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The Season Ahead

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

First topic message reminder :

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 Tue 02 Feb 2016, 12:34 pm

IMHO Djoko was lucky, not unlucky, at the RG last year. Lucky to play Rafa as early as the quarter final and lucky to play an unconfident Rafa at that. Had they been in opposite sides of the draw, Rafa - albeit after a comparatively poor clay court season - might have gained confidence from possible q-f and s-f wins and been ready to take on Djoko in the final.
  OK, Djoko might still have won and yes, Djoko was not helped by the scheduling. But just as Fed was able to use Rafa's unexpected early exit in 2009 at RG, so Djoko should have been able to exploit the absence of the Spaniard at the tournament's business end in 2015.

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Post by Born Slippy Tue 02 Feb 2016, 1:37 pm

Hmm, not sure I buy that. I doubt Nadal would have been any more of a threat to him later. Nadal's fitness looked fairly questionable as well as his lack of form. At the end of the day, I suspect Rafa would have been very tough for anyone else in that tournament but always easy pickings for Novak.

Novak basically had to play the three best claycourters at that time back to back. He probably should still have been able to do it but there have been far luckier draws!

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Post by barrystar Tue 02 Feb 2016, 3:10 pm

HM Murdock wrote:
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.

I'm not sure I agree about that - it's been around longer than you think - who can forget the spejaculation from Dr. Sincere
http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/606/A26735295
.  

I think that the GOAT debate started up as it began to dawn on people that Fed could knock off Sampras's record of 14 slams, which became a pretty earnest debate in 2007 as he raced to double figures - these are examples from early 2007 after the Aus Open 2007.  Funnily enough, this was just as Fed made a rather hubristic trip to see Sampras and, on his return, got beaten x2 by Canas at Indian Wells and Miami.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/atptour/2328873/Pete-Sampras-Federer-can-take-my-records.html

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2007/jan/25/tennis.australianopen20072

Sampras himself said that he thought Federer was the greatest in 2009
http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2009/jul/05/pete-sampras-roger-federer-wimbledon

This is Bolletieri expressing the view that Rafa could be "GOAT" after Wimbledon 2010
http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/tennis/nick-bollettieri-nadal-has-the-talent-to-be-the-greatest-of-all-time-ndash-but-only-if-his-knees-are-2018430.html
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Post by sirfredperry Tue 02 Feb 2016, 4:05 pm

B'Slippy. Re Djoko and the French 2015. Still think there are moments in sport that you have to seize and if you don't they're gone, never to reappear.
Fed's chance - certainly his best chance and possibly his only chance - to win the French was after Rafa was knocked out in 2009.
To me, Djoko's best chance in the French was last year once he'd beaten Rafa. Similarly, Serena had a great chance to win the CYGS when she reached the sf in new York last autumn. A similar feat is now impossible for her in 2016.
Of course, I could look silly if Djoko wins the French this year. Just feel he won't , though. On form he should. It's just a gut feeling.

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Post by CaledonianCraig Tue 02 Feb 2016, 5:12 pm

Well if Djokovic isn't to win the French Open this year then who are the viable alternatives? My point is he will be going in as the warm favourite.
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Post by socal1976 Tue 02 Feb 2016, 5:54 pm

I love it having to play Rafa early was lucky? I mean the draw of Stan, Rafa, and Andy altogether with the Rg's scheduling incompetence was not lucky. Stan zipping every firstball on or just inside the line oh 150 times in a match and playing in his own words the best I have ever played against you isn't lucky either

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