8, and conditions were also less uniform in Mac's day.  The top players probably know each other's games much better now than they did then and when they meet lessons learned from other matches are invariably relevant and they have the advantage of the circumstances that Socal mentions that they are hardened by being used to the levels of professionalism needed.  In such an environment, whilst getting to the top may be harder, it may be less difficult for the very best to keep on the right side of the admittedly small margins between them and the not quite so good.  For example, it's very unlikely that someone like Becker will come bouncing in like Tigger and surprise everyone on lightening fast conditions, or someone like Chang will be able to arrive as a teenager and grind everyone out on slower surfaces.  Upsets still exist, but they tend to be in one or two matches, rather than right through to the finals.
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Post by bogbrush Mon 01 Feb 2016, 9:31 am

Haddie-nuff wrote:Well the exception to that was Borg who ended his career prematurely for no other reason than he fell out of love with tennis and had other personal issues.. had he not done so I wonder how history would have been re-written as he was only 26 yrs old.. one of the finest athletes and with no physical problems or injuries that were known.. its hard to say how it would have panned out

Indeed. As one of my favourite players ever, I was sorry to see him go so early. Given he ignored the Australian as well who know where the Slam total might have got? I think he realised McEnroe had got his number, which I suspect contributed to his departure, but he couldn't have known that John would collapse after 1984 (but would he if Borg had stayed?).

Borg v Lendl might have been more of a rivalry later on, but Lendl was moving the physical side on and Borg would have had to push on, though there's no reason he couldn't have done that.
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Post by lydian Mon 01 Feb 2016, 10:41 am

Yes the great unknown of Borg...certainly would have won a few AOs if entered so we have to put him in the top tier. Kind of makes counting slams between eras somewhat redundant...plus the 3 of 4 played on grass until 1976.

I agree with Barry too on the environment...plus slowing of conditions has done away with fast, slow specialists which made it hard for anyone to dominate all slam surfaces like happens now. The Goran's/Arthur's/Woodbridge's on grass, the Costa's/Mantilla's on clay...they posed stern challenges to the cross-court guys like Agassi, Sampras, Mac, Edberg, Becker, etc. The game is completely different now.
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Post by sirfredperry Mon 01 Feb 2016, 11:21 am

Haddie/BB. Johnny Mac has spoken of his despair at the news that Borg was retiring. I think he relished the rivalry. It could be that if Bjorn had not walked away both he AND Mac would have had better overall records.


Last edited by sirfredperry on Mon 01 Feb 2016, 11:21 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typos)

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