General TennisRoger Federer

The Weak Era Argument

Allow me to say something blasphemous.

Nadal isn’t the greatest clay court player ever to have played the sport.

Sacrilege, right?

But how could he be the greatest clay court player ever, when his opposition for ten years has included just one grand slam winner on clay? All this serves to indicate is that the competition during his era happened to be a bunch of players who turned flat-footed on the sight of the red dirt.

Over the last decade, Nadal has won 9 of the possible 10 slams on clay at the French Open, dating back to his debut as a teenager. Which goes to say that on clay, over the best of five sets, Nadal has lost just once in over 70 matches.

If that isn’t domination, I’m not sure what is.

What could explain such unprecedented dominance over a particular surface and at a particular venue?

Skill? Talent? Hard work? The countless hours put in on the clay in order to be better than the rest? The sweat and toil under the sun to be the best? The dedication to play that extra shot on a surface that rewards perseverance unlike any other? The willingness to endure physical pain for that one shot at glory? The ability to be more consistent that all your opponents out there? The stubborn refusal to give up? To fight to the very end?

The answer’s much simpler than that obviously. It could all be attributed to one ingenuous fact-

A weak clay court era!!

I mean come on, where do you find teenagers winning Grand Slams on their debut, at an age when most of their friends are out dealing with acne and their high school crush’s demands.

Nadal’s main opposition during his run of dominance included the ‘Golden Era’ of men’s tennis- Federer, Murray and Djokovic along with the likes of other incredibly talented players such as David Ferrer, Stanislas Wawrinka, Juan Martin Del Potro, Andy Roddick etc. While all competent players in their own right, were any of them a threat on clay?

A look at their Grand Slam tally on clay would say perhaps not.

Between them, they share only the one French Open, that came in 2009 and allowed Federer to finally complete his Career Grand Slam and become only the sixth player in the open Era to do so.

One slam spread across a generation of players. Is that a sign of any threat on the surface whatsoever? Not in the slightest. You could even reason that were it not for Soderling, perhaps Nadal’s record at Roland Garros would have remained unblemished. Maybe Nadal just needed a break from winning.

One could argue that Grand Slams should not be the only yardstick to measure a player’s ability. Fair enough.

In order to gauge ability on clay more accurately, it might be more informative to look at the results at the smaller tournaments as well. At this point it is worth mentioning that, as unfortunate as it may be, we have long measured every individual’s potential based on results.

Results drive everything. Businesses are driven by profits, employees assessed based on their ability to generate those aforementioned profits; teams are ranked on their victories, lawyers judged on the number of settlements they have made and comedians judged on how many people laughed at their last joke.

A tennis player’s place in the history books is determined by Grand Slams. Anything not labeled ‘Grand Slam’ has no bearing on greatness. It is what is left over. You could be the most talented ball striker on the practice court, but if you froze up in a match while serving for the title, it all counted for naught.

So when we look at ATP 1000 and 500 titles, we are determining ability as opposed to greatness that in turn, defines legacy. And since titles reflect ability, the number of clay court titles Nadal’s opposition held should, fairly accurately, determine the era’s ‘ability’ on clay.

In the all-time list of matches won on clay, Nadal stands at 11th place barely having won half the number of matches as Vilas, who leads with more than 600 wins. Yet at 43, Nadal is second on the list of all time clay titleholders behind Guillermo Vilas who currently stands at 46.

Doesn’t that just reek of a weak clay court era? Who would even think of attributing all that success to Nadal simply being better than everybody else on the surface over that period of time? That’s just absurd.

Aside from Roland Garros Nadal has won 34 titles on clay, averaging approximately 3 and a half titles per year. In a year that sees Nadal participate in around 4 clay court events (Barcelona, Monte Carlos, Rome and Madrid) that’s nearly a clean sweep every time.

In fact since 2005, Nadal has compiled a 275-11 clay-court record (.961) on the ATP World Tour, never losing more than two matches in a season during that stretch.

From the ATP website, the Spaniard has the best winning percentage on clay in the Open Era with a 300-21 record (.934) and owns a 43-6 in clay finals.

Year W-L Clay Finals W-L
2014 7-0 1-0
2013 39-2 6-2 (l to Zeballos, Djokovic)
2012 23-1 4-0
2011 28-2 3-2 (l. to Djokovic twice)
2010 22-0 4-0
2009 24-2 3-1 (l. to Federer)
2008 24-1 4-0
2007 31-1 5-1 (l. to Federer)
2006 26-0 4-0
2005 50-2 8-0
2004 14-3 1-0
2003 11-6 0-0
2002 1-1 0-0

Note: Nadal has lost to only three players in clay-court finals: Djokovic (three times), Federer (twice) and Zeballos.

Nadal has often gone years without losing a set, let alone a match, on clay. His longest streak currently stands at 81, which was finally ended by Federer over five grueling sets at Hamburg.

Of his total tally of 10 clay court titles, Federer himself has a mere 6 ATP 1000s to his name (Hamburg 2002, 04-05, 07; Madrid 2009, 12). Djokovic has won just 5 ATP 1000 titles on clay. Murray has never won a 1000 event on clay and neither has Roddick or Del Potro. Ferrer has managed to have some level of success on clay, despite never having won an ATP 1000 title.

In comparison, Nadal has won 19 ATP 1000 titles on clay. The rest of his opposition combined just barely has half as many titles as he does.

The reason? Weak era, of course!

So how could we call Nadal the greatest clay court player ever, if his opposition wasn’t even able to challenge him, sometimes for years on end? It would be easier then, to attribute all his success to his good fortune of having been born at such an opportune time, where his main antagonist for a good seven years was an aggressive player with the misfortune of having a single handed back hand, ill suited for a clay court, and perfect for the Mallorcan to feast upon every single time they faced off on a slow high bouncing clay court.

Also, would it also be fair to say that the era began to grow stronger just because Nadal started losing a few more matches on clay, as he grew older? It would be ridiculous to attribute the losses to age, because as the old adage goes, age is just a number, right? It’s still in accordance with the way we decide ability- the more titles, the better. The more titles for you, the less for your opposition. But keep too many for yourself, and it just reflects badly on the era.

That’s something along the lines of what I hear in context to Federer’s legacy. I occasionally come across the (absolutely absurd as I have hopefully amply demonstrated by now) weak era argument that states that, Federer only managed to be as ridiculously successful as has been, because for a period of time he was lucky to be in a weak era.

The suggestion while downright ludicrous is also offensive to someone, who, just like Nadal on clay, has managed to better than the rest of the field (on average) for so long.

Like Nadal on clay, the fact that Federer managed to win everything out there doesn’t indicate any weakness in the era. On the contrary, it highlights how much better Federer was than the rest of the field prior to the arrival of Nadal, Djokovic and Murray, all of whom had to raise the bar and figure out how to be better than him in order to become the forces they now are.

The reason advocates put forward the weak era argument is because of the inability of the field to figure out the Federer problem, which basically boiled down to- “What do we have to do to beat this guy!!?”

The theory stems from the lack of Grand Slam titleholders prior to the arrival of what would become the remaining triumvirate of the Big Four hoping to topple the Swiss (parallel to the situation on clay)

Let’s have a look at Federer’s opposition in the so called ‘weak era’- Lleyton Hewitt, Marat Safin, Carlos Moya, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Pat Rafter. Admittedly the likes of Rafter, Agassi and Sampras, all ranked in the list of all time greats, if not some of the greatest, were at the tail end of their career, much like Federer has been for the last few years. Still, it must be noted that while Federer was active these players were still regularly winning Slams. Sampras won his last Slam in 2002, and Agassi had the best phase of his career towards the tail end, winning his final Slam in 2003.

Federer came into the tour in 1998 and was well established by 2002 having only recently ended Sampras’ seven year reign at Wimbledon in 2001, a match widely regarded then as the passing of the torch between generations.

In 2001, Hewitt had become the youngest man (to date) to become the world number one in men’s tennis, winning the US Open along with a doubles Grand Slam title and back-to-back Masters Titles (now called the World Tour Finals).

The enigmatic Russian, Marat Safin was also a two-time Slam winner, having won the US Open in 2000 and the Australian Open in 2005 (widely regarded to be Federer’s prime). He also reached the semi finals at Wimbledon, losing to Federer in 2008

But Federer’s main contender at the time was undoubtedly Andy Roddick, the then world number one, having won the US Open in 2003, just months after Federer had won his first Slam at Wimbledon. Roddick would go on to reach four other Grand Slam finals (3 Wimbledons- 2004, 05, 09 and one US Open- 2006) losing to Federer on all, tightly contested occasions. Raking up 32 career titles, Roddick was no mug on the tennis court. At the time, the faster court speed suited his big serve and forehand, which started becoming obsolete with the courts slowing down and exposing his movement.

Just as talented as he was profligate, why did the American or any one else for that matter never scale the heights Federer managed to achieve? Why has Federer managed to outlast nearly all of his generation, to this date looking livelier on court than some of his younger opponents?

You can’t write it down to a weak era. The era was as strong as Federer allowed it to be.

Take an example.

Say Roddick were to win three of those Wimbledon titles that he lost to Federer. That would pull Federer back to 14 titles, still leading the all time list along with Sampras. But now with the three additional Grand Slams, Roddick would have 4 (Djokovic has 7, Murray has 2, Wawrinka and Del Potro have 1 each), suddenly making the era (in exception to Federer) all that much stronger.

So in effect, were Federer not as good, his opposition might not be labeled a ‘weak opposition’ just because Federer wasn’t good enough to beat them? Does that make any sense whatsoever?

The era seemed might have appeared weak because Federer never allowed anyone to be anything but. He was that good. Just as Nadal has been on clay. In fact, players like Murray have gone on to quote (after the finals in Dubai, 2012) that were conditions similar to what they had been in Federer’s ‘generation’ Federer would still be as big a threat as he was in his prime, when the courts and conditions suited his game.

You only have to take a glance at his achievements to get an idea of what all he has managed to achieve on the tennis court. Aside from his 17 Grand Slams, his reign of 302 weeks as the number one ranked player in the world will possibly never be toppled. Nadal and Djokovic’s reign stands at around 150, and 100 odd weeks respectively, with neither likely to ever come close to Federer’s record.

Why I mention rankings is to bring to light Nadal’s stint as the world number 2, behind Federer, which stands at a record 248 weeks. Djokovic was the world number 3 behind these two for 143 weeks and Murray the world number four for 174.

These numbers only serve to shatter the weak era notion. If Federer were indeed from a ‘weak’ era, why was he ranked above these players for up to 250 weeks (nearly 4 and a half years). They were all clearly in or close their prime at some stage of these 4 and a half years, so to bring that up is again useless.

Federer came from an era where serve and volley was still the norm, due to faster courts that rewarded aggressive and positive play. To know what I’m talking about just watch a video of a young Federer playing at Wimbledon from 2000 up till 2003, which is when he won his first slam by reducing his forays into the forecourt.

Courts slowed down to facilitate longer rallies. To be fair, perhaps it was required at the time, when fans were getting put off by the one strike tennis that was becoming the norm.

Has it moved too far in the opposite direction? Definitely. A lot of top players, ranging from Venus Williams to Andy Roddick have stated how courts across surfaces have become nearly homogeneous.

At the controversial 2 011 US Open, many players complained that the court had slowed. Played on DecoTurf II since 1978, the US Open has traditionally been considered a fast hardcourt event. But adding sand to a court’s paint can greatly affect the speed of the ball after it bounces, and Roger Federer was one player who believed this ratio may have changed in 2011.

The issue for me more is maybe did they make a mistake. Maybe they did paint the court a bit too rough.

Federer said after his first round win:

It's just unfortunate. I think that maybe all the Slams are too equal. I think they should feel very different to the Australian Open, and now [here] I don't feel it really does… . I'm not sure if it's really what the game needs.

Mardy Fish, who reached the fourth round of the 2011 US Open, agreed with Federer.

This was definitely the fastest Slam, surface-wise, that we've had,

said the then-top-ranked American.

Now with it being much slower out here this year, it fits right in with Australia. There are a lot of really slow Grand Slams now surface-wise.

Another Grand Slam that many believe has slowed is Wimbledon. Once the showcase of serve and volley tennis, the grass courts now encourage long baseline rallies. It is likely that the courts slowed in 2001 when Wimbledon changed to 100 percent perennial ryegrass in order to minimize wear and improve durability.

Players have noticed. One such critic was Frenchman Michael Llodra, who said of Wimbledon,

Year after year, the courts are getting worse. I prefer [the clay courts of] Roland Garros. [Court Philippe-Chatrier] and Court One there, when they are dry, are much faster.

It isn’t just the Majors that are the subject of debate. One event that was considered fast, the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris, was slowed considerably in 2011. Andy Murray described the courts as

so slow, so much slower than last year.

Baseline tennis is, no doubt, here to stay, but six-hour finals like the one that captivated audiences at the 2012 Australian Open are dangerous for the sport and players alike if they occur regularly. Players and fans alike are concerned that slower courts – which mean longer rallies and more strain on the body – will lead to greater instances of injury. American Davis Cup stalwart Andy Roddick was asked after the 2 012 Australian Open why so many players struggle to stay healthy.

I think if you look at heavy balls and slower courts,” Roddick said, “I think that might have a little bit more to do with wear and tear.

The generation of Murray, Nadal and Djokovic has been brought up on the slower courts that one sees everywhere today. It should come as no surprise then, that their games are based on defensive strategies that aim to outlast opponents.

Is it possible to expect players of a different era to remain as relevant as they were under conditions that made tennis a different ball game altogether? Not really. Yet Federer, rapidly moving out of his prime mind you, has managed to do so.

It is just the way things are- Old gives way to new. Were it not for Federer, perhaps Nadal, Murray, Djokovic and the rest of the field would not have been forced to raise the game to the level it is at today. And were it not for these guys, Federer would not have been required to reinvent his game in order to stay relevant, in what is essentially, a young man’s game.

Yes, Federer has been unable to sort out the Nadal riddle. But that, I believe, is a question of matchups in combination with the slower conditions of today that swing the odds dramatically in the lefty’s favour.

In his prime, Federer rarely got to meet Nadal in anything save for clay court finals. Often it was Nadal who would falter on hard courts and grass courts before Federer got a chance to even out the playing field, accounting for many of the losses Federer has had to endure at the hands of the Spaniard. It is something similar to what is happening to Federer today, where he is failing to reach finals, stumbling along the way. In a perverse way, such losses only help to preserve the already the already lopsided head to head.

Weak eras? I think not. Both, Federer and Nadal have in their own ways raised the game to unprecedented heights, Nadal on clay and Federer on tennis in general. Their impact on each other has been even more indispensable. Will Nadal or Djokovic surpass some of Roger’s achievements by the time they hang up their rackets? Possibly some, not all… although only time will tell.

Gaurav Sood

Your average 22 year Roger Federer fanatic who breaks tv remotes when Roger flubs a break point with a chipped second serve return that floats long, punches walls when he shanks that back hand and yells so loud that the neighbors come running when he misses that easy put away. But then again he's the tennis player I've always tried to emulate- backhand shanks, headbands, fist pumps et al.

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  1. While I was reading it, I couldn’t believe It was jonathan who wrote this. I was right.
    Jonathan, this article hugely decrease the level of the blog, It could fit in a comical blog but not here. I don’t even finish to read it, and I’m not gonna debate about it.

    “Nadal’s biggest weapon is the serve” Gaurav

    1. Of course you’re not going to agree. And of course you’re never going to tell us why. Because, for you facts mean nothing.

      And please do tell me where you read that “Nadal’s serve is his biggest weapon”?

      1. Gaurav, please don’t reply to the troll, and request Jonathan to delete your comments. There’s no point arguing with him because pretty soon, all of it will be poop. Please, please, have Jonathan delete your comments, man.

    2. And let me just tell you. The entire first half of the article is an attempt to ridicule the weak era argument, not reinforce it. You obviously missed that point in your hurry to dismiss anything that doesn’t suit you.

      If you read carefully, I have written

      The suggestion (weak era) while downright ludicrous is also offensive to someone, who, just like Nadal on clay, has managed to better than the rest of the field (on average) for so long.

      1. Ok I finished it.
        It is imposible to deffend it was not a Weak Era. It’s simply a fact and you can see it in this sentence (Federer’s opposition in the so called ‘weak era’- Lleyton Hewitt, Marat Safin, Carlos Moya, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Pat Rafter).
        Pete Sampras??????, Rafter????? (all time great????). Were they his rivals??? You had to lie to try to make his rivals stronger.
        And yes Andre Agassi was quite succesful during that period winning a GS in 2003 (33 years old) and even reaching a USO Final in 2005 (35 years old), this is just another fact of the Weak Era.

        It’s not Roger’s fault his rivals weren’t great champions, he did what he had to do.

      2. So by YOUR implication, because Federer just reached a Wimbledon final and lost in 5 sets when he’s one month from 33, winning an Olympic Silver and a Slam at 31 (2012) despite Novak, Murray and Nadal being in their prime, means that it’s still a ‘weak era’… Really?

        Wow that must really sting.

      3. I’m literally just throwing your argument back at you.

        And ok, tell me this- how do you define ‘weak era’? Tell me why you say that it’s a weak era.

      4. You’re just evading the question, which I’m going to presume you’re not going to answer in any case. They were rivals, in that they were at the helm when Federer was ascending to the top. Hence rivals. Federer Rafter played thrice. Every rivalry doesn’t necessarily have to be 10 pages long.

        Your turn.

  2. Love the sarcasm at the beggining of the article 😀 One of the best you’ve written, Jonathan, congrats!

      1. how can we say it wa s weak era on clay? in fact i ask you when was strong era on clay? and if is it so then why cant we assume that it was weak era on grass when roger won 7 wimby? djokovic is among top 10 win percentage on clay and fedrer near to that .

        If we are witnessing 3 out of 12 best clay court player competing against each other at same time how can we say that it was weak clay court era ?

  3. Great article Jonathan. Just a little error about Lleyton Hewitt. He never Won his home slam (Australian Open), he won the US Open in 2001 and Wimbledon in 2002. And he was No. 1 in 2001.

  4. Gaurav, this is an awsome article, the best I’ve read in any tennis blog. Thank you for your insights! Do you have a blog or twitter account?

    1. Hey Jerry. Nope, I don’t actually have a blog or anything. The few odd public posts that I do are through Jonathan who is kind enough to let me put up an analysis every now and then.

  5. Gaurav, I really like the way you write it.

    First half of this post I just can’t believe this post is published in this blog. No matter how much I don’t like Nadal and the way he is playing tennis, he is the Greatest Clay Court Player, no doubt about that.

    Then I continue read this, until the point you flipped it to break the argument that Federer is only winning 17 GS because he is from the weak era. Genius!

    Well, maybe for some people (that-will-not-be-named), understanding an analogy is so difficult, even both that is being compared is basically (and factually) the same. Saying that Federer can win 17 GS because he is from a weak era is basically saying that Nadal can win 9 RG because he is from a ‘clay court weak era’. Even worse, since Federer is still be able to get GS titles in the Golden Era, Nadal is not (because up to now, we are still in ‘clay court weak era’).

  6. I find difficult not to see the difference between the likes of Rafa, Nole and Murray and the likes of Roddick, Hewitt or Safin. But in this life everything can happens 🙂

    1. Murray has won 2 slams. So did Hewitt, Safin, and Roddick (1 slam 4 finals).

      Djokovic, up till last week had 6.

      Let’s not trivialise their achievements. If anything, it’s precisely the reason for this article.

      1. Murray is way better than those players, he has already (27 years old) won 2 GS plus 7 Finals competing against the best players of all time. Djokovic is other level, he is gonna be consider a top10 great.

        I’m not saying Hewitt, Safin or Roddick were bad players, I’m saying they don’t have anything to do comparing to Nole, Rafa or Andy. If you don’t see this you are watching other sport.

    2. It’s quite incredible that someone who has no respect for another’s point of view, ie- in this case Federer’s, was the SECOND person to read/ comment on the article even before the guy who WROTE it had any idea that it was up. Add to that, this article is in the off season (ie: between tournaments) during which usually Jonathan has nothing to blog about.

      So not only is a Nadal fan the first to come on a Federer blog, he has such a massive inferiority complex that he feels he needs to validate his point of view, regardless of sense/ fact. Incredible.

  7. Briliant.

    This is huge: “In his prime, Federer rarely got to meet Nadal in anything save for clay court finals. Often it was Nadal who would falter on hard courts and grass courts before Federer got a chance to even out the playing field.”

    I think it is very very lost on people – ironically lost on those who tout the “big 4” – that Roger has no business being in the “big 4” right now. THESE GUYS ARE 5-6 YEARS YOUNGER THAN HIM. Tennis generationally speaking – Fed is a father to Nadal and Andy and Nole as much as Agassi is a grandfather to them (and a Father to Fed).

    The fact that an almost now 33 year old Fed was a solid multi-month #1 a year and a half ago – and is #3 even now is either – (A) a testament to this “weak era” or (B) a testament to His greatness.

    Can’t have it both ways.

    1. 5 years of difference and you call it a father hahahaha. Agassi is 11 years older than Federer, don’t try to confuse.

      1. Yes my life’s goal is to try to confuse and deceive the world Pablo. I’m just glad you are here to help me see the light.

        5, 6 or 10 years – the point is Fed has no business among the big four during your “Golden Age” holding a 2-2 record this year with the World #1 (and your guys obvious competitive peer). Is it a weak era because an old man like Fed has the gears to stay competitive with your generation’s best?

        The irony is that while Fed crushed his generation’s competitive peers – who are now all long gone save one or two – At the end of your boy’s career it’s questionable wether Nadal will even be the greatest of his own generation depending on his H2H with Djokovic. A story unfinished.

      2. Competitive peers are Nadal, Murray and Nole as well. Just check the H2H and tell me how he crashed them.

        I don’t think that bringing the H2H topic is gonna help you too much in your argument 🙂

      3. Alb, Gaurav, please stop feeding Pablo the troll, please. You can’t win with trolls like him, you just can’t. He will keep pooping all over the place with this rhetorical comments.

      4. You completely ignore my point.

        Those guys are not Fed’s peers. They are Rafa’s. 5-6 years is a prime generation in tennis. That’s a full prime’s span. You can’t very much play in someone’s prime in your prime if you are 5-6 years apart.

        Djokovic’s H2H with Nadal is very respectable. We’ll need to wait a few years to see how it really ends up, but I suspect it may be your arguments that get’s hurt dude.

      5. Djokovic’s H2H with Nadal actually is the most respectable but when you break it down you can see 9-3 in GS which is pretty dominant. And appart from that to be consider better than Nadal Djokovic needs to win at least 7 GS more 🙂

        It’s difficult to enclose a prime time period. For me it is about if you are fit or not and if you are already developed as a player. They have played each other many times in perfect conditions, 5 years of difference allow them to play several years at their best.

        Let’s say Dimitrov and Nadal could have been playing for several years at their best by the time they retire.

      6. And then, by YOUR very argument, to be better than Federer, Nadal has to win another 4 slams.
        (And maybe 6 WTFs.
        And maybe hold the number 1 ranking for another 3 years.
        And become ATP fan favourite 12 times…Or at least once.
        And become the Times most respectable person on the planet.
        And maybe reach 23 straight semi finals… Or at least 10.
        And then reach 36 straight quarter finals….

        Actually you know what? This might help.

        Purely in reply to your quote: And appart from that to be consider better than Nadal Djokovic needs to win at least 7 GS more

        PS: It’s spelt ‘apart’

      7. Gaurav He will win at least another 3 GS you will see and against stronger rivals. Try to start accepting it 🙂

        I thoght you mean winning 29 M1000
        or the Olymic Gold Medal
        or The Davis Cup
        or winning 3 consecutive GS in one season
        or winning record against all his important rivals

      8. Why don’t you reply to my post above? Where I’ve asked you why you think it was a weak era. The fact that you’re selectively replying tells me that you have no answer. Otherwise you would have. It just validates our point, that you never have any reply for fact.

        The day Nadal wins more than Federer and achieves more than Federer and is loved more than him I will admit that he is a greater player. I won’t go around forcing my comment down other peoples throats, despite inwardly believing that Federer for me will always be my favourite regardless of what happens, just like it is perfectly acceptable for Nadal to be yours. What isn’t acceptable is being a massive retard and trying force other people into accepting your opinion.

  8. “Weak era argument”: something only propounded by those who have only started paying attention to tennis in recent years, and don’t realise that that era was *not* weak, it was normal. What *is* ABNORMAL is how strong the current era actually is, and it has adversely affected the results of all the “Big Four” (and others), all of whom would undoubtedly have had more significant tournament wins if the competition hadn’t been as fierce as it has been.

    1. I agree with you. Maybe call it Weak is not fair to those players, it is an exaggerated way to say is a lot weaker than the current era.

  9. Gaurav, you may have used sarcasm, and probably did not actually mean that Nadal’s clay achievements came in a weak clay era. However, I’m going to prove that Nadal did get those clay wins in a weak clay era.

    First, let’s take a look at the following link.

    Notice how close the win percentages are for pretty much everyone in the top 10. For the current era, virtually nothing separates Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer – and considering they’ve nearly always met on hard courts, makes it the greatest rivalry, perhaps ever. Nadal is very close at 0.78, and Murray right next at 0.77. We’ll get to conclusions later.

    Now, take a look at Grass court numbers

    Again, you will see the top 25 or more are separated by about 10%. For current players, Roger is at 87%, Murray 83%, Djokovic at 80%. In fact, Roger is not even in top 5 of all time. Some grass court bully this Swiss.

    Finally, let’s come to Clay

    And this is where the truth comes out. Not only is Rafael Nadal at the top with 93%, and the next best being 86%, he is way, way, way ahead of Novak Djokovic at 78%, Federer at 76% (yes, you read that right), and Murray with 63%. That’s your so called Golden Era on clay.

    These numbers clearly indicate that Nadal has build an unnatural lead on clay courts over his opponents, and the weak career win percentages of his opponents has allowed him to win 9 French opens in 10 successive attempts. We are not even talking about Masters events, just slams.

    The Nadal advantage on clay is just to unnatural

    It’s really shocking to find the huge difference in win percentages between the current top 3 players. Roger Federer in particular, has been unable to translate his all courts skills to clay slams, simply because the surface doesn’t allow it.

    It’s not just the astonishing difference in numbers. We also need to take into account that despite the significantly small clay court season – as Gaurav mentioned, Nadal takes part in 5 clay events per year, out of an average of 20 for the entire season – Nadal has managed to play Novak and Roger nearly half the time in the H2H. He is 13-3 vs Roger (23-10 overall), and 14-4 vs Novak (23-19 overall). This clearly shows that his dominance, particularly over Novak, has been achieved on clay courts. Compare Novak’s 78% clay win record, to Nadal’s 93% and it paints a clearer picture.

    The numbers also prove that while Roger has been dominant at Wimbledon, grass doesn’t give him that huge an advantage, not even close to what Nadal enjoys on clay.

    Conclusion: Nadal has compiled clay court titles in an extremely weak clay court era. All court play is simply not rewarded on clay. I’ll even go as far as saying, that Novak Djokovic is a better player than Rafael Nadal in the current era. The closeness in terms of win percentages for the multi slam winners of this era on hard courts, also proves that hard courts are the most fair and neutral surfaces, followed closely by grass.

    Gaurav, what do you think?

    1. Definitely very interesting.

      Also, I should note that Djokovic’s hard court percentage is only going to get worse from here. Federer’s numbers will already take into account his post prime drop, which will have pulled down his numbers. For Djokovic, these numbers are upto his prime, so they can only fall. Similarly for Nadal (not like it matters on clay).

      I agree that Hard courts are the most neutral. Without question of a doubt.

      Some people manage to bypass all rational logic by making paradoxical arguments such as:
      1) Weak era for Federer- Reason? Because opponents had low slam count
      2) But at the same time unwilling to use that very SAME argument for clay. Nadal won 9 slams on clay because he was awesome.Who cares about the low slam count for opponents on clay.
      3) Say something like, and let me quote- “Murray is way better than those players (Safin Hewitt, Roddick), he has already (27 years old) won 2 GS”.

      Now note the hypocrisy in the above:
      – Use of “absence of slams for your opponents” to push the weak era argument in point 1
      – Convenient disregard for the SAME logic when it comes to clay. Point 2
      – And then to top it off, to say, bypassing all previous attempts at rational logic, “Murray with 2 slams is better than player x, y, z also with 2 slams.” When your ENTIRE argument of weakness in an era, clay or otherwise is based on the number of slams, then how do you get to decide the superior ability of a player with the same credentials as another? (I’m not denying Murray might be a better player, but there has to be a stream of logic. You can’t just jump ship as and when it suits your convenience, using the absence of slams in one case to advocate a weak era and then at the same time ignore it. Since the arguments are EXACTLY the same, logic entails that you choose one line of thought and stick with it. Either both Federer in tennis AND Nadal on clay benefited from a weak era, or neither did, because both were simply better than the rest. Unless of course you come up with a rational argument, backed by facts like the one you just gave Sid.)

      1. That’s precisely why I used career win percentages on specific surfaces, as it accounts for the entire field and gives you the most accurate picture of a players credentials. For example, when Djokovic steps up to face Roger who is a “bully” on hard courts, they are even vs the rest of the field.

        I do agree that Djokovic’s hard court percentage will deteriorate. It will end up around 80%, which is still just about where Roger is right now.

        As for your statement, [Either both Federer in tennis AND Nadal on clay benefited from a weak era, or neither did, because both were simply better than the rest. ]

        Despite his rivals being so close to his win percentages and hard and grass courts, Roger has still managed to achieve the slams and records. I’m convinced that Nadal has benefited too much with a weak clay field.

        But, but, but…Roger is definitely an indoors bully, and hence four of his YEC’s achieved on that surface

        No, no, no! Roger is shockingly, just 80% indoors, and Novak is 76%. Funny thing is Roger is No. 5 on the all time indoors list. Roger is not even the best of all time on either hard courts (indoors or outdoors), or on grass. How can he be considered a bully?

      2. It’s funny, just scroll through any of Jonathan’s posts or even this one, and see how certain people never have any reply for fact. It is hilarious. I’m actually starting to get your point Sid. There really isn’t any point engaging in a conversation in such instances

    2. Yep where are the Kuertens and Musters of today! Hv always thought Rafa has had less oppo, with many players just giving up on the rigours that clay now demands as the technology means that today’s players have to grind even more but at a faster pace and for longer! Even less enjoyable than hard!!

  10. Wow, putting this kind of topic surely bring someone feel so insecure, isn’t he?

    Anyway, again Sid and Gaurav, great job with all the STAT, DATA and FACT. Appreciate all of your hardwork collecting those.

    1. True. I’m not sure if you asked me that question, or Gaurav. By the end of their careers, it may change a few percentage points. However, the difference will still remain fairly close. Say Novak finishes at 80%. He will still be only two points or less behind Roger implying that Roger had to work very hard to build his hard court records.

  11. Some players retired early like Bjorn Borg. What would his stats be if he continued to play 5 more yrs? Others, way past their prime.

  12. I have never bought into the “weak era” argument. Let’s just take look at Grand Slams won from, say 2008, when Djokovic and Murray properly broke through by the former winning the Australian Open and the latter making the US Open Final. This to me is the beginning of the Big 4 Era. Grand Slam titles won since then:

    Federer: 5
    Djokovic: 7
    Nadal: 11
    Murray: 2

    If we wind back the Big 4 era to 2007, when Djokovic reached his first GS final at the US Open and both him and Murray were beating Federer and Nadal and winning Masters Series events then that figure goes up to 8 GS for Fed, 7 for Djoko, 12 for Nadal and 2 for Murray.

    Aside from Nadal’s dominance on Clay and the fact that he’s 5 years younger than Federer it’s quite clear that Federer is right in the mix with the rest of them and considering that 2008 is widely recognised as the beginning of his very gradual decline, to win 5 Grand Slams ( and reach 10 Grand Slam finals from 2008-2014) during this “decline” is mighty impressive. Add to that his 3 periods at No 1, his consistency at GS level as a whole, 26 Titles since 2008 and the fact that he’s STILL reaching GS finals and is STILL in the Top 3 at the age of nearly 33 (6 finals this year alone).

    Federer has shown that he has the talent and competitive edge to compete in ANY era and he has more than held his own against the rest of the big 4.

    1. Great comment, Boris.

      “To win 5 Grand Slams (and reach 10 Grand Slam finals from 2008-2014) during this “decline” is mighty impressive.” – Absolutely! Fed haters or some Nadal fans just can’t see the fact, can they?

  13. A cool post Gaurav.

    Until now I never paid attention to any “weak era” comments. Because they often come from Fed bashers and as far as I’m concerned, I disagree and there’s no further argument. But you put up this topic so brilliantly that now I see some solid discussions!

    Enjoyed reading the comments and replies, impressive stuff. Great efforts, well done guys 🙂

    1. Haha, thanks Wanda. Good to know some of us have got some extra ammunition now. God knows we need given some of the mind numbingly moronic arguments people can throw around at times.

  14. Great post, Gaurav. Liked your cool and analytical demolition of the ‘weak era’ argument brought up by Rafanatics, who don’t understand that, in their mean-minded attempt to discredit great champions of an earlier era, they succeed only in demeaning themselves, and Nadal. Even though you have conclusively ‘proved’ that Nadal’s clay court success is postulated entirely by his operating in the weakest Claycourt field of all time,(Sid has corroborated this inarguably) I think that he is a great clay court champion, but only on clay. Elsewhere, he remains quite ordinary. And Federer reigns. Hilarious to witness the poor attempts to shout you down without even attempting to refute them. Did I say mean-minded? I must have meant dim-witted!

  15. Hey Gaurav,

    amazing post man. cheers !

    I have been telling this to everyone for a long time that Nadull indeed won all the clay court titles in weakest era but people were laughing and telling me that Federer won all the titles in weak era. Such a retard Dull fans.

    Hi Sid,

    Thanks for posting those amazing facts which shows how Ndull performed in weakest clay era.

    I even asked the same question to Pablo many months ago that if Federer really won all those GS titles in weak era then how come he won his 17 title at age of 31 by beating the best player at that time Novak and Andy and reclaimed the world number 1???? that idiot Pablo had no answer as I expected.

    Even Navratilova didn’t expect Federer to claim no 1. It was slap on everyone face who didn’t believe Roger could do that. LOL

    These rafatards are nothing but bunch of opposition party fighting for some power to get some black money.

  16. Guys, I am sorry for being out of topic, I need some advice regarding Australian Open

    I plan to go there next year (flight ticket and accommodation is done). I am asking regarding the ticket for the match.
    They split it into some session package for Rod Laver Arena
    First week (monday-thursday)-Day
    First week (monday-thursday)-Night
    Mid weekend (friday-monday)-Day
    Mid weekend (friday-monday)-Night

    I try to find the pattern that I should take, day or night to get the most RF match, but it seems random. 2014 was mostly at day, but 2013 was mostly at night. My question
    1. High seed is most likely on Day or Night?
    2. Is it easy to trade the ticket (or sell it) if we don’t want to watch it/want to watch another court/session?

    Jonathan, sorry to ask this on the comment. If anybody have the experience to share, please let me know. We can communicate through email.

    Thanks in advance for the info.

    1. Hi Amar,

      Great that you are going to see Roger Federer in Melbourne. you will not disappoint as this GS is the best to enjoy and the atmosphere there is amazing. You will also enjoy the city as it is one of the best cities to travel.

      I have been to Australian Open in 2013 and I bought the First week (Monday-Thursday) night at Rod Laver Arena. As you currently pointed out that it is difficult to predict Roger’s (or anyone for that matter) matches. I bought evening tickets and I was fortune to see Roger, Novak, Petra, Venus and Tomic. Also for your reference, Melbourne in January is like super hot. I would recommended you to go and buy evening tickets for first week as you never know Federer’s form even though he reached 11 straight semis. I am sure you will get to see Federer.

      You can visit the city whole day and in the evening you can walk along the Yarra River to go to Rod Laver Arena. The city is quite walkable. This time around the city is quite vibrant and you can see the people are quite excited about the Australian Open. If you want to know where Roger Federer’s stay during the tournament, I can also tell you that LOL.

      So let me know if you have further inquiries. Nojoy.

      1. Phantom,
        Thanks for your suggestion. I think I’ll buy the first week night, and mid weekend night. If Federer playing on a day, I’ll just try my luck to trade the ticket or buy for that single day. Thank you for your suggestion. I really appreciate it.

        Anyway, is it possible to trade the ticket there?
        My twitter is @amarhuwel (Jonathan, I hope it is ok to put a twitter account here) so we can communicate in private. Thanks Phantom 🙂

  17. An extra bit of analysis on Roger’ continued versatility post 2008:

    Here is the breakdown of titles that he has won by surface

    Clay- 4 (15% of titles won)
    Grass- 5 (20% of titles won)
    Hard-10 (38% of titles won)
    Indoor Hard-7 (27% of titles won)

    I would consider that a pretty good speed. Yes, it does weigh more favourably in favour of hard courts but that is the most popular surface but overall this clearly demonstrates that Roger continues to be a threat on all surfaces. Comparing this to Nadal’s post 2008 title wins in the allegedly “stronger” era:

    Clay: 27 (64% of titles won)
    Grass: 3 ( 7 % of titles won)
    Hard:12 (29% of titles won)
    Indoor Hard: 0 (0%- obviously :-))

    Clearly 2 out of every 3 titles that Nadal wins is on clay, making him a clay court specialist throughout his career. His indoor record is quite frankly non existent. Even Federer managed to win 15% of his titles on his worst surface ( clay) during his “post-prime” era, whereas 2008-present is Nadal’s prime and he remained, for all intents and purposes, a clay-court specialist who was is also capable of producing results on other surfaces but I would not consider him a genuine all round player on a consistent basis if we are judging him on his entire career.

    1. Wow. That is really interesting.

      Since 2008 – Outside of clay Fed has actually won MORE titles than Rafa?

      Looks like 22-15.


    2. This is good information, Boris. If Federer has won 2 of his 3 titles on hard courts since 2008, it goes to show his greatness where his opponents have virtually the same overall winning percentage on that surface. Hardly any grass titles on his strongest surface for the so called “grass bully”.

      In the meantime, Nadal continues to exploit the weak clay era field.

  18. Wow.
    In the years Nadal was less than 20 years old when he was a kid outside of hardcourts Rafa has actually won more titles than Roger?

    Looks like 19-7.

    I can’t believe it

  19. Correct, King of Clay. You have just confirmed that Nadal is a Clay Court specialist. Particularly so during his early years, which nobody would dispute or begrudge.

      1. There are no fast courts you dumb fuck.You piece of ugly shit.Are you on drugs ? Are you Nadal himslef maybe ? He is also a piece of complete shit like you.You just act as if you know everything> I mean seriously test your IQ and tell me.I am sure it is super low.

      2. My IQ allows me to speak without insulting. Didn’t you learn to speak properly? or your IQ it’s not enough to do so?

      3. Hey Ajay, in fact hard courts give every one an even chance, as I’ve explained in the tables in one of my comments above, because it rewards all playing styles equally. Hence, the very close overall winning percentage for the top players. Makes Roger’s achievements on hard courts that much more impressive.

        Also, don’t respond to, and don’t get involved with this Spaniard who has a room temperature IQ.

        P.S. Oh an by the way, there is no proof that those who swear a lot have lower IQ’s. In fact, the opposite could be true 🙂 Having said that, Ajay, don’t get involved with pigs. They eat and root in shit, and oink all day.

      4. ‘In an era of specialists – you’re either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist or a hard court specialist… or you’re Roger Federer.’ Jimmy Connors.

      5. @ Sid,
        “P.S. Oh an by the way, there is no proof that those who swear a lot have lower IQ’s. In fact, the opposite could be true 🙂 ”

        that was an awesome reply dude, and I couldn’t agree with you more 😉

  20. Federer is certainly a fast court specialist. But beyond that he is an all rounder and this is confirmed by the data that I presented in my previous comments. In any case the court surface issue is not merely about speed, it’s also about height of the bounce and this varies even between different hard court surfaces.

  21. Hey Gaurav, great article. Thanks for writing it. Loved especially this one: “But how could Rafa be the greatest clay court player ever, when his opposition for ten years has included just one grand slam winner on clay?”.

    I am afraid Roger will get his praise when he is retired and the other ones are his age now and will have difficulties to be in the top 5 or 10, let alone world number 1 🙂

      1. Hey Gaurav, did this “weak era/strong era” arguement start with Roger & Rafa? Or did it start with other players as well? Like when Agassi & Sampras played or players before them? Why is there so much talk now about weak & strong era? Is it because there is an age difference? Just wondering….

  22. King of Clay: Nadal is an all-time great. His record speaks for itself. He owns Fed head to head and is the toughest mentally there ever has been. Why do you feel the need to defend him on a Federer blog? You’re on a hiding to nothing here. Not sure why anyone would want to waste their energy this way but it’s all power to you :). Trolling is always a fun activity because it’s easy to hide behind a keyboard and rub up the wrong way other people who read and comment this blog.

    1. Federer is a great champion as well. I just answer those things I disagree or some manipulations of the stats. Actually analyse data is my job so I’m pretty sure I can help all of you with that 🙂

  23. As I mentioned above, putting this kind of topic surely bring someone feel so insecure, running here and there to defend the idol. And when he doesn’t have anything to say anymore, stop commenting for a while and start again just to make sure everyone forget that he was not answering previous question(s). I call this trick ‘chicken run’ (they surely have this trick in Nadal excuse book, perhaps with more sophisticated name).

    Scroll back from the top, and you can see how many chicken run occured

    Ajay, Alb, Gaurav, and Boris
    I can only suggest you to join me and Sid to literally ignore this troll, like he is not exist. First, it’ll gives you peace, second (hopefully) he’ll get lost when nobody is speaking to him anymore, fingers cross.

    Anyway has anyone here have experience watching AO live? Can I ask your email? I have some questions about it

    1. Haha, I like that. Chicken Run. I agree. I’ve decided to listen to you and Sid. Pointless trying to have a conversation with someone who never replies to facts and only replies with opinions as and when it suits his/ her/ their case.

      And sorry, no idea about the Australian Open.

      1. Gaurav, good for you. Glad that you join us.
        I saw more people literally ignoring that BS guy too and reply to the person above the BS comment.

        No problem about AO, PhantomTheGhostWhoWalks watched AO last year. He share his experience and suggestion.
        Can’t wait to watch AO next year 🙂

  24. Great analysis and facts people. For me, the most powerful argument that shows that Nadal is a clay court/spring season specialist is the ATP rankings. If he was as great as his H2H with other players suggest, then he should have been no1 for way more time. He’s not though and that clearly proves that he relies heavily on his clay season success for building his legend (By spring season I mean that Nadal chooses few months of the year to be invincible. His 2010 and 2013 hard court seasons prove that if he wants he can crush anybody even on the “knee-punishing” hard courts, lol how conveniently his career-threatening injuries have disappeared the last year).

      1. It’s just ridiculous how some people just don’t get the fact that hard courts are the most neutral, given the closeness of win percentages. Take a look for example: On hard courts, the win percentages of Federer, Djokovic, and Nadal are 82, 82, and 78. Close right? However, Djokovic has a 14-7 H2H against Nadal on that surface, clearly indicating that when conditions are neutral, Djokovic prevails two out of three times.

        I mean, you don’t have to be a stat genius to understand that. I hope they don’t work in professions that involve statistics 🙂

        Case closed. Bring on the next idiot.

    1. Grand Slams H2H of Nadal’s against the Big Four:

      Nadal vs Murray: 7-2
      Nadal vs Djokovic: 9-3
      Nadal vs Federer: 9-2

      I can imagine what he could have done if he was to play on his prime against Hewitt, Roddick etc…

      1. Sorry I forgot to mention Nadal leads at least in 2 out of 3 surfaces against everyone.

    2. [If he was as great as his H2H with other players suggest, then he should have been no1 for way more time.]

      Yep, and nobody cares to look at that when proclaiming he is the best. Considering he has such a “huge” H2H over them, he should never ever have fallen to No.2. If it weren’t for those darn injuries and the frequent doctor visits he has had to make…things could’ve been so different!

      I believe Djokovic is a better player than Nadal. Djokovic is 3-9 vs Nadal on H2H. Six of those losses were at RG. Nadal has a 93% win rate on clay, Djokovic just 78%. Outside of clay, they are 3-3. Not to mention that two of Novak’s non-clay losses came in the pre-Gluten free, pre-CVAC pod era (that is, in 2007, and 2010).

      In the last 7 Slam H2H matches, Djokovic trails 3-4, with three of those losses coming on clay.

      Overall, Djokovic has a 19-23 H2H against Nadal, and 4-14 on clay, and 15-9 everywhere else.

      1. In the last 4 Slam H2H matches Nadal leads 4-0, with three of those winnings coming on Finals.

        Overall Nadal leads 23-19 against Djokovic, and 7-14 on hardcourts, and 16-5 everywhere else.

      2. Take out only 3 meetings on grass. “Everywhere else” includes 18 meetings on clay where Nadal leads 14-4. Intelligent presentation of stats! Bravo!

  25. Jonathan, nice post, and I agree with most of it but not entirely 😉
    Going back to Weak and Strong era argument. To be honest with you, I do not believe in such crap, you beat what’s in front of you in whatever ear you are.
    So, was Roger competing in a weak era? NO, he was simply the best and he dominated all players in front of him. Is Nadal in a weak clay court era? The answer is no as well, he was simply the best when it comes to clay, Period.

    1. Yeah, that’s the point of the article Shamtoot. I agree with everything you’ve said. You can only beat who ever’s in front of you. If you reread it, maybe you’ll get the sarcasm you might have missed the first time. The point of the article is to ridicule the weak era argument that a few Nadal advocates push around every now and then.

      Basically the gist of the article is to ridicule the weak era argument, by comparing Federer’s situation in tennis overall it with Nadal’s situation on clay alone. IFF someone is going to advocate the weak era argument in Federer’s case, then by their very OWN logic (which my article aims to debunk) they’ll have to admit a weak era in clay has accounted for Nadal’s success on clay. Yes, the article is against the weak era argument.

      That being said, you might want to scroll up and read Sid’s comment, who has taken it a step further and actually used some numbers to genuinely say that Nadal might have indeed benefitted from a weak clay era (something that the article only says in sarcasm)

      1. Thanks Gaurav, I actually skipped the last paragraph where sarcasm was pointed out 😉 my bad Jonathan 🙂

    2. This is very simple. Are Nadal, Djokovic and Murray better than Roddick, Hewitt and Safin?

      Everybody know the answer, once this is very clear you can talk whatever nonsense.

      “Roger is the best, on paper, of all time, but you have to say that the era when he played was the worst of all time. That’s why he was winning so much. Suddenly, Nadal and these guys came up and they’re better than him. But his era had the worst Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5 we’ve had – the Nalbandians, Roddicks, Hewitts. That’s one of the reasons why Roger dominated so much”. Mats Wilander

    3. [To be honest with you, I do not believe in such crap, you beat what’s in front of you in whatever ear you are.]

      Shamtoot, point taken. But, based on low win percentages on surfaces by his contemporaries, and the fact that Nadal has won more than 60% (close to 2 in every 3 titles) on clay, tells me that he exploits maximum benefits from that surface. He has also consistently focused on the clay part of the season. There is nothing wrong with his strategy to amass titles. Nobody has any right to say he cannot do that. It does beg the question though, that did he achieve it when facing a weak clay field? Numbers prove that he did. He almost never plays when he is not 100% (recovering from his so called injuries), which means his H2H is very skewed.

      1. “tells me that he exploits maximum benefits from that surface.”
        its to his credit actually. like what hackers do, they exploit any vulnerabilities in the system and use it to their own benefit, exactly as you recapped it afterword.
        and I do understand his strategy, and you are right, that’s why his H2H is skewed, taking into consideration the number of matches he won on clay against the top players, and all players in general. But, at the end of the day its a game, and you are no a good player if you do not have strategy that works for your interest.

      2. True, Shamtoot. And that’s why, he is, arguably, the greatest on clay 🙂 Let’s not try to make him something that he is bigger than. At the end of the day, he is nothing but a moonballer, who has used every form of gamesmanship available to him, under the cloud of doping, and has amassed titles and money on the least neutral surface.

        It’s like a major league pitcher getting a large number of wins vs low percentage teams getting declares as the greatest of all pitchers. Yes, it’s a hack, that what makes these people calling him the GOAT look like total fools.

      3. [ he is, arguably, the greatest on clay 🙂 Let’s not try to make him something that he is bigger than] I am not, trust me 😉 and I do like him with the way he is, best clay court ever and yet he still a threat in other surfaces 🙂

        [he is nothing but a moonballer, who has used every form of gamesmanship available to him, under the cloud of doping, and has amassed titles and money on the least neutral surface.] fair enough, its your opinion, and I respect it, and I don’t want to go through it with you, but again, its appetite, and it happen that I do fall for his style of play, cant help it mate 😉

  26. Very nice article, Gaurav. All the weak-era theory proponents should read it and the comments too.
    I personally find the theory rather stupid. This week Lleyton Hewitt won a title playing in the final against Ivo Karlovic. They both are over-30, part of the “weak era”. There are quite a lot of them in the top-50 actually (some 19-20 I think). So how exactly have they been surviving in this “strong era”? Wasn’t it last year’s RG, that the number of over-30s in the main draw were an all time high? How exactly is this era stronger than the one in which they were in their prime when no young guns have been able to topple them? I always thought ‘era’ meant a whole generation of players who enter the tour at around the same time. If this era is indeed so strong, why are the major titles all won by a handful of players (since Roger’s dominant victories in his era are what started this whole debate in the first place)? Shouldn’t we have more and more players winning tournaments as after all, this is a “strong era”? And they all talk about the “Big 4”. Which includes a guy who is almost 33 and is ironically touted to have won most in the “weak era”. I call Bovine Scatology.
    Roger proved in 2012 how all this weak-era strong-era talk is nothing but poop that his haters and media looking for stories propagated. He has again been proving this year that he can compete with the best in any era. Roger is playing against the third gen after him (Dimitrov, Raonic etc), and even the fourth gen (Kyrigos et al) have entered the tour. It is actually these generations that have failed to make an impact. When guys in Roger’s generation were winning slams in their early 20s (Hewitt, Roddick, RF) and getting to world no. 1 (Hewitt at 20), these guys are hailed when they even reach semis. SMH!

    1. Who do you think are better Nadal, Djokovic and Murray or Roddick, Hewitt and Safin???

      The answer will give you the key of the topic. Pretty simple, isn’t it?

      1. 1. No need to be condescending.
        2. I mentioned that I believe an era to consist of a whole generation (tennis-wise), not just 3-4 top players.
        3. Nadal has been winning slams since 2005. Roger had 4 slams before 2005. If Roger won in a weak era, so did Nadal.
        4. I don’t consider Murray to be better than any of the names you mentioned. I don’t consider him to be worse either though. Novak may be better than Roddick and even Hewitt, can’t say he is better than Safin IMO.

    2. Thanks Fedfan. I like the points you’ve raised.

      It’s pointless getting into a debate with people like King of Clay or whatever his name is. He’s just going to randomly reply to whatever suits his purpose, without replying to fact or solid numbers. You just have to scroll up to get an idea of what I’m talking about.

  27. Fed leads all top players on all time on both grass & hard courts.
    Nadal leads all players all time on clay.
    That Def makes Nadal the GOAT over Fed.
    Clear as day.

      1. Good for him if he does, but all this weak era stuff is just mindless and media led! Stop undermining all these players and their achievements!!had hoped to find more intelligent discussion on tennis and Federer here but maybe I was wrong !

    1. Alb, even if Nadal were to reach say, 18 slams, and 11 of them are on clay, it would mean nothing, because 11 of those will have been achieved against “very weak clay players”. Note that Rod Laver (12 slams) is put ahead of Sampras (14 slams), because Laver had a “more complete body of work”. And so it is with Roger Federer. All of his slams were achieved on surfaces where his contemporaries had very close win percentages against the field. He did hold a 5 point advantage on grass, but that did not allow him to win 9 times in 10 years. 9 times in 10 years, what a joke!

      So, let Nadal pick his butt, and cheap titles on clay.

      1. Couldn’t agree more, Sid
        A GOAT is a GOAT
        There is a huge different between that and Greatest Clay Court Player (on the weak clay court era, to be added, after looking at Sid stats)

    2. Hey Alb, did Roger Federer every win a slam on his weakest surface? If not, he is definitely not the GOAT.

  28. Slams record is only one component of Fed’s greatness. Fed crushes it in so so so many categories. And his hard court and grass court titles and no.1 length mean a slams record eclipse from Rafa just won’t do it.

    Nadal is King of Clay. That is for sure. He is an amazing champion. He should have that well deserved title.

    But he is King of Clay and Roger is King of Hard Courts, King of Grass, and King of Indoor. An all around dominator versus a specialist dominator.

    1. If Rafa gets the GS record and by getting his second career slam plus M1000 record plus Golden Medal plus several Davis Cups and plus his constant domination against Federer throughout his career there wouldn’t be any doubt 🙂 at least for non-fanatic people ofcourse.

      1. My bad Pablo.

        I meant to say:

        Slams record is only one component of Fed’s greatness. Fed crushes it in so so so many categories. And his hard court and grass court titles and no.1 length mean a slams record eclipse from Rafa just won’t do it.

        Nadal is King of Clay. That is for sure. He is an amazing champion. He should have that well deserved title.

        But he is King of Clay and Roger is King of Hard Courts, King of Grass, and King of Indoor. An all around dominator versus a specialist dominator.

      2. And you – daily and sometimes more posting on a Federer Fan site the undisputed greatness of your clay court only historically dominating King who may not even end up with a winning H2H against his greatest rival among his own generation (Djokovic) who beats him H2H 14-7 on hard courts – you, are the one to represent non-fanatics?

    2. Alb, somebody posted this link in the comments section one of Jonathan’s match reports. If you haven’t seen this, you should have a look. It’s a compilation of every tennis record out there. Old man’s name is literally on top of EVERY list. EVERY. I mean it doesn’t get much better than this. It is domination at so many levels. No one is even remotely close. Incredible to see. This is why he’s the GOAT. He doesn’t just top any one list. He tops them all.

      1. As the great Rod Laver said, “Roger Federer has a more complete body of work” 🙂

      2. Thanks Gaurav – amazing stuff.

        Some of those records are just off the chain. Like – “nothing close in history” off the chain. His qf/sf/final appearances – just amazing stuff.

        And at nearly 33 still an expected contender. Still an “upset” when Gulbis knocks him out of RG. No one surprised really that he almost takes out #1 at Wimby. More sadness he didn’t pull it off than shock and amazement he’s even there. Ironically that sadness itself is a testament to his work.

        Its a pleasure to watch him and be able to see him in the sunset of his career. Hope it the sunset slows down just a touch and gives us a little more time.

    3. King of Clay, I don’t mean to be rude, but I normally skip your comments, but this one??? “If Rafa gets the GS record”…….

      How come you guys (Rafa fans, etc.) think it is possible for Rafa to win 3 or 4 GS in a couple of years and that at the same time it is NOT possible for Roger to get atleast one more GS?? Didn’t you see how close he was at Wimby?? Don’t you think he can get a win the next time?? Why is it so impossible to think that Roger will win a GS?? If Rafa can win one, so can Roger. Will be more difficult, but is STILL doable…. Think about it…..

      1. I said IF Katyani… It is sth that can happen. Roger can win other Slam? Yes but it is unlikely he is gonna get an easier path to a GS Final like he got. And by the moment he faced a strong opponent he lost…

      2. Pablo, easier path?? Is that reallly true? Look at Andy. He also had an easier path and look how it ended up for him.
        And how is the previous world number 3 Stan an easy path? He defeated both Novak and Rafa to win his first GS (outside any of the top 4) and he has defeated or made life very difficult for Novak, Rafa, Andy and Roger.
        You can have an easy path, but you still have to go through it. Rafa had an easy path at RG, but he still had to go through Ferrer and Novak.
        Some have easy paths all the time, so it can happen for Roger too. Kind of does deserve it right 🙂

        Ps: Pablo, please stop with that King of Clay and use your own name, Pablo. You are the same person right?

      3. Rafa had a much harder path. Fed had a breezey path.

        For example – Fed had to go up against that teenager and lost.
        Then the teenager lost to Raonic.
        Who then got crushed by Roger…

        O Wait.

      4. Wait… wait a minutre….

        That’s right,.


        RAFA lost to the teenager.
        Who then lost to Raonic.
        Who then got destroyed by Fed.

        So Fed had an easier path than…er…uh…i mean…

      5. And if we’re gonna say GS are the definite stat of stats. Then we should only look at 17-14, but let’s not forget what everyone agrees is the undisputed greatest of GS’s.

        Let’s look at their recent history…

        FED 7/9 including the last 3 years…
        Age 32.9 – Finalist
        Age 31.9 – 2nd Rd
        Age 30.9 – Champion

        NADAL 2/5 including the last 3 years…
        Age 28.1 – 4th Rd
        Age 27.1 – 1st Rd
        Age 26.1 – 2nd Rd

        Numbers are so CRAZY!!!!!

      6. Let’s look at their recent history…

        FED 1/5 including the last 3 years…
        Age 32.9 – 4th Rd
        Age 31.9 – QF
        Age 30.9 – SF

        NADAL 9/9 including the last 3 years…
        Age 28.1 – Champion
        Age 27.1 – Champion
        Age 26.1 – Champion

        Numbers are so CRAZY!!!!!

      7. You’re right Pablo! He is king of CLAY for a reason.
        The same reason no one calls him King of Tennis.
        He’s a great specialist and good all around player.
        One of the all time greats.

        And numbers ARE crazy!!
        You can do anything with numbers.
        Especially 33 years old versus 28 years old.
        Those are some of my favorites.

        AndH here’s another great numbers trick…
        Take away that clay and your’e left with 5 slams for Rafa
        Take away that grass and you’re left with 10 slams for Rog.
        Like magic!!!!
        Numbers are CRAZY!!

  29. It’s just ridiculous how some people just don’t get the fact that hard courts are the most neutral, given the closeness of win percentages. Take a look for example: On hard courts, the win percentages of Federer, Djokovic, and Nadal are 82, 82, and 78. Close right? However, Djokovic has a 14-7 H2H against Nadal on that surface, clearly indicating that when conditions are neutral, Djokovic prevails two out of three times.

    I mean, you don’t have to be a stat genius to understand that. I hope they don’t work in professions that involve statistics 🙂

    Nothing more to talk about. Case closed. Bring on the next idiot.

    1. Clearly you wouldn’t be hired as an analyst from any serious company, trust me 🙂 . Numbers say what they say not what you want them to say hahaha. Those numbers are saying they have a similar winning rate on hardcourts on their careers, period. It’s a pretty general stat and it doesn’t say anything but that.
      Then you can use your imagination and talk nonsense but it clearly shows your lack of knowledge 🙂

    2. Sid, Alb,
      I saw the stat posted by Sid above, and definetely agree that hardcourt is the most neutral.

      You don’t need to have a job in statistic analysis to know that when you compare you have to use the most neutral data. You can’t count on the field that is not neutral and giving advantages to some people (even worse, one particular person. Come on, 0.93 compared to 0.86 for the second? 0.93 to 0.76 for the second among active players?). Using non neutral data as a comparison will give you a bias (systematic error), everyone know that (well, clearly not everyone here. I have to rephrase, everyone who listen to their math/calculus/statistic teacher should know that).

      1. Going full on neutral and getting rid of clay and grass you’re left with

        10 slams for Rog
        5 slams for Rafa.

        Just for fun.

      2. Correction, Alb. If you get rid of Clay and Grass,

        9 slams for Roger on hard courts (5 USO, 4 AO)
        3 slams for Nadal (2 USO, 1 AO)

        Fun stuff!

        P.S. Grass is way more neutral than clay. Win percentages prove it.

  30. A player’s greatness defines by his dominance, his longevity, his all court play.
    For me to define the greatness of a tennis player will be depends on the below statistics.

    Every single person wants to be the number 1 in his or her field. In this case you will hear from all the players saying the same in tennis. Who are the longest, the most weeks and consecutive dominated number 1 in history of man tennis game?? We all know who. Roger Federer.

    Like Roger Federer said that you don’t get the number 1 privilege just like that. You have to work hard to get those. And if we all know a little bit of maths, we know you need to win GS to get to that No 1 place to rack up the ATP points. So my point here is the Grand Slams are the extremely important aspects to measure a player’s greatness. And again we know who has the most GS in men’s game. Roger Federer.

    If we all know about the tennis, we all know that ATP World Tour Finals is the next important tourney after GS. Yes, only best 8 players have privilege to play that tournament. Ask the world number 9 and 10. You get 1500 points for winning all. 500 less than GS points. And again we all know who has the most WTF titles. Of course my friends, non-other than Roger Federer.

    I think let’s not even talk about the consistency over the years; otherwise someone has to leave the blog for good.

    So the next best thing after WTF is ATP1000. Which Nadal holds the record for the most numbers. I don’t see anyone will break this record. Future will tell. I don’t consider ATP 500 and ATP250 as great as GS or WTFs.
    Now Davis cup is nothing but team events. You need a bit of luck and your team should be great with top 10 people. Spain is good with verity of players that’s why they won multiple Davis cup. Again the important word here is TEAM. Just like Fed and Stan won their Olympic Gold in doubles is as important as winning davis cup. It’s a team effort. It’s not individual game. Anyway, this year Swiss has chance to win their first Davis Cup. Wait and see.

    Now the next so called important thing is Olympic Gold medal. And because of the so much media hype it has to be single gold medal. LOL. Anyway, Both Nadal and Federer won their gold medal in 2008, single and double respectively. Now Federer won his silver medal in singles as well. The point here is a medal is enough to represent your country. If it is gold then its great, if it is silver so what? Still great achievement at age of 31. Let’s not even talk about ATP Fan Favorite awards and Sportsmanship awards and many more others.
    So if we conclude the above we know that Roger Federer is by far the best, the greatest in any generation you have ever seen. And I am just a simple Architect but someone says the below who understand more than you and me.

    Federer’s versatility has been summarized by Jimmy Connors: “In an era of specialists, you’re either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist, or a hard court specialist…or you’re Roger Federer”

    If I am famous as Pablo Picasso, I will be like crazy happy but if I have a choice to be Michael Angelo or Leonardo Da Vinci level…well… : ) that’s the difference between Rafael Nadal and the great Roger Federer.

    I rest my case.

  31. Guys, if you have an hour in your life, pls make sure you watch the below documentary on Federer and rest of the field:

    “Facing Federer: Tennis Masters Cup Uncovered”

    It is by far the best Roger Federer documentary I have ever seen in my life. The best. +1

      1. 14 – 7 on Hardcourts??? Really??? GOAT???

        Maybe by the end – not even greatest of his own generation.

      2. Oke Pablo, now your replies are even getting on my nerves. There is defending your hero and then there is DEFENDING your hero. How far are you willing to go? You bash at almost every sentence where Roger is beeing praised. Stop it, it is not funny anymore. Do you want to make Rafa believers out of us? Even ignoring some of your replies doesn’t help. Please atleast do it less……

      3. Katyani, why don’t you just stop responding to him? Stupid trolls will do what do, stupid troll shit. He completely disregards numerical facts that show Nadal’s opponents are weak on clay, and still uses his clay wins to show how great Nadal is. It can’t get any more stupid than that.

        I mean really, just let him rant, and show of his intelligence. Trust me, I fell victim to his stupidity.

        Never argue with stupid people. They will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience – Mark Twain

      4. Because Sid, I think he means well, but that he just cannot stop until we give in and see Rafa the way he does. Which won’t happen ofcourse. It is just like you, I and more of us say… we don’t like Rafa, but we would never ever go to his fan’s site and bash Rafa. That is a courtesy we give Rafa and his fans. Too bad he does not give the same to us. And…. I don’t know him personally, but I do believe he is also a Roger fan. They exist you know, people who like them both 🙂

        And Sid, I do ignore him, but some of his comments about Roger……. that’s MY hero he is talking about….

      5. Hey Pablo,

        Worst tournament ??? Hahahaha I think someone is very jealous of someone’s 6 WTF titles.
        Btw in 2004 masters cup, in so called “weak era”, out of 8, 6 people were grand slam champion u Moran. Compare to today’s we have only 4 people who are GS champion to max 5 who participate in year end tourney since 2008.

        Let me break-it down for u and for your small brain. Let’s look at this way as you guys always mention that the best era stared from 2008. So let’s look at the best 8 players results in GS records who qualified for WTF from 2008:

        2008: 4 GS winners ( weak era player reached to the final)
        2009: 4 GS winners ( weak era player won??????? Oh my god. Ouch .. It must be painful to watch.)
        2010: 4 GS winners ( weak era player won. I m laughing at u right now)
        2011: 3 GS winners ( weak era player won back to back. Shame on so called strong era. I m laughing at u right now)
        2012: 4 GS winners ( weak era player reached to the final)
        2013: finally 5 GS winners qualified LOL.
        So from 2008 to 2012 not only weak era players won the tourney the max but weak era player was there in the final. Only last year we had so called strong era players were in the final. Think about it. May be it will help you before u make an idiotic comment in future.

        Now let’s look at the 2004 boring masters cup final best 8 players;

        2004: 6 GS winners. =)

        Enough for you today.

        Lots of love


    “Until his 2008 Wimbledon loss, Federer’s most enduring image was that of the high flying wunderkind – with boundless talent and an ability win at will. Many will define Federer’s career for what he achieved during those peak years – winning 12 Grand Slam titles, playing in 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals and 17 of his eventual record of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals. But, his post-dominance years offer a different sort of achievement – endurance, adaptability, and heart. Even where his racquet failed him against Djokovic, his mettle carried him through almost to the end.

    It’s hard to say today whether he will end up with more Grand Slam titles than Nadal when both have retired, but Federer has consistently made himself relevant in the latter stages of Grand Slam tournaments more than any of his rivals. His pride as a champion will not allow him to merely hang around the tour as a sentimental favorite or to grind away on the outside courts like his friend, Lleyton Hewitt.

    He doesn’t want our pity applause, and he doesn’t need it anyway. He’s continuing to put the pieces together on this next act of his career and is, as always, more excited about the days to come than those that have passed. Based on what we have seen this fortnight, he has every reason to be.”

    – See more at:

  33. @Follow me…… Please don’t talk about a Roger and Lindsay sextape…. Who do you think he is? Tiger Woods 🙂

      1. It would be horrible.

        By the way, anyone think Roger looks retarded in the aviator glares that he wore to the Lindt event?

        He is such a “gentleman” when he aces Linsay, it’s hilarious.

  34. I’m going to expand on PhantomTheGhostWhoWalks comment.

    I will never understand why the YEC Championships aren’t given the credit they deserve. You have to win 5 matches, at least 4 against top 8 players in the whole wide world. And Roger’s done it winning 5 matches most of the time (I remember 2010, and 2011).

    Add to that the fact, as you’ve said, the field contains at least 4 players who are slam winners.

    Now, compare that to the singles Olympics Gold winners, that Nadal fans make such a big deal about. The list includes…

    *drum roll*

    Who are these people? I looked up their Slam records and I was shocked. That’s how much of a joke the Olympic Mens Tennis Singles Gold medal is.

    The Year End Masters are the next best thing to a Slam. There’s a reason the winner is awarded 1500 points, that is, 500 more than a Masters 1000.

    1. Sid,
      This is exactly my point. The past champions never cared about the Olympics. Look at the Sampras. It’s just that when Aggasi won his gold medal, all this bullshit started.

      And if I put the Beijing Olympic gold medal on table, does Pablo or any Dull fan is going to reorganize whether it is single or double gold medal?? I don’t think so. Ask Delpo when he won bronze, how happy he was on standing at that podium. It’s nothing but to proud of having a medal for your country. And in terms of points you only get 750 ATP points. Means the Olympics are as good as ATP 500. Not even close to ATP 1000. I will take Olympic seriously if they come every year then it make sense whether you can defend or not.

      And to all Dull fans, pls delete this virus from your empty head that Olympic is 5th slam. It’s extremely funny and insult to all 4 GS.

      BTW if I have to go down to this dull fan level then I can also make a case that Federer won the Hopman Cup. Does Nadal have one?? LOL

    2. DJOKOVIC:
      “I am and I have seen the majority of the athletes and they cannot remove the smile from their faces. It is an excitement that is like no other. It is the most recognisable event in the history of sport. In the past, when you won the Olympic Games you were considered immortal and you got eternal glory – I don’t think it has changed much really because that is how much it means to the world of sport and to the athletes”.

      “It would be probably right up there with all the Grand Slams that I won because I’m playing here for my country.”

      MURRAY:(before winning it)
      “I would say that winning an Olympic gold is bigger than winning a Grand Slam,”
      “I think a gold medal is the pinnacle of every sport. Novak Djokovic won a bronze medal at the last Olympics and was in tears,”

      For Andre Agassi, if he could have only “one trophy in the trophy case, between all the Grand Slams and the [Olympic] gold medal”, he says that he would “lean towards winning the gold medal.”
      “To win a Grand Slam [title] is the greatest thing in the sport, but to win an Olympics is the biggest thing you can do in all sports.”
      “it represents so much more than just tennis.”

      “Winning Wimbledon is the best feeling in the world. Now that I won the gold medal, I didn’t think it could get better than winning Wimbledon.”

      “I felt the same joy when I won the Gold Medal than a Grand Slam”
      “The Olympic Games is very special for many reasons and in my opinion the biggest one because you are representing your country”
      Nadal, the 2008 singles gold medalist, called his withdrawal “one of the saddest days of my career.”


      1. How could anyone ever say the Olympics are better than a slam?

        You don’t even play a 5 set match till the end!!!

        There are 4 events A YEAR that are more rigorous than the Olympics. FOUR A YEAR.

        And I agree with Sid and Gaurav – WTF are even arguably more difficult considering who your competition is. Arguably.

        Pablo – it seems to me anyway – the only rational logic behind your dis of the WTF tourney is your dude’s donut result, no? But that’s what you get when your all time-great (and he is an all-time great) is also most potently a specialist (which he is).

        Take his clay away, he’s got 5 slams. Novak even beats him.
        Take Fed’s grass away and he’s got 10 slams.
        Anyone else have 10 slams without Wimbledon or RG? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?

      2. ^This!

        I dare you, I double dare you trolling mother fuckers. Anyone other than Roger Federer who has 10 slams without Wimbledon, or RG?

        That’s what I though.

      3. Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Serena and Agassi said that 🙂

        I think their opinions are more reliable than yours 🙂

      4. How can anyone say that winning the Olympics is better and more important than winning a GS when players who have won the Olympics in various sports are SELLING their gold medals online?? 🙂 🙂

      5. Bjorn Borg sold his Wimbledon trophies.

        It’s a fact current top players consider it at least like a GS and we should appreciate that they are giving the importance that such event deserves.

    3. Pablo, you have chosen the worst possible people to pick quotes from. All 4 of them have to be taken with a pinch of salt.

      To say you pride yourself on being an analyst, as soon as something makes mainstream print you seem to believe it no matter what. Buying into what players say to a room full of people or into a Dictaphone is daft. But hey, if it makes you feel safe and gives you some opinions rather than forging your own by all means continue 😀

      Djokovic is highly unreliable at saying what he actually thinks. He is trying to build a brand.
      Murray was speaking after London 2012. Simon Fuller, who also manages David Beckham, the ultimate PR pony, wrote his script.
      Agassi was on meth.
      Serena talks nonsense on a daily basis.
      Nadal was talking in PR mode like usual. In fact, they all are. They are all guilty of PR talk of the highest order. Fed does it too.

      I have told you before, the Olympics and Tennis don’t go together. When it was first introduced, the players thought it was a joke, and they still do. It’s not high on the agenda for someone’s career. It is just a money spinner.

      If you speak to any sporting legends – who are from disciplines that aren’t in the Olympics, or weren’t traditionally but now are. They all say the same thing – the Olympics is about athletics, swimming, wrestling. Not tennis, cricket or football.

      Adding these sports makes a mockery of what the Olympics stands for – it was formed for Amateur athletes.

      In Rio, we have golf. The Olympics is now just a commercial event. The Olympic spirit left long ago.

      1. I respect your opinion but I prefer to believe what the top tennis players actually think.

      2. ^^^People always say exactly what they think

        Ahahahahhahhahhhahhahahhahhahahha Ehahahhahahahhahahahhahaha ROFL LMFAO!

        P.S. Sorry guys, I just couldn’t help it.

      3. (Rod Laver said, “Roger Federer has a more complete body of work” :-))
        (‘In an era of specialists – you’re either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist or a hard court specialist… or you’re Roger Federer.’ Jimmy Connors.)

        And they believe what they say,don’t they? 🙂

      4. Folks, any one on this website, except trolls (who needn’t reply), have any doubt about Roger’s complete body of work? Anybody can refute the facts laid out on the ATP world tour records (the great man is everywhere)? The 36 consecutive QF’s? The 23 consecutive SF’s? 18 out of 19 finals in a row winning 11 of them? Five multi-slam years in a row, including three with three slam wins? Record for the most consecutive weeks at No.1? Over 300 weeks of domination at No.1? Five, or is it six year end No.1’s? Six world tour final wins? How many AO SF’s in a row, like 11 or so? Slam wins on all surfaces, including 7 at the toughest event, and 9 on the most neutral surface? Currently holds the record for most slam wins? A slam at the age of 30, and oh so nearly another one at 32? A great balance of wins in different areas of the planet? And all that with a super tough, 90 sq in racquet? Wait…voted winner 10 times by his peers for sportsmanship? And how many fan favorite awards?

        Jeez! No more proof needed as to what Rod Laver said. It’s been corroborated. Anyone else wants to add something else?

        P.S. Trolls need to shut the fuck up.

      5. You said he was a weak clay court tennis player. I don’t follow you, you always change your mind depending on where the wind comes from hahaha

      6. @Pablo – you don’t know what top players actually think. Nobody does except themselves or those who are in their team. What they say to a camera is very different – their is a lot on the line every-time they open their mouths. I don’t see Gulbis fronting Gilette etc.

        I didn’t see a picture of you on Nadal’s boat the other day, so you are as just in the dark as anyone else.

    1. Hey Wanda, nice article. Great about the vid he made for the upcoming youngsters. But I think and hope more players did that too….

      1. Oh yeah, a good find, thanks Alex 🙂

        How about this one. We already knew Fed’s a top goat as far as the global sports brand is concerned. The status has been built on what he has been and what he has already achieved. Nothing more needs to be the tennis goat and the legend lives on.

      1. Whaaaa’!!? There is/ was a fantasy Wimby league!?

        We should totally start a fantasy league for every tournament that Fed enters in. That would be pretty fun, if someone’s interested in taking that up.

      2. No idea, too lol.

        Obviously we didn’t win, huh? Pity! As you know I was offline for the whole second week so couldn’t follow up. I entered with two fantasy players and picked Roger for netplay (the highest) for one player and power (2nd highest) and serve for another so I didn’t do badly I guess 😉 But I can’t find out how many points I scored. And you?

      3. Yeah Gaurav but I didn’t think it was that good. I created a league but only a few joined.

        There is something coming soon that we can all participate in that’s better than fantasy league. I will put it on the blog soon.

      4. Something even better than a fantasy game??? Ooohh, you’ve got me very excited for the future Jonathan! 😀

      5. Didn’t know you’d made a mini-league or I would have joined. Not sure I would have helped you out much, though; I think the system had some growing pains, and while I didn’t make terrible choices, I could have made better ones.

        Before round 2 (or 3?), I never clicked “save choices”, which was hidden at the bottom of the page. Then one of my players had a delayed game, so the next round had already started before I knew whether they would even BE in the next round. Then at the end it was a little silly not being able to choose “none” for some of your player attributes; since the people left all had high points, I had to choose people with low points who were already out of the tournament, just to fill the slot. Then one day the system was down just before a round was due to start. Ah well.

  35. I’m just happy I get to watch Roger play. All the stats are interesting but to enjoy the guy play the game the way he does is the best. Are we lucky or what.
    Great articles guys.
    Saw J McEnroe’s son busted for drugs in NY. There was an old interview with McEnroe saying he never did drugs in front of his kids. Ha.

  36. Guys, keep it cool and ignore the troll.

    See the trend that he’s more active when one of us replying on him. Couple of days ago he reply and everyone skip his comments, and he didn’t have anybody to talk to. We made a progress there.

    We can banish a smart troll with give them fact and data, but not the uneducated one. When they got cornered, they’ll end the discussion with ‘I think’, ‘maybe’, put their own opinion (or googling any quote from athletes that will back him up) like it is the words of God. But when other quoting (even from the same athletes) that they don’t like, they will not listen.

    And don’t forget the chicken run (final strategy, when googling is not giving any back up).

    Don’t go to their level by replying them. Leave them alone with they sad-pathetic world that full with insecurity.

  37. Glad you guys are planning on ignoring the trolls. Think about it, Roger ignores the negative press. Makes life so much nicer.

  38. federer in a weak era? Nooo..

    His rivals are capable of winning a grandslam or two at the very least. They’re that good.

    it’s just federer making those great players play their “b” game oftentimes frustrating them. They can’t seem to figure him out during his heyday.


    Top 10 Most Valuable Athlete Names:

    1. Roger Federer (Switzerland), Tennis – $46 million
    Tiger Woods (USA), Golf – $46 million
    2. LeBron James (USA), Basketball – $27 million
    3. Phil Mickelson (USA), Golf – $25 million
    4. Maria Sharapova (Russia), Tennis – $23 million
    5. Mahendra Singh Dhoni (India), Cricket – $21 million
    6. Usain Bolt (Jamaica), Track and field – $20 million
    7. Kobe Bryant (USA), Basketball – $19 million
    8. Li Na (China), Tennis – $15 million
    9. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Football – $13 million
    10. Lionel Messi (Argentina), Football – $13 million

    Can someone tell me where is Nadull? Please.. : )

  40. Actually for me, Roger Federer is a Global citizen. Just amazing.
    Everyone loves him except some aliens.

      1. Actually u r right gaurav, even in Madrid, people love federer.

  41. Hi. Great article 😉

    I just wanted to tell Gaurav not to bother answering to that King Of Clay guy, he’s just a troll. I know him, he’s italian like me, he always comments in the most famous italian tennis website. He always denigrates Federer, even when the article has nothing to do with Federer or Nadal. He thinks Federer won all his titles by chance and everytime Nadal loses a match he disappears, then he comes back after a few days with a bunch of excuses.

    1. Welcome Efe Fuentes, I hope you stick around. Shame that without your services the Spanish football team was destroyed in the World Cup.

  42. Hello everyone. It’s seeming like an awfully long time since Wimbledon to me, and Toronto still seems far away. On top of that it’s been grey and cloudy here since forever! Anyone else feeling like that?

      1. I thought you lost your mojo and retired. Are you still any good at blogging? 😉

  43. Jonathan, as a long-time reader of your blog I might offer this: the question may not be whether we are seeing a “weak” or a strong era in tennis, but whether we are in a doping era.

    I have followed the sport for forty years. I can’t see that technology, training and nutrition accounts for all the “improvements” we are seeing in the game. I know amateur sportsmen who dope – for no apparent reward other than the possibility of local fame. It defies reasoning to think that the pros wouldn’t be – when their livelihoods depend on sporting success.

    Does Nadal have to win 10, 11, 12 French Opens – the most gruelling tournament in the game – for people to wonder if he isn’t simply another Lance Armstrong? One thing we can be sure of – testing won’t give us an answer, because Lance didn’t fail any tests either.

    1. I agree, it’s a debate that will rage and rage.

      The WADA stats came out earlier this month, hardly any blood tests were carried out. Very poor testing regime.

      1. The time will come where it is revealed to the world that Nadal has been taking PEDs during his career!

      2. Truth is Conal, what possible difference would it make if five years from now, this common thief from Spain does admit that he doped? Will his titles be taken away? No. And what of his fans? I’m willing to bet that a vast majority of them will still love him. After all, they love him because he is a winner. So he doped only because he could win, and they would love him.. That’s what Armstrong said.

        For example, do you think someone like Shamtoot will stop liking Nadal if he is shown to be a doper (which he already is according to me)? No. Because fans like those don’t care at what cost victory is achieved.


      3. No love lost, but his all his career titles and achievements stripped! The same occurred for Armstrong.

      4. You are wrong Sid, let it be proven and I would unfan him. And by the way, as I told you before, if I do believe on doping, then all of them dope, no exceptions. it all depends about the definition of doping we are talking about. There are supplements in the past, which was legal, turns to be drags and illegal now, and so on 😉

      5. Shamtoot, there are times when absolute proof is not needed to believe in something. If you look at the right places, and think logically, you will be convinced that the player you adore so much is a first class doper.

        You said you have kids right? Imagine a box of candies disappears. One of your kids was at school. The other wasn’t but was never definitely proven to have gobbled them down. What would you believe? 😉

        Don’t forget that Armstrong – who said testing was a joke – never tested positive. If he hadn’t admitted it publicly, his fans would still have believed what brought him down was a well thought out conspiracy. And so it is with Nadal. He doesn’t have even an iota of conscience to ever admit his guilt.

      6. To be fair, Sid, it’s a bit of a different case as to your (admittedly fun) analogy. Because the possibility exists that Nadal doesn’t dope. What you’re doing is putting a fair amount of circumstantial evidence forward, convincing yourself that constitutes a conclusion, and then insisting anyone who disagrees is definitely wrong. You speak with the tone that it is a foregone conclusion.

        And that lies in the bias. One example is “he doesn’t even have an iota of conscience to ever admit his guilt”. How do you know that? How can you state that as fact? Perhaps, ten years from now, Nadal might.

        You’re likely going to call me a Nadal fan or something for typing this two paragraphs of my life, and believe me, that would be very painful for me. I despise the man and DO believe he dopes. But I hope you realize the aggressive tone/attitude with which you approach ANYTHING on the subject of doping makes it less likely for you to convince others of your point of view.

      7. John, give me a break. This guy has conscience? Are you for real? This guy, who illegally gets on court coaching, admitted by his Aunt Toni? Who, as admitted again by Aunt Toni, used deliberate slow play tactics (especially at Wimbledon 2008)? Who was pushing for a two year ranking system? Who wanted a shorted season, with utter disregard to the lower ranked player who live off small tournaments, and at the same time wanted more clay? This guy who threatened to boycott a tournament because he couldn’t do well? Who never admits to having lost fair? And uses gamesmanship (MTO’s) at vital stages of the game? Threatens to avoid dope testing and has skipped dope test? Has encouraged other players to boycott taking tests? Wait…and bumps into opponents?

        And I haven’t even started on how he fits the profile of a doper. You do remember Aunt Toni once saying that, “I believe nobody dopes intentionally”. There, it must be unintentional then.

      8. John, thanks for your few paragraphs above. Clearly and calmly said, and I appreciate it.

      9. Jonathan I can’t believe you allow these kind of xenophobic comments in your blog
        “these fucking Spaniards have some conscience”. Respect should be the minimun required and this guy is not capable to write one single comment without insulting.

    2. I haven’t been reading comments for the last few days. I try take out stuff that is offensive which I have done above.

      Like groundhog day this, never ending debate about Nadal being a cheat and Fed being the GOAT. Neither are conclusive. We should be making some predictions for Toronto.

  44. Because doping can be masked and is thereby near undetectable (and has been since the era of Marion Jones and Barry Bonds), and is therefore unlikely to be picked up through testing regimes, we have to consider that it is increasingly widespread in professional sports – and may indeed go with the territory now of being a pro.

    That means we can’t know for sure who is and who isn’t doping. Your favorite player may be a doper. Or not. All we have to go on is circumstantial evidence; of who betrays the signs that commonly go with doping (and some of these signs are not as obvious as we might think – dopers don’t necessarily look like Scharzenegger, as Armstrong and Contador showed.)

    To look for: unreal stamina and tirelessness; dramatic increases in power and speed; power delivered without adequate bio-mechanical explanation i.e raw strength, not stroke mechanics; significant and sudden changes in physique; miraculous recovery from serious injuries (“injury treatment” is a way of introducing doping substances into the body through exemptions under the rules); and players ‘peaking’ very late in their careers – when physically they should be declining.

    If you use those guidelines some players will look a lot more suspicious than others. And not all of them will be top players but they will all be better players than they would have been if they hadn’t doped. I am picking it’s a fair proportion of the tour now, and there would be at least as many women as men who are doping. (Sam Stosur, anyone?)

    So what does this mean for a tennis fan? Don’t believe everything you see now on a tennis court, even if the media – the tour ‘cheerleaders’ – and many other fans do.

    1. I’m waiting for Federer to retire so I can stop watching these motherfucking cheats. Well, I hope Federer doesn’t retire soon though 🙂

    2. I and Paul Kimmage share the same thoughts: “But fucking tennis, I find it nauseating to watch it on TV to see the McEnroes and all the commentators engage in this big love-in. And the bottom line is we are all getting rich here folks, lets not upset the apple-cart.””

      “Fucking tennis” indeed, the whole thing is sickening. And it’s nice to hear a cycling commentator of all people get sick over JokeEnroe’s commentating as well.

      1. A guy who tried to uncover doping, but got sacked from the Times for doing it.

        We live in times where the state and media propaganda control everything. Nothing is what it seems really.

        I mean look at the news this week, GDP is on the rise in the UK, you’d have to be a complete idiot to believe that times are changing. Yet every media outlet is all over it, conning the public!

      2. I understand what you mean and there are media propaganda etc but the press freedom was never as good as it is now with the amount of blogs, newspapers etc we have.
        The GDP is not the best variable to focus on and its growth doesn’t mean things are good.
        Spanish GPD growth as well and I have never seen the country as bad as it is.

      3. GDP is calculated with a range of manipulation and accounting tricks. Drugs and prostitution are now included to bump up the figure and make debt to GDP look less bad 😀

        The next crash is coming. If you can, buy gold.

  45. I have heard from a friend who has contacts on the tour that many of the players think that Roger is the last ‘clean’ champion. They also don’t believe Nadal’s miraculous recovery last year, when he swept all before him on his least favoured surface.

    1. Thanks for sharing that, Richard. I am one who acknowledges that the circumstantial evidence is high, but who is leery of making accusations based on that exclusively. One of the most puzzling things to me has been that in the case of Armstrong, there was this persistent, low-level, constant buzz FROM WITHIN CYCLING that he was doping and had been seen doping or with the pieces to be doping. In the case of tennis, there’s a persistent buzz, but so far it’s been from OUTSIDE tennis, and hasn’t included the “I saw him” piece. Your comment makes me wonder if the inside buzz is finally building – perhaps as some players retire and have less to lose, ie their own entire careers (as happened with Armstrong’s associates), they become more willing to speak out? Or perhaps with a smaller pool of professional tennis players than cyclers (this is pure guess on my part, based on images of cycling hordes at the Tour de France), it’s just taking longer to build a critical mass?

    2. Quite funny to see that people who accuse Nadal of doping are those sort of hooligan Fed fans that happens to be unable to bear that his loved and praised “GOAT” was constantly schooled in every single surface and tournament throughout his career by the same guy.
      This people are not tennis fans, they are just adorers of “personalities” who raise the status of a simply sportman to a God. Ridiculous. The Fed’s sect.

  46. Interesting, Richard. Makes me love Roger all the more. Can’t wait for Canadian Open to begin. Seems like ages since we’ve seen him play.

    1. Cool, I hadn’t seen that 🙂

      My blogging hiatus will be over in the next few days when the Roger’s Cup draw comes out. Seems like an age since I last wrote something, but I been working on other stuff 🙂

    2. What am I doing wrong? I see buttons to click on, and links to some odd-looking stories. Nothing about tennis sites of any stripe.

      1. Ah, found it via Jonathan’s Twitter – it’s p. 2, though I thought I had been there before, & you have to scroll down.

  47. Pablo, sure there are ‘adoring Fed fans’, just like there are adoring Nadal fans. You appear to be one of them. Neither has given consideration to the likelihood that tennis has a doping problem (which is the belief of Richard Pound, the former head of WADA). Fan denial is one of the reasons there is a problem. It is frankly ridiculous to debate the relative merits of players when there is no way we can be sure they are genuine.

    1. Richard, please ignore this troll named Pablo. You have no idea how stupid he is. Just…ignore him.


  48. Pablo might be wrong but the issue is there for all of us: are we following a sport where achievement is bona fide, or is there a huge question mark over the game now? If so, what can we do about it?

    I have tended to believe Roger is ‘clean’ but with the inadequacy of tennis’ s anti-doping programme we can’t be sure of anyone now. And some players scream ‘doper’ with every stroke. If you love the game, as I have, you can’t blind yourself to this stuff.

    1. There is nothing anyone can do.

      For change you would need to vote with your feet and boycott tournaments. However not enough people know about lax doping and I doubt people would be willing to shun watching live tennis because of it.

      As long as the balance sheet continues to grow and the TV money pours in then there’s no need to change. It’s business as usual.

      Failing that, it would need an Edward Snowden character to come out and reveal all.

  49. I was talking to a friend tonight – an athlete – and he was telling me that two friends of his attended a training camp in Europe but came home disgusted and were giving up. Why? Because they told him everyone there was doping. And these weren’t even national level athletes!

    We are living in dreamland if we think pro tennis is still a clean sport. Yet a recent survey indicated the number one concern of sports fans is doping. If the fans speak out and say they are not buying this bullshit then maybe something will change. But otherwise, nothing.

    I am not looking forward to Toronto or Cincinnati, to see who has the ‘best doctor’, or to see how Nadal has mysteriously ‘tweaked’ his serve to get a Sampras-like bomb for the USO – as he and Uncle Toni have promised.

  50. “Grand Slam”? I wish people would begin to use the correct terms…
    None of the players in the article has won a “Grand Slam”.. Slams or Majors, yes.. But not “Grand Slam”s.
    If a player’s greatness was measured by the number of “Grand Slam”s, then let’s declare Rod Laver as the GOAT immediately.

    Also: history does not determine greatness by the number of Majors won. Historiography of tennis will show that it only began to gain importance in the late 90s when Sampras began to break the record, thanks to the American media’s push to make it important. If it was that important, most great players in the 1975-85 era would not have passed over playing the Australian Open. Back then the number of SLams won did not matter that much.

    That being said: great article on showing how absurd the “weak era” argument is… FInally, someone puts the time into showing how convenient that argument is for anybody who wants to bend it to his/her own agenda or the one of their favorite player. Thanks.

  51. Hi Guys, I just read on Tennis channel News that Nadal has withdrawn from Rogers Cup and Cincinnati because of an injured wrist. Article says that he was injured during practice at his home in Mallorca. Doctors have recommended that he wear a cast. Wow.

      1. This is a joke. I mean, how low are the odds of a guy getting injured while practicing!!?

        To call injury at pretty much the same time every odd season- is that a coincidence?

        Guess we’ll all have to reconcile to the fact that he’s going to miraculously sweep all the titles for the next seven months after his ‘comeback’. Good for him.

    1. Yep, right wrist, 2-3 weeks out, we shall see if he bins the entire hard court swing. As always, I am very suspicious of these breaks. Sid predicted it and so it came to pass!

    1. Love it! Totally love Fed himself saying “I had some ideas to make it even… betterer”. Wonder how many takes it took to get through that without bursting into hysterical laughter!

  52. Hey guys,

    Massively off topic and I’m going to hope Jonathan doesn’t delete this, but I could do with your help. Does anyone have/ can think of a Fed/ tennis related name that could work as an artist (musician) name as well.

    Something along the lines of “Fed-up”, or “Roger That” or “Tram lines” ..

    Anyone? Would be so awesome if I could get a few suggestions.

    1. Hey Gaurav, are you planning on making it big as a musician? If yes, then please don’t forget us simple struggling people 🙂 “Roger That” sounds too easy and common. I like “Fed-up”. How about “DJ Feddie”? Or something that ends with “erer”?

      1. Haha, making it ‘big’ is pretty far and probably improbable :p

        By the way, no DJ in the name. That’s a complete no no for me.

        But yes, I need ideas. Roger That is actually a Nike RF t-shirt logo, so I was just giving an example.

    1. Hah!! I think that would spawn a myriad of bang bang jokes that’ll have me all “fed up” pretty soon. Haha!!!! :p

      Its more or less broadly melodic house music, that has its roots in singer-songwriter/ blues/ indie stuff. Wide variety, but all with the aim to be played at clubs. Hopefully a few people will like it.

      I’ve just been stumped on a name. Till now I’ve kept pushing it back up until I was done with the tracks which are 99% done now and will in all likelihood be done in a week odd, so that’s about the time I have left to come up with a name after which it is time to start looking at artwork. It’s nice to come up with a name that means something to the individual, and tennis/ Federer’s probably the biggest influence I have- hence my post here.

      1. Haha great! Had no idea you’re not only a talented writer but a musician, too? Wow.
        Good luck Gaurav 😀

      2. If you have a band “The Betterers” could be a great one or “The GOATirs” or simply “The GOAT´s” 🙂
        Or they could work as a solo artist also “The Betterer” or “The GOAT” but they leave a ton of pressure from the beginning though 😉

      3. Hey Gaurav, since your name means pride (kind of), how about something with the name “pride” or “Indie Pride”….. does it have to be an English name??

        Oh and ofcourse very good luck. Hope you become the RF of musicians 🙂

      4. You’re being a bit too kind Wanda. A semi decent writer who can play a tune every now and then would be more apt. :p But thank you so much.

        Mark- I should start uploading my music on facebook/ soundcloud and eventually youtube (I’m hoping Conal can help me here sometime in the near future. His youtube videos are legendary). Need to get a name and then find someone who can help me with the artwork. Will keep you posted.

        Katyani- I’m actually open to languages. Preferably english though, cause my music is english and a difficult name can sometimes become a bit of an impediment beyond national boundaries (assuming it ever gets to such a stage and that’s a big assumption).
        RF of musicians. Sigh!! 🙂 That’s what dreams are made of.

      5. And then your logo – or maybe this is the album title instead, so it would be album art – could be or include a treble clef, but instead of a music staff behind it, it’s a tennis net…

      6. … And there are a couple of notes on the net/staff, which are tennis balls…

      7. This could be a problem if you have a really low voice, of course, in which case –

        Bass Racquet.

        Same principle for the artwork.

        OK, going to try to switch my brain off this topic now!

      8. Thinker!! I like the way you think!! :p

        A play of words including “Racquet” might be perfect, because of the double connotation- tennis and noise. Maybe something a tad funny, or self deprecating and I’ll be hooked. Looks like I’m going to be adding random words to “racket” to see where this leads. Time for me to think!! :p Thank you!!!

      9. Shortlisting a name is incredibly hard. I’ve managed to come up with a few and have finally mustered enough courage to subject myself to a little embarrassment by sharing some of them. And yes, I’m ok with “they all suck” cause they probably do. (none of them are Fed related by the way. I couldn’t come up with anything decent)

        All Systems Down
        Escape Routes
        Campaign In Poetry
        City Lights
        Dusty Vinyls
        Orion and the Skyline
        Chasing Orion
        Orion and beyond
        G and the Pseud-o band

        PS: Orion’s Belt was the first song I wrote. Add to that my fascination for space/ the extra terrestrial and hailing from the east (India) makes it Orion “something” a very personal choice.

        PPS: My last name is Sood, hence the attempt with Pseud-o.

      10. A Grammy for Gaurav in the future? 🙂

        I like Chasing Orion and Beyond Orion. How about something like Through/Beyond the Strings? Strings could mean Tennis strings or Guitar strings?

        Sorry for the suck-y idea!

      11. Hey thanks Scooter. I’m actually good with getting a few people to listen in for starters :p

        You’re actually the 2nd of 2nd who has gone with Chasing Orion. Hmmmn.

        I quite like your idea as well. Beyond the Strings. I’m going to mull over this.

      12. I like Chasing Orion too, especially if your lyrics are searching & questioning.

        The Strings idea is kinda cool too.

      13. Hey Gaurav, oke seriously…. did you even NEED our help? Where did you get all the cool names from on your list? Your names are much better than what we suggested 🙂

        Can we vote? I like “Pseud-o” the most. Why don’t you combine it with your last name? “Pseudo Sood”?? Oh and….. Chasing Orion is also good, but me personally love the humor in Pseudo 🙂

      14. Validation always helps Katyani. In the morning I was scared to even share half a possible name with someone, fearful that it might be written off as silly. 12 hours later and I’m going to bed thinking hey, there are a couple of options here that aren’t half bad. So yes, everyone’s super nice comments have been SO incredibly helpful.

        By the way, I doubt Jonathan would like the first poll on perfect-tennis to be Pseudo vs Sood-o :p Haha.

        By the way, you’re the first to go for Pseudo. It got shot down unfortunately by a few friends. I’m leaning towards an Orion name or Escape Routes followed by Campaign in Poetry, Dusty Vinyls. That’s my shortlist so far.

  53. Nadal off tour for 2-3 weeks. Is this gonna be a short time or would the injury talks change in a few weeks and metamorphose into something serious with conflicting return dates? Is it a cycle to peak for Australian open #2 to get double career slam? We will know as the saga unfolds!

    1. Yeah!! And apparently Laver had asked Fed to write the forward to his autobiography. From one GOAT to the other. Apparently the Laver book talks about Sampras, Agassi, McEnroe and of course Fed… Should be a good read

      1. You mean you haven’t read it yet? 🙂 I would have done, only it was a bit heavy and I’d already got other library books, so I picked up the Neil Harman instead. Oops …

      2. Read the intro, really beautiful words from Federer, and the modesty and love for the game shine thru,

      1. Thanks! Though without knowing where the information comes from, it’s hard to prove/ verify :/

  54. In all fairness, it seems that it was growth *factor*, not growth hormone. Maybe someone will have corrected the thread by now.

  55. I disagree that this is a weak era for clay, or any other surface. To me, just because no one has what it takes to consistently beat Nadal on clay doesn’t mean they are weak. It means Nadal is THAT good. And it’s not like he goes out there and takes the matches in 3 straight, low scoring sets. On the contrary there have been some excellent fights.

    In my opinion, what gives him his greatness on clay is

    1. From the age of 10, he only played on clay, and has no problem with movement on its tricky surface.
    2. He uses a tremendous amount of top spin so that the ball bounces up high, which is not only annoying to have to constantly return, but will also wear out his opponent’s arm from having to hit the ball constantly at that height – especially a high backhand.
    3. He is incredibly fit and fast on the court, and will give it his all to get to every shot.
    4. He has so many clay court wins, his confidence alone can kick ass.
    5. He loves the game itself – especially on clay.
    6. He intimidates players on clay, and that just like a killer serve, is a great weapon in tennis – no matter the surface.

    This is a really great post though 🙂

    1. * on #1, I had combined two thoughts in one sentence but not completely. It should read:

      1. From age 10-15, he played only on clay, so he has no problem with movement on its tricky surface.


    2. Hey Jen,

      Thanks for reading and the detailed comment.

      I think you’ve misinterpreted the article a little bit. Perhaps you might have missed out the part where I said that I was trying to ridicule the weak era argument that some people put forward when trying to belittle Federer’s achievements, by saying it’s as ridiculous as saying that Nadal was benefiting from a similar weak era in clay.

      IFF someone is STILL going to stick to the point of view, then by their very own parallel (and flawed) logic, as this article has tried to put forward, they will have to agree with it on Nadal’s end as well. The point the article is trying to make is that the weak era argument is flawed for both.

      Having said that, you should scroll a fair bit up and have a look at some of the numbers and reasoning that Sid has put forward in support of the weak clay era (not the point of the article). Worth a read.

      PS: You have a nice blog going. Great work. I enjoyed browsing through it.

  56. “You can’t write it down to a weak era”
    Are you kidding? It’s clear that the Safin/Hewitt/Roddick era was much weaker than today’s era, or most others for that matter.
    Let’s compare the GS finals opposition of both Federer and Nadal……..
    In all GS finals, the average world ranking of Nadal’s opponent has been 5.6. Fed’s has been 16.3. Already we have a big discrepancy.
    The average difference between Nadal’s ranking and his final’s opponent has been 3.6, Fed’s has been 14.7.
    Nadal’s finals opponent has held an average of 6.3 GS titles at the time of the final. Fed’s have just 1.2.
    Nadal’s opponent’s have held the No 1 ranking an average of 93.4 weeks prior to the final. Fed’s have for just 14.2.
    Nadal’s opponents have been in the top five an average of 183.9 weeks prior to the final. Fed’s have for 82.3.
    Nadal’s opponents have been in the top ten an average of 204.3 weeks prior to the final. Fed’s have for 122.2.
    Clearly Nadal has had the tougher road to GS glory.

    Fed’s last four grand slam titles have come when Nadal has either not participated through injury or has been unexpectedly knocked out early – once by Soderling at the French and once by Rosol at Wimbledon. Both are considered two of the biggest upsets in GS history. So Fed has been lucky in this respect.
    8 of Fed’s GS titles have come against opponents who have yet to win a GS. Nadal’s faced 4 such opponents.
    Up until Nadal proved his all round capabilities by winning his first GS title away from clay, 2008 Wimbledon, Fed had already won 12 of his 17 titles. In that time his finals opponent’s records were even weaker than detailed above with an average world ranking of nearly 30! So 16 of Fed’s GS titles have been won against fairly low ranked opposition or where Nadal has been absent or knocked out and against players who are past their best or have yet to reach the peaks of their careers.
    In 9 of Nadal’s 14 GS titles his opponent had already won 4 or more GS titles. Only ONCE has Fed had to face an opponent with 4 or more titles and that was against a 35yo Agassi who would retire the next year.
    Federer achieved the career grand slam at 28, Nadal did it at 24. Which belies your statement that Nadal was slower to achieve all round player status.
    Nadal, and most other greats of the game, won their first GS title very early on. It took Federer until he was nearly 22 to win his first. Why? Because a 30 something Agassi was still dominating the game in Fed’s early years, Kuerten was winning the French and Sampras was still adding to his GS singles titles. Once the Sampras/Agassi era had truly ended, Fed found his opportunity and exploited it.
    On a side note, Federer actually lost an exhibition match to Sampras several years after Sampras had retired, it was one of four they played and the other three were won by Fed BUT were very tight matches, Fed certainly didn’t dominate like a world number one should against a retired player!

    Finally, away from grand slams, their career head to head records against their biggest rivals are:
    Nadal leads 23-10, Djokovic trails 17-18, Murray is equal at 11-11, Hewitt trails 9-18, Roddick trails 3-21, Safin trails 2-10.
    Federer trails 10-23, Djokovic trails 19-23, Murray trails 5-15, Hewitt trails 4-7, Roddick trails 3-7, Safin trails 0-2.

    Other achievements:
    Fed – 80 career titles, no Davis Cup titles, year end No 1 five times.
    Rafa – 64 career titles, 4 Davis Cup titles, year end No 1 three times.

    In almost EVERY respect, Nadal bests Federer in terms of the quality of his opposition while also dominating his opposition to a similar degree.
    In terms of which player is more likely to add to their career GS titles, I don’t think anyone would foolishly suggest Federer is more likley. Nadal will most likely add another couple of French titles and possibly another of the other three which would bring his career total to 17, equal with Fed.

    There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Nadal deserves to be placed above Fed from an historical standpoint when talking about the game’s greatest players without putting a simple perspective on the argument ie “well Federer has more GS titles!”.
    But does that mean Nadal is the GOAT?
    Well I could go on for another few paragraphs detailing the career achievements of Rod Laver – 200 singles titles, 11 GS titles, 8 pro slam titles, 2 calendar year grand slams, one pro calendar year grand slam, 7 years ending as world No 1, 5 Davis Cups and 9 doubles/mixed GS titles. A record which stands well above the two players above but let’s leave that for another day………….

  57. This is article not written by any professioal ; rather by some huge fan of federer. I respect roger & no doubt he is best player but why to show how low rafa is ? why cant you accept every single slam except wimbledon 2010 he has to beat either of roger and djoko….
    what rafa shown is far above than you can imagine and please author can you tell me which was strong era on clay ? I am enthusiastic to know the answer. why clay is treated as outside of tennis ? I think before rafa there were never such discrimination between clay other court on large scale. This guy owned clay….he can beat novak or federer even if he is not 100% on roland .i have never witnessed such dominance ever ………
    why cant you expect fact that he is best clay court player ever……..what more he need to do to prove that?

  58. One of the most biased articles on the Web I have ever read. It is sad to see author twisting and turning the facts to assert that Roddick, Hewitt, Davydenko, Nalbandian, Ferrero and others gave Federer the same level of fight as Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Potro or even Tsonga have given.
    I have had no doubts in Federer’s talent ever, but to manipulate facts and show half the picture is utterly ridiculous. So let me put it in a more clearer way:

    Just for simplicity, I will keep the whole analysis limited to Grand Slams, coz that’s the popular way of gauging Tennis players’ career. I will divide the years in two parts, the WEAK ERA (2003-2007)- because 2003 was the year Fed won his 1st Grand Slam till 2007 – when Nadal broke his monopoly in Wimbledon and next the GOLDEN ERA (2008-12), though it is still continuing, have kept same period of 5 years for comparison.

    Below is the list of Semi finalists during the two periods mentioned:

    Player Number of Semi Finals
    Federer 16
    Roddick 8
    Nadal 5
    Hewitt 4
    Davydenko 4
    Nalbandian 4
    Agassi 4
    Djokovic 3
    Ferrero 3
    Safin 2
    Henman 2
    Johanson 2
    Baghdatis 2
    Coria 2
    Grosjean 2
    Gaudio 1
    Ancic 1
    Puerta 1
    Ginepri 1
    Keifer 1
    Ljubicic 1
    Youzhny 1
    Haas 1
    Gonzales 1
    Gasquet 1
    Ferrer 1
    Bjorkman 1
    Schuttler 1
    Ferreira 1
    Costa 1
    Verkerk 1
    Philipousis 1

    The so called at par opponents of Federer in this period: Hewitt, Davydenko, Nalbaldian, Safin and Ferrero reached 4,4,4,2 and 3 Grand Slam semi finals out of the 20 Grand Slams played from 2003-2007. In fact, Nadal managed higher than them even that time, 5 in total. Only Roddick was an opponent who posed some threat to Federer with 8 semi appearances.
    As for Sampras and Rafter, you want to count them in !!! Sampras made his last Semis in 2002, where he won his last slam too and Rafter in 2001 Wimbledon and still the author wants to take their names.
    All in all 32 players appeared in the 80 semi final spots of 2003-2007. The average Semi final appearances of (Roddick, Hewitt, Davydenko, Nalbandian, Ferrero, Safin) was only 4.1 during this period.

    Note: Federer won 12 of his 17 Grand Slams during this period. (2.4 GS per year from 2003 to 2007)

    Now lets move on to the GOLDEN PERIOD (2008-2012), and still continuing:

    Player Number of Semi Finals
    Federer 16
    Nadal 14
    Djokovic 14
    Murray 11
    Tsonga 4
    Berdych 3
    Ferrer 3
    Roddick 2
    Potro 2
    Soderling 2
    Safin 1
    Schuttler 1
    Gonzales 1
    Melzer 1
    Cilic 1
    Verdasco 1
    Haas 1
    Monflis 1
    Youzhny 1

    During this period, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray reached 14,14 and 11 GS semis from the 20 GS from 2008-12, an average of 13. Even when you count Tsonga in, he too reached semis 4 times in this period, the same number as of Hewitt, Nalbandian and Davydenko in 2003-08 period.

    All in all only 19 players appeared in the 80 semi final spots of 2008-2012. The average Semi final appearances of (Nadal, Djokovic, Tsonga, Berdych and Murray) was only 9.2 during this period.

    So this was the level of competency Federer had to face during this period.

    Note: Federer won only 5 of his 17 Grand Slams during this period. (1 GS per year from 2008 to 2012).

    Even 5 GS during this time is a lot to anybody’s name, but 12 before did have a piece of luck in it.

    And the argument that age has taken its toll on Federer is the biggest bullshit i have heard. Federer was only 27 in 2008 when Nadal dethroned him at Wimbledon and am hearing from that time that age is the only factor for Fed’s losses. Djokovic, Nadal and Murray belong to the same age group and haven’t seen a single 22-25 year old beating them at GS finals while they already were winning GS before 25.

    I still never doubt in Fed’s ability, his smooth silky way of Royal Tennis, he had talent which no other tennis player would ever possess in my view, but it is also true that he did have a easier path than NADAL, who by the virtue of his strong will power, adapting skill and Never say die attitude has managed to keep the fearsome trio of Fed-Djokovic-Murray at bay for such a long period.

    That’s why, if I had to choose one player when my life is at stake, it has to be the Brutal NADAL not the Gracious Fed and that’s why NADAL >>> Federer Forever.

    1. It’s funny that you (Nadal>>>Federer) say that article is biased, and then you go ahead a write a completely biased and stupid post, where you manipulate facts.

      You are clearly ignorant about tennis, and you obviously didn’t watch tennis when Federer was in his prime (2003-2007). I feel sorry for you.

  59. Federer in 2008 was younger than Djokovic is now, yet he managed to win 0 Masters 1000 titles, lost at the WTF and won only 1 slam and was beaten by a 20 year old Djokovic (younger than Fed was when he won his first slam) and a 22 year old old Nadal (about 3 months older than Fed when he won his first slam) twice.

    That right there represents all the evidence needed. Federer’s contemporaries were weak in comparison to Djokovic and Nadal who have to compete with each other plus Federer for slams, while Fed won the majority of his slams (12/17) competing with inferior weaker players and a Djoko/Nadal younger than he was when he won his first slam (pre-prime).

    It would be rather ignorant to not recognize this as having had a role in his highly inflated slam count.

    If Nadal and Fed were the same age instead of Nadal and Djoker, you can bet Djoker would have the most slams of the 3 now. If Djoko and Fed were the same age, it would be Nadal.

    1. A prime Djokovic is 4-4 in H2H vs Federer in their last 8 meetings, which includes a tough five setter at Wimbledon. Imagine the damage Federer would’ve done if he was in his prime.

      Might I add in 2011 Djokovic was on a ridiculous run, only to be ended by Federer at Paris. That same year he was owning Nadal. He would later win 2012 Wimbledon, beating Djokovic again on the way, and getting back to No.1. All this, well after his prime years.

      By the way, good job cherry picking 2008, when Federer had a down year, including being diagnosed for mono, after a ridiculous 2004-07 run, and the surface at AO 2008 was switched from the faster rebound ace, to the slower Plexicushion.

      At least he lost with grace, and didn’t resort to timeouts, time wasting, and illegal coaching.

      One of the most important things you’re forgetting is that surfaces were vastly different before 2008. The faster surfaces are actually conducive to a majority of players, as opposed to the slower ones these days. That’s a separate discussion altogether.

      I agree with Ajay’s conclusion. 🙂

  60. Dude, Brilliantly written article… it was like i was reading my mind… coudn’t agree more…
    Just the slight correction – Hamburg 07 final was won by roger 2-6 6-2 6-0…
    & to add a bit more to a great article… Just compare the court speeds & ball size of Wimbledon 07-08…
    need i say roger lost in 08??? Same shots beings played… nadal ending up returning most of them in 08!!!!

  61. Is it 2017? Am I reading an article from 2014? Roger Federer won another slam, Did he? Oh wait he won two back to back master 1000 as well…. Aah no he cannot he is not suppose to win in this era :P. Hey wait Murray and Djokovic are not fit…..Oh wait Rafael Nadal in matches vs roger was not at his best….Fhew……. A Weak era player of around 2005’s has won another slam in 2017. Now that he has won in 2017 again the weak era begins 😛 lol ahahaha…..

    Its actually ridiculous the discussions over the weak era 😛 …. To be honest, I Absolutely Adore Roger Federer….. I have utmost Respect for Rafael Nadal…… I totally am in awe with Novak djokovic’s dominance……. Murray’s Speed is outstanding…… Safin (many people dont respect him i dont know why) was the player i started following tennis(arguably most underrated player)…… And than comes Mr.Stan who out of the blue has won 3 slams :P….. Tennis is such a wonderful sport with so much hardwork, But than we non proffesionals have a tendency to demean achievements of all these great players(specifically pointed to people who demean Roger’s achievement….. I would never disrespect any other players achievement just to put my personal fav on top……

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