Saturday, October 18, 2008

Beginning of the End?

Our very own tangerine wonders if we're witnessing the death of the Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal era.

I'd say there is no Federer-Nadal era.

But if there is one then I suppose we are. Raja isn't going to win 18 Slams, as many folks predicted a year ago. He may not even tie Pete Sampras at 14, despite being a mere title away.

You can see it in the way he walks.

Rafa is tired. Will he be a dominant No. 1? I doubt it, but he's only 22, so...

He could also take the road Andy Roddick took post Wimbledon 2004. And since Rafa played break points today like Andy does, converting a mere 5 of 22, it's not out of the question.

But I doubt it.

You can't win Wimbledon and Roland Garros back-to-back and not be tired. He'll play Paris and Shanghai, finish the year at the top of the charts and hope his body and mind recover in time to make a strong showing in Melbourne. For the foreseeable future, it's going to be difficult to defeat him in best-of-five. He needs a breakthrough (read: a championship) Down Under.

If Melbourne 2009 fails him...

Having thought about it while writing this, I think the Federer-Nadal era, if there was one, ended on July 6, 2008.

26 comments:

tangerine said...

"Having thought about it while writing this, I think the Federer-Nadal era, if there was one, ended on July 6, 2008."

Craig, I totally agree. What we saw at Wimbledon this year was the pinnacle of the Federer-Nadal rivalry. Two gifted athletes at the height of their powers. With the passing of the baton to Nadal as world number one, and with the new generation coming of age and making a lot of noise, there is nowhere for their rivalry to go now.

It's funny isn't it? Roger's and Rafa's rivalry has been going on for years, but the day the mainstream media and casual fans finally woke up and discovered how great it was, and the one time Sports Illustrated thought it relevant enough to put on their cover....was the day it came to an end.

kraa said...

This piece was meant to be a bit sarcastic, right? Otherwise I don't get why we are reading so much from these fall indoor results...

There certainly was Federer era and it probably is over for good, but he will get another GS or two. Roger is still well ahead of Pete... Nadal is still very young - I don't see why his time would be over. Right now he is tired and playing on his least favorite surface. As for the future, I believe Murray not Djokovic will be his main rival for GS glory.

rabbit said...

I of course disagree. Craig, I just want to make sure of one thing. For the future record, you are predicting that Federer will not win 18 majors, right? If he does, will he then earn some respect in your eyes?

Karen said...

I strongly disagree as well. The Federer Era was from February 2004 until Nadal took the No. 1 spot in 2008. For my money even if Roger never gets to 18 GS, he has brought a level of tennis that some players can only dream of. He is 27 years old. Old, in the world of tennis. There are younger, hungrier players coming up on the men's side. It is also happening on the women's side as well. The 2 best players for the USA are 27 and 28 years old respectively. Other countries did the right thing and invested in their young people and they are now seeing the fruits of that commitment. Even Switzerland has someone else to look out for. As a Fed fan I expected this to happen. We had a player who played exquisite tennis on all surfaces. He was a threat everywhere he went and for most players he is still the man to beat, with all due respect to Nadal. Nadal, has to my money not proven himself on hard courts. As soon as players figure him out, like what happened today or find a chink in his armour, whether it is fatigue, his backhand, forehand, movement whatever it is - players will study and they will change their tactics. Soemone posted that the player that everyone should fear is Murray and while I cannot stand his attitude (which to his credit is more positive these days), he plays an excellent type of tennis. You can literally see him thinking and strategising out there today. He basically out thought Roger today, just as how Gilles out Rafaed Rafa. I do not think it is a changing of the guard per se, just that players are now stepping up and improving. The proof of everything is in the full flow of a season. What happens to you from January straight through to November? Are you consistent? Are you able to play best of 5 set matches every other day and still have something left in the tank? Can you maintain? All well and good to make noise when everyone else is tired - talk to me next year ...

cate said...

How can someone be so negative after a joint semi-final loss? Isn't it that in the AO08 as well as another North American tour they lost at the same time, in the same round?

And "Federer-Nadal era"? I think it ended when Rafa became number 1, honestly. The pressure was off everyone when that happened. Roger could breathe easier, Rafa finally was at the top. Not to mention the other guys had the chance to win titles as well.

Why are we to listen what talkingheads say? 18 GS titles by next year, come on. The guy said he wants to equal THEN surpass Sampras. Surpass does not automatically mean 18. The expectation we have of Roger (AND Rafa) is merely formulated by the media , most probably by people who have not even held a racket all their lives.

And Rafa? Haha... it's Roger's fault that from now on, every ATP #1 will be expected to OWN the spot for 3+ years. People seem to forget how long a time Rafa stayed at #2 before he clinched the top vis-a-vis the time Roger spent at #2 before Feb 2, 2004.

What happened to Andy Roddick is also the fault of media... American media. The same with what is happening to every other American player, juniors or professional. Toooo much publicity for their own good and they don't deliver as much as expected from them.

Craig Hickman said...

If I'm snappy, I apologize in advance, but...

rabbit, Karen, and kraa, you don't seem to be following me.

I said I don't believe there was a Federer-Nadal era.

I never said there hasn't been a Federer era.

I'm not blind.

::

rabbit, please stop looking for some proclamation from me about Federer that will suit you. It probably won't come. But even if it does, in the meantime, please stop tripping: I respect Roger Federer. I've said so or many occasions right here on this blog.

I just don't adore him like you do and I never will.

::

kraa, I'm not being sarcastic. Just musing aloud.

Raja and Rafa didn't lose to players who haven't played a lot of tennis this year. Both Simon and Murray have been deep in big events much of the year.

They're all tired. But there's a special exhaustion in the body and mind of the winner of that rare spring/summer double.

I'm not saying that Rafa's time is over. I said he's only 22, so...

Karen said...

Well said Cate. I think as tennis fans we should be happy that our game is finally getting attention from the media, albeit a little overblown, but attention none the less. As a matter of fact the same can be said of any sports. I remember when ARod went to the Yankees it was like the coming of a new era. Ever since he got there, the Yankees have not won a World Series Championships and for the first time that I can recall, they have not made the playoffs. And this with the so-called best hitter in the business. Right now as a fan of tennis, I am just happy that I get to see tennis on the tv, tennis being written about by the mainstream media, and regardless of whether it is about Roger, or Nadal or whomever, the fact is tennis is getting attention, which is what I think we all clamoured for.
As to Cate's assertion that everyone who gets to No. 1 will be expected to hold it for 3 years etc, that is so not going to happen. I dont think we will ever see that again, that plus players winning 3 or more majors per year. Players have gotten so much stronger and faster and they are improving by leaps and bounds. I think right now we are going to be entering the era of someone atop the ATP rankings every 6 months or so, just as is happening with the WTA.
For my money I think the player who may sit atop the rankings for quite a bit of time is Andy Murray. To see him this morning out thinking Roger was just too much for this Roger fan to see. He has improved so much over the past 6 months and if he continues like this and remains relatively injury free, I could see him atop the rankings very soon and holding it for a little bit.

Beth said...

Tennis is like a revolving door. The older, seasoned players eventually get called to task by the younger, hungrier players. It's been this way for decades. No surprises there. I think the Simon-Rafa match was a perfect example of this. And, yes, Rafa is tired - who the hell wouldn't be after the year he's had? (and Federer too) But Simon played very well and had a staying power I did not think he possessed. There will be more Rafa-Roger matches and, yes, Roger will certainly win at least another few slams. There is change in the air, you can feel it and see it as the tournaments go by.....but Rafa and Roger still have plenty of gas in their tanks....they'll just start having to use it more wisely perhaps.

Beth said...

I totally disagree that we will not see another player hold the #1 for 3 consecutive years. 10+ years ago no one could see Roger Federer coming and look what's happened? How can anyway say, with any shred of certainty, that another great player will not come along and be able to hold that #1 spot for 3 years or more? No one can say that. Anything is possible. Someone will take the reigns, it's just a matter of who and when.

cate said...

Well, I didn't say that EVERY player will stay there 3+ years or so. What I said was because of Roger, the media expects the next #1's to do the same. I don't see 237 weeks again from any other player but I give someone a year or two tops on number one... and no, NOT consecutive. Probably just finishing the year as number one.

As for a Federer era... I believe there WAS a Federer era. But the "Federer-Nadal era"... I don't think so. If there was, it ended when Rafa became #1. The chase ended.

kraa said...

I agree with beth about #1 players. In fact I am absolutely convinced that we will see at least one dominant #1 player (8+ GS, 3+ years at #1) every decade.

Also if Roger doesn't beat Pete's record someone else will. 14 is just not such an unachievable target. Start at 19 and win on average 2 GS a year for a total of 18 - sooner or later someone will do it. It has already been done in women's game (Court, Graf and Navratilova) and IMO the main reasons why it hasn't happened in ATP is the low popularity of AO in 70-ties and 80-ties as well as RG being monopolized by one trick ponies. It's not like that anymore so we can expect more not less dominant players.

Karen said...

While we cannot say with certainty that someone will come and dominate the sport the way Roger has, I just do not see it happening. Right now with the way technology is going, everyone is now new and improved. I got myself a HDTV and you can basically see the ball flying through the air the way how these men and women are now hitting the ball. Racquet heads have gotten a lot bigger and players are getting stronger stronger in an effort to keep up with those at the top. What eventually happens is that players in using this new technology are now prone to injury because of the physical exertions on their bodies. Can you ever recall a time in tennis when so many players are getting injured with injuries that are affecting their joints most of the time. Rafa is 22 years old and he has been strapping his knees for the past year. Sharapova 21, torn rotator cuff, Serena, constantly having her ankles taped. JJ, list too long to name here and the list goes on and on and on. The physicality of the game these days does not, in my opinion, open the door for any one player to dominate the game. One of the reason why Roger has been able to last this long is because of the type of game that he plays and the fact that he has not succumbed to the bigger racquets, this new luxilon string etc. Everyone is serving harder, faster, running harder, courts are getting slower in order to increase the length of rallies, players are returning 140 mph serves by chipping it back, not because they are that good, but because the technology allows them to do that. Unfortunately, in my opinion if the players continue to play like they are doing, roadmap or no roadmap, we will see an increasing amount of players with injuries and no one being able to sustain a dominance atop the rankings.
For my money if Roger continues to play until 2012 as he says he will, I can see him winning at least 16 majors. He is at 13 right now and of course he will pass Pete, and if he does 1 per year, he should be able to get to it, barring injuries etc.

kraa said...

Well, I don't have a crystal ball but IMO all this talk about things being different these days is greatly exagerated. When Pete won his last GS title most pundits thought no one would come close to his mark for a long, long time.

BTW WTA is over due for a dominant player - someone with Serena's physical gifts and mental strength, Justine's single minded focus and Elena's "indestructible" body.

Matthew said...

This was the most idiotic post I've ever read, anywhere, and I'm not even a fan of Roger or Rafa. Wow. Dear God.

I may not return to this blog.

tangerine said...

I'm very surprised by the negative reaction to Craig's (and mine?) comments. I don't think either one of us was proclaiming Roger and/or Rafa "over and done." Unless I'm misconstruing something.

Personally, I do believe there was a Federer era (my guy Roddick was a victim of it). I also believe there was a Federer-Nadal era. I think that fact will become more apparent when these two near retirement, or perhaps when two others take over world No. 1 and 2 and fans will groan and reminisce over the good old days of Fed-Nadal.

Craig Hickman said...

Tangy I'm no longer surprised by anything.

People bring what they bring to the table and respond accordingly.

Matthew: Good Riddance.

rabbit said...

Tangy, just for clarification, I'm not at all offended by the notion that the Federer-Nadal era is nearing the end. I also agree there was a Federer era for about 3 years and a Federer-Nadal era, say, for about one year. Although Nadal was never the omnipotent presence that Federer was in 2004-06 non-clay court seasons, they together hauled off a huge percentage of the ranking points in 2007. 2008 is different on that criterion alone and is sufficient indication that the Federer-Nadal era might be over.

What I am grossly offended by is the following paragraph:

"But if there is one then I suppose we are. Raja isn't going to win 18 Slams, as many folks predicted a year ago. He may not even tie Pete Sampras at 14, despite being a mere title away.

You can see it in the way he walks."

He wins a grand slam in the last tournament and now loses to a good player, playing good tennis, in Madrid, and suddenly he isn't capable of winning some more slams? You can see that in the way he walks? To me, this smacks very much of disrespect. Didn't he just show in New York and the first few rounds here that he isn't intimidated by the younger players? I can agree that he may not dominate in the future but just discounting his past as if it is of no consequence in the future irritates me a lot...

And the most irritating part is that if he does contradict the predictions made here, they will be attributed to some fluke or conspiracy.

rabbit said...

And for the record, I also disagree with the notion that Nadal's 2009 campaign or future campaigns will be a ruin if he fails in the next Australian Open.

Beth said...

rabbit, I absolutely agree with your last post about Nadal and the Australian Open. I see no connection to his future success in '09 as directly linked to that tournament. He did pretty damn well in '08 without winning it.

Beth said...

I also think Federer absolutely will surpass Sampras and he does have at least 2 slams left in him. No doubt about it. I would be SHOCKED if he did not win two more in the course of his remaining career - and I am not a rabid Roger fan - but look at the man. His talent is nearly indescribable it is so artistic. There have been some great tennis players who have had their down times and rebounded beautifully. Can't see why Roger wouldn't be able to do this.

Craig Hickman said...

Toughen up.

I didn't say Raja wouldn't win more Slams. I said he won't win 18 and he's might not win 14.

If he ends his career with 16 then what will you say, rabbit?

That I was some disrespectful hater because I don't kiss his ass?

Please.

Be offended. But stop the madness.

I'm not in the mood.

MMT said...

I agree that there has not been a Roger/Rafa era. This year has been a Rafa year, but that's it. The era belongs to Roger, no doubt about it, not even close.

Rafa will have to do more of the same as 2008 for 3 to 4 more years to compare to Roger, Pete, McEnroe, Borg, Connors, Laver, Gonzales, etc. Basically, the Gods of tennis history.

Roger's era has certianly ended; it ended the day he lost the Australian Open semi-final to Djokovic. I think he will get to 14, but 15 is going to be a real tough road for him. The other players are just catching up to him, and he'll have a hard time putting together 2 weeks like he did in NY.

Helen W said...

I guess it comes down to what you comprise in the term era, but to me there definitely is a Federer-Nadal era, in the sense that for 3+ years they have been No 1 and No 2, and major rivals. During that time there were virtually no other contenders. To me that comprises an era.

EXT. 14 said...

after Madrid cup, i could see new players arised.

one day, raja will retire, i will be pretty sad.

MMT said...

You could argue that the Sampras era was really a Sampras Agassi era, even though Sampras is ahead of Agassi 2 to 1 in slams and was year end #1 6 times.

You could argue that the Borg era was really a Borg-Connors-McEnroe, even though Borg was #1 3 years in a row, won the Wimbledon/French double 3 years in a row while Connors won just 2 slams during the period Borg won his 11, and McEnroe 4.

Every dominating champion has their kryptonite, and for Federer it has been Nadal, but their results, as good as Nadal's have been, are incomparable, 2008 notwithstanding.

For me, from 2004-2007, there was Federer and everyone else. Nadal was a consistent #2, but the era still belongs to Federer.

dapxin said...

@craig,

I have been following your blog over the last few weeks....you dont fear to throw punches. aw. good game :)

On topic: Nobody knows tomorrow.

& wimbledon 08 is as poignant in tennis, as will the hour Obama takes the oath of office in Washington DC. The whole world will be watching...

Bring it on.