Monday, February 09, 2009

Quote For The Day

"I'm getting tired of this question. When someone has 13 grand slams and 14 Masters titles, there is no discussion about who is the best." --Rafael Nadal


Pamela said...

Exactly Rafa. I get tired of them asking him too. What do they expect from him? Are they expecting sudden arrogance and for him to say "you're right, I own him, no?" lol

He does - he's clearly in Fed's head, but still .. enough with the media bait game. Sheesh.

I'm not sure why he mentions the Masters though, because he has nearly as many and 5 years younger.

Craig Hickman said...

Covering his bases, Pamela.

sic said...

Rafa is dogged in his humility.

It's pretty obvious that he has become the best "current" player. But he has a lot of respect for the long-term achievements of Roger (and others) and is a bit literal minded in how he gauges "the best" (strictly number of titles), so I guess until he wins 14 grand slams, he'll never consider himself "the best" even if he does pull of a calendar slam this year.

In the end his humility, which I do not think is false, helps him continue to grow as a player. So, Roger is the best!

ps) nice blog!

MMT said...

This is unreal - here, the guy has the best year of his career in 2008, starts out 2009 winning the AO, he's well on his way to the GOAT status, he's finally getting some recognition which so many have called for, and now the question is baiting?

What exactly is it that the media is supposed to have done - recognize him as the best all along, but never put the question to him?

There's really no winning with this crowd. If Rafa doesn't think he's the best, then he's humble. And if the media down crown him as such, they're biased, and if they put the question to him, then they're baiting him.

What in the world?

sic said...


straw man much?

oddman said...

So, MMT, what do you want to hear from his lips?

'I am the best, no?'
'No one can beat me now.'
'I know I can beat him on any surface.'
'I have a great record against anybody right now, so it doesn't really matter who I play in the final.'

Is that what you want? BTW, those last two are actual quotes from Roger Federer.

Tell me, MMT, do YOU recognize Rafa as the best all along?

Helen W said...

MMT, his words were:

I'm getting tired of this question.

What I hear him saying is that he has answered this question many times already, and really does not see why the media keep asking it again. Some people would even call repetitively asking a question that has already been answered baiting.

oddman said...

Absolutely, Helen W.

Craig Hickman said...

Thanks sic. Keep commenting.

rabbit said...

Agreed, Helen_W.

MMT said...

I had to look up "straw man", and I guess by the responses, it was interpreted that I was referring to Nadal's comment, when in fact I was referring to the following post:

"...enough with the media bait game. Sheesh."

I just can't understand what the harm is in putting the question to him? And moreover, I can't understand why it is that on the one hand, the media are labeled biased and ignorant of his accomplishments, and then when his accomplishments merit discussion in the GOAT question, suddenly they are now, "baiting" him.

Either he deserves to be in the discussion, in which case it's perfectly normal for the question to be asked, or he doesn't, in which case, there should be no complaints that he doesn't get his due consideration.

You can't have it both ways.

You cannot congratulate him for his humility, and then complain that he's not getting deserved consideration. You cannot slam the media for focusing all their attention on Federer (based on his results, by the way) and then slam them for putting the natural question that comes from winning slams on all surfaces, 3 of the last 4 and reaching #1.

Make up your mind, already.

MMT said...

Oh, and to answer your question Oddman; no, I do not recognize him as the best all along. Only the best over the last year and 2 months, as his RECORD would indicate.

If he reaches double digit slams, then I think it makes sense to put him in that category, but I don't take offense to the assertion that we may well be witnessing the best in the game in the making. To the contrary, I've said as much, and will continue to do so as long as his results, as have Federer's, merit it.

I just find it amazing that no matter how you cut it, you're either dissing him for not including him in the discussion, or your're baiting him for doing so.

In any case, if anyone can handle the "pressure" it's HIM, so what's the harm?

MMT said...

Helen W - have they been baiting Federer as well, or is he just an arrogant SOB who can't wait to tell everyone how great he is? For that matter, Oddman - are those comments incorrect? Is there another player on tour who has beaten Nadal 6 times? Is there another player on tour who's beaten him on all 3 surfaces?

Nadal is being asked the question over and over again because his RESULTS NOW merit the question. And there would be nothing wrong with him indicating that his ambition is to be the best ever. And if it isn't, or if he just doesn't want to say it, he's well within in rights to do so. And if it helps him improve as a player - great - maybe I'll have the fortune of having observed with my own eyes, 4 of the best players in the history of the game (Borg, Sampras, Federer and Nadal). Nothing would please me more.

But with every slam he wins, he increasingly merits the consideration, and as such merits the question, and that doesn't constitute baiting. Unless of course, you want everyone in the media to collude with his mental approach to the game and avoid asking him the question. I submit that he doesn't need that. He's strong enough mentally to handle it.

Nobody's out to get Nadal.

tangerine said...

I don't blame Rafa for being tired of that question. I'm tired of it too. I'm tired of how the media is constantly trying to bait him into saying anything remotely negative about Roger. From now on, Rafa should dismiss all those questions with "I've already answered that many times" and move on to the next one.

Craig Hickman said...

I think the media baits Federer all the time. I think Federer likes taking the bait.

It's the media's job to bait.

Each player handles it differently.

sic said...

"You cannot congratulate him for his humility, and then complain that he's not getting deserved consideration."

Um, yes you can; there's no inherent contradiction in those two statements.

MMT, the media, especially the sports media, is fairly sensationalistic on the whole, so yes they bait Nadal, they bait Federer, they baited Sampras and McEnroe before them. It's how they create "news".

When favorite players have to endure it, fans tend to get testy. I do think that Rafa handles this aspect of professional sports far better than say, Novak Djokovic, and slightly better than Federer, in that he is very rarely sucked into made up controversies.

tristann said...

Straw man indeed.

I do not recall many Nadal fans bemoaning the fact that Nadal wasn't being recognized as the potential GOAT. In fact, many have become quite sick of the term in the last few years.

Most fans have resented the lack of recognition of Nadal as much more than a 'dirtballer', ball basher, grinder, etc. Take your pick.

The media are trying to get him to say that he has eclipsed Federer. He may, he may not do so. But as things stand now, Fed's accomplishments are greater and Nadal is tired of stating the obvious.

Helen W said...

MMT asks:

Helen W - have they been baiting Federer as well, or is he just an arrogant SOB who can't wait to tell everyone how great he is?

Yes and yes.


oddman said...

MMT said:, I do not recognize him (Nadal) as the best all along.'

Exactly!!!!!!! (give MMT a cookie!)

Neither does Rafa. He doesn't think he's the best. Which is why he keeps answering the way he does. Which is why he's getting tired of this question. Which could be considered baiting, by repetition. *Neither does Rafa, MMT.*

MMT, those comments (Fed's) are not incorrect. It's a matter of perception, though. Some say 'Fed's just being honest', others say 'Fed sounds arrogant'. Depends on what you prefer.

I agree with Craig - Fed loves (or can't help) taking the bait. Rafa won't, and it seems to bug some people that he won't say anything too controversial or anything too self-promoting.

Rafa's been answering these kinds of questions for years now, esp. after his FO wins - always with the same response. It seems the media are always amazed when Rafa beats Federer. Whatever, if Rafa truly believes Fed is the best, or if it's some devious plot to lull Federer, or something else, Rafa has said clearly in the past (many times) that he thinks Federer is better than him. One gets tired of repeating oneself. Don't you, MMT?

I have absolutely no problem with the media not crowning Rafa the best.

oddman said...

Snap, Helen W!

rabbit said...

Helen W - have they been baiting Federer as well, or is he just an arrogant SOB who can't wait to tell everyone how great he is?

Yes and yes.


Oh yeah, let's start hurling insults all around.

tangerine said...

Crap, I ran out of popcorn.

MMT said...

Rabbit - that "SOB" was my quote, which I said to make a point - not that I really think Federer is an arrogant SOB.

Now, given that Rafa has:

1) won slams on all surfaces (record with Connors, Wilander, Agassi - and not Federer)
2) ended the year ranked #1
3) held the ranking for 25 weeks
4) probably won't lose it w/in the next 25
5)has more slams than any player by age 22 since Bjorn Borg (a record)
6) already 4 times consecutively FO champion (yet another record he shares with Borg)
7) Won Wimbledon and the FO in the same year (a record with Borg, Laver and Budge)

Isn't it possible, just possible, that based on his RESULTS he's NOW being asked about his status as the best in the game, without qualification?

Does it have to be the media looking for a story, or simply recognizing the obvious, i.e. his results?

When he is congratulated for his humility, if you believe it to be genuine, then it is not logical for the media to have treated him on par with Federer if he himself doesn't see it that way, or at the very least, if Nadal doesn't take offense, I don't see why anyone else should.

Why are the media biased, but Nadal is humble, when they come to the exact same conclusiong about him career and results?

Why then is the media biased against him for accordingly giving to Federer more print space and attention?

Rafa has been saying Roger is he best player in the world repeatedly for 4 years with obvious reasons (well, obvious to everyone but Fed's detractors and Nadal's fanatics) but he's not been asked if he's the best in the world for the last 4 years - just in the last year given his results.

Now, let's look at their history - first 7 matches Rafa wins 6 of 7, then the next 7 matches Roger wins 5 of 7, and now, in the last 12 months, Rafa's won 5 in a row, but only the last 2 of those five have been on Federer's favored surface, so isn't it possible that a reasonable (not biased) person could reserve judgement that Rafa is, on all surfaces, the better player, until the last 2 results?

I know Rafa fans have believed it all along, but this belief could be viewed as more religious than logical, given all their results (not just H2H) and the pendulum swings in the rivarly(until, of course the last 13 months)

He may be getting tired of the question - I never stated I had a problem with that. But the concept that he's being baited by the media just because they're asking the question to me seems a bit paranoid.

Don't the results of the last 13 months merit the question? He's had great results for the last 5 years, no doubt, but can any year before 2008 and the last month compare to 2008 and the last month?

So doesn't it make sense that they're asking the question now?Maybe they are convinced by results that he's the best in the game without reservation, and they want to know if he agrees?

Maybe they're just giving him another chance to demonstrate his humility. But that they're baiting him into a controversy or falling in love with himself? I don't think that's the case.

And for the record, Federer has a tendency to reel off the records of everyone, not just himself. For example, in that same article, here's what he had to say about who was the favorite at the AO:

"He had an incredible season last year. I think he won the Olympics pretty comfortably, you know, crushed almost everybody on the way, and I thought he was playing well and at the US Open as well, and I thought what I saw of him playing in Doha as well he was playing that well as well. Just came up a few more, played well — best of three sets, it's over in a hurry. Let's not forget he didn't play the Masters, so he couldn't really show there."

If he had been citing his own record before the AO, I'd be hearing how arrogant he is - but here he's reeling off the accomplishments of his chief rival, so perhaps that's just his way of evaluating players, including himself. And if his self-evaluation comes off as raher rosy, isn't that just a reflection of his results?

And speaking of which, here's another quote that contradicts the idea that he's arrogant and necessarily wants to be considered the best in history:

"[We'll] probably never quite know who was the greatest of all‑time in tennis, and I think that's quite intriguing as well. Of course, if somebody goes off and wins 35 Grand Slams then you made your point as a player.

But, still, I think it's fantastic that they named the center court after Rod Laver who did so much for tennis. Yeah, I mean, 14 is more ‑‑ the new generation, the Open era, I could maybe become the greatest of all‑time of that era, but never of all‑time.

I'm very well aware of that. I think it's an incredible opportunity to do well."

Helen W said...


When he is congratulated for his humility, if you believe it to be genuine ...

So I take it you do not believe it to be genuine?

Why are the media biased, but Nadal is humble, when they come to the exact same conclusiong about him career and results?

The media, in my view, has been biased against the entire tour not named Roger Federer because they have devoted a disproportionate amount of attention to Federer, and have often belittled, and certainly ignored, his competition. And whether or not Nadal is humble has exactly SQUAT to do with whether or not the media is biased, so I fail to understand why you keep coupling these two ideas.

I know Rafa fans have believed it all along ...

Well then you know wrong. Most Rafa fans that I know just want a more even, rational assessment of him and his skills and accomplishments. Put another way, we are sick and tired of The Worshipful.

So doesn't it make sense that they're asking the question now?

Sure, they can ask the question. And it's been answered. Again and again and again. And again. What would you call it if someone kept asking you the same question that you had already answered, over and over and over again? I'd call it baiting. I'd call it disrespectful.

And speaking of which, here's another quote that contradicts the idea that he's arrogant ...

I'm sorry, one quote where Federer isn't arrogant is hardly enough to reach the conclusion that he is not an arrogant person, especially given so much evidence to the contrary.

rabbit said...

God, I am sick of gratuitous Roger-bashing and Rafa-bashing!

Yes, Roger was worshiped at one point for a reason. And yes, Rafa and not Roger is the one more deserving of worship right now. Can we not take a hint from these two individuals and keep things less confrontational?

sic said...


for all their length, your arguments don't convince in the least.

The media isn't "giving Rafa another opportunity" to show his humility. They are dying for a story, any story, but preferably a juicy controversy. Like Roger and Novak saying Murray shouldn't be the favorite at AO. Like Roger saying JJ isn't a worthy WTA #1, or suggesting that he lost Wimbledon because it was to dark to play, etc.

In reality, Rafa is pretty boring for sportswriters.

To put an end to this argument once and for all, I'll direct you to the AO final postmatch presser where Rafa answers the question with a very interesting take. To paraphrase: Well, I'm the same player I was 5 hours ago before the match started, no better, no worse. It's important to know who you are as a player at all times.

Pretty clear that his opinion hasn't changed, so why keep asking the same question? See above.

oddman said...

Very true, sic. Excellent points.

Before the final of the 2007 FO, Rafa cancelled his pre-match press interview, probably because the press had been constantly asking him if he thought he was better than Federer - every single presser they asked him this, and if he should be seeded number one, over and over. So, MMT, it isn't only 'NOW that he's been asked about his status as the best in the game' - it's been going on for a while. Baiting.

Helen W said...

rabbit, neither of them is worthy of being worshipped. They are athletes, not Gods. And yes, as human beings, they both have some admirable qualities that deserve our respect. But worship? I don't think so.

And therein lies a lot of the problem, IMHO. I characterize a lot of Federer fans as The Worshipful for a reason. More than any other player in the ATP, Federer attracts that kind of fan. And their continual outpouring is grating (to say the least) on people who don't worship at the same temple (or at all).

Their latest ploy seems to be to characterize Rafa as a doper. Their "proof"? That he had the temerity to criticize the latest dictates of WADA's drug testing protocols. And that he is well built. But one wonders if their attacks would be so virulent if he hadn't just beat Roger in a hard-court slam. After all, they hardly notice Murray, who made similar criticisms.

sic said...

It's called cognitive dissonance Helen. Some people cannot accept concrete evidence that disproves core beliefs, "facts" that they held to be undeniably true. Cognitive dissonance forces them to turn to increasingly implausible rationalizations in order to hang on to their original belief.

In this case, there are Federer fans who simply cannot accept that Nadal has slammed the lid shut on Federer's era of dominance and so they go down the list of "excuses" to invalidate this evident truth, e.g. Roger has mono, the courts have been slowed and, of course, the ever popular, Rafa's doping.

Let's start a new meme: Roger's been doping. How else can you explain his almost complete lack of injuries during his four year run of playing virtually every tournament until the final weekend? Humanly impossible! He's a doper!

Beth said...

I'm with you, Helen W., all the way on this. Thanks for putting it so nicely into words.

rabbit said...

Helen_W, I meant the tennis and not the individual. Just as pure tennis fans, how can you not be stunned by some of the shots both Roger and Rafa pull off? Yes, at times, their games are smooth and beautiful enough that it nearly demands worship from amateurs like us and even pro players. (I am speaking metaphorically of course, and Bracialli was joking in the last clip.) I think I said before that some of us watch tennis for the competition, and some of us just to watch great shotmaking taking place regardless of the competition. I and many others belong to the latter category and actually long to be captivated by stunning, imaginative, good-looking tennis.

I have said repeatedly before that I have no illusions about Roger as a person. Just as the latest instance, he was completely outside his right to bring up Jelena when talking about slams and the #1 spot. Yes, he is being defensive and at times arrogant as his dominance is being sullied. I still do generally believe he is a nice guy who wants the best for tennis and tries his best to satisfy fans. But I have no problem admitting his personality flaws.

But to use these to somehow denigrate his unparalleled accomplishments is just unfair. I have problems understanding how anyone who watched tennis from 2004 to 2007 can say that Roger is not one of the greatest tennis player. I mean there are shots that only he in the whole world can make (and same goes for Nadal). To me, the opinion that Roger does not deserve respect because Rafa was not at his absolute best in 05 and 06 is just totally ridiculous. Where were you in 05 and 06?

As for your comments about doping, I have nothing to say. It is totally irrelevant to the discussion; it is a little bit nonsensical, I feel, to bring in a radical, stupid opinion from other places and describe it as "their ploy".

(And as for this thread, I do not even know why the discussion got started. I agree with Rafa that it is tiresome to get asked the same question again and again. And as Helen_W and oddman say, I am sure the media would sensationalize the smallest comment from Rafa confirming his dominance. MMT, I think you are getting outraged by nothing.)

Helen W said...

rabbit, nowhere have I ever denigrated Roger's play, nor his accomplishments. In general, I don't think many fans, of Rafa or of other players, denigrate Roger's tennis achievements.

And I agree with you: while there are some characteristics of the man that I personally cannot admire, I think he is, by and large, a good guy.

I'm not sure why you feel I am somehow denigrating Roger's tennis achievements and skills.

What I am tired of is that cohort of his fans that I refer to as The Worshipful. (And, for the record, I do not comprise you in that group.) For years they have sneered at Rafa and his accomplishments, and find excuses for Federer's every loss -- often at the expense of the victor (who is often Rafa). If this group included only message-board posters, it would be bad enough, but it also includes a goodly number of tennis reporters and (even worse) tennis commentators. I bring up the doping issue in this context as yet another example of their (in my view) disgusting tactics. And these charges are not just being levied by fans -- even Peter Bodo wondered allowed whether Rafa was a doper in a Tennis World article a few years ago.

MMT said...

I repeat (yes, Oddman, I repeat), nobody's out to get Nadal; no more so than any other famous athlete. Asking him if he's the best in the game, given his results last year and at the AO, doesn't qualify as baiting in my book.

I have no idea why he cancelled his presser 2 years ago. I'd happily admit I'm totally wrong if I saw something from him that indicated he was sick of being as if he was the best in the game.

For that matter, I don't recall him getting the direct question of whether he's the better player either - as far as I can tell he offers it of his own volition. But I'm open to being disproven, so if someone has something from before 2008 that shows he's been battered with the same question, I'll admit I'm wrong.

How much attention do they give Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson? How about Michael Jordan vs. anyone else in basketball. It's perfectly normal when you look at their results.

It's hard when you support another player and his results don't merit the same attention from the everyone else, to see anything other than a tacit conspiracy of bias, but I hardly think the treatment of Federer and Nadal qualify, and dare I say Nadal would agree.

And the reason I pair Nadal's humble self assessment (which I believe to be genuine) with the media's treatment of the two players (which I also believe to be genuine), is because they are based in the same thing: their results. So if they come to the same conclusion, then why laud one as humble, and the other as biased?

Doesn't add up.