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09/01/2011

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Sol

Yeah. Whatever. People have short memories.

Jenny

Absolutely, Sol.

sperry

The problem in analyzing this stuff is that when two players are close in skill level, one can't say one is better than the other. You cannot say, "on his best day, so-and-so would beat so-and-so." (Unless your name is Serena.) Because, simply, beating MEANS "preventing the other from playing their best." It's all match-ups, in other words. (A can usually beat B (because B can't return a high spinner). B can usually beat C (for some reason) and C can usually beat A. Entirely possible.) So, if we are lucky enough to be in a situation where two players we wish to compare peak at the same time, we drool over head to head. But... wait... that's not fair bacause of surfaces (like with Fed and Nadal). When they don't peak at the same instant in history, we have to guess. AT HIS BEST, could Djokovic prevent Federer from playing HIS best? Who knows? People more knowledgable than me have stated here that the answer is no. If I had to guess I would say that Djokovic at his best would win between 70% and 80% of their matches when Federer was at his best.

Jenny

I have a lot of respect for Bollettieri and Djokovic, but Sperry echoes my own thoughts, well said.

Tonight Monfils was the overwhelming favourite to beat Juan Carlos. Big serve, shotmaker, supreme athlete, power, fired down 21 aces. JC won it on real experience as a slam winner and former #1, guile, construction of points and a cool head. The guy's 31yrs old and has had wrist and knee surgery in the last 18 months.

Nelson Goodman

Wow. Really Sperry? Of course this all gets quite odd/tough - not least due to Sol's point about short memories. But if I point out that since his USO win over Fed last year, their h2h (including that match) is 4-4, I assume that everyone will start giving reasons why 3 of those 4 Fed wins happened when Nole wasn't really the player he is now. Despite the fact that Nole (a) himself traces his transformation in significant part back to that match; and (b) since that match, the only losses he's suffered up to Cincy have been to Fed, except for Paris-Bercy (where all the top guns seem not to show up, saving up for WTF) and a loss to Rafa at WTF where he was even til his contacts got in the way.

Of course, if want to restrict it to just this year, hell, there have been plenty (including round here) who've said that Nole wasn't at his best in the FO match either. So, basically, either Nole wins or he wasn't at his best. Hmm, kinda like people have said about Rafa for a while. And I think it's equally silly in both cases.

We need to separate two issues raised by this thread:
(A) "most complete player" in terms of, I guess, having all the components of a great player to the highest extent;
(B) of those candidates how they would fare h2h.

(Of course, there is a third dimension which may well be the most significant: (C) who is simply the best at winning the most against the field, using whatever game they have?)

Now I'm biased of course, but I don't see how prime Fed has been surpassed by Nole in either of the first two respects. Fed's net game is better than Nole's, as is his forehand, serve and overall offense. Nole's backhand and defense get the edge, as perhaps does his overall movement. As for conditioning/stamina, sorry I see no reason to give the nod to Nole over Fed. Mental game? Depends on match-ups. Fed's mentally had a clear edge over Nole (until this year), Nole now has a clear edge over Rafa and Rafa has a clear edge over Nole.

Which leads to the second point, about h2h. Both Fed and Rafa are similarly up on Nole, I believe, at something like 14-9, right? Will that change as they play more? Perhaps. We'll see.

Nelson Goodman

Sorry, that of course should read "Rafa has a clear [mental] edge over Fed."

Manal


So nice of TP to google-translate the german part for us....


Complete? overrated. Its the ups and downs of a cycle of any great player time and time again. Fed dominated for nearly 7 years and allowed a few only to clinch some slams in between. Is he complete then? Probably almost. Ask Lleyton hewitt during their USO 2004 final for some answers to the bagels. Same with Pistol Pete and his 90s era. Nearly perfect except with some rivals like agassi and a few others. Nole won his 1st slam in 2008, and then on a mono till 2011. Long due intervals till the discovery of gluten allergy (and mother monster gaga egg)?

Berate this, criticized that. At the end of the day, it is (and i reckon so) a different person's time to shine through blood, sweat and tears and the other fella/s to figure out how to beat the new champ on the block with new slice/spin/lob/smash/flatliner/forehand/backhand skills/techniques and so on.

And i concur with Sol, Jenny and Sperry.

sperry

Always a pleasure chatting with ya, Nelson. I don't think I've ever seen a twinge of anger or defensiveness from you. Just intelligent perspectives stated as such. Thanks. I guess I'm just looking at this... amazing athlete thrashing everyone at will THIS YEAR. (So I'm taking a little tiny "best of Nole.") Come on... TWO loses? Sheesh. He may still do the "three slams in a year" thing, which is amazing. (And Federer has done it three times, I know. And, by the way, if I had to vote on GOAT? Fed in an instant.) I just think that the first weak shot Fed smacked, Nole whacks it harder to one corner, then the other, then the other, then the other. Fed's got the grace and every shot in the book (some that aren't). But... Nole is just bloody powerful and accurate. I don't think grace would quite do it against a spot on Nole. (And Sol's point is well taken. I do remember Nole at his best more than I remember Fed at his best... I missed that matchup in the French.)

Nelson Goodman

That's gracious of you Sperry, specially since my last post had more than a twinge of something like defensiveness/anger. Ah, perhaps you were being ironic?

In any case, what can I say except you simply GOTTA watch the FO match. Also I think Nole the way you're describing him was really there only Jan through to Miami (not that that isn't impressive enough). I think since then there have been many cases of vulnerability that simply haven't been capitalized on (e.g., Belluci in Madrid; Murray in Rome; Tomic & Tsonga at Wimby; Davydenko in Montreal; Berdych in Cincy). Now of course that's in part due to Nole's mental toughness and other players psyching themselves out due to the aura effect, which both Rafa and Fed have benefited from plenty in the past. All I'm saying is that the sheer invincible-wall player you have in mind was really only there for the first three months. Since then he's been truly awesome, granted, but not quite at the same sustained level.

In any case, I don't think he's gonna match Mac '84s winning percentage (or, for that matter, that of Fed 2005 or even of Fed 2006). And frankly I'd be a bit surprised if he won USO. Sounds crazy, I know. But I was *sure* he was gonna win the AO final and beat Rafa in IW and I don't see the same player now as then.

RafaFan

"I lean times quite far from the window and say that Djokovic is the most complete player of all time. Strength, speed, technique - no one has ever had such a package like Djokovic." If Bolletieri is right, Novak Djokovic is going to break all the records: GS, weeks as #1, WTF. - Possible. He is by far the best ever, as Bolletieri says. - He's only 24 and if he wins 3 x 3GS, 3 x 2GS and stays at #1 for the next 5.5 years he's the new GOAT! :-) Go N°1e!

sperry

Rafa... two different things, I think. Fed is the GOAT (my opinion) and Nole ain't gunna pass him on GS's. Or weeks @ #1. But... best player for a short period of time... I think it's Nole. We have a great example on the women's side, I think. I think it is almost beyond debate that a healthy Serena could throttle anyone who has ever played the game. But GOAT? Not in my eyes. I'd put three in front of her.

Nelson Goodman

So, apart from match-up issues, this also gets into the whole "how can you compare across eras - with different technology, nutrition/exercise regimens, etc." issue.

For instance, for me Navratilova and Graf are more or less the co-GOATs on the women's side. But perhaps they - especially Martina - are from too far away an era to seriously compete against Serena. Having said that, I still think Seles, the key bridge player b/t the 80s and today's game, along with Graf, would certainly be a tough opponent for Serena. Yet Monica is not at the same GOAT-level with Martina and Steffi in my view - though of course who knows what would've happened but for...

sperry

Nelson: Again... I am basing my opinion on what I've seen, and there is a good chance I flat out didn't see the matches where you saw vulnerabilities. Sitting here writing this, I don't think I've seen Novak play any less than A+ tennis this year. Irony? No. Did you mean your most recent post on THIS THREAD? LOL. Well... if there was anger there, it was way over my head. That is THE problem with this medium. I'm afraid that I think there are angry people here, and after I read their name and before I even read their posts, I assume it will be angry and read it that way. The reverse is true. You would probably have to go way over the brink before I saw any anger in anything you wrote.

sperry

Looks like our posts crossed. Funny we both talked about the women. I said (to Rafafan) that I'd put three in front of Serena. The third was Evert. (I guess I'd go Graff, Martina, Evert... but, man... those top two are close. And if you are obsessed with consistency, Chrisy has some pretty awesome records.) Monica.... sadest story in sports that I can think of off the top of my head. She had piled up a spiffy head to head against Graff. Man... what coulda been, huh? (Did you follow the aftermath? I think I remember reading the guy never spent time in jail. German court, I guess.) PS... I forget the name of her book, but I thought it was worth reading. Endearing, is the word I'd use to describe it. She is a real sweetie. Always really liked her.

Nelson Goodman

Actually my post on the women was a response to yours Sperry. Agree that Evert's #3. Though of course there's always someone piping up with Margaret Court.

On Nole, look after tonight's performance I'm beginning to think it's a return to what I consider the Nole of Jan to Miami or thereabouts. But I'm gonna hold off til I see him play Davydenko - hopefully during the daytime.

In any case, one the "best year" record front, he's currently at 57-2. Let's say we wanna be literalist and just stick to the bare numbers. If so, if he wants to be in the Mac 84 (82-3 + 2 slams), Fed 05 (81-4 + 2 slams) and Fed 06 (91-5 + 3 slams) league, he's gotta log between 25 and 35 more matches. 25 more comes to, roughly, USO + Shanghai + Paris Indoors + WTF London + one more 500 tourney. For 35 we'd need two more 500 events.

In those events, he'll need either to:

(A) Win the USO and not lose more than 2 more matches to exceed Fed 06 (though if he only plays 25 more matches, he'll have about 10 less wins, which are harder ones presumably given that they're tacked on to a huge toll already).

(B) Or not win the USO but then win every other tournament (to match Mac 84);

(C) Or not win the USO but then win every other tournament but one (to match Fed 05).

Can he pull one of these off? Certainly possible. But I'm doubtful. In any case, will be fun to watch.

I recognize that other factors matter too (level of competition, level of Masters series tournament wins, etc.). But so far the discussion on this has tended to focus on win-loss + majors.

mircea

What do you want to be remembered for and what will you be remembered for. For all his current accomplishments, Djokovic might not be part of the same conversation with Nadal and Federer. Then again, maybe it's a different generation judging its champions. Sure glad I am not part of this glut of degeneration.

sperry

Mircea... Am I missing your point? Anyone who puts Djokovic in the same sentence as Nadal/Fed is a degenerate?

mircea

Sperry: I was referring to the degeneration of tennis whose most eloquent ambadassor remains Djokovic, unless what has been said about his box during the 2011 AO semifinal remains untrue. I guess Federer's "Be quiet, okay!" never went down that well...

Cynthia

I agree about the Murray thing.

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