Monday, March 23, 2009

Quote For The Day

"Nadal practices his forehand over the first weekend of the tournament. He's working on snapping up on it with less backswing and more flick. In his next match, he seems to have it mastered, and it does look a little different and more abbreviated than I remember it. While Federer sticks with what works and maintains a deep belief in his innate ability, Nadal is about the process. He's a tinkerer who doesn't believe he was born to be the best; he concentrates on how he can improve himself enough to get there. He's there, but he's still tinkering."--Steve Tignor

10 comments:

Beth said...

The entire article was really nice. A very studied tribute to the talents and personality of Rafa.

tangerine said...

Finally, finally, Rafa is getting some individual credit for his own unique genius instead of being regarded as nothing but a thorn in the so-called GOAT's side, getting in the way of Roger's ride to greatness.

Here's a thought for the media-at-large: what if it's Rafa who's the true GOAT, and not Federer, whom the fawning media couldn't wait to crown as The Greatest almost two years ago?

Steve Tignor, one of the best tennis writers around, put it succinctly after Rafa's "surprise" AO title run:

He’s no longer tennis’ greatest overachiever. He’s no longer the kryptonite to Federer’s superman. He’s no longer just ranked No. 1. He’s the best.

Fun times ahead, stay tuned.

Pamela said...

That was long overdue, but well worth the wait. I hate when people decide that a player is something and refuse to acknowledge the changes over the years.

Once you're labeled a specific kind of player it's hard to shed the image you've created in your head.

Rafa has shed so many layers of what people thought he was as a player, and the word "strategy" should always be included in the descriptions. He is a very smart match player, as he proved in those windy conditions. He also prevailed in the whiny conditions of Murray as well.

dylan said...

I am wondering something. This goes back to what Christopher said earlier on this blog, about how each individual player changes the game. In particular how Federer changed how people played, and how Nadal can be seen as an extension of that. Now I certainly see Nadal as his own man, completely 100%. And I don't think Nadal's game is anything but his own game. But what I am wondering is if Federer's unrivaled dominance for so long changed people's idea of what dominance could be. It seems to me that Federer did something previously thought impossible, but once he did it - it opened the door for it to be done. I am wondering if what we are seeing with Nadal is the understanding that the game can in fact be owned. That one need not loose, ever. It just seems too strange that we are seeing one demonstration of utter and complete dominance so soon after the first.

Graf_sampras said...

I am going to say something in DEFENSE of Roger Federer, in response to the Tignor description ...that roger doesn't want to "tinker" anymore...or at least doesn't appear to because it is not as clearcut as with what rafael nadal HAS HAD to do.

and this is :


roger had done his "Tinkering" MANY YEARS AGO -- as far back as 2000 in order to reach a stage when he could defeat a sampras , an agassi, -- and then emerge as the dominant player of his "era" of the past few years.

THAT is why he is considered as complete a player that has emerged ....and what "tinkering" he did with his tennis was already largely done -- a completed job -- HENCE "the complete player" definitions even BEFORE he became dominant.

rafa , on the other hand -- had to do his "Tinkering" AFTER rafael already established himself as the main rival TO an ALREADY "finished product" in roger federer.

so - in context - it is easy to define, or even "accuse" roger as being "Too stubborn" - when in fact it is really because Roger's tennis HAS reached the stage, long ago - of having LITTLE ELSE to add in any serious fashion...and everything else is -

in the mind.

so - it's a bit unfair to roger, imo, to say outright that he is simply being "hardheaded".

i mean -- how MUCH FASTER can a player get than his own body's limits? what can federer do to :"tinker" with THAT? he's proven hsi great movement already.

how much HARDER is he supposed to hit his forehands?

is a singlehanded backhand supposed to be "tinkered with" to make it as heavy as his forehand..when that is part of what his whole game is about?.

sure - federer CAN improve here and there...but that depends more on bringing the CONSISTENCY that he knows he can to any shot on ANY GIVEN DAY in comparison , which he also has proven ...and that is in the context of just bringing THAT consistency and control "under fire" in circumstances that are a bit different than when rafa or murray or a few others weren't as "matured"....

but it HARDLY means roger federer is some "faded star" or "needs tinkering" in some fashion as to make him "different" the way rafa became "different" from the ":mere clay courter to being the one he is today".


ROGER ARRIVED at his dominance ALREADY a FINISHED product from his previous years of "tinkering" to become who has become -- one of the very best and greatest players ever.

it matters little that he has met with stiff resistance from another player , rafael -- that has done HIS TINKERING

in the FULL VIEW of HIGH RANKED playing - unlike roger had to do before 2002, for example.

people need to give roger federer a break on this matter of "what he has to do with his tennis".

there is NOTHING WRONG with his tennis.


he just has to keep playing IT to his best - in the way ONLY HE knows how to play best - and if he wins with it - great, if not, that's just how things are.

no need to belabor the matter about "tinkering" as if it's because roger is simply being :"hardheaded".

Pheasant Plucker said...

Graf_sampras - You're missing the point entirely. There is no such thing as a 'complete player' that needs to do no more tinkering. At the end of the day, feds backhand can't handle Rafas forehand. He needs to improve it. He won't, because he sees himself as a 'complete player', and that is to his detriment. If he were willijng to work on it, he might be able to win more against Rafa, and thus win more titles. Given how well respected Rafa's forehand is on the circuit, by your logic he shouldn't change a thing about it. By 'tinkering', even with an already fantastic shot, he gives himself more options.

Feds is now unable to beat Rafa, Murray or Simon (yeah, remember him? the nowhere-near-slam-wonder Roger keeps losing to?). if his game was perfect, he'd never lose. Because he IS that good- if he put in the work, he'd be unstopable. That's not to say he doesn't work hard (because he clearly does), but that he needs to work SMART. He needs a backhand (in ADDITION to his 1 handed one) that can handle high-bouncing balls. Because everyone else knows that he doen't have it.

Unfortunatley for him, his best is no longer THE best. His total dominance was partly due to the headcaseyness of those of his peers (eg Nalbandian) who did beat him regularly initially, and injury (eg Hewitt). That Rafa (who is MUCH younger, don't forget) had such an impact so early in his career speaks volumes to the lack of solid competition that Feds faced until the likes of Murray and Djokovic (who are about Rafas age) matured.

He absolutely has the talent to turn things around. He just won't do it. That IS stubbornness, and is the most glaring difference between Roger and Rafa.

Graf_sampras said...

Pheasant Phucker-- my comments were more in defense of Roger in that i think it is wrong to accuse him of merely being hardheaded because he thinks he is so complete that he needs no furhter tinkering.

that is wrong. if anything roger HAS been "tinkering" , or else his first serves wouldn't have become more of a weapon in recent years to get "cheap points" for example...

and i am not concerned at all about what is the definition of a "complete player".

in fact - for years i have earned a reputation among fed fans of being a bad person because i CRITICIZE the way the media and punditry and players and fans TALK about "roger the most complete ever" -- which I called NONSENSE...and still DO.

but I am defending roger from that suggestion in the article that in contrast to rafa "roger "

"no longer" tinkers...which eh does - as ANY accomplished player ought to do ...which is part of the "maintainance" ...they see something they could improve a little bit here and there.

and that is why with the way roger has basically come to the fore as the dominant player in 2004 - when he was mentally ready - whatever the CONTEXT of the competition that allowed him to play more freely -

he was , in my description, already the "complete FEDERER"....who can only play

in the FEDERER WAY....where "tinkering" is too subtle for it to be called "changes"....in the manner that can more easily be observed with rafael for example , or someone who "had no serve whatsover" and then after some real work -- "made his serve a weapon"......

ALL THESE THINGS -- roger had done his HOMEWORK LONG AGO...and he earned his success because of THAT - when he was READY to apply them.


people need to give roger some credit on this, imo.

are people expecting him then - for example- to start practicing with DOUBLE HANDER backhands? a la safin or rafael?


that is NOT his STYLE. that is NOT roger federer.

he has simply to play the best way only HE can -- and win or lose -- be proud of what he shows on court by NOT giving up ON HIMSELF.

believe me -- you will find NO tennis fan MORE SEVERELY critical and "hating" of roger -- than ME!!!

but i also promised roger fans in other message boards years ago -- that if I see that Roger needs defending according to what I think is proper -- i WILL defend him with as much vehemence as i defended pete sampras FROM fedfans themselves.

THIS is one of those things.

Craig Hickman said...

I love this community.

Carry on!

lynney62 said...

Have to ask what about Roger's statement " I have never believed in working on my weaknesses. My serve and my forhand are my strengths and I work on them". Wouldn't it be a thought to work on weaknesses and thus turn them into strengths? Seems like it could only give him a more complete repertoire of shots to use. I really feel there's a stubborn streak in Roger and it's hurting his game.

Graf_sampras said...

Have your say: Can Roger rule again?

Eurosport - Mon, 23 Mar 17:05:00 2009

Was Roger Federer's performance in Indian Wells the result of a shaky week, or was it evidence the great champion is in permanent decline?
TENNIS Roger Federer Indian Wells 2009 - 0
More Stories

* Murray beats Federer to reach final
* Nadal beats Murray to win Masters
* Register your vote on our tennis homepage

The Swiss ace proved he still has some of his old magic in Indian Wells with an imperious quarter-final display against in-form Fernando Verdasco.

But then the 13-times Grand Slam champion put in an error-strewn performance against Andy Murray to go out of the tournament.

The result was a blow for Federer: after losing a truly epic match to Rafael Nadal in Melbourne, it would have been a perfect time for the Swiss legend to turn the tables on the world number one and prove he still has what it takes to be the best.

But then came the loss to Murray. Was it just a blip? Was Federer just having a bad day against a very talented player who often seems to have his measure?

Or has one of the true greats of the modern game - and for that matter modern sport in general - begun the slow and inexorably painful process of deterioration that all great champions have to face sooner or later?

In other words, will King Roger ever rule again, or has his day passed?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment boxes below, and register your vote by clicking one of the buttons on the tennis homepage.
Eurosport

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Comment 120 - 139 of 139
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139.

2008 Wimbledon marked the end of an era.
From Leon, on Tue 24 Mar 4:32PM
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138.

lol...really? I found a place that many players are­ hoo king up with h ot mo dels, seems the club called:­ __Tallconnect Co M___, do you hear this before?
From tallbbw20, on Tue 24 Mar 4:31PM
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137.

Well as a former ATP player,i think Federer has­ something that has been affecting him mentally,becos if­ you have a good look at his current strokes,and the way­ he plays now,his strokes are not as consistent as the­ way he used to play when he was d king,he has lost­ confident on his strokes,he hardly missess easy point­ and he had a very good passing shots,but nw he plays­ safe and uses experience to beat players now,like me i­ ve stopped playing competitive tennis for couple of­ years now due to wrist injury,but anytime i get on d­ court i still ve my stokes though it will not be as­ powerful as it used to be and that is due to lack of­ practice,so if federer still practice and play­ tournaments i dont see y he should loose his strokes,so­ thats y i think there is something affecting him­ mentally. one last thing, if he gets to any hard court­ grandslam final this year he is winning it,and also he­ is gettin bk to the top spot!!
From UGO N, on Tue 24 Mar 4:14PM
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136.

Yeah, I agree he needs a coach (but who...? Sampras?­ agassi?) ) as I've been saying for a while but get­ 'invalid comment' when I do! Needs to work on­ serve, get rid of that weak sliced backhand habit as it­ means he can never hit a winner off that side, hit­ deeper (the key to most success) get fitter/more­ muscular, run and retrieve more instead of being a Leo­ (beneath his dignity to chase!)...and cut out the­ forehand into the net - technique. Then he might be in­ with a chance. Otherwise, he's likely to drop off­ the radar fairly quickly, and either way he'll­ probly only get another 1 or 2 GS and only when Murray­ beats Nadal for him or Nadal is injured/absent!
From joeblogs, on Tue 24 Mar 4:06PM
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135.

He's got more chance of making Raffa his @#$% than­ he has of being No' 1
From Jamie C, on Tue 24 Mar 3:43PM
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134.
Comment hidden due to its low rating. Show

Hey, I'm an open minded girl from UK, I'm­ interested in exotic things, photography, dating and­ sports...I have my photos on --- T a l l h u b Co m­ ---, I love tall guys!
Do you love traveling and have­ some experience? Just find me out.
From robobajo06, on Tue 24 Mar 3:20PM
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133.

well certainly i believe federer can win a couple more­ grand slams but the question is whether he believes­ that himself esp. now that he is thinking of being a­ father among other things.and certainly he has to find­ a way to beat murray and nadal a few times before he­ can think of ruling the world again.
From daka207, on Tue 24 Mar 2:46PM
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132.

This is definetely not the downfall of the king..He jus­ needs a few good wins against the top players to boost­ his confidence back..The only think that is lacking is­ his confidence..he jus needs to figure out a good game­ that would take on nadal..If he has to win a few more­ grandslams he has to do it now..otherwise i doubt that­ it would be possible,,
From adnan o, on Tue 24 Mar 2:31PM
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131.

In terms of pure skill, genius and selection of­ strokes, there has been a better player EVER than­ Federer. His problems arise from poor execution, making­ for mistakes, which are becoming too consistent in his­ game now.

Nadal has a great topsin, an improving­ backhand, but his greatest asset is his speed and­ ability to chase down balls. That makes for his great­ defence. He may not be spectacular in his shot-making,­ and more safe, but he his consistent and makes fewer­ unforced errors.

Djokovic has a psychological problem,­ which is making him more hesistant, and lacking in the­ fire he had two years ago. He, like Federer, needs to­ strengthen his mind and cut down on the unforced­ errors.

Murray, while nowhere near Federer's­ ability, nor Nadal's consitency, is simply a very­ good player who is is playing with immense confidence -­ something he lacked in years gone by.

Can Federer rule­ tennis again? Probably not, but he will get his 15­ slams, because Nadal (not praying for it) while likely­ injure himself long-term very soon.
From Hotshot, on Tue 24 Mar 2:01PM
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130.

Roger has rule the world tennis without a coach for so­ many years, so the question of getting a coach is out­ of it. I think Roger only need to work with his mind. I­ think his psychological confidence in the court is­ failing him. The fact that Roger constantly losses to­ Nadal and Murray or anyone else does not mean he is­ declining, it only confirm that they are seriously­ working on his game and improving as well. Theres a­ peak foe everything, Probably, he has reached there.­ But l strongly believe that he will still have one or­ two slam to make 14 or 15.
From omotolaprincetola, on Tue 24 Mar 1:50PM
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129.

Vecticibnieks, I have to totally agree with you on the­ friendship part. There is definitely not enough snarl­ in Federer. I remember when Fed was throwing racquets­ and getting upset at his play. I don't think he­ needs to go to that extreme, but he needs to dig down­ for some pride and passion because it just ain't­ there anymore. Maybe Mirka is the problem??

If it­ were me, I would be pissed off at losing to the Nadal­ and Murray. I mean everytime he plays them, he has­ opportunities to win, break chances that all­ squandered. It is actually painful to watch. During the­ Aussie final, I actually got up and left my house in a­ snow storm during the first set because it was brutal­ to watch.

And yes, if you already gathered, I am a­ Fed fan, but am totally frustrated with lack of effort­ as of late.

If he don't get a coach, re-attached­ his boys, adjust his delusional stubborn attitude, and­ start playing with some belief, he may as well give up­ because not only will he never reach no 1 again, he­ will fall off the map in a hurry.

Like I said earlier,­ if he bagels this year at the GS tournaments, he will­ crumble mentally and that will be the end of Fed.

He­ should go talk to Nadal and get him to inject some of­ his DNA into Fed. That might help!!

Cheers all,
From dion.legge, on Tue 24 Mar 1:48PM
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128.

The bitter fact for Roger and his fans is not if he can­ rule again or not, which I am sure that will not­ happen, but that he will never be considered the­ greatest ever since he is not even the greatest in his­ era, when your H2H record against your closest rival is­ 13-6 no one can claim that he is the greatest ever. I­ think that’s the reason why he cried at the AO final­ because he knew that that match finished any argument­ about being the greatest ever