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Great thread everyone and no GOAT debate from me, afterall it is only opinion.
However, the one thing noone has discussed in this thread which is the biggest dent in Federer's arsenal to the ultimate claim for being the games greatest is and always has been his mental fragility, he suffered it early in his career against Hewitt and if we look at the last time Federer beat Nadal in a Grand Slam final, it was way back in 2007 at Wimbledon in a tough 5 setter, in which 2 of the first 3 sets went to tie breakers and Nadal won the set in between those two tie-breakers, so Nadal could have won it in 3. So up to his Wimbledon win in 2007, Federer had amassed 11 of his 16 Grand Slams, Nadal had only amassed 3. So in terms of that watershed moment in their rivalry and careers, Nadal has won 7 Grand Slams to Federer's 5. In those 7 Grand Slams that Nadal has claimed, Nadal has played Federer 4 times on 3 different surfaces for 4 wins and no losses. Nadal's other Grand Slam scalps in this 7 Vs 5 run, included Berdych, Soderling and Djokovic. For 2 of Federer's 5 Grand Slams in this period, Nadal was injured or did not take part. Federer met and defeated in those 5 Grand Slam finals; Roddick, Soderling, Murray twice and Djokovic. The match against Roddick is the longest recorded match in Wimbledon history at 77 games and he only just won it considering he had dispatched Roddick twice before in Wimbledon finals for only the loss of 1 set, but he did win through to his credit.
In Anthony's wonderful article many of his comments were opinion loaded, with the use of "had he" and "what if" used significantly through the article .... to bring that to a legitimate balance in favour of the other greats who were denied the same lenience in his article, what if Laver hadn't been denied playing Grand Slams for 5 years and in reference to the different surfaces that Grand Slams were played on in Laver's era not being 4 different types, Laver could only play on whatever surface was there at the time and against whoever stood opposite him on the court, it is no argument to deny Laver's standing of where he stands in the pantheon of all time greats and is really an insult to Laver. It wasn't his decision to play on the surfaces he did, he played and won Grand Slams against opponents whom he defeated, on whatever the surface was at that point in history. Most importantly though he was denied playing in at least 20 Grand Slams due to the split in amateur Vs professional tennis upheaval which he amazingly book ended with 2 Grand Slams, so one can imagine what his total of Grand Slams may have been and whether Federer would still be 4 or 5 away from reaching his denied total, HAD LAVER not been denied in participating in 20 Grand Slams.
The same argument can also be posted on Borg's 11 Grand Slam's. History also played it's part in denying him a higher tally. The Australian Open was played in December during his reign and none of the top players from his era ventured to Australia, preferring to spend Christmas with family after a gruelling year on the circuit, these days and prior to Borg's era the Slams were finished by September. Further proof of this blot on the Grand Slam history was that it was the only Grand Slam due to this that only put together a 64 man draw, neither Connors not McEnroe, Borg's rivals competed at the Australian Open in Borg's years of dominance. When you look at the list of AO champions in that period, you'll see not one that would have troubled any of the 3 (Borg, Connors and McEnroe)on grass, they were; Edmondson, Tanner, Geraulitis, Vilas (x2), Teacher and Kriek (x2). So had the AO been the first fresh tournament of the year as it is now and back then being on grass at Kooyong, I can see the number of Grand Slams that Borg has against his name at 11 being significantly higher than that and many 3 Slam a year compilations denied him, probably at least 4 imho. Factor in McEnroe's real year of dominance didn't happen till 1984 and Borg prematurely retiring in 1981, he would have also won I am certain, the US Open finally with 4 previous US Open final losses to his credit at the hands of McEnroe and Connors no less, giving him a career slam, if history had played it's part and he had extended his career.
Other reminder to Anthony, Federer's 90% win record between his halcyon years of 2004-2007 does not come close to Borg's whole career record of 89.8% when you look at his whole career or best 8 years like Borg's whole career. Before his retirement in 1981, Borg made 11 out of 12 finals, losing only 4 times, 3 to McEnroe and 1 to Connors, making 3 finals in his last year on tour. One can see that with McEnroe not able to repeat his heroics of 1981 till 1984, Borg would have raised his level of Grand Slams even higher.
So as great an article as Anthony surely wrote and as great a player as Federer is and he truly is an all time great and one of the greatest without any question ... history has denied 2 other players from exceeding their Grand Slam totals and Federer's total would still fall short of theirs had history not intervened. As well, like Lendl and Connors, Federer will go down as a true journeyman with the number of finals and semi-finals he has put together in his resume, unbvelieveable and one would think will never be beaten and for that alone, Federer will always be remembered as one of the true all time greats and that is not even including his 16 Grand Slams. But in a counter argument to Federer's longevity and records of Quater-final, semi final and final appearances, so too did Lendl make a similar total but lost 9 times in finals ... his greatness because of that is dented, so too it dents Federer's greatness that his rivalry and losses in finals is now 7. This 16/7 (69.56%) win/loss record in Grand Slam finals for Federer is sadly inferior to Nadal's current 10/2 (83.3%). So my point on this is the greatest of champions eek out a win against their rivals a higher percentage of time than their rivals and this is not the case with Federer Vs Nadal, Nadal clearly leads this.
Regardless of the surface, when talking about the word greatest tennis player of any era or of all time the one statistic that cannot have the asterisks is inferiority. Nadal will never equal what Federer has achieved when it comes to consecutive Grand Slam Quarter-final or semi-final appearances, this is a statistic that is truly awe-inspiring and herald Federer's undoubted and indisputed claim as an all time great, but conjecture, doubt and flaws exist in seeing the H2H, and domination Nadal has over him in their Grand Slam finals, remember it was way back in 2007, that is 16 Grand Slams ago that Federer last beat Nadal in a Grand Slam final and of those 16 Grand Slams, Nadal has won 7 and Federer 6 (includes his last win over Nadal), but none against Nadal in this time.
Personally, I think if Nadal is able to win a few more Grand Slams and get closer to Federer's 16, even if he falls 1 or 2 short, he will considered and should be considered the greatest player of all time. He has won 4 of the last 5 Grand Slams with Federer, Djokovic, Murray and Soderling in the field, this is unbelievable, and if he continues for 2 or more years with these results, he has to be considered without doubt to be the GOAT, considering one of the other 3 GOAT candidates is in his field and not from another era.
Nadal is etching history right now and Djokovic will be the heir apparent no doubt, so his path to GOAT status will only get harder but he has Federer covered right now.
Posted at 05:24 PM | Permalink
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