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Came across a disgraceful article on Weak Era

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Is this the worst tennis article of all time ?

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Post by It Must Be Love Thu 11 Feb - 17:21

First topic message reminder :

One of the worst articles I've ever read, on why the current era is weak, I think the writer should resign from talking about tennis with immediate effect.

http://sportpulse.net/content/congratulations-to-djokovic-for-dominating-but-this-is-a-weak-era

Clearly a very jealous Nadal or Federer fan who can't come to terms with the fact NO1E is the new King of Tennis.

On a serious note, what I would say is this:
Djokovic throughout his career has had to face some amazing players in the form of Nadal and Federer; and even Murray when mentally focused can be very tough to beat. If not anything you could argue he deserves a break and have some more moderate opponents in Slams.
However with Federer and Nadal declining (Federer should be given extra credit though as he's older and playing better than Nadal), and no young players emerging; I do think that Djokovic for the next few years could be where Serena is in the women's game: his biggest enemy could be himself.

Or a young player could turn out to be incredible and end up making me look silly. Let's see.

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Post by It Must Be Love Fri 12 Feb - 16:54

HM Murdock wrote:
I tend to agree with him about Novak's defence being an evolution of the game though. I can't think of another player who could hit the shot that ends the rally at 0:24 below. The distance covered, the slide, the open stance on the shot... from a spot where most would probably hit a defensive slice, Novak hits a two-handed winner. Remarkable.

That's a ridiculous shot; people talk about athleticism but it's also incredible hand-eye coordination and timing to be able to pull of a shot like that. He's just an sensational tennis player; and he can actually be better than ever before if he plays more aggressively. Against Nadal in Doha and Federer in the semi-final he was playing very attacking tennis, and when you combine that with his high confidence it can tear any opponent apart.
But I did notice that in the final he played a bit more cautiously and gave Murray some chances... still good enough to win in straights which is scary.

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Post by lydian Fri 12 Feb - 18:41

Agree there HMM, Novak has made that sliding shot his own, again great athleticism...although please note that would be an extremely tough shot in the 90s without poly strings. Novak really has become a master of that shot though...however, once those ankles start to stiffen up its really going to affect his game.
Back to Agassi - I remember him once playing Mark Woodforde at Vienna Indoors on a fast carpet. Woodforde was a tricky fast serving leftie...and I've never seen a display of returning and clinical shot making like it...Agassi beat Woodforde 60 60...on indoor carpet...that's the devastation Agassi could do in his prime. He took a gamble on returns...and his intuition was more often right than not...and he would pummel the return at the approaching volleyers feet leaving them with unplayable volleys or half-volleys. I wish we could see the like of that again...
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Post by HM Murdock Fri 12 Feb - 19:53

Lydian, have you seen this:



And just for good measure:


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Post by Guest Fri 12 Feb - 20:24

https://youtu.be/TdDzhENhMXs

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Post by Born Slippy Fri 12 Feb - 21:10

HM Murdock wrote:^I agree about Andre. The guy played in an era of faster courts and huge serves and still ended his career with 56% of 2nd serve return points won!

I tend to agree with him about Novak's defence being an evolution of the game though. I can't think of another player who could hit the shot that ends the rally at 0:24 below. The distance covered, the slide, the open stance on the shot... from a spot where most would probably hit a defensive slice, Novak hits a two-handed winner. Remarkable.


Much easier to return second serves in the 90s though. Players on average had far slower serves generally and hit with much less spin on the second serve. The courts being less bouncy also negated the topspin. Sure the likes of Goran and Pete hit huge serves but they were the exception. Now more or less every player has a 120mph serve. Second serve points are also generally the preserve of the better baseliner rather than the great returner (Rafa is right up there on that stat but in my view isn't top 10 all time as a pure returner). I've produced stats previously showing it's harder to break serve now. I suspect I would find the same pattern on second serve.

I did also smile at Lydian's description of Woodforde as fast-serving. He probably topped out at 105mph and tended to serve about the same number of double faults as aces. That's not to take away from how good Andre was in that match - which I think I remember watching - but it does emphasise how rose-tinted the view looking back can be.

Personally, I think it's very hard to split Agassi, Djokovic or Murray on return. Murray and Agassi are probably the more aggressive but Novak's depth is unreal. Connors is a bit before my time so can't really comment on him.

For what it's worth first serve return points won percentages are as follows:

Clay:

Murray 37%
Djoko 36%
Andre 36%

Hard:

Murray: 34%
Djoko: 33%
Andre 31%

Grass:

Murray 30%
Djoko 30%
Andre 28%

The fact Murray is above Novak and Andre on clay is just ridiculous, given the difference in clay pedigree. I'd be prepared to accept the gap from Andre to the other two on the other surfaces is due to it being slightly harder for him to return in the 90s (despite the fact most of the evidence points the other way).


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Post by hawkeye Fri 12 Feb - 21:17

This is how to return serve!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVy0Z7vHDfk

Very Happy

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Post by Haddie-nuff Fri 12 Feb - 21:43

hawkeye wrote:This is how to return serve!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVy0Z7vHDfk

Very Happy


nahhh cmon HE these returns were a fluke.. Nadal cant return serve we all know that Rolling Eyes Wink Rolling Eyes Whistle

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Post by Born Slippy Fri 12 Feb - 21:48

Great returns those. Phenomenal they were all in a row. Remind me though, how many times did Rafa break the good Dr in that match? He is a decent returner but his grip stops him being amongst the very best. Doesn't stop him being one of the greatest players of all time though!

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Post by hawkeye Fri 12 Feb - 21:55

Haddie-nuff wrote:
hawkeye wrote:This is how to return serve!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVy0Z7vHDfk

Very Happy


nahhh cmon HE these returns were a fluke.. Nadal cant return serve we all know that Rolling Eyes Wink Rolling Eyes Whistle

Of course! Looking at that video I was tricked by the camera angle or possibly the lighting. Silly me Wink Hug

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Post by lydian Fri 12 Feb - 22:07

Excellent videos HMM - Agassi's hand eye was amazing wasn't it...even in his late 30s by the look of those videos.

BS, under what basis are you judging 90s 2nd serves to be slower?
I hope you're not going off stated radar speeds because you'll know they measured the ball over the net in the 90s whereas they measure off the racquet now. The differences? About 15 mph.
This is why when you look up the fastest quoted serve speeds of Pete and Goran they look ridiculously slow back then, whereas now in exho's they've been timed over 140mph...in their 40s!

Also, those serve return stats you quote for Andy, Novak and Andre clearly assume they all played with the same strings etc. The problem is Andre didn't have the wonderful strings and racquets that Andy and Novak have for the bulk of his career. He only changed to modern poly strings in 2003...when in the winter of his career. So your serve speeds and stats don't really bear up to comparison tbh.
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Post by Guest Fri 12 Feb - 22:13

clap clap

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Post by Born Slippy Fri 12 Feb - 22:45

Evidence please Lydian. I'm well aware of the change in radar guns in the early 2000s but I'm less aware of any proof of a 15 mph leap. check out the graph on aces in this article - note the consistent and significant increase up to 2010. If courts are getting slower, how is that happening if serves aren't getting quicker?

http://www.physics.usyd.edu.au/~cross/PUBLICATIONS/46.%20GrandSlamStats.pdf

As for the second serve, my point there is primarily based on spin - based on the same point you make about strings. I'm also fairly convinced you would find the average second serve quicker now - there were a lot of awful serves about in the 90s.


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Post by lydian Fri 12 Feb - 23:03

I can probably dig stuff out as have commented on this before (lords knows when!). But I can tell you that studies have shown that a tennis ball between 100-150 mph roughly slows down 1 mph for every 2 feet travelled. Given a tennis net is 39 feet from the baseline that's around 18-19mph...but I think the old radars weren't quite as bad as that...however they did measure roughly above the net, not at the server as now - that's pretty commonly understood so don't see the need to dig out evidence for that fundamental change. What is also interesting is that apparently Sampras had the "heaviest" serve re: spin (5000rpm I believe)...so his serve slowed down less than others from baseline to net which is why many players said his was the only serve they would break strings returning. So what might be interesting is that 00s serves may get to the baseline slightly faster if modern poly strings impart more RPM...but then RPM is generally offset against straight line speed.

Serving was the name of the game in the 90s, guys hit flatter and harder in my opinion...but we can't rely on serve speeds as they wont show us anything. For sure, yes modern strings allow more soon to be put on 2nd serves...which again might imply less forward speed now vs 90s so doesn't that confound the asserted point? But otherwise trust me the guys are not serving any better now than the 90s...serve technique has not changed, there isn't actually much to change because you're getting into trophy position, throwing the racquet at the ball and then pronating afterwards...all with throwing the balls forwards to start with to add 10mph...they did this 20-30 years ago, racquet head speeds have not suddenly evolved...its just strings adding spin and positioning of radar guns.
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Post by Born Slippy Fri 12 Feb - 23:09

I think the analysis I attached probably deals with that point better than I can. The article shows a general gradual increase in serve speeds. There is something of a jump around the time I believe the radar gun change occurred but it's not as significant as 15 mph. It also shows speed continuing to increase subsequently.

Second serves do start to show a dip in the mid 2000s - possibly suggesting a realisation that spin was the way forward. I would still argue that the average second serve has greater speed/spin than in the mid 90s though.

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Post by lydian Fri 12 Feb - 23:21

Re that physics article chart looking at each slam from 2000 I don't see any strong upwards trend for any of the slams regarding ace numbers to support surfaces not slowing. They look pretty flat on average to me if you even out peaks and troughs...except for French Open. But there it's common knowledge in tennis circles they've been putting on less top dressing in recent years and have changed the balls a number of times too (much harder these days which I believe the players have previously complained about). So I don't accept that article in modern times since say 2000 shows much different to support the notion that surfaces are NOT slowing down.
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Post by Born Slippy Fri 12 Feb - 23:24

On a separate issue, great to see the forum in such good shape. This is the type of debate it needs.

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Post by lydian Fri 12 Feb - 23:24

I can agree that 2nd serves may be slightly - but only slightly faster - due to more rpm being put on them due to poly strings which stops the ball slowing down as much as it did in the 90s by baseline...however I would expect speeds at server racquet to be the same or even higher in the 90s when power serving was in vogue (flat serving).
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Post by lydian Fri 12 Feb - 23:33

Agree debate is good Smile
Re: those 1st serve speeds going up...I don't have an issue with them creeping up...lets ignore racquet strings as we're talking speed at racquet head and poly strings and spin won't have an impact there. However what has been a factor over the past 20 years is that racquets are getting stiffer and stiffer (Graphene is the latest stiffness benchmark and other tech developments) and stings are also getting stiffer too (which is bad news for arms if you're an amateur btw). Extra stiffness, bigger sweet spots from bigger head sizes mean more power goes into the ball, so more mph.

Given speeds are creeping up (irrespective of radar changes in early 2000s) but ace counts look mainly static except at French, this supports the notion that non-clay surfaces are indeed slowing wouldn't you say?
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Post by Guest Fri 12 Feb - 23:40

Didn't they change the balls at the FO2011 when Isner gave Nadal quite the fright in the first round IIRC.

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Post by Born Slippy Fri 12 Feb - 23:41

lydian wrote:Re that physics article chart looking at each slam from 2000 I don't see any strong upwards trend for any of the slams regarding ace numbers to support surfaces not slowing. They look pretty flat on average to me if you even out peaks and troughs...except for French Open. But there it's common knowledge in tennis circles they've been putting on less top dressing in recent years and have changed the balls a number of times too (much harder these days which I believe the players have previously complained about). So I don't accept that article in modern times since say 2000 shows much different to support the notion that surfaces are NOT slowing down.

But even if it remains level then either surfaces aren't slowing down or serves are improving to compensate. I obviously haven't verified that analysis but, assuming it's accurate, it surely totally rubbishes the homogenisation theory? Look at the graphs on games per set and points per game! They are much bigger now than in 2002-03. What about the very clear graph showing a clear consistent increase in first serve speed?

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Post by lydian Fri 12 Feb - 23:42

Think you're right LK. For me the lesser top dressing is the main issue across the past years in question.
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Post by lydian Fri 12 Feb - 23:45

I just covered the point above about increased 1st speeds but flatter ace counts...to me that supports, not debunks, slower surfaces...and with FO speeding up that means more homogenisation. Numbers of games played per set is a very poor surrogate marker of surface speed as we've already discussed that slower surfaces can assist service holds due to pre-eminence of S&F approaches.
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Post by Born Slippy Fri 12 Feb - 23:57

We haven't agreed that though - see my post on the other thread. Even if that was the case, the point is that the balance between serve-return on the various surfaces has remained at a similar differential - regardless of the reason. Whilst a Henman type figure might have been affected, it looks like the balance between the great returners and servers has remained fairly constant? Sampras now would probably do as well on grass and better on clay?

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Post by lydian Sat 13 Feb - 0:07

But a similar differential in serve vs return isnt big deal to me...and I'd like to see better whole tour data across each year to be honest...trying to define if surfaces have slowed or not by just analysing slam only data isn't comprehensive enough IMO.
In any case...slowing surfaces still favour servers and returners with equalish gains (as discussed...) so I'm not surprised if the %'s for serve and return wins are the same as before...I don't see that debunking homogenisation.
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Post by Guest Sat 13 Feb - 7:15

BS can I confirm with the data you supplied. Reading the text it said about how the number of players and matches over different years varied? Is that interpretation correct? They said that they only pulled it from courts that had radar guns.

I am only saying that because for me it makes the data incomplete. Like lydian I'd like to see more wider data at different events before making a conclusion.

It is an interesting argument, the answers could well lie with the relativity of impact in terms of saying that a 120mph in 90's conditions could equate to facing say a 140mph in today's conditions.

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Post by socal1976 Sat 13 Feb - 7:33

This is truly hilarious stuff the people who called me mentally ill for arguing weak era are now arguing weak era when Djokovic starts to win. I mean I am starting to agree with Oscar Wilde that life imitates art as opposed to vice versa. 

I mean somehow Fed at 33 being a distant, I mean distant, I mean record breakingly distant number 2 is a telltale sign of weak era. Agassi though with half fed's slams being number 1 in 2003 at the age of 33 well that doesn't mean weak era at all. Nothing to see here, Empanada Dave negotiating around the tennis court in Nike's version of male maternity tennis clothes, with what appears to be a child's flotation device around his waistline is the strongest competition ever, or alternately as strong as any. But now that fed in his early thirties  can be a super distant number 2 who hasn't won a slam in three and half years, well you know what that means weak era.


I am sorry I don't mean to pick on any of you,  but wasn't I called borderline insane for saying the same thing about fed's comp on a fast court in the mid 2000s? Why have I been crazy for five years, and now that Djokovic is winning everything weak eras have become fashionable?

We all make mistakes I loved cargo pants ten years ago, can you all now agree that maybe I wasn't insane when talking about weak eras? This goes for IMBL and BS as well.

pS I have no problem with Djokovic cleaning up on a weak era, if he does it for four or five years in a row he will be even with Federer

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Post by Guest Sat 13 Feb - 8:44

Is it weak era of are peaks smaller?

It seems the formula is lack of success + not in peak = weak era.

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Post by lydian Sat 13 Feb - 8:56

Socal, I seriously have no idea what you wrote there lol.

Unless someone else turns the heat up right now or one of the <20s breaks through soon as a recognisable new top tier player (not sure I'm seeing that tbh) then I think historians of the game will struggle to define the period from 2014 onwards. Whether it's weak or not I'll leave to others who like doing so...seemingly including yourself socal.

At the end of the day these eras and best player discussions (as that's what drives these things) reminds me of an old BBC 606 article I once wrote back in 2008... "GOATs vs GOTEs".

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/606/A37228269

My historical reviews made me feel "eras" tended to last 7-8 years (where 1 player particularly stands out usually)... Given that post for Federer only ran to 2007 (boy how the years roll by...), I'd probably state his era more now as 2003-2009 (7 seasons). I say that as I now believe the game went through a very clear surface/tech transition from 2000-2003 that stopped "era flow" as before. So the question now is will eras get longer through the longer longevity we're seeing? Maybe. Maybe not.

So we are probably seeing that the following 2010-2017/8 "era" is going to be Djokovic as GOTE. Which interestingly would keep the GOTE era length to the same 7/8 year window. All meaning Nadal actually never had his own era as such? (although ironically he's arguably actually earned a GOAT title...clay-GOAT).

Comparing GOTEs is fun although ultimately non conclusive, no point getting all wound up about the comparisons though socal Smile
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Post by Haddie-nuff Sat 13 Feb - 10:18

I think Rafa has earned his own title... i.e. GROAT

GREATEST RIVAL OF ALL TIME Wink

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Post by lydian Sat 13 Feb - 11:07

Absolutely HN. Just a shame about that blasted deformed foot bone re: his overall career although that said he was told to retire from the game by a doctor at 19 so it's all been a bonus for him. I see his progress in Buenos Aires is ok...lost 8 games to Monaco when he hadn't lost more than 18 in 4 previous matches and this was Monacos first match in 6 months after surgery too.

Re: the serving discussion above, there was a similarish discussion here back in 2012. See here: https://www.606v2.com/t29103-serving-today-vs-yesteryear
At least I was consistent! I'm sure though that I once quoted a load of serve and return stats across the years on here somewhere. Will have to have a good look!
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Post by Haddie-nuff Sat 13 Feb - 11:54

lydian wrote:Absolutely HN. Just a shame about that blasted deformed foot bone re: his overall career although that said he was told to retire from the game by a doctor at 19 so it's all been a bonus for him. I see his progress in Buenos Aires is ok...lost 8 games to Monaco when he hadn't lost more than 18 in 4 previous matches and this was Monacos first match in 6 months after surgery too.

Re: the serving discussion above, there was a similarish discussion here back in 2012. See here: https://www.606v2.com/t29103-serving-today-vs-yesteryear
At least I was consistent! I'm sure though that I once quoted a load of serve and return stats across the years on here somewhere. Will have to have a good look!

Yes Lydian .. never will the history books speak of the GOAT whoever that turns out to be Roger? Novak? without they mention Rafa he has helped their careers without a doubt

Buenos Aires and Monaco.. yes I understand he made a bit of a dogs dinner of that match.. hard however when you are playing your best mate returning from surgery but heh that never stopped the Bull before. However his match yesterday in that heat proved to be better ... first set was a fight but some vintage Rafa in the second.. lets hope today sees a better showing.. God knows he needs it. Smile

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Post by HM Murdock Sat 13 Feb - 15:08

Haddie-nuff wrote:I think Rafa has earned his own title... i.e. GROAT

GREATEST RIVAL OF ALL TIME Wink
I rather like that!

It is an oddity that Rafa has 14 slams and is undoubtedly one of the best players ever, and yet he hasn't really had his own era of dominance.

Then again, he has his own surface. King of Grass and King of Hard Courts is open to debate. We know who the King of Clay is.

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Post by Haddie-nuff Sat 13 Feb - 16:24

HM Murdock wrote:
Haddie-nuff wrote:I think Rafa has earned his own title... i.e. GROAT

GREATEST RIVAL OF ALL TIME Wink
I rather like that!

It is an oddity that Rafa has 14 slams and is undoubtedly one of the best players ever, and yet he hasn't really had his own era of dominance.

Then again, he has his own surface. King of Grass and King of Hard Courts is open to debate. We know who the King of Clay is.

Thank you HMM I think he well deserves recognition .. he will after all be remembered in the tennis history books if only for his rivalry to Fed and Novak.. no one can deny him that at least.. He has had his moments on grass and hard courts.. but his dominance on clay will be forever remembered.
Please Rafa let not 2016 be your swansong Crying or Very sad

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Post by socal1976 Sat 13 Feb - 19:36

Haddie-nuff wrote:
HM Murdock wrote:
Haddie-nuff wrote:I think Rafa has earned his own title... i.e. GROAT

GREATEST RIVAL OF ALL TIME Wink
I rather like that!

It is an oddity that Rafa has 14 slams and is undoubtedly one of the best players ever, and yet he hasn't really had his own era of dominance.

Then again, he has his own surface. King of Grass and King of Hard Courts is open to debate. We know who the King of Clay is.

Thank you HMM I think he well deserves recognition .. he will after all be remembered in the tennis history books if only for his rivalry to  Fed and Novak.. no one can deny him that at least.. He has had his moments on grass and hard courts.. but his dominance on clay will be forever remembered.
Please Rafa let not 2016 be your swansong Crying or Very sad

Oh I think that is too harsh to think that Rafa would only be seen as just a foil for fed or Novak. Haddie, his records and ability to dominate with a completely unique style has cemented his legacy of one of the handful of greats or all time. And clearly there really is no debate about anyone on any side of the debate that Nadal is the greatest clay courter of all time.

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Post by socal1976 Sat 13 Feb - 19:38

I to hope he can get back to being a force at the slams and can add to his haul, hopefully after Novak gets this FO.

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Post by Haddie-nuff Sat 13 Feb - 20:43

Well the result at Buenos Aires has put paid to any hopes I might have had for the FO Sad

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Post by lydian Sat 13 Feb - 21:23

...or any clay event tbh.
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Post by summerblues Sun 14 Feb - 5:27

socal1976 wrote:Oh I think that is too harsh to think that Rafa would only be seen as just a foil for fed or Novak.
Agree with this.  The guy has 14 slams; is tied for the 2nd most ever; incidentally ahead of Novak at this point.

He never really dominated as much as Fed or Novak, but he has spread his slams across many years.  It does not really matter to me if your slams come in bunches (and give you dominance) or over a longer, albeit less dominant stretch.

If their careers all ended now, Rafa would still be ahead of Novak.  I know many seem all but certain that Novak will catch up with Rafa's slam total, but I am much less so.  Even if Rafa does not win any more slams from here on, Novak needs to win three more just to tie him.  Novak will be 29 in a few months.  I would give him maybe 50/50 chance.

As of now, I would still say Rafa has a better chance to catch Federer than Novak does (though I admit I would give either of them less than 50% at this point).

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Post by Haddie-nuff Sun 14 Feb - 18:29

Im not sure what you are reading into what Ive said... when it comes to the GOAT debate Rafa does not get a look in.. therefore to be the GROAT is the best he can hope to achieve on 606v2. My point is.. that neither Novak or Federer would have been where they are without him.. and the history books will show that... so he has his OWN place and one that is totally unique to him

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Post by Henman Bill Tue 16 Feb - 1:45

A possible reason that Agassi's return stats quoted above trail Novak and Andy is just overall consistency. He was more likely to have a 6-month period where he was in some personal crisis and played badly or turn up to tournaments when he didn't really feel like playing or whatever else. I wonder if you looked at Agassi at his best, and excluded his worst years and patches and performances, perhaps he wouldn't rank last of the three.

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