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The Season Ahead

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Post by Henman Bill Sun 31 Jan 2016, 1:38 pm

Well, that was boring and predictable.
A case of Murray and Federer competing for second place. Murray winning out on account of the draw (seedings). I don’t really see much jeopardy around tennis at the moment, no real doubt about the results, real 50/50 matches at the very top. At this year’s Australian Open, where there seemed to be little at stake. No particularly exciting records or firsts.

There is definite intrigue at the FO 2016, however.
If he wins it:
--career slam
--non calendar year grand slam (Federer, Sampras, Nadal only ever managed three)
--possibility of playing for 5 in a row (most since Don Budge 1937-1938)
--chance of playing for calendar year grand slam
--enters GOAT debate for first time
If he loses:
--at least keeps will he or won’t he ever win FO intrigue running for another year
--he must win Wimbledon to still be a dominant no 1 if he fails to win either FO or Wimbledon the race is back on for #1
Also in the run up to the FO and the tournament itself perhaps we’ll find out if Nadal’s Verdasco loss was a blip on the road to recovery or part of a worrying and terminal sequence of slam results. The IW/Miami swing and the clay season should be where we see if Nadal has one last comeback in him (never write him off) or whether the doomsayers are finally write this time.

Slam chaser
Djokovic is on 11 vs Nadal’s 14 vs Federer’s 17. Edge Federer at the moment? But looking closer now. Djokovic needs at least 1-2 more this year, and can’t afford to let Federer sneak any victories against him in slams.

What happened to Novak’s supposed fallibility in finals?
I guess his concentration and mental strength improved again. Maybe some of it was just chance, anyway. Now Djokovic has won three slam finals in a row and 5 of the last 7 (6 finals from 8 last year at masters series, plus WTF). Now he just needs to carry his new attitude in finals to Paris!

I think a word for Stan Warwinka here.
His defeat of Novak at the 2014 Australian Open now stands as quite a streak breaker and reminiscent of Robin Soderling and Krajicek’s victories against Nadal and Sampras at their absolute peak at their best tournament in the middle of their run (also in middle of the tournament rather than finals). Will be interesting to see if he has more left this year, or if he is on the way out.

Younger players
As for Raonic, he didn’t do too much in 2015 after a good 2014. Is this the start of a better year, or just a one off? He’s 25 so not exactly a youngster. Nishikori is 26. Also stalled a bit in career progress. More and more looks like we have to look to someone younger to challenge Djokovic for no 1 in 2-3 years? Krygios? Coric? Chung? Which one are you most keeping an eye on this year? Is it realistic that Djokovic could stay no 1 to 2018? Even 2020? Or is that shortsighted?

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Post by sirfredperry Sun 31 Jan 2016, 1:51 pm

H-Bill. All very intriguing. You could argue that if Djoko was ever going to win the French it was last year. He'd beaten Rafa and was a set up in the final. He wouldn't be the first great player never to win at RG.
The key to Djoko's CYGS chances could be Rafa, especially if he can be in a different half of the draw from Nole at the French. I (praps foolishly) predicted that Rafa would end up at number two this year. But I've clearly not lost my optimism as I'm thinking he could win the French. Surely he'll have a better clay-court season than last year?
We saw with Serena last year just how hard it is to win a CYGS. So even given Djoko's dominance at present, a sweep of the slams in 2016 would be SOME achievement. Can he do it? Oh yes. WILL he do it ? Probably not.

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Post by Guest Sun 31 Jan 2016, 2:27 pm

You'd have to say that a red hot red lining performance by a big hitter on his day will be the only thing stopping Djokovic. That's the kind of level we are looking at. We have seen players attempt that, but for whatever reason, once they reach that peak in a match with Novak they fall off a cliff. It's a mix. It's the performance of the opponent tailing off (eg Federer Wimbledon/Dolgo/Goffin Cinncy 2014) and in those matches Novak turning it up a notch.

It's only really Stan who has shown the path. Power hitting at the most ridiculous high level. How rare are those!?

Right now Novak has the perfect balance. He can soak it up and then if necessary unleash offence. He is consistently brilliant with both.

That Simon match was probably the only real "poor" performance in recent time and even then he still won.

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Post by lydian Sun 31 Jan 2016, 2:44 pm

Yes Stan is to Djokovic what Soderling was to Rafa. Both massive ball strikers who if they have a great day are simply unbeatable because the ball isn't retrievable by even Djokovic/Nadal. But those performances tend to be 1-2 times per career so unlikely to happen again. I'd say Djokovic is overwhelmingly 90% favourite to win RG.

Who else can step up from 25 & unders? Maybe Raonic if if he can find some stability in his return game & BH. For the youngsters I'd say Coric will push on to top 20...but don't see him having that X Factor the big 3/4 had at that age. It's really game on Djokovic for me...with the other big 3 filling in semis/QFs.
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Post by Guest Sun 31 Jan 2016, 3:26 pm

Rublev looks like a prospect, but the youngsters seem a generation away from being anywhere in the top 100. Coric/Zverev/Chung have made big strides. Hoping Rublev/Ymer might climb the rankings soon. 

Can't see anyone putting a stamp on the dominance of Djokovic at this point in time.

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Post by summerblues Sun 31 Jan 2016, 5:06 pm

I showed the chart of the slam totals for the Big 4 before; here is an updated version:

The Season Ahead SiAnulh

Novak is collecting slams at a brisk pace now; but he is also just about reaching the age where slams dried up for Roger and - at least it looks like that now - for Rafa too.

I really think his slow-down is just around the corner - fantastic results notwithstanding.  I still expect he will most likely win 2 slams this year (i.e., one more), rather than 3, or even 4.

Really looking forward to the main part of the season; i.e.,  Euro-clay through the USO.  For the clay court season, the questions are whether Nole can dominate and whether Rafa can come back.  For the rest of the season, mostly whether Nole can continue at his current level or whether he will start slipping.

Interesting year ahead.

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Post by CaledonianCraig Sun 31 Jan 2016, 5:12 pm

Novak is so far above the rest at present that a calendar slam cannot be ruled out. Who are in his way for this? That is what you have to ask? Andy? He has the hex on him? Roger? Likewise of late. Rafa? He will need to rediscover form of old and fast. A younger generation? None visible at present. I'd say only Wawrinka or Raonic may (only may) challenge for slam wins this year so there you have it.
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Post by Henman Bill Sun 31 Jan 2016, 5:33 pm

Fred Perry, there is an argument certainly that Djokovic has missed his best chances at the FO, the net-cord incident springs to mind. Still, the counter argument is that this will only be the second or third year he likely starts the tournament as favourite, all other years as second favourite.

SB, thanks for the chart update. Djokovic started a little late - perhaps he could have won a slam in 2009 and 2010 if he had his head and game in better order at that time - and then again around 2012/2013 at an age when the other two were having multiple slam years he could have added 1 or 2 more. The 26 years old year is supposed to be a peak year.

Federer's slams dropped off after AO 2010, but that seems largely due to the hot competition. US Open 2010, maybe AO 2011, FO 2011, US Open 2011 are slams he might have won had he faced the relatively weak competition that Djokovic might be about to face for the next year or two.

Nadal he dropped off because off his own dip in form being quite substantial. I'm not sure if that will happen for Djoko; of course it might.

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Post by Guest Sun 31 Jan 2016, 6:20 pm

Am I right in thinking Federer moves back up to number 2 tomorrow?

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Post by Calder106 Sun 31 Jan 2016, 6:47 pm

legendkillarV2 wrote:Am I right in thinking Federer moves back up to number 2 tomorrow?

Not according to this http://live-tennis.eu/ which I think is correct. Murraay stays the same points wise. Federer gains 630 points. Still leaves him 150 points behind Murray.

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Post by Calder106 Sun 31 Jan 2016, 6:58 pm

Raonic's big problem seems to be getting injured. He got to number 4 last year and then had problems with his foot which ended up with him having surgery and missing the FO. Took him a while to get back from that. He has previously had surgery on a hip and is still only 25. Good results so far this year with wins against Federer and Wawrinka but then the groin injury which affected him when in the lead against Murray. If he can stay injury free I think he will play a big role this year.

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Post by CaledonianCraig Sun 31 Jan 2016, 7:14 pm

legendkillarV2 wrote:Am I right in thinking Federer moves back up to number 2 tomorrow?

Murray will remain No.2 but as he is not playing any tournaments in February then Federer is certain to overtake him by the beginning of March.
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Post by Guest Sun 31 Jan 2016, 7:21 pm

CaledonianCraig wrote:
legendkillarV2 wrote:Am I right in thinking Federer moves back up to number 2 tomorrow?

Murray will remain No.2 but as he is not playing any tournaments in February then Federer is certain to overtake him by the beginning of March.

Thanks Calder Ok!

Be an interesting little battle between the two leading up to the FO.

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Post by Henman Bill Sun 31 Jan 2016, 7:40 pm

I think Federer has a stronger argument to be 2 now that he's replaced last year's Seppi defeat with a more credible showing.

Murray has more points than Federer for this year's Australian Open, but only because he was not in Djokovic's half. They both put up an equally credible showing against Novak.

Federer has only been stopped by Djokovic at the last three slams, while Murray last to Anderson.

Roger has also won his last 5 meetings against Andy in the head to head, including two on the current record.

It's hard to see how Andy is going to be ahead when the rankings come out, looking at all that. Just looking at the comparison between the two, Andy is ahead on French Open score and a better masters record. More wins, more finals, and less early exits. He also played one more masters (8 vs 7) and has more Davis Cup points.

Madrid and Paris is an obvious area where Federer could get ahead. I think by the end of the FO I'd see Federer ahead, but perhaps Murray back ahead by the year end as Federer defends final appearances at Wimbledon, the US Open, and the World Tour Finals.

http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/players/andy-murray/mc10/rankings-breakdown
http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/players/roger-federer/f324/rankings-breakdown

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Post by Guest Sun 31 Jan 2016, 7:51 pm

Isn't Federer skipping the clay tournaments this year though. He has Dubai to defend and he is playing Rotterdam. Can't see if he's playing Miami, but one would think with Andy taking February off, Federer would need to be ahead slightly come March to have a chance of putting enough daylight for any chance for the 2 ranking at the FO.

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Post by CaledonianCraig Sun 31 Jan 2016, 8:35 pm

Rankings don't work on logic though HB otherwise Andy would have been No.1 after winning Wimbledon in 2013 as he held two slams was finalist in Australia and had won the Olympic Gold.
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Post by Guest Sun 31 Jan 2016, 9:51 pm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/tennis/35454179

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Post by Born Slippy Sun 31 Jan 2016, 10:10 pm

CaledonianCraig wrote:
legendkillarV2 wrote:Am I right in thinking Federer moves back up to number 2 tomorrow?

Murray will remain No.2 but as he is not playing any tournaments in February then Federer is certain to overtake him by the beginning of March.

He's not certain. He either needs to win one of Rotterdam or Dubai OR make the final of one and the SF of the other. I'd say it's about an 80% chance but I haven't looked to see who is entering.

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Post by HM Murdock Sun 31 Jan 2016, 10:19 pm

legendkillarV2 wrote:http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/tennis/35454179
The coverage is full of articles like this and it is all so premature.

What Djokovic is achieving is superb.

But it is not even without precedent in the last 10 years! It's not as if we are reaching back into the distant past to find examples. Federer achieved similar levels, for longer, in relatively recent memory!

People thought that Federer's numbers were once-in-a-generation numbers, but now another player, with a different set of skills, is posting similar stats.

If anything, this should tell us how foolish it is to declare the present "the best ever" but no, we have to continuously go down the cul-de-sac of needing one player in 50 years (or more) of tennis history who we can declare GOAT.

It's so puerile.

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Post by Guest Sun 31 Jan 2016, 10:31 pm

HM Murdock wrote:
legendkillarV2 wrote:http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/tennis/35454179
The coverage is covered with articles like this and it is all so premature.

What Djokovic is achieving is superb.

But it is not even without precedent in the last 10 years! It's not as if we are reaching back into the distant past to find examples. Federer achieved similar levels, for longer, in relatively recent memory!

People thought that Federer's numbers were once-in-a-generation numbers, but now another player, with a different set of skills, is posting similar stats.

If anything, this should tell us how foolish it is to declare the present "the best ever" but no, we have to continuously go down the cul-de-sac of needing one player in 50 years (or more) of tennis history who we can declare GOAT.

It's so puerile.

I tend to find it goes in circles. Federer had this end of 2007 if I recall and then Nadal in 2008 and then Federer again in 2009 and then Nadal again in 2010 and then Djokovic in 2011 and again now. As you it's a GOAT merrygoround. Djokovic has carved out a corner in Australia like Rafa did in France and Roger in England and America. Even more astonishing is the most prolific nearly man in Murray who if with differening fortunes himself could be posting more titles.

To have that in all relatively short time is mind boggling. 

I think there will be interesting questions raised in the decades to come when looking back from 2003-presently.

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Post by HM Murdock Sun 31 Jan 2016, 10:55 pm

An overlooked detail of the result today is that Djokovic is now only one hard court slam behind Federer (8 v 9).

Given that he is also only one behind in YEC (5 v 6) and one ahead in Masters titles (19 v 18), he's in with a chance of matching Fed's hard court CV.

No mean feat, if he can pull it off.

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Post by summerblues Mon 01 Feb 2016, 2:39 am

CaledonianCraig wrote:I'd say only Wawrinka or Raonic may (only may) challenge for slam wins this year so there you have it.
Even though we have not seen much change near the top lately, I think when that change comes, it may come quickly.  Just look at your comment.  I bet that if you were writing it a month ago, you would not have included Raonic on your list.

But just like that, he is on the list now.  Who is to say that none of the other guys can show better results and make your list between now and this summer?  Who would have included Cilic on their list of players that might challenge for the USO 14?  Not all that many people would have.

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Post by CaledonianCraig Mon 01 Feb 2016, 5:37 am

Raonic is stretching it a bit but added him as he has now reached two slam semis and has a stand-out weapon - the best serve in the men's game plus he has beefed up other parts of his game and stands on the brink of re-entering the top ten. I don't see anyone else out there though that I would look at with any conviction and say they will win or can win slams in the next year or two.
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Post by barrystar Mon 01 Feb 2016, 9:55 am

I don't see anyone disloging Djoko from #1 - he was #1 during 2012 and 2014 when he won only one slam each year because of his general all-round dominance away from the slams, and 2013 was a year in which what he did would be good enough for #1 in many years but for Rafa's extraordinary come-back from injury.

However, I'd be surprised if he gets a CYGS - it's just so very difficult, and his dominance is on pretty small margins.  He's conceded a set in each recent slam vs. Federer, and the 2nd and 3rd sets vs. Murray at Aus Open were damn tight.  Keeping up the intensity always to stay on the right side of tiny margins against those who are very close to you (rather than the next rung down) is so tough, and there is always the possibility that in the next 21 slam matches it would take to win a CYGS that someone is going to play lights out or Djoko is going to wobble.  His oddly weak record at the USO (by his standards) shows how difficult that slam is to win consistently.

In a similar vain, I think that the two most important records in the Open Era are weeks at #1 and slam titles - I think that Federer's weeks at #1 record is more vulnerable to Djoko than the slam titles record.  This is particularly because Djoko does not have a goto weapon in his game - which is based on doing lots of things to an extraordinarily high standard.  For me that means he has to keep more plates spinning than someone like Federer or Nadal - and for one-off matches that makes him more vulnerable than overall ranking consistency.

I hope he gets RG this year - he deserves that.
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Post by lydian Mon 01 Feb 2016, 10:48 am

Raonic is a bit of a modern day Goran (albeit not as talented in my book). Big serve, FH...workable BH and return. I figure he'll get a slam one day with a good run but don't see him as a dominant force as he's still prone to wobbles and losses to players you just don't expect. Still...someone new has to start making most QF and SFs...so why not him. I feel Dimitrov will have a good run at some point once he stops obsessing over having celeb girlfriends...before it's too late. Maybe someone like Coric will break from the pack...someone new will do and as SB says it's usually unexpected.
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Post by sirfredperry Mon 01 Feb 2016, 11:17 am

B'star. Good summing up of the difficulty of winning a CYGS. Serena's domination of the women's tour is far greater than Djoko's of the men's tour yet she couldn't manage it last season after going nearly all the way.
Rafa was asked about it some time ago and, typically modestly, said he didn't think the Grand Slam was possible.
I still think the French will be Djoko's stumbling block.

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Post by lydian Mon 01 Feb 2016, 12:23 pm

In Serena's case you feel she is her own undoing...losses to opponents she would normally walkover. Just shows the pressure that achievement - and equalling all time records - places on the players. I think Djokovic will win the French though...just needs some luck like (cough, cough) Federer arguably had in '09... Run
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Post by bogbrush Mon 01 Feb 2016, 1:09 pm

CaledonianCraig wrote:
legendkillarV2 wrote:Am I right in thinking Federer moves back up to number 2 tomorrow?

Murray will remain No.2 but as he is not playing any tournaments in February then Federer is certain to overtake him by the beginning of March.
This has the sole benefit of stopping idiots announcing in the strongest terms that Andy is "the 2nd best player in the World".

He has the #2 ranking; he's certainly got a strong argument for the accolade, but leaning on a narrow edge in ranking for a soundbite was stupid, especially as they will shortly have to make a new one.
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Post by bogbrush Mon 01 Feb 2016, 1:15 pm

HM Murdock wrote:
legendkillarV2 wrote:http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/tennis/35454179
The coverage is full of articles like this and it is all so premature.

What Djokovic is achieving is superb.

But it is not even without precedent in the last 10 years! It's not as if we are reaching back into the distant past to find examples. Federer achieved similar levels, for longer, in relatively recent memory!

People thought that Federer's numbers were once-in-a-generation numbers, but now another player, with a different set of skills, is posting similar stats.

If anything, this should tell us how foolish it is to declare the present "the best ever" but no, we have to continuously go down the cul-de-sac of needing one player in 50 years (or more) of tennis history who we can declare GOAT.

It's so puerile.
clap

It's like a compulsion now. It possibly began when Pete passed Emerson, but I don't remember it. I certainly never recall it through Mcenroe / Lendl (best volleyer perhaps [McEnroe, not Lendl!]). I think it began in earnest when Federer first won Wimbledon. I remember McEnroe saying "this guy could be the best ever". I suppose 2004-6 underlined it as he headed almost at a sprint to #15, but then Nadal, some ailments, etc put a brake on that. Trouble was, by then the media had become addicted to the concept.

So I'm waiting for Kyrgios to sweep to a Slam sometime and hear that he will probably become the greatest ever.

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Post by bogbrush Mon 01 Feb 2016, 1:17 pm

HM Murdock wrote:An overlooked detail of the result today is that Djokovic is now only one hard court slam behind Federer (8 v 9).

Given that he is also only one behind in YEC (5 v 6) and one ahead in Masters titles (19 v 18), he's in with a chance of matching Fed's hard court CV.

No mean feat, if he can pull it off.

Yes. It's a piece of weirdness that the Slam he's probably most under-delivered at is the US.
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Post by Guest82 Mon 01 Feb 2016, 1:29 pm

I think Murray may beat Djokovic on grass. He's 2-0 in the grass head-to-head.

I make Wimbledon his toughest slam to win this year. Other than the weight of what he is about to achieve, another red linining performance from Stan or Rafa becoming the Rafa of 2008 can stop him at the French. All of which are unlikely.

I still think Murray has the game to beat him and grass may be the surface he will do it on.

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Post by Calder106 Mon 01 Feb 2016, 1:31 pm

bogbrush wrote:
CaledonianCraig wrote:
legendkillarV2 wrote:Am I right in thinking Federer moves back up to number 2 tomorrow?

Murray will remain No.2 but as he is not playing any tournaments in February then Federer is certain to overtake him by the beginning of March.
This has the sole benefit of stopping idiots announcing in the strongest terms that Andy is "the 2nd best player in the World".

He has the #2 ranking; he's certainly got a strong argument for the accolade, but leaning on a narrow edge in ranking for a soundbite was stupid, especially as they will shortly have to make a new one.

Don't get your point. A question was asked, an answer given on the current status with a factual rider pointing out that it is unlikely to stay the same over the same over the next month.

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Post by bogbrush Mon 01 Feb 2016, 1:34 pm

My point was about the knobster commentators on telly.

Anyone should know the word idiot is reserved for TV commentators - there's no 606er who comes close, no matter my differences!
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Post by Born Slippy Mon 01 Feb 2016, 1:39 pm

bogbrush wrote:
CaledonianCraig wrote:
legendkillarV2 wrote:Am I right in thinking Federer moves back up to number 2 tomorrow?

Murray will remain No.2 but as he is not playing any tournaments in February then Federer is certain to overtake him by the beginning of March.
This has the sole benefit of stopping idiots announcing in the strongest terms that Andy is "the 2nd best player in the World".

He has the #2 ranking; he's certainly got a strong argument for the accolade, but leaning on a narrow edge in ranking for a soundbite was stupid, especially as they will shortly have to make a new one.

Probably the same type of idiots who kept telling us last year what a sad reflection on today's tennis it was that Fed was the second best player in the world?

Using the rankings doesn't sound to me like a bad way to judge current performance and I think its acknowledged Fed and Andy are currently very closely matched. Hopefully, Fed can start doing a bit better at the Masters tournaments so we can see them play more often!

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Post by YvonneT Mon 01 Feb 2016, 1:40 pm

Guest82 wrote:I make Wimbledon his toughest slam to win this year.  Other than the weight of what he is about to achieve, another red linining performance from Stan or Rafa becoming the Rafa of 2008 can stop him at the French.  All of which are unlikely.
I think it is more likely a combination of things would stop him - a tough draw from R4 to F could take it out of him, he's still ultra fit but I don't think he could do the 5hr followed by 6hr marathon matches at 29. Or one tough round plus schedule delays. I agree he's heavy favourite but someone put his chances at 90% which seems way high!

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Post by HM Murdock Mon 01 Feb 2016, 2:42 pm

bogbrush wrote:It's like a compulsion now. It possibly began when Pete passed Emerson, but I don't remember it. I certainly never recall it through Mcenroe / Lendl (best volleyer perhaps [McEnroe, not Lendl!]). I think it began in earnest when Federer first won Wimbledon. I remember McEnroe saying "this guy could be the best ever". I suppose 2004-6 underlined it as he headed almost at a sprint to #15, but then Nadal, some ailments, etc put a brake on that. Trouble was, by then the media had become addicted to the concept.
I think it was the emergence of Rafa that did it.

My recollection of Federer getting to 15 is that it was seen as a record being beaten. I don't recall the sentiment being that Federer is now "greater" than Sampras.

But once Rafa's achievements reached a certain level, it wasn't enough to declare him a great player, he had to be the greatest. I don't know why. Perhaps the fan wars spilled over into the media.

Of course, the fact he was 5-10 slams behind Federer presented a problem, and that's when things like head-to-head and Olympic Gold, hitherto ignored, suddenly became metrics that declared a player's brilliance.

Such manoeuvring in turn gave birth to that malformed whelp of an argument, the Weak Era.

It's very odd though. I can't think of another sport that is so obsessed with declaring someone to be the best ever.

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Post by Born Slippy Mon 01 Feb 2016, 2:51 pm

Oh, it was well before that. Fed was being declared as likely to be the greatest ever as early as 2005 I would say. I think there was s fair amount of fanfare over Sampras as well. Don't recall much before then but really you would be back in the early 80s before you reached another contender.

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Post by Guest82 Mon 01 Feb 2016, 2:58 pm

YvonneT wrote:
Guest82 wrote:I make Wimbledon his toughest slam to win this year.  Other than the weight of what he is about to achieve, another red linining performance from Stan or Rafa becoming the Rafa of 2008 can stop him at the French.  All of which are unlikely.
I think it is more likely a combination of things would stop him - a tough draw from R4 to F could take it out of him, he's still ultra fit but I don't think he could do the 5hr followed by 6hr marathon matches at 29. Or one tough round plus schedule delays. I agree he's heavy favourite but someone put his chances at 90% which seems way high!

Not sure there are enought players good enough to make the draw tough for him. Or to drag him into 5hr matches.

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Post by Guest82 Mon 01 Feb 2016, 3:00 pm

HM Murdock wrote:
bogbrush wrote:It's like a compulsion now. It possibly began when Pete passed Emerson, but I don't remember it. I certainly never recall it through Mcenroe / Lendl (best volleyer perhaps [McEnroe, not Lendl!]). I think it began in earnest when Federer first won Wimbledon. I remember McEnroe saying "this guy could be the best ever". I suppose 2004-6 underlined it as he headed almost at a sprint to #15, but then Nadal, some ailments, etc put a brake on that. Trouble was, by then the media had become addicted to the concept.
I think it was the emergence of Rafa that did it.

My recollection of Federer getting to 15 is that it was seen as a record being beaten. I don't recall the sentiment being that Federer is now "greater" than Sampras.

But once Rafa's achievements reached a certain level, it wasn't enough to declare him a great player, he had to be the greatest. I don't know why. Perhaps the fan wars spilled over into the media.

Of course, the fact he was 5-10 slams behind Federer presented a problem, and that's when things like head-to-head and Olympic Gold, hitherto ignored, suddenly became metrics that declared a player's brilliance.

Such manoeuvring in turn gave birth to that malformed whelp of an argument, the Weak Era.

It's very odd though. I can't think of another sport that is so obsessed with declaring someone to be the best ever.


It's just the age of the internet/social media. More platforms for people to discuss subjective things like 'best ever'. Boxing does it with P4P, snooker O'Sullivan v Hendry, darts - Phil Taylor etc. Even Football with Messi being the best player ever.

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Post by bogbrush Mon 01 Feb 2016, 3:09 pm

Is there really a debate about Taylor? How many World Titles do you have to win to be the darts GOAT? Sid Waddell made the conclusive statement there when he declared the 4 greatest sportsmen ever to be Jesse Owens, Muhammed Ali, Roger Federer and Phil Taylor. You just can't argue with that.

I do agree that the febrile atmosphere where people do idiotic things like come onto forums and talk about this stuff forever is to blame. Bloody stupid, I say! The media though is now 100% addicted to this, and I think it's because they have to sell so much harder.
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Post by lydian Mon 01 Feb 2016, 5:16 pm

It's true, there is a modern day obsession with The Greatest...it's because we live in a stats-heavy world now, where metrics determine the value of everything. Or think they do.

The irony of course is that if they ever speed up he courts then I suspect getting to 15+ slams again is going to be almost impossible. So Federer's 17 will be a high water mark that is unassailable.
Why? Well is it with no coincidence that we have 3 guys (and I include Djokovic in this as he will get there) getting to 14+ slams within the space of 6-7 years when it took 40-50 years before than for a similar bunch of guys to emerge between 1960-2000? That alone strikes me as a pointer to the fact it's simply easier for guys to amass slams now than before in this era of no surface specialists...so that makes any Greatest argument completely obsolete in my book.
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Post by Born Slippy Mon 01 Feb 2016, 5:35 pm

I suspect most of the 60s, 70s and early 80s legendary players would have been in the 15-20 slam range but for proam and missing slams. Tilden would probably have been on about 25 in the 20s if he'd played 4 a year. Its the set structure and professionalism which gives players now a great shot at making that range not really anything to do with the courts.

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Post by Guest Mon 01 Feb 2016, 5:46 pm

Agree with that last sentence lydian.

The GOAT debate usually stirs up once you've watched the entire DVD box set of Friends!

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Post by lags72 Mon 01 Feb 2016, 8:33 pm

HM Murdock wrote:

..........................................

Such manoeuvring in turn gave birth to that malformed whelp of an argument, the Weak Era.


.........................


Well, like all wacky theories, the Weak Era still has its proponents dotted about ; our friend socal here on 606 being chief cheerleader of course.

Just recently I noticed socal referring to the "clueless Fed-worshipping media".

Now .....I'm the first to acknowledge that "the meeja" do come up with a lot of rubbish. But equally, I can't help wonder if & when the worshipping moves at some point from Federer to Djokovic ...... then for socal at least they will no longer be deemed 'clueless' - but highly perceptive ...... Wink

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Post by socal1976 Mon 01 Feb 2016, 9:18 pm

lags72 wrote:
HM Murdock wrote:

..........................................

Such manoeuvring in turn gave birth to that malformed whelp of an argument, the Weak Era.


.........................


Well, like all wacky theories, the Weak Era still has its proponents dotted about ; our friend socal here on 606 being chief cheerleader of course.

Just recently I noticed socal referring to the "clueless Fed-worshipping media".

Now .....I'm the first to acknowledge that "the meeja" do come up with a lot of rubbish. But equally, I can't help wonder if & when the worshipping moves at some point from Federer to Djokovic ...... then for socal at least they will no longer be deemed 'clueless' - but highly perceptive ...... Wink
Weak era being a dumb argument is basically your guys opinion. It is interesting I called the current crop of 27-32 a golden era back in early 08 and the same condescending detractors laughed at how an asthmatic, hypochondriac with one slam could be part of a golden era. I stated back in early 2011, right after AO that djokovic was an all time great of the game again the chuckles from the knowledgeable 606 purist came up, pssh two AO aided by homogenized conditions. I stated in early 2012 when Djoko had six slams he was the greatest baseliner of all time. One discerning 606 commentator claimed michael Chang was a better baseliner and some other genius commentators on discerning 606 actually defended the assertion. And for years I claimed that fed's fast court opponents in o4-07 where soft and again the self satisfied 606er laughed and chuckled now basically paid journalists and web posters have started to use the same terminology and same arguments I have been making and the weight of commentators paid and unpaid has come to agree that this generation is better than the infamous team of rivals that stood in front of fed in 04-07 like a Pygmy trying slam dunk a basketball.

You guys are free to dismiss the things I argue as silly and outrageous, it is just interesting how many people in years later will parrot my exact terminology and come to the same exact conclusion based on the same exact facts I have been trumpeting for years. And you guys can keep being smug and dismissive and I will be happy having my analysis accepted by those who actually look at it with an open mind. It is unfortunately the great cross that we visionaries have to deal with; the scorn and ridicule of contemporaries but I am happy to continue to be the Mozart to your guys combined impression of Salieri.

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Post by Henman Bill Mon 01 Feb 2016, 9:35 pm

Lots of interesting comments I could pick up on here.

An interesting one is whether Djokovic is the hard court best ever already, or will be soon. Federer, perhaps Lendl, Sampras and Agassi also have to be in that discussion at least. Without looking into the stats in detail I couldn't say who you could have ahead. Probably Agassi slightly towards the back of the queue there, and perhaps Lendl also, but not so much between Djokovic, Federer and Sampras.

Because grass courts were more prevalent back in the day, I guess it's not worth going back much further than that on the the hard court GOAT debate.

Maybe I'll check some stats later if I have time.

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Post by socal1976 Tue 02 Feb 2016, 12:01 am

Henman Bill wrote:Lots of interesting comments I could pick up on here.

An interesting one is whether Djokovic is the hard court best ever already, or will be soon. Federer, perhaps Lendl, Sampras and Agassi also have to be in that discussion at least. Without looking into the stats in detail I couldn't say who you could have ahead. Probably Agassi slightly towards the back of the queue there, and perhaps Lendl also, but not so much between Djokovic, Federer and Sampras.

Because grass courts were more prevalent back in the day, I guess it's not worth going back much further than that on the the hard court GOAT debate.

Maybe I'll check some stats later if I have time.
It looks like a safe bet that Novak will surpass roger in Hardcourt slams and tournaments won. I mean he only needs one more slam and eleven more to tie Roger's 60titles. For sure Roger will add a few more tournament wins but even that doesn't look safe. Novak will also finish as the Master of the Masters on any surface. I mean he holds the single season record of six by himself, breaking the single season record of five he held by himself.

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Post by summerblues Tue 02 Feb 2016, 2:55 am

lydian wrote:I think Djokovic will win the French though...just needs some luck like (cough, cough) Federer arguably had in '09... Run
Arguably Djokovic had that luck last year though.

We all say how amazing Stan was playing in the final, but if Fed did not manage to beat Delpo in '09, we would have been saying the same about Delpo.

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Post by HM Murdock Tue 02 Feb 2016, 9:14 am

summerblues wrote:
lydian wrote:I think Djokovic will win the French though...just needs some luck like (cough, cough) Federer arguably had in '09... Run
Arguably Djokovic had that luck last year though.

We all say how amazing Stan was playing in the final, but if Fed did not manage to beat Delpo in '09, we would have been saying the same about Delpo.
No, he was very unlucky last year. Tough draw and totally stitched up with incompetent SF scheduling.

2013 was the big opportunity. Played badly v Rafa but still somehow found himself 4-2 up in the 5th with Ferrer waiting in the final.

Last chance saloon this year I think.

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Post by Born Slippy Tue 02 Feb 2016, 11:52 am

summerblues wrote:
lydian wrote:I think Djokovic will win the French though...just needs some luck like (cough, cough) Federer arguably had in '09... Run
Arguably Djokovic had that luck last year though.

We all say how amazing Stan was playing in the final, but if Fed did not manage to beat Delpo in '09, we would have been saying the same about Delpo.

DP faded badly after the third though. Fed still had to play well but I never had the sense he was in real danger. Stan looked like he could have carried on at that level all day.

I think Novak could definitely get luckier than a two day war with Andy and an on-fire Stan - after beating Nadal!

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