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The French Open 2020

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Post by sirfredperry Thu 24 Sep 2020, 5:38 pm

First topic message reminder :

With the draw about to be made for RG, I thought I would get this topic going.

For me - and I say this every year - Rafa is clear favourite, although the strange nature of all sport this Covid-19 year might mean someone else (Thiem? Djoko?) might have a chance.

Halep stands out as the women's favourite, particularly as some of the top women are not appearing. More on this after the draw.

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Post by sirfredperry Mon 12 Oct 2020, 5:35 pm

I think I saw somewhere that Borg was concerned that he felt so little after finally losing to McEnroe at Wimbledon in 1981, having won the five previous SW19 tournaments.

He was worried that he didn't seem too bothered at the loss. It ought to have hurt, but didn't. A few months later he lost to Mac in New York and that, sadly, was the last of the Swede's Slam appearances.

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Post by Haddie-nuff Mon 12 Oct 2020, 5:41 pm

As I say.. I lived through that era, there was much more going on behind the scenes than the tennis history books have recorded
His personal life was a total mess

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Post by Haddie-nuff Mon 12 Oct 2020, 5:54 pm

My final word on Borg was that one has to remember although he was callled ICEBORG .. he wasnt. It has been well documented that Bjorn was a very very volatile young man and his parents were warned that he would be thrown out of the tennis club he played at if he did not learn to control his temper. So the Borg we saw on court was not the Borg off.. he learned to control his temperament when he played tennis but it must have been very difficult for a man who was at odds with himself off court. The pressure must have become immense

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Post by Atila Mon 12 Oct 2020, 5:58 pm

Borg was AWESOME! I was only a kid when he played, but I remember feeling really sad when he lost to Mcenroe at Wimbledon.

I didn't know much about the tennis world at the time and thought that tennis players didn't do anything except play Wimbledon. Smile

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Post by No name Bertie Mon 12 Oct 2020, 6:02 pm

One of the greatest players of all time who was beyond awesome that they had to change the tennis rules to give others a chance was Pancho Gonzalez.

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Post by Haddie-nuff Mon 12 Oct 2020, 6:05 pm

I think we all feel that first and foremost they are tennis players who happen to be human.

These men are human beings that happen to be brilliant at what they do.. we lose sight of the fact that they are men who have families a life outside tennis .. we expect perfection every time they walk on court. Do we know if their private life is ok. that Mum and Dad are fine, the kids are well that behind the scenes there is nothing that could possibly distract from a perfect performance... Yes they earn a lot of money for what they do.. but they are entitled to a "bad day at the office "

But Atiila .. believe me Borg WAS awesome

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Post by JuliusHMarx Mon 12 Oct 2020, 6:06 pm

I remember back when I saw Willie Renshaw win his 7th Wimbledon, and thinking 'By Jove, 'twill be a goodly long time afore that feat is matched'.

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Post by Atila Mon 12 Oct 2020, 6:37 pm

JuliusHMarx wrote:I remember back when I saw Willie Renshaw win his 7th Wimbledon, and thinking 'By Jove, 'twill be a goodly long time afore that feat is matched'.
Laugh

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Post by 88Chris05 Mon 12 Oct 2020, 9:11 pm

I appreciate that the final Slam count isn't the be all and end all, particularly if none of Djokovic, Federer or Nadal get a really sizeable lead over the the other two by the end of their careers. One of them ending with 21, maybe 22 Slams to the others' 20 for example won't conclusively settle the debate, and nor should it.

I also take on board that until the 1990s (I remember Sampras being the first guy who publicly stated that his burning ambition was to overhaul Emerson's twelve) Slam counts, though still important, weren't treated with the same reverence as they are now, what with the transition into the Open Era muddying the waters, the Australian Open being seen as a poor cousin to the other three majors for many years, the likes of Borg and McEnroe not really being too into the numbers game etc.

However, I do think it carries a hell of a lot of currency for whoever ends up boasting that achievement. Federer in particular has accrued a stack of records across his career (most weeks, both overall and successively, at world number one; extended the record for most wins in successive finals to 24 when it was 12 beforehand; most consecutive Slam finals) etc. However I feel pretty sure that if you said to him he could only keep hold of one record until he's an old man, it'd be the Slam record without any hesitation.

Comparing Djokovic, Federer and Nadal to the likes of Borg, Laver and Gonzalez purely on the Slam count is dodgy territory for those reasons above: the emphasis on Slams across the eras is pretty asymmetrical. However, all of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal have been competing in an era where the glory of having that record Slam count has been long and well established, where the four Slams are universally acknowledged as being the highest level of competition and prestige in the sport, and where the idea of skipping them for any reason other than injury or unfortunate personal circumstances is unthinkable. Hence, it's a much more level playing field and there's a lot more mileage in comparing their Slam numbers. If you end up behind two guys from within your own era, when you've all been operating within that same framework, then it become a lot trickier (though again, not impossible) to bolster your GOAT claims.

Strange as it may sound, from that point of view I think Federer needs the Slam record more than the other two guys. He's essentially always been playing second fiddle to at least one of them (sometimes both) anytime after the age of 26 or so, barring that glorious 2017 where he really did have the wood on Nadal and it was largely his relatively sparse schedule which allowed Rafa to get the number one ranking. The idea that Federer's competition during his most prolific years of 2003 - 2007 was 'weak' is ridiculous, however there is more than a modicum of truth in the claims of Djokovic and Nadal fans that their guys, by and large, had to win the lion's share of their Slams against better fields and during a time when all three of them were at least in or around their peak years (granted there's some grey area given the fact that Federer is 5 / 6 years older than the other two).

Off the top of my head, for example, Federer has beaten at least one of the other two en route to his 20 Slams on six occasions. Not bad at all, but for Nadal's 20 Slams that figure is an incredible fourteen. Djokovic is three Slams behind, but again he has had to beat at least one of the other guys in twelve of those successes. That's going from memory, so could be off by one or two, but the overall point remains: to be the best you have to beat the best, and when it comes to the Grand Slams there is an argument to be made that both Nadal and Djokovic have had to come through better opposition, generally speaking, than Federer.

If Rafa and Novak have both higher quality Slams, AND more of them by the time they're done, then whence Federer's GOAT claims? He could point to the fact that he was arguably the most thoroughly dominant number one the sport has seen for a very prolonged period between 2004 and 2007, and of course the sheer beauty and flow of his game helps his cause. But with a negative head-to-head record against the pair and the fact that so many of his Slams were won before the other two guys hit their primes, he'll be on shaky ground.

I remember thinking when he let that Wimbledon final get away from him last summer that it could well be the difference between him holding onto the Slam record (or at least a share of it) or losing it. Honestly don't see him winning another, and I suspect that'll haunt him for a while.
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Post by JuliusHMarx Mon 12 Oct 2020, 9:32 pm

I seem to recall Sampras saying he thought his finishing as YE No 1 for 6 years in a row was his greatest achievement - moreso than winning 14 slams - and that was when he still held the record for slams. He was desperate to get the 6th one when he was battling against Rios for it.

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Post by JuliusHMarx Mon 12 Oct 2020, 9:42 pm

88Chris05 wrote:He's essentially always been playing second fiddle to at least one of them (sometimes both) anytime after the age of 26 or so

Purely on that statistic, he did win 4 of the next 6 slams after his 27th birthday, reaching the final of the other two. It was only after the A0 2010, when he was 28 1/2 that he dropped off quite a bit. At the time 28 was considered old for a tennis player, an age after which slam wins were statistically very rare.

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Post by 88Chris05 Mon 12 Oct 2020, 11:02 pm

JuliusHMarx wrote:
88Chris05 wrote:He's essentially always been playing second fiddle to at least one of them (sometimes both) anytime after the age of 26 or so

Purely on that statistic, he did win 4 of the next 6 slams after his 27th birthday, reaching the final of the other two. It was only after the A0 2010, when he was 28 1/2 that he dropped off quite a bit. At the time 28 was considered old for a tennis player, an age after which slam wins were statistically very rare.  

That's true, but in terms of returning to the number one ranking in 2009 I think Federer benefited from Nadal being unfit in the summer (no defence of his Wimbledon title and with that a huge chunk of ranking points lost) and then being a little undercooked in the closing stages of the season. In 2008 (and of course spilling over to the 2009 Australian Open) Nadal really started dominating the head-to-head and showing that, when they were both fit and firing, he was the better of the pair at that stage, and that's what really helped him overhaul Federer in the rankings. Federer's two Slam wins and return to the number one ranking in 2009 never required him to do that. I think from 2008 onwards Federer never really had any upper hand over Nadal or looked as if he could beat him consistently (he won the odd match here and there of course, as you'd expect), right up until 2017 when he finally started making that head-to-head look a lot more respectable. From 2008 onwards Nadal was consistently the more successful of the pair, and won the vast majority of their matches, whenever they were both fit and in form.
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Post by JuliusHMarx Mon 12 Oct 2020, 11:26 pm

The rankings don't lie, but I actually think they very rarely played each other when both fit and in form - maybe half a dozen times. They were half a generation apart in my view. Fed was a bit burnt out by the time Rafa peaked, then Rafa started getting injuries by the time Federer got over his mono and back troubles, got a new racket etc and returned to form a few years later.

But unless you want analyze in great detail the form and fitness match by match, year by year, surface but surface then everything's just an assumption anyway and it's 'if this' and 'if that' ad infinitum until one of them has won 40 slams and the other none, when in fact it's the width of a gnat's testicle that separates them one way or the other.


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Post by 88Chris05 Tue 13 Oct 2020, 12:19 am

I think it goes both ways with the rankings, to be fair. Federer's number one ranking came with a bit of a caveat in 2009, but as I mentioned above, on the flip side I think most people considered Federer the best player in the world in 2017, despite the year-end rankings giving that honour to Nadal. I'm probably being a bit harsh in some respects to Federer, and setting very exacting standards - but you have to when you're talking about potentially proclaiming someone to be the greatest of all time in their field, I guess. It's a tough school.

I take on board what you've said above about how the parameters of what we consider 'old' in the game have been moved, even just within the last decade or so. Given that Federer was able to win 3 Slams and return to world number one at the age of 35-36, I don't think that Nadal beating him so consistently between the ages of 28-32, as he did, should be too easily dismissed....But nevertheless you're right to allude to the age gap, which is relatively big even with these new parameters.

Out of interest, had they been roughly the same age and had their peak years more or less at the same time, who do you think would have lead the head-to-head, won more Slams, stayed at number one longer etc? Or is that just too much of a hypothetical?
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Post by No name Bertie Tue 13 Oct 2020, 12:35 am

Here is a question: when do people think Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were at their peak physical condition for tennis?

Roger Federer: 2004 - early 2010 (22 to 28)
Rafael Nadal: 2007 - 2012 (20 to 26)
Novak Djokovic: 2011 to mid-2016 (23 to 29)

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Post by sirfredperry Tue 13 Oct 2020, 8:10 am

NNB - The question you pose above is testament to the ability and fitness of the Big Three in that both have won multiple Slams AFTER your proposed peak physical condition timeframe.

Adaptability could be key. Federer, for example, in that 2017 AO final with Rafa went all-out attack, hitting through his BHs, as he tried to shorten the rallies.

Rafa is now far more attacking than he was in his pomp and is still chalking up the GS.

Djoko, too, has impressive Slam records of late. But linking age/fitness to the weekend RG final, it could be said that the Djoko of 2011-16 would have slugged it out more with Rafa.

On Sunday, Djoko was only too eager to pull the trigger early and consequently his UE count was high. Was it that at age 33 Djoko didn't have enough in the tank to go toe-to-toe with a rampant Rafa?

All this does not answer your question, though. I think you've probably got the peak physical years right.

The finest bringing together of fitness and form of all these Big 3 years is, arguably, Djoko's 2011 performance. The other two of the Big Three as well as Andy Murray were in good shape and near their peaks. Yet Novak won his first 43 matches of the year. Incredible.


Last edited by sirfredperry on Tue 13 Oct 2020, 8:38 am; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Soul Requiem Tue 13 Oct 2020, 8:13 am

88Chris05 wrote:

I take on board what you've said above about how the parameters of what we consider 'old' in the game have been moved, even just within the last decade or so. Given that Federer was able to win 3 Slams and return to world number one at the age of 35-36, I don't think that Nadal beating him so consistently between the ages of 28-32, as he did, should be too easily dismissed....But nevertheless you're right to allude to the age gap, which is relatively big even with these new parameters.

Out of interest, had they been roughly the same age and had their peak years more or less at the same time, who do you think would have lead the head-to-head, won more Slams, stayed at number one longer etc? Or is that just too much of a hypothetical?

A lot of Nadals perceived domination over Federer comes from the sheer volume of matches they play on clay, it's always been something that has riled me slightly how many more tournaments are played on clay compared to grass. There is currently the French open as well as what is it four masters 1000 tourneys too? The head to head is somewhat manipulated by the fact Federer tended to get further in the clay tournaments than Nadal on the hard courts, 16 of their matches have been played on clay outside of which Federer heads their battle.

On clay Nadal is clearly the greatest but as an overall all court player I think he languishes behind in my opinion, the balance of the tennis calendar very rarely gets taken into consideration.

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Post by sirfredperry Tue 13 Oct 2020, 8:44 am

SR - Yes, there was always a school of thought that while Rog was getting deep into clay-court tournaments where Rafa was supreme, Rafa was not getting so far in the Rog-dominated tourneys.

It still comes as a shock to realise the two have never met in New York, while their Wimbledon semi last year - a terrific match - was their first SW19 encounter, I think, since the classic 08 final.

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Post by Jeff Navarro Tue 13 Oct 2020, 9:35 am

Even if you disregarded Nadal domination on clay over Federer, the non clay H2H is 14-10 in favour of the Swiss - and that is only relevant as Federer won the last 6 matches off clay. So even when Federer was at his peak Nadal had it on him.

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Post by sirfredperry Tue 13 Oct 2020, 10:04 am

Can we consider that Rafa's RG triumph this year was one of his best, and not only for his display in the final?

Rafa's whole year is geared around winning the French. He makes sure he's in the best physical shape for that period in May/early June.

This sometimes means missing tournaments at the fag-end of one year and, possibly opting out of tourneys around Feb/March.

Yet this year the extraordinary circumstances meant he'd had little preparation going into RG. But he still managed to win without dropping a set and to whack Novak in the final.

I think as long as Rafa is fit enough to turn up in Paris he will take the title there.

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Post by JuliusHMarx Tue 13 Oct 2020, 10:16 am

Wrt to h2h, Djokovic leads over both of them and has held all four slams at the same time, and will soon hold the record for most weeks at number 1.
Rafa's CV lacks an ATP Tour Finals title and as already mentioned, Fed has a losing h2h against both. There is no agreed way to measure the GOAT and when 3 players are that close it is simply unproveable - it is purely at matter of personal preference.

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Post by sirfredperry Tue 13 Oct 2020, 11:58 am

JuliusHMarx wrote:Wrt to h2h, Djokovic leads over both of them and has held all four slams at the same time, and will soon hold the record for most weeks at number 1.
Rafa's CV lacks an ATP Tour Finals title and as already mentioned, Fed has a losing h2h against both. There is no agreed way to measure the GOAT and when 3 players are that close it is simply unproveable - it is purely at matter of personal preference.

JHM - Regarding the weeks-at-number-one, I assume they have not counted the weeks of inaction earlier in the year, otherwise Djoko would be past the Fed figure.

I must say that I thought Fed's figure of 310 would never be passed, especially as Djoko and Rafa kept sharing top spot, so that neither could get a really long run going. And in between Andy Murray nipped in for 41 weeks.

Weeks at number one may not indicate GOAT status. Those who follow tennis only moderately closely would probably be surprised that Lendl's weeks-at-the-top total, for example, is 65 higher than Rafa's and 100 higher than McEnroe's.

But weeks-at-the-top does show longevity, fitness and consistency.

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Post by bradman99.94 Tue 13 Oct 2020, 12:05 pm

No name Bertie wrote:Here is a question: when do people think Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were at their peak physical condition for tennis?

Roger Federer: 2004 - early 2010  (22 to 28)
Rafael Nadal: 2007 - 2012 (20 to 26)
Novak Djokovic: 2011 to mid-2016 (23 to 29)


Interesting that you think Federer has been waning for 10 years, Nadal for 8 and Djokovic for 4 years and yet, over the last 10 years, there has been only 8 Grand Slam winners from without that group and Stan and Andy account for 6 of those. This doesn’t mean that you’re not right but it does very well highlight the gap in standard between these and all other players. In fact, add AM and SW to make it ‘the big five’ and there are only two winners out of this group in 10 years: Cilic and Thiem and Thiem’s victory must have the biggest asterisk ever.

I enjoy watching the ‘chasing’ (never to catch) group and they have interesting and exciting games between themselves and occasionally with the top 3 (I was astounded by Schwartzman’s resilience) but I can’t see the top 3 losing regularly or even occasionally, to other than each other. It’s a bit of an indictment on them that these mid-to-late 30’s are way too good for them even in a sport where youth and fitness should prove a massive natural advantage

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Post by dummy_half Tue 13 Oct 2020, 2:02 pm

bradman99.94 wrote:
No name Bertie wrote:Here is a question: when do people think Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were at their peak physical condition for tennis?

Roger Federer: 2004 - early 2010  (22 to 28)
Rafael Nadal: 2007 - 2012 (20 to 26)
Novak Djokovic: 2011 to mid-2016 (23 to 29)


Interesting that you think Federer has been waning for 10 years, Nadal for 8 and Djokovic for 4 years and yet, over the last 10 years, there has been only 8 Grand Slam winners from without that group and Stan and Andy account for 6 of those. This doesn’t mean that you’re not right but it does very well highlight the gap in standard between these and all other players. In fact, add AM and SW to make it ‘the big five’ and there are only two winners out of this group in 10 years: Cilic and Thiem and Thiem’s victory must have the biggest asterisk ever.

I enjoy watching the ‘chasing’ (never to catch) group and they have interesting and exciting games between themselves and occasionally with the top 3 (I was astounded by Schwartzman’s resilience) but I can’t see the top 3 losing regularly or even occasionally, to other than each other. It’s a bit of an indictment on them that these mid-to-late 30’s are way too good for them even in a sport where youth and fitness should prove a massive natural advantage

I think one of the surprises for me is that both Nadal and Djokovic have continued at very close to their top level well beyond the age of 30, to an age where their court coverage speed (and let's be fair, that has been a big part of both of their success) should be significantly reduced. Federer's game, while still requiring athleticism and agility, was never quite so reliant on absolute speed (being inherently less reliant on defence), so the low drop off there is less of a surprise - with Fed it's more that the reflexes and hand-eye coordination should be declining (it's what does for most cricket batsmen in their mid 30s), but he's still pretty efficient at getting the big serves back.

I think we'd all accept that the big 3 aren't the players they were a few years ago, but the rate of decline has been very slow and hasn't let any of the younger generations close the gap entirely yet. Obviously Murray has gone from consideration because of injury (as with Cilic and Del Potro), but the others have largely avoided anything that has led to long term incapacitation.

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Post by debaters1 Tue 13 Oct 2020, 2:03 pm

bradman99.94 wrote:
No name Bertie wrote:Here is a question: when do people think Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were at their peak physical condition for tennis?

Roger Federer: 2004 - early 2010  (22 to 28)
Rafael Nadal: 2007 - 2012 (20 to 26)
Novak Djokovic: 2011 to mid-2016 (23 to 29)


Interesting that you think Federer has been waning for 10 years, Nadal for 8 and Djokovic for 4 years and yet, over the last 10 years, there has been only 8 Grand Slam winners from without that group and Stan and Andy account for 6 of those. This doesn’t mean that you’re not right but it does very well highlight the gap in standard between these and all other players. In fact, add AM and SW to make it ‘the big five’ and there are only two winners out of this group in 10 years: Cilic and Thiem and Thiem’s victory must have the biggest asterisk ever.

I enjoy watching the ‘chasing’ (never to catch) group and they have interesting and exciting games between themselves and occasionally with the top 3 (I was astounded by Schwartzman’s resilience) but I can’t see the top 3 losing regularly or even occasionally, to other than each other. It’s a bit of an indictment on them that these mid-to-late 30’s are way too good for them even in a sport where youth and fitness should prove a massive natural advantage

Seeing as lots of old hands have chimed in over the past couple of weeks, I'll throw my unsolicited opinion into the mix too! Wink

The big 5, and credit must be given to Andy and Stan in this regard as winning three slams and beating your rivals to do so is the testament to their own talent and longevity, it is startling that only two majors in the past 10 year have gone to anyone not named Rafa, Roger, Novak, Andy or Stan. The mind boggles. I think if you go further back the list only grows with Delpo in 09... Correct me if I am wrong. These guys are Titans and are ageing like good wine.

As a Rafa fan, I thought that if he won this year it would be an amazing achievement, especially after the loss in Rome. I did not see him crushing Novak in the final at all. While Schwartzman asked a lot of questions I felt that Sinner seemed to provide the most difficulties for Rafa, something I would never have predicted. Novak didn't find the next gear that he usually does, whomever he is playing but most assuredly against Rafa. Thiem, in my opinion, remains the man next most likely to win RG but fate is fickle. What Rafa did this year impressed me more than the 08 final as he has never lacked confidence against Roger, especially on clay.

Finally, regarding the GOAT debate; it is so pointless to have it as we'll always weigh one thing heavier than another when it is in our favourite's interests but it is fun to have. But I will say this, my father passed away in 2012 and we had enjoyed that period of tennis together between the then Big 4 and especially Fedal matches. I knew that we, as fans, were privileged then to witness their individual and collective talents but in 2020 to have them still playing at an elite level is truly a wonderful thing. We won't know what version of Roger will return post surgery and if he can compete again and in the age of COVID-19 what the hell will even happen next week, never mind next year, so I'm just going to enjoy these guys being awesome.

The new generation behind is full of talent and as they are, generally, younger and quicker, it is currently the disciplined play of the old guard and their tactical nouse and mental fortitude that is keeping the others behind them. That is where we can compare across eras. Mental strength, both in the moment and to learn from previous failures. I'm not knocking Borg, but clearly he lost hunger or excitement or had too many plates spinning to care about tennis after a certain point but the way Rafa, Roger and Novak have all adapted their respective weaknesses into relative strengths as their careers have progressed is amazing. Roger has late LATE career wins in bigs tournies against Rafa that even the most diehard fan would not have imagined. Novak was broken in 2017/18 and I thought that he might not actually get his mojo back look at the World No. 1 now. and Rafa.... About 5 or 6 years ago I thought Novak was his Bane, his own Rafa to Roger and he just beat Novak off the court with no hiccups or mental slips when he had the opportunity to press an advantage, something he has been prone to, even guilty of, in the past. They're Champions. Enjoy it, it really won't last forever.

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Post by theslosty Tue 13 Oct 2020, 3:18 pm

I agree with Chris that Federer's failure to close out the Wimbledon 2019 final vs Djokovic was potentially decisive for his GOAT credentials. Had he won that, he could have retired and been overtaken in the Slam count and as a Federer fan I would have been at peace with that. It would have been the crucial victory over Novak that evened up the H2H in the same way AO17 was so important against Rafa. It also would have been the first time he had defeated Rafa and Novak in the same Slam. Unfortunately I don't think he is going to get the chance to avenge it.

The funny thing is that whatever the leading count is at the end of this era it could still be beaten. These 3 giants have all played at the same time and still shared 57 slams between them, if it was only two of them you could be looking at 30 slams each and potentially even more if one of them dominated the era alone. In the future we could see a champion of similar calibre mop up in a weaker era and win 25+ slams. Especially as it appears that tennis players generally are able to play at a high level much later into their 30s than previous generations.
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Post by sirfredperry Tue 13 Oct 2020, 3:21 pm

Once again I say a big thank you to everyone who has contributed to this topic.

I know people can't or won't always want to come on to the forum. But don't be strangers. If all goes well, it will only be a few weeks before there is another Slam. It would be good to have lots of posts.

I know some find the GOAT debate somewhat overplayed. But the fact that the GS numbers at the top are now tied has created enormous media interest and that must be good for the sport.

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Post by JuliusHMarx Tue 13 Oct 2020, 3:36 pm

theslosty wrote:I agree with Chris that Federer's failure to close out the Wimbledon 2019 final vs Djokovic was potentially decisive for his GOAT credentials. Had he won that, he could have retired and been overtaken in the Slam count and as a Federer fan I would have been at peace with that. It would have been the crucial victory over Novak that evened up the H2H in the same way AO17 was so important against Rafa. It also would have been the first time he had defeated Rafa and Novak in the same Slam. Unfortunately I don't think he is going to get the chance to avenge it.

The funny thing is that whatever the leading count is at the end of this era it could still be beaten. These 3 giants have all played at the same time and still shared 57 slams between them, if it was only two of them you could be looking at 30 slams each and potentially even more if one of them dominated the era alone. In the future we could see a champion of similar calibre mop up in a weaker era and win 25+ slams. Especially as it appears that tennis players generally are able to play at a high level much later into their 30s than previous generations.

That's almost like saying the difference between GOAT and not GOAT was winning/losing one point (match point) out of thousands.

Separately, Djoko was very unlucky this year in that Wimbledon was cancelled - he would have a been a heavy favourite for that. Perhaps Covid is the difference between GOAT and not GOAT? Although I think he will end up with the most slams anyway.

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Post by 88Chris05 Tue 13 Oct 2020, 8:11 pm

Tricky with Djokovic. I don't think he necessarily needs the Slam record to be considered the greatest of the 'Big Three' by the time he's done, but at the same time he's the most candid of them when he talks about how getting that Slam record is a major aim for him and something he'd absolutely love, in comparison to Federer (well, the Federer of recent years anyway) and Nadal, who tend to downplay the significance of the record and say they don't worry about measuring themselves against their rivals in that way. If you take them at face value (a big if) then from a personal perspective there might be more riding on the Slam record for Djokovic than the other two, possibly because he knows he'll never quite enjoy the same reverence and affection from the fans and sporting media worldwide as they do.

Incredible to think that he's in with a shout at all, considering he trailed Nadal 1-9 in Slams ten years ago and he's only one year younger. People knew he'd win a couple more Slams and probably even have a taste of the number one spot at some point or another, but very few saw him as anything other than a clear number three in the long run behind Rafa and Roger, and fewer still saw him potentially surpassing the pair of them. Even as he started piling up the Slams and weeks at number one, I'd say that general feeling seemed to last right up until 2015 / 2016.

It seemed to happen quietly, almost as if nobody had noticed. All of a sudden he'd gone from having no shot of surpassing their numbers, to many people saying he had those records in the bag after he completed the Djoker Slam at Roland Garros in 2016. Then, almost as quickly, his chances were written off as Federer went a full eight Slams ahead of him in 2017 / 2018, and Nadal got back to winning ways. Then it all turned on its head again - at the start of 2020 most people were picking him to end up with the record. With Nadal most people have always acknowledged that he would be close and at least put pressure on Federer's record, with opinion consistently more or less split down the middle about whether he actually would get it. Whereas with Djokovic it's fluctuated a lot more, and at any given time, rather than being split, the consensus seems to be overwhelmingly that he will / won't catch up.

I still think he's got it all to do, especially as Nadal looks a pretty good bet to win at least one more. That means Djokovic could conceivably have to win another four or five Slams to hold the record outright, or even get a share of it. After he won in Melbourne at the start of the year, I imagine more or less everyone thought he'd land another Slam by the end of it - but lo and behold, Wimbledon is cancelled, he's defaulted at the US Open and all of a sudden it's debatable yet again whether he's in the driving seat or not. I think it's going to be close whoever ends up with the record, so small things like that could make a big difference.

The reason I think he might have his work cut out catching Rafa is that he seems just ever so slightly more vulnerable (albeit not at Slam level just yet) against the next guys in line, such as Tsitsipas, Zverev, Medvedev and Thiem (if he can still be counted in that group) than Nadal is. If that does start translating onto the Grand Slam stage then Djokovic might just fall short and probably rue the fact that he left it quite late, and left himself a hell of a lot to do, in his quest to catch up with the other two in terms of the major successes.

Still all to play for, though.
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Post by Oioi Wed 14 Oct 2020, 1:43 am

Could be recency bias but I have to go with Nadal as the one who will end with the most slams. Barring injury he's just such an overwhelming favourite for RG for probably the next couple at least and he's always in with a shout elsewhere too. If he gets to 23 I think that's a bridge too far for Djoko, who as you say struggles a bit more with the next gen guys and to me it seems he's lost some of the physicality he used to bring. Federer will be over the moon to bag just one more slam imo; I'm sure he must be aware that the game is up for him in terms of the slam race. That Wimbledon final was so cruel, winning in just about every stat but not coming away as the victor. I think of it as a trade for the Wimbledon 2009 win which Roddick deserved imo, though I think Fed would prefer to have won the 2019 one instead!

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Post by ebar86 Wed 14 Oct 2020, 4:53 am

Djokovic-tsitsipas is massive example. I predicted tsitsipas to win in 5, but at the start of 5th set, tsitsipas just totally knackered, djokovic just need to walk to finish line. Nadal-thiem RG19 was another. After 2 sets, I thought it would go to distance, but Nadal simply stomped on thiem, serving double breadsticks on remaining sets. Those not so new generations, they could offer the tough situations, but when it was tough for them, only these 3 guys were those who kept going.

dummy_half wrote:
bradman99.94 wrote:
No name Bertie wrote:Here is a question: when do people think Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were at their peak physical condition for tennis?

Roger Federer: 2004 - early 2010  (22 to 28)
Rafael Nadal: 2007 - 2012 (20 to 26)
Novak Djokovic: 2011 to mid-2016 (23 to 29)


Interesting that you think Federer has been waning for 10 years, Nadal for 8 and Djokovic for 4 years and yet, over the last 10 years, there has been only 8 Grand Slam winners from without that group and Stan and Andy account for 6 of those. This doesn’t mean that you’re not right but it does very well highlight the gap in standard between these and all other players. In fact, add AM and SW to make it ‘the big five’ and there are only two winners out of this group in 10 years: Cilic and Thiem and Thiem’s victory must have the biggest asterisk ever.

I enjoy watching the ‘chasing’ (never to catch) group and they have interesting and exciting games between themselves and occasionally with the top 3 (I was astounded by Schwartzman’s resilience) but I can’t see the top 3 losing regularly or even occasionally, to other than each other. It’s a bit of an indictment on them that these mid-to-late 30’s are way too good for them even in a sport where youth and fitness should prove a massive natural advantage

I think one of the surprises for me is that both Nadal and Djokovic have continued at very close to their top level well beyond the age of 30, to an age where their court coverage speed (and let's be fair, that has been a big part of both of their success) should be significantly reduced. Federer's game, while still requiring athleticism and agility, was never quite so reliant on absolute speed (being inherently less reliant on defence), so the low drop off there is less of a surprise - with Fed it's more that the reflexes and hand-eye coordination should be declining (it's what does for most cricket batsmen in their mid 30s), but he's still pretty efficient at getting the big serves back.

I think we'd all accept that the big 3 aren't the players they were a few years ago, but the rate of decline has been very slow and hasn't let any of the younger generations close the gap entirely yet. Obviously Murray has gone from consideration because of injury (as with Cilic and Del Potro), but the others have largely avoided anything that has led to long term incapacitation.

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Post by slashermcguirk Wed 14 Oct 2020, 7:26 am

I think in some ways Novak’s stats are already arguably the best of all time. While he is behind on total slams I think he will finish on 20 or 21 but outside of that look at his other achievements:

He is already on 290 weeks at number one and will almost inevitably pass Federer for most of all time
He has won the golden masters twice (all masters series, no other player has even completed it once)
Most masters 1000 series won of any player
He has won 5 tour finals and will probably win at least one more
He has such a winning record against all his rivals
Totally dominant grand slam H2H vs Federer including 4-1 in finals and all 3 wimbledon finals on feds favourite surface
One of only two players to have beaten Nadal at French
Most wins vs Nadal on clay
Winning record against all other rivals
Won Davis cup almost single handedly for Serbia
His level of play in early 2016 arguably the best ever seen, even Nadal is quoted a few times saying Djokovic is the best player he has ever played against
His spread of grand slams wins is less reliant on one slam
He has faced the toughest opposition in winning his grand slam finals
Most prize money won of any player in history

I think if he gets to 20 or 21 he will be clearly ahead of Fed in the debate and even if one or two behind Nadal, his other stats are more impressive with exception of French open which is unrivalled from Nadal

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Post by sirfredperry Wed 14 Oct 2020, 8:18 am

Interesting point made in one of the posts on this, welcomingly-long, topic.

It concerned the fact that the Big Three have won 57 Slams between them. But it posed the question - what if the next big star player came in an era where there were no great challengers.

He could well chalk up as many as 30 GS and create a new record. It's not beyond the bounds of possibility. Think, merely, how many Slams Rog would have won if Djoko and Rafa had not been around.


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Post by Haddie-nuff Wed 14 Oct 2020, 8:31 am

But then that is the point precisely .the same could be said of Rafa had the other two not been around.
But the point that needs to be made, and Roger has already acknowledged it, they have each made the others better players.
I dont think Roger was or would have been the player he is without Rafa ..Rafa had something to aspire to and so did Novak

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Post by dummy_half Wed 14 Oct 2020, 11:06 am

Haddie-nuff wrote:But then that is the point precisely .the same could be said of Rafa had the other two not been around.
But the point that needs to be made, and Roger has already acknowledged it, they have each made the others better players.
I dont think Roger was or would have been the player he is without Rafa ..Rafa had something to aspire to and so did Novak

I think there is a lot of truth in this - the challenge of having opponents of an (essentially) equal standard and standing has pushed the big 3 (plus to some extent Murray and Stan) to reach levels that they likely wouldn't have in the absence of a challenger. I think the longevity of each has also been enhanced by this, especially Federer's remarkably long post-peak career. If he hadn't had Rafa and Djokovic to contend with, would he have been as driven to even get to 20 slams, or would he have called it a day in his late 20s with say 15 slams and 2 calendar year Grand Slams (remember he was a defeat in consecutive French Open finals away from achieving this - would have been 10 slams in a row!).

I note the comment above about Djokovic's superior statistics across his career (outside of the number of slams won, to date). I think part of the reason he gets a bit overlooked in these discussions is simply that his shot production is all about efficiency rather than having the elegance of Fed at his best or the exuberance of Nadal's forehand - doesn't pull in the fans in the same manner,

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Post by Haddie-nuff Wed 14 Oct 2020, 11:16 am

It is well documented that Uncle Toni told Rafa, and Rafa believed, that he would NEVER be as good as Roger and thus Rafa was content to remain at No.2. for so long. However I think Rafa began to believe in himself more as he grew older. Roger is known to have changed his game because of Rafa.. and changed his raquet. Lets be fair Rafa certainly made Roger improve his backhand he used to pummel it enough !!!! But as you rightly point out.. I think because of the "marriage" of Rafa and Fed, Novak was only ever going to be the "bridesmaid" !!!!

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Post by slashermcguirk Wed 14 Oct 2020, 11:30 am

Eh what? Why are stadiums full when Novak is playing if he isn’t entertaining. Because you have some petty hatred of him the world doesn’t find him entertaining. Please explain why he kept on beating Federer in the biggest matches if he is not as good as him? Wimbledon is federers favourite tournament and yet it’s not even Novak’s most natural surface but Djokovic beat him in all 3 finals!

Also are you saying because Stephen Hendry in snooker isn’t the most exciting person he cannot have a claim to be the best player when he has won the most world titles? Absolute nonsense that entertainment value dictates who is the greatest. By that logic Gael Monfils is an all time great.

Your dislike for Djokovic is bizarre. I am not a Federer fan but have huge respect for him and everything he has achieved. He has a case for being the greatest ever but there are some key yardsticks where he falls short and losing so often to his biggest rivals is a big factor

quote="Soul Requiem"]As fans sport is about entertainment not efficiency or time wasting so I wouldn't in a million years be able to rate Djokovic higher than Federer for those reasons alone, not to mention he simply isn't as good.[/quote]

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Post by Oioi Wed 14 Oct 2020, 12:52 pm

Novak, for me is a bit of a player's player. If you play tennis regularly you appreciate how good what he does is, but despite this most players and fans I encounter find him difficult to route for.

I think part of this is that his style of tennis is not sufficiently different to the majority of the tour - he just does it all that little bit better than them. The casual might see his game as being more defined by a lack of weakness rather than having huge strengths, though those in the know will appreciate his amazing returns and movement, including his insane flexibility. On the other hand, Federer and Nadal play in unique styles that are on the surface more inspiring to the casual.

Many casuals I've had conversations with him find him difficult to like for non-tennis playing reasons such as his style of celebration after winning big points which many interpret as antagonistic and aggressive rather than the passion shown by Nadal and Federer. I've also heard people say they don't like the way he holds himself in between points, with the shoulders-back posture deemed to appear arrogant. Could be that they already had their favourite before this other guy came along and started winning everything!

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Post by Haddie-nuff Wed 14 Oct 2020, 1:05 pm

Many casuals I've had conversations with him find him difficult to like for non-tennis playing reasons such as his style of celebration after winning big points which many interpret as antagonistic and aggressive rather than the passion shown by Nadal and Federer. I've also heard people say they don't like the way he holds himself in between points, with the shoulders-back posture deemed to appear arrogant. Could be that they already had their favourite before this other guy came along and started winning everything!
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This is my findings also.. Whilst acknowledging that he is, without question, a gifted player he is not a person that myself and others I know can warm to.. He tries hard to be liked.. you can see that by the way he works the crowd he however tries too hard and it may be genuine, but it does not come across that way. Which I find acutely irritating because I should appreciate his tennis a lot more than I do

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Post by 88Chris05 Wed 14 Oct 2020, 3:52 pm

I've never really minded Djokovic's slightly more aggressive and pugnacious edge, and prefer it when he's just being himself like that rather than trying to ingratiate himself with the fans, which he was maybe guilty of in years gone by. He is, after all, born of a very different and you'd have to say bleaker background in many ways than Federer and Nadal, and had to do what was necessary to get on an equal footing with those two monoliths of the game. Had to be ruthless, I guess, especially as he was playing catch-up.

He doesn't bother with the false modesty as much as Rafa in particular, but so what? Why should he? Great players shouldn't have to apologise for being great, and I don't think he needed to be as reverential towards Roger (especially) or Rafa when he started challenging them for supremacy as some others seemed to think.

He's painted almost as the pantomime villain at times, which is daft - but hey, if the crowd are going to see him as the party pooper (which was especially apparent when he beat Federer in New York in 2015 and at Wimbledon last year) then I quite like the way he's not afraid to give them a little taste of their own medicine back, and be ever so slightly smug.

At the end of the day he's still pretty much unfailingly complimentary to whoever beats him, respectful in victory and clearly works as hard as any other player out there.
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Post by theslosty Wed 14 Oct 2020, 5:29 pm

The lack of respect from some towards Novak is stupid and I'm a Fed fan. Sometimes I think there is a touch of anti-Serbian sentiment laced in the criticism
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Post by Haddie-nuff Wed 14 Oct 2020, 5:56 pm

theslosty wrote:The lack of respect from some towards Novak is stupid and I'm a Fed fan. Sometimes I think there is a touch of anti-Serbian sentiment laced in the criticism

Ita not about respect, at least in my case, but Im not sure that I like the implications of that remark.. it smacks of racism ..to which I personally object .
So am I to understand that any criticism of Rafa is anti-Spanish or likewise Fed being anti-Swiss. One has to choose their words carefully on these boards

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Post by theslosty Wed 14 Oct 2020, 6:16 pm

Federer has the advantage of being from a politically neutral country and is multilingual which makes him a bit of a PR dream. Obviously Serbia's international reputation was affected by the wars in the 90s and I'm just wondering if Novak suffers from that whether it is a conscious or unconscious bias.

Fed and Rafa also occasionally show ugly traits but it's not really scrutinised and it's all forgiven as part of competitive sport. I'm just saying Novak isn't shown the same leniency. At the end of the day it's not a personality contest anyway and so I don't think it should have any bearing on the GOAT discussion.
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Post by Atila Wed 14 Oct 2020, 6:29 pm

theslosty wrote:The lack of respect from some towards Novak is stupid and I'm a Fed fan. Sometimes I think there is a touch of anti-Serbian sentiment laced in the criticism
I don't really care that much for Djokovic either, but it's nothing to do with him being Serbian. To be honest, I don't think that unless someone was an envious Croatian, there would be any reason to dislike a Serbian. What's wrong with Serbians? However, I have great respect for his accomplishments and for his enormous skill and talent.

Maybe his problem is that he just happens to be around at the same time as two more charismatic players in Federer and Nadal and comes across as annoying guy who always gets in the way? I'm not sure. But I do know that I used to like Sampras and was always pulling for him to win his matches and he wasn't exactly Mr. Personality.

Speaking of Sampras, I always thought he was good enough enough to win the FO. I was sorry that he never managed it.

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Post by Haddie-nuff Wed 14 Oct 2020, 6:31 pm

Be that as it may there is no reason whatsoever to use his race to make your point. I as I know many others take the view that it matters not what his race . he is a tennis player . By your reckoning one must be careful not to make criticisms of Montfills or Tsonga. My criticism of Djokovic is as s person..and the way he conducts himself. I dont see the same "ugly traits" in ANY OTHER PLAYER.. whatever their race.Serbian or otherwise . How did politics make its way into tennis ????


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Post by ebar86 Wed 14 Oct 2020, 7:44 pm

Stats-wise, I dont see anyone beating Novak bar the grand slam count. I'm pretty he is going to eclipse Rogers weeks at no1. But as others mentioned, I found it hard to love his game. he appears to try to be a hybrid of rafa-roger which he is 'psychodynamically' not. I think he would be much more appreciated if he is some cocky guy, like kyrgios, but has the abilities to back his words on the court. That would be a very very interesting character.

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Post by No name Bertie Wed 14 Oct 2020, 11:13 pm

If Nadal's and Djokovic's games were simple (whatever version of them) then we would have had a sequence of clones, but we haven't.  Thus their games were not simple.

One of the most impressive features of Djokovic's game when he was at his best was his movement and flexibility.  He seemed to hyperextend his ankles as he slid around the courts - even on the hard courts.

Something happened to Rafael Nadal following his Australian Open win in 2009 and it is not clear to me that he ever fully recovered from it.  He had an amazingly successful 2010 winning Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open.  But in 2012 he was dumped out of Wimbledon in the second round.  Now although his opponent seemed to have had the match of his life, Nadal was complaining of physical issues.  

Clearly something changed physically with Rafael Nadal following that because he was never the same force on grass again: between 2006 to 2011 he reached 5 finals and won twice - and he missed Wimbledon in 2009.  So between 2006 and 2011 in every Wimbledon event he entered he reached the final and won twice.   I heard the reason why he was no longer the force that he had been on grass was the difficulty and pain he later experienced in bending his knees to get to low bouncing balls.

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Post by Henman Bill Thu 15 Oct 2020, 2:41 am

Hello! It seems that almost everyone came back to say hi; hope you are all doing well. Congrats to Rafa´s fans and best wishes to all.

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Post by sirfredperry Thu 15 Oct 2020, 7:32 am

Henman Bill wrote:Hello! It seems that almost everyone came back to say hi; hope you are all doing well. Congrats to Rafa´s fans and best wishes to all.

Do continue to post if you can, and the same goes for all the other returning old hands. Yes, there's been a terrific response to the RG 2020 topic. But the site has struggled at times.



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Post by slashermcguirk Thu 15 Oct 2020, 11:06 am

I don’t really get this lack of a weakness and no signature shot for Djokovic. His backhand particularly down the line is generally regarded as the best in the world if less spectacular than Wawrinka. His forehand cross court is crazy good, frew McMillan alluded to this during the French open and he can hit it really flat or with heavy topspin and he produces amazing angles with it. His return of serve is the best I have ever seen. He has so many weapons and his weight of shot is really under rated. He can hit with serious power off both wings. He also averages way more winners than Nadal for example in his matches. Bizarrely even in the French open final last week, while Novak got tonnes of unforced errors, he hit nearly 40 winners, Nadal was closer to 30. This suggests he has serious weapons even when he is playing awful as he did in that final, probably his worst performance in the whole of 2020.

Oioi wrote:Novak, for me is a bit of a player's player. If you play tennis regularly you appreciate how good what he does is, but despite this most players and fans I encounter find him difficult to route for.

I think part of this is that his style of tennis is not sufficiently different to the majority of the tour - he just does it all that little bit better than them. The casual might see his game as being more defined by a lack of weakness rather than having huge strengths, though those in the know will appreciate his amazing returns and movement, including his insane flexibility. On the other hand, Federer and Nadal play in unique styles that are on the surface more inspiring to the casual.

Many casuals I've had conversations with him find him difficult to like for non-tennis playing reasons such as his style of celebration after winning big points which many interpret as antagonistic and aggressive rather than the passion shown by Nadal and Federer. I've also heard people say they don't like the way he holds himself in between points, with the shoulders-back posture deemed to appear arrogant. Could be that they already had their favourite before this other guy came along and started winning everything!

slashermcguirk

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The French Open 2020 - Page 19 Empty Re: The French Open 2020

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