/ Roger Federer

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BnB - on 16 Jul 2017
It's been said before but surely now there can be no doubt. This is the greatest male tennis player if not the greatest sportsman of all time.

The final was marred by Cilic's wobbles but that does not detract from a nearly 80% first service accuracy. That placid reliability and impenetrable calm in the most nerve-wracking of circumstances mark out the true champions. Can it really be that a 35 year old has achieved what no one, not Djokovic, Sampras, Becker, Edberg, McEnroe or Nadal, has managed in 41 years? To win Wimbledon without losing a set!!

It was a full 9 years ago that, with balls made slower to encourage baseline rallies Nadal ended Federer's reign as king of Wimbledon. With a world record number of slams to his name already, what does it take a man past retirement age to rebuild and remodel his whole game from serve and volley to the devastating racquet speed and swooping elan of his current incarnation.

The final was all about mental strength and service discipline. But the tournament has seen him display some of the most beautiful artistry ever witnessed on a tennis court. McEnroe, Becker et al have been purring. I feel so privileged to have been a witness.

RF G.O.A.T
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Yanis Nayu - on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to BnB:

Yes, he's incredible. His one-handed backhand is a thing of beauty.
Deadeye - on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to BnB:

> This is the greatest male tennis player
You've got a case

> if not the greatest sportsman of all time.
Bollocks
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Yanis Nayu - on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to Deadeye:

> You've got a case

> Bollocks

Fair point. He hasn't considered Rich Simpson.
Deadeye - on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to Yanis Nayu:

> Fair point. He hasn't considered Rich Simpson.

Ha! or that Irish chap who did all those fabulous first ascents of routes that didn't exist other than in photoshop
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to BnB:

Watching the highlights of his match against Berdych in the semi final was utterly compelling. Some of the shots he played were beyond outstanding, I don't think anyone else has ever been able to make playing that well look that easy. Nadal and Djokovic are legends of the game, but there is a degree of a war of attrition to their games. Federer at his best just seems to be able to find angles no one else can and hit it straight past people. Glad we got (at least) one last look at him before age finally catches up
BnB - on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to Yanis Nayu:

> Yes, he's incredible. His one-handed backhand is a thing of beauty.

A shot he only developed in his 30s. Amazing. As for his drive volley, like a eagle swooping on its prey!!
Yanis Nayu - on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to Deadeye:

> Ha! or that Irish chap who did all those fabulous first ascents of routes that didn't exist other than in photoshop

But the Irish fella didn't run a 3 minute mile or beat Mohammed Ali.
Chris Harris - on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to BnB:

> a nearly 80% first service accuracy.

You'd have thought that after all these years he'd have managed to do better than getting one in five of his serves wrong.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to Deadeye:

Why not?

I mean, even the greatest tennis player of all time is a great debate, and a hard call. Is he better than Laver- two grand slams? What if Borg, McEnroe, Connors and Lendl hadn't all been playing roughly the same time- if one of them had had a clear field the way federer had in the early part of his career, how many slams would they have one. Interest that Borg still holds the best slams entered: won ratio.

In the end I think he is- 19 majors, longest time as world number one, his utter domination when he was at his best, and remarkable longevity, make a stronger case for federer than for any of the others.

Greatest sportsman of all time? Well, comparing sports is so hard that it's bound to be just speculation.

But fun speculation all the same...

You could make a 'short list' of sportsmen who have been so dominant that they transcended their sport- bradman from cricket, pele from football, bolt from athletics, Nicklaus/woods from golf, Ali from boxing, phelps from swimming, Armstrong from cycling (oops, maybe not... ); if you did, then federer would have to be in there. How you pick the best from that lot, I have no idea, but his dominence of one of the few truly global sports gives him a decent shout I'd reckon...
BnB - on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to Chris Harris:

> You'd have thought that after all these years he'd have managed to do better than getting one in five of his serves wrong.

When the other four don't come back it's obviously useful
Andy Hardy on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to Chris Harris:

> You'd have thought that after all these years he'd have managed to do better than getting one in five of his serves wrong.

Maybe he's got sponsorship from bet365?
The New NickB - on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to BnB:

Almost certainly the greatest male tennis player, the debate about the greater player is more difficult, just in numbers at least, he is behind Venus, Martina and Steffi, I won't count Margaret Court as she was pre-open era. He seemed to have a very easy run to the title this year, but maybe I'm being harsh.

I saw a brief piece on the BBC build up with Dim Henman suggesting that he transcended his sport like no other and just though get a grip, have you never heard of Ali or even Bolt.
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The New NickB - on 16 Jul 2017
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

If it was anyone from cycling it would have to be the Cannibal.
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felt - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to The New NickB:

> have you never heard of Ali or even Bolt?

Yeah, right, so they designed a range of knitwear.

> Dim Henman

Harsh
BnB - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to The New NickB:

> Almost certainly the greatest male tennis player, the debate about the greater player is more difficult, just in numbers at least, he is behind Venus, Martina and Steffi, I won't count Margaret Court as she was pre-open era. He seemed to have a very easy run to the title this year, but maybe I'm being harsh.

> I saw a brief piece on the BBC build up with Dim Henman suggesting that he transcended his sport like no other and just though get a grip, have you never heard of Ali or even Bolt.

Radio 5 ran a piece yesterday to debate his place next to Ali, Bolt and Nicklaus. Sensibly they didn't try to pick a winner. Instead they focused on the quality all showed in abundance, mental toughness and the ability to stay clear-headed under pressure.

It was Federer's composure that won him the title yesterday, not those extravagant gifts that so illuminated the earlier rounds.
Mick Ward - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to Yanis Nayu:

> But the Irish fella didn't run a 3 minute mile or beat Mohammed Ali.

Err, although he did have a rather Irish sounding name, he was Scots surely?

[Subtext: Not wishing to be mean to the guy but we don't really want 'credit' for him if it can be avoided.]

Mick
bouldery bits - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to BnB:

Drugs.
BnB - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to bouldery bits:

> Drugs.

Yes please but shouldn't we go somewhere less public.
neilh - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to BnB:

Personally Becker was always my hero in tennis as I have never forgotten him winning his first Wimbledon in my Tennis hazed youth.

But Federers shots are absolutely sublime, although Becker never had the racket technology that Federer now has.
no_more_scotch_eggs - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to The New NickB:

> Almost certainly the greatest male tennis player, the debate about the greater player is more difficult, just in numbers at least, he is behind Venus, Martina and Steffi, I won't count Margaret Court as she was pre-open era. He seemed to have a very easy run to the title this year, but maybe I'm being harsh.

Serena, surely....

And he's ahead of Navratilova now in slams won (well, in singles).

Hard to compare the men's and women's records- at the start of this year the 'top 5' slam winners were all women (Chris evert has 18, along with Navratilova). Were they all better than every man, or is there less strength in depth in the women's game?

I think probably the latter; indeed the fact that federer has got 19 playing in an era with nadal, Djokovic and Murray is probably the biggest argument in favour of him being the greatest of all...


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Greenbanks - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

Is women's tennis a sport?

;)
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BnB - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to neilh:

> Personally Becker was always my hero in tennis as I have never forgotten him winning his first Wimbledon in my Tennis hazed youth.

I bumped into Boris at his first Wimbledon. Literally. It was like being hit by a bus. And he was only 17!!

> But Federers shots are absolutely sublime, although Becker never had the racket technology that Federer now has.

I think only McEnroe has approached Federer's level of artistry. His Wimbledon final demolition of Connors was probably the archetypal "perfect" grass court performance.
Robert Durran - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> I think probably the latter; indeed the fact that federer has got 19 playing in an era with nadal, Djokovic and Murray is probably the biggest argument in favour of him being the greatest of all...

But didn't he dominate winning loads of slams before those other three emerged? Anyway, nothing has ever compared with the Borg, McEnroe, Connors era.
summo on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to BnB:

> Radio 5 ran a piece yesterday to debate his place next to Ali, Bolt and Nicklaus. Sensibly they didn't try to pick a winner.

There are a few others like redgrave, joss Naylor, George digweed... and no doubt many more in minority sports. Federer is outstanding in tennis, but each sport has had their equivalents.

Also sometimes two greats appear at once, like ovett and coe; so neither one has chance to be the undisputed champion. Navratilova/evert, Palmer/ Nicholas.
summo on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:

> Is women's tennis a sport?

Seems there is pressure for 5 set matches and equal prizes. But then you can imagine tennis being run by old men who still think it's 1870 something...
galpinos on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

> But didn't he dominate winning loads of slams before those other three emerged?

Not really, Fed's first Grand Slam was Wimbledon in '03, Nadal's in '05 and got to the Wimbledon final in '06. Novak's first grand slam was '08 but was beating Fed and Nadal in ATP events before that. Obviously Murray didn't win a Grand Slam till '12 but was making finals from '08.

> Anyway, nothing has ever compared with the Borg, McEnroe, Connors era.

This was before my time, my tennis watching youth was dominated by the likes of Sampras, Agassi etc, though Edberg was my favourite, but Fed is, to my mind, something else, a level above.

As BnB alluded to above, his ability to change his game with changing trends and opponents is outstanding.

galpinos on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

> Watching the highlights of his match against Berdych in the semi final was utterly compelling. Some of the shots he played were beyond outstanding, I don't think anyone else has ever been able to make playing that well look that easy. Nadal and Djokovic are legends of the game, but there is a degree of a war of attrition to their games. Federer at his best just seems to be able to find angles no one else can and hit it straight past people.

I think you've hot the nail on the head form a spectator's perspective, Fed just looks effortless, especially compared to the grunting and huffing and puffing over the other side of the net.

> Glad we got (at least) one last look at him before age finally catches up

He's back next year, we shall see......

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LastBoyScout on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to Yanis Nayu:

> Yes, he's incredible. His one-handed backhand is a thing of beauty.

My wife, a keen tennis player, says she could watch that all day!

She did comment it was also probably the worst Wimbledon final she's ever seen - got to feel a bit for both of them, really.

What also struck me was in the commentry that Nadal has won the French open 10 times, which is pretty impressive.
BnB - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to LastBoyScout:
> What also struck me was in the commentry that Nadal has won the French open 10 times, which is pretty impressive.

Exceptional. The best clay court player of all time and a bristling menace on court. But with only 5 wins away from Roland Garros he hasn't perhaps won as many slams as he might have hoped. Roger won 5 US Opens and 5 Wimbledons (8 in all) on the trot, to go with 5 Aussie Open wins including one at the age of 35 to go with yesterday's triumph. The numbers and their distribution over time and tournament tell their story.

Mind you, I thought Nadal's performance in Paris this year to have been the finest display of clay court domination I've ever seen. And I saw Borg, Nadal's only rival on the clay, at his best. At (only) 31, he could well end up with 18 or 19 slams of his own, maybe 13 or 14 at the French!!
Post edited at 11:10
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to Deadeye:
" if not the greatest sportsman of all time.
Bollocks"

Agreed. It's hard to see past Phil Taylor. nearly 30 years at the top of a sport with 216 titles , 16 world titles and 22 nine dart finishes (where the barrier to entry is just a set of darts and a boozer in walking distance unlike most of the sports the UK excel in). If you focus on the quality showed in abundance, mental toughness and the ability to stay clear-headed under pressure there can be no other than The Power.
Post edited at 11:54
Ian McIntosh - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to Robert Durran:

>Anyway, nothing has ever compared with the Borg, McEnroe, Connors era.

Probably showing your/our age, but I totally agree.

The New NickB - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to no_more_scotch_eggs:

Yes, Serena.

Personally I think Navratilova, has as much a claim to greatness than as Federa, having won so much playing against Evett and Graf. I would also argue that she and Billy Jean King are the only two tennis players that transcend he sport.

Federa is almost certainly the finest exponent of the men's game ever. I would also say that the men's and women's game should be considered separately. When you start to make cross sport comparisons it all gets a bit subjective and comparing his to Ali for example would be silly.
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BnB - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to Ian McIntosh:
> >Anyway, nothing has ever compared with the Borg, McEnroe, Connors era.

> Probably showing your/our age, but I totally agree.

The statistics suggest otherwise, even if I agree the quality of the tennis (and the rivalries) was outstanding. If only Borg had played longer.

Borg/McEnroe/Connors have 26 Grand Slam titles between them, not one of whom completed a career slam of all four major titles.

Federer/Nadal/Djokovic have a crushing 46 slams, all three of whom have the career slam, and with Djokovic the only player in the open era to have held all four at once.

I'm sure you recall the classic Borg/McEnroe final of 1980. For three decades considered the best match of all time. But then the 2012 Australian Open Final removed any doubt whatsoever. Look at the roll call of reactions from legendary players https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Australian_Open_%E2%80%93_Men%27s_singles_final . I'm a shameless Federer fan but this would be the match I would watch as a condemned man's final wish, and not just because it would delay the inevitable by 6 hours
Post edited at 12:37
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summo on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

What about snooker players in the 70/80s, to hit a ball in a straight line for hours on end, whilst smashed off your face with drink and drugs etc.. Not a job for mere mortals.
planetmarshall on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to neilh:

> Personally Becker was always my hero in tennis as I have never forgotten him winning his first Wimbledon in my Tennis hazed youth.

Well Becker also changed the nature of the game. Federer hasn't really done anything different from his predecessors, he's just done it better.
Timmd on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to Greenbanks:

> Is women's tennis a sport?

> ;)

Are you sexist?
Robert Durran - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to Timmd:

> Are you sexist?

Of course women's tennis is a sport, but I think it is hard to argue that the men's and women's games are equal as long as the women only play 3 sets; all the truly great and memorable matches seem to be the knife edge men's five set matches where sheer grit and endurance come to the fore. Women run as long distances as men in the Olympics, so I see no reason why they should not play as many sets as men in tennis slam tournaments.
aln - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to Mick Ward:

> Err, although he did have a rather Irish sounding name, he was Scots surely?
>

He lived in Skye but I'm sure he was Irish.
Robert Durran - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> Well Becker also changed the nature of the game. Federer hasn't really done anything different from his predecessors, he's just done it better.

I'm no expert (by a long way), but wasn't Becker's serving based power game overwhelming opponents rather boring? Wasn't there even talk of shortening the service box to make games more entertaining? That seems to have gone a bit out of fashion now with Federer and others showing that it can be trumped by the artistry of far more engaging complete game.
BnB - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

> Well Becker also changed the nature of the game. Federer hasn't really done anything different from his predecessors, he's just done it better.

It's an interesting question whether Federer has changed the game. I think it's more a question of redefining it according to loftier standards. He certainly hasn't followed the herd. He perfected serve and volley to such an extent that the authorities changed the balls to give everyone else a chance. Now he's defeating Nadal, Murray and all the other double fisted backhand pushers on their terms and from the baseline with a dazzling single handed flash of the racquet.

By the way, how did Becker change the game? To me was just a bigger McEnroe with less talent, albeit still quite a lot of talent.

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no_more_scotch_eggs - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to BnB:

could it be argued that he started the move to the greater domination of serve on grass courts, that led to the almost complete divergence of the grass and clay court games by the mid 90s? the grass court game certainly became more two dimensional, with a cohort of players who could hit a serve really hard, but couldn't hit a coo's arse with a banjo if it came back over the net at them- reaching its nadir with the likes of Greg Rusedski, the ultimate journeyman with a rocket serving arm. meanwhile over on the clay, a series of specialists on the surface emerged who had allergic reactions if they stepped on anything green.

it was always a bit like this- lendl's despairing attempts to win wimbledon spring to mind, stopped by the likes of pat cash- but the two styles just seemed to be getting further and further apart. andre agassi stood out as the exception to the rule, completing a career grand slam, the first since laver; but he was almost the 'exception that proved the rule'.

federer changed that- winning on grass with an all-court game which then made him not just competitive, but dominant on the other surfaces. He's been in 5 french open finals- were it not for sharing the court with the greatest clay courter of all time, he could have won multiple grand slams from 06-09.

and he changed the game with this approach- the era of 'the big 4' has been one where the top players are competitive across all surfaces, in marked contrast to what came before, and one where a big serve is less important that a big return. to my mind, that has gone too far the other way at times- the nadal/djokovic marathons have been compelling as a spectacle of sheer willpower and immovable defence- but they lack the artistry and magic of federer at his best.
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Mick Ward - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to aln:

> He lived in Skye but I'm sure he was Irish.

Oh no - caramba! And, as ever, I stand corrected. Apologies to all.

At least he told a good tale - even Dave McLeod agreed that. His description of his E9 on Skye fairly set the old pulse racing. One so wanted it to be true.

But hey, you can't have everything!

Mick
galpinos on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to BnB:
> He perfected serve and volley to such an extent that the authorities changed the balls to give everyone else a chance.

What did they do? The big changes were in 2001 when they changed the balls to the three types, the big type 3s being used at Wimbledon and the heavy fast type 1s being used in the French but crucially, that was the year they ripped up every court at Wimbledon and re-seeded them with 100% rye in order to have a slower higher bounce. Fed didn't win until '03, in '00 he went out in the first and in '01 got to the quarters (to be beaten by the TIGER no less) having beaten Sampras on the way. I don't think he did very well in '02 either.

In some ways, Agassi's Career Grand Slam is the most impressive of the five of the open era as it was at the height of court/style specialism whereas by the time Fed, Rafa and Novak started getting in on the action the specialists had been nullified.
Post edited at 15:30
Sean Kelly - on 17 Jul 2017
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

Aren't you are forgetting the imperious Wilson, and who can match Alf Tupper for grit, and Fish & Chips!

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