Sunday, July 04, 2010

The King of Clay... and Grass?



Second verse, same as the first.

Until a few months ago, Rafael Nadal had had a pretty tough year or so. Family issues. Knee problems. The inability to defend his Wimbledon title. Real questions about the length and overall scope of his career. He even went a year without winning a title.

Ever since he turned 24 on the third of June, though, the Spaniard has been golden.

Still, there was some reason to believe that Nadal might have a battle on his hands in the Gentlemen's singles final against Tomas Berdych. The Czech fit the casting call for an "old time" SW19 champ to a "t." Six-foot-five, and armed with a big serve and powerful ground game, he'd the spent the last few weeks finally making good on his long-time potential. He reached his first grand slam semifinal in Paris, then came to London and simply ended Roger Federer's seven-year run of appearances in the final by dispatching the six-time and defending champ in the quarterfinals en route to his own first slam final.

Berdych's countrymen and women have a long history of success at the All-England Club. But save for Martina Navratilova (who actually only won two of her nine Ladies titles as a Czech citizen) and Jan Kodes ('73 champ, but an early-round loser in twelve of his fifteen trips to SW19), they've often been star-crossed, as well. Hana Mandlikova had a game built for grass, but had to contend with Navratilova and Chris Evert (she lost to both in finals) thoughout her career. Ivan Lendl reached two finals, but never won. Jana Novotna had one of the most fabled major final collapses in tennis history, and will probably always be remembered for that more than her eventual Wimbledon title five years later.

In the final match of an historic Championships, Berdych was positioned to end a slam as one had never ended one before. Last fall, Juan Martin del Potro became the first man to defeat both Federer and Nadal on his way to a slam crown at the U.S. Open, but a win by the Czech over #1 Nadal would complete an unprecedented sweep in a single slam of all three of the top-ranked men's players in the game, following wins over #2 Federer and #3 Novak Djokovic.

But it wasn't meant to be.

Coming into the final on a thirteen-match Wimbledon winning streak, Nadal's serve was never broken on the the afternoon (Berdych was 0-for-4 on break point attempts), while the Spaniard managed to break his opponent's serve four times in the match (4-for-6 on BP), three times in the final game of a set to put the stanza in his own personal victory column. Nadal won 6-3/7-5/6-4, blazing a forehand passing shot past the Czech on match point and then collapsing on his back in exultation at the Centre Court baseline.



Rarely has Rafa, by now a definitive Wimbledon crowd favorite (even after drumming Andy Murray out of the tournament in the SF), had a better sense of the moment. This time around, he even added a celebratory somersault in front of the net to his usual post-slam rituals, which once again included him taking a "good luck bite" out of the trophy while the photog's cameras flash. While his previous Gentlemen's title was treated as the reward at the end of a concerted effort to transform himself into a fine grass court player, this one took on a far different feel. It's significance is potentially monumental.

Nadal has reached the Wimbledon final in his last four appearances, and won in his last two. In the 2008 final, he bested Federer in "The Greatest Match Ever Played," and is currently sporting a 25-2 record at the All-England Club since 2006. Has the "King of Clay" become "The King of Grass," as well?

If he has, it places one more check mark in Nadal's career column when it comes to judging the "ultimate champ" in the long-running, but good-natured, rivalry between Rafa and Federer, a "contest" in which a "winner" won't be declared until both have hung up their rackets. With a 14-7 head-to-head advantage versus Federer, and already the acknowledged better of the two on clay, Nadal's grass court accomplishments are catching up, as well. Now comes the hard part. Literally.

Seven times in the Open era, men has won back-to-back titles at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, including Nadal ('08/'10) and Federer ('09) the last three seasons, but none have been able to add a third slam win at the U.S. Open since Rod Laver did it in his Grand Slam season in 1969. Nadal is still declaring his quest for a title in New York to be the biggest goal for the rest of his career, just as his singular pursuits of a Wimbledon title ('08) and hard court slam (AO '09) were in the past.

After claiming his eighth career slam title (half-way to Federer's 16) in just his twenty-fifth slam (RF had five at the same stage), the long-term success over the remainder of Nadal's career will rest on how well his body holds up and his ability to alter his game enough in order to conserve himself and take pressure off his ailing knees. So far, he's managed to win on grass while flattening out his shots and moving forward more often, shortening the points on a faster surface and giving himself a better shot to win. There's a reason why he has a two-handed grasp on the #1 ranking these days, and it's not because he's the best clay courter in the world.

Next up is NYC.

Nadal might not lift the Open trophy come September, but a case can be made that he has as good or better a shot to do it as Federer had to complete HIS career slam with a win at Roland Garros. After all, Nadal has no equivalent, as Federer faced, to himself-in-Paris to contend with at Flushing Meadows. Plus, defending champ del Potro won't be there, Murray still doesn't look slam-worthy (and, truthfully, neither does Djokovic), and Federer's health and form will have to be sured up if he's to "rise from the dead" in the face of the many probably-premature career epitaphs that are once again being uttered about his already-legendary athletic life's work. Federer finally got his RG title last year when Nadal's health made him something "less" than his usual self, and Nadal might just find a similar situation awaiting him in the Big Apple at the end of the summer.

Actually, as long as Nadal makes it to late August without a recurrence of his knee tendinitis (which isn't a lock, considering he had a minor flare-up when he was twice forcerd to five sets in the opening week of the London fortnight), Federer might still be the best bet to be the "last line of defense" against a true Rafa run at matching Laver's accomplishment. The Swiss Mister has less than two months to get fully healthy and round his game into form. If he can, maybe the one grand stage where he and Nadal have never met could provide yet another epic moment on the biggest stage of them all.

We can only hope.

But that's a story for September. Today, Rafa is the King... yes, of grass..



=DAY 13 NOTES=
...Cara Black and Leander Paes won the Mixed Doubles title, defeating Lisa Raymond and Wesley Moodie in the final. It's the third slam win for Black/Paes (including the '10 AO), Black's fifth career Wimbledon title (3 doubles/2 mixed, plus junior singles and doubles), and tenth overall career slam crown (5 doubles/5 mixed).

...Hungary's Marton Fucsovics defeated Aussie qualifier Benjamin Mitchell 6-4/6-4 to win the Boys title.

The all-Brit team of Liam Broady and Tom Farquharson defeated fellow Brits Lewis Burton and George Morgan in the Boys Doubles final 7-6/6-4, while Timea Babos and Sloane Stephens won their second straight 2010 junior slam doubles crown (w/ Roland Garros) with a 6-7/6-2/6-2 win over top-seeded Irina Khromacheva and Elina Svitolina.

...in ITF action, Player of the Week goes to Romina Oprandi (ITA). She won the $100K challenger in Cuneo, Italy with a 6-0/6-2 win over Pauline Parmentier. The Wimbledon qualifier made the transition from grass to clay, getting wins over Ekaterina Bychkova, Yvonne Meusburger, Evgeniya Rodina and Lourdes Dominguez-Lino on her way to the final. It's her third ITF title of the season, and she's appeared in a circuit-best seven finals in '10.






BASTAD, SWEDEN (Int'l $220K/red clay outdoor)
09 Final: Szavay d. Schnyder
10 Top Seeds: Pennetta/Rezai
=============================

=SF=
#1 Pennetta d. #6 Kerber
#3 Safarova d. Kanepi
=FINAL=
#1 Pennetta d. #3 Safarova


BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (Int'l $220K/red clay outdoor)
09 Final: Martinez-Sanchez d. Wozniacki
10 Top Seeds: Kleybanova/Dulgheru
=============================

=SF=
#8 Hercog d. Medina-Garrigues
#2 Dulgheru d. #7 Szavay
=FINAL=
#2 Dulgheru d. #8 Hercog



*CAREER SLAM TITLES - ACTIVE/WOMEN*
[singles/doubles/mixed]
27 - Serena Williams, USA (13-12-2)
21 - Venus Williams, USA (7-12-2)
11 - Virginia Ruano Pascual, ESP (0-10-1)
10 - CARA BLACK, ZIM (0-5-5)
9 - Lisa Raymond, USA (0-5-4)

*CAREER SLAM TITLES - ALL-TIME/MEN*
16 - Roger Federer
14 - Pete Sampras
12 - Roy Emerson
11 - Bjorn Borg
11 - Rod Laver
10 - Bill Tilden
8 - Andre Agassi
8 - Jimmy Connors
8 - Ivan Lendl
8 - RAFAEL NADAL
8 - Fred Perry
8 - Ken Rosewall

*BACK-TO-BACK ROLAND GARROS/WIMBLEDON TITLES*
[Men - Open era]
1969 Rod Laver, AUS
1978 Bjorn Borg, SWE
1979 Bjorn Borg, SWE
1980 Bjorn Borg, SWE
2008 Rafael Nadal, ESP
2009 Roger Federer, SUI
2010 Rafael Nadal, ESP

*BACK-TO-BACK WIMBLEDON/U.S. OPEN TITLES*
[Men - Open era]
1969 Rod Laver, AUS
1974 Jimmy Connors, USA
1981 John McEnroe, USA
1982 Jimmy Connors, USA
1984 John McEnroe, USA
1989 Boris Becker, GER
1993 Pete Sampras, USA
1995 Pete Sampras, USA
2004 Roger Federer, SUI
2005 Roger Federer, SUI
2006 Roger Federer, SUI
2007 Roger Federer, SUI

*CONSECUTIVE SLAM SF - SINCE 2000*
[men - non-Federer/Nadal]
=5=
Novak Djokovic - 2007-08 RG/WI/US/AO/RG
=3=
Marat Safin - 2001-02 US/AO/RG
=2=
Magnus Norman - 2000 AO/RG
Pete Sampras - 2000 WI/US
Sebastien Grosjean - 2001 AO/RG
Lleyton Hewitt - 2002 WI/US
Andre Agassi - 2002-03 US/AO
Andre Agassi - 2003-04 US/AO
Juan Carlos Ferrero - 2003-04 US/AO
Lleyton Hewitt - 2004-05 US/AO
Lleyton Hewitt - 2005 WI/US
David Nalbandian - 2006 AO/RG
Andy Roddick - 2006-07 US/AO
TOMAS BERDYCH - 2010 RG/WI



*WOMEN'S SINGLES FINAL*
#1 Serena Williams/USA def. #21 Vera Zvonareva/RUS 6-3/6-2

*MEN'S SINGLES FINAL*
#2 Rafael Nadal/ESP def. #12 Tomas Berdych/CZE 6-3/7-5/6-4

*WOMEN'S DOUBLES FINAL*
King/Shvedova (USA/KAZ) def. #12 Vesnina/Zvonareva (RUS/RUS) 7-6/6-2

*MEN'S DOUBLES FINAL*
Melzer/Petzschner (AUT/GER) def. #16 Lindstedt/Tecau (SWE/ROU) 6-1/7-5/7-5

*MIXED DOUBLES FINAL*
#2 Black/Paes (ZIM/IND) def. #11 Raymond/Moodie (USA/RSA) 6-4/7-6

*GIRLS SINGLES FINAL*
#9 Kristyna Pliskova/CZE def. #10 Sachie Ishizu/JPN 6-3/4-6/6-4

*BOYS SINGLES FINAL*
#13 Marton Fucsovics/HUN def. (Q) Benjamin Mitchell/AUS 6-4/6-4

*GIRLS DOUBLES FINAL*
#4 Babos/Stephens (HUN/USA) def. #1 Khromacheva/Svitolina (RUS/UKR) 6-7/6-2/6-2

*BOYS DOUBLES FINAL*
Broady/Farquharson (GBR/GBR) def. Burton/Morgan (GBR/GBR) 7-6/6-4




TOP QUALIFIER: #1q Kaia Kanepi/EST
TOP EARLY ROUND (1r-2r): #2 Venus Williams/USA
TOP MIDDLE-ROUND (3r-QF): #1 Serena Williams/USA
TOP LATE ROUND (SF-F): #1 Serena Williams/USA
TOP QUALIFYING MATCH: Q1: Junri Namigata/JPN def. Karolina Pliskova/CZE 6-2/4-6/14-12
TOP EARLY RD. MATCH (1r-2r): 1st Rd. - #24 Daniela Hantuchova/SVK def. Vania King/USA 6-7/7-6/6-3
TOP MIDDLE-RD. MATCH (3r-QF): QF - Petra Kvitova/CZE def. (Q)Kaia Kanepi/EST 4-6/7-6/8-6
TOP LATE RD. MATCH (SF-F/Jr.): Girls QF - #9 Kristyna Pliskova/CZE def. Sloane Stephens/USA 4-6/6-1/9-7
=============================
FIRST WINNER: Chan Yung-Jan/TPE (def. Patty Schnyder/SUI)
FIRST SEED OUT: #5 Francesca Schiavone (1st Rd. - lost to Vera Dushevina/RUS)
UPSET QUEENS: Czechs
REVELATION LADIES: Romanians
LAST QUALIFIER STANDING: Kaia Kanepi/EST (to QF)
IT GIRL: Petra Kvitova/CZE
MS. OPPORTUNITY: Tsvetana Pironkova/BUL
COMEBACK PLAYER: Vera Zvonareva/RUS
CRASH & BURN: Francesca Schiavone/ITA & Samantha Stosur/AUS (RG finalists, both lost in 1st Rd.)
ZOMBIE QUEEN: Petra Kvitova/CZE (down 5 MP, and 0-4 in 3rd, to Kaia Kanepi/EST in QF; won 8-6)
LAST BRIT STANDING: Heather Watson/GBR (last of six to lose in 1st Rd.)
DOUBLES STARS: Vania King & Yaroslava Shvedova, USA/KAZ
JUNIOR BREAKOUT: Kristyna Pliskova/CZE




All for now. Grass Court Awards & 3Q Hard Court preview next.

20 Comments:

Blogger jo shum said...

raga looks unbeatable as long as his knees hold up. The way he played, so fit, he could return every ball from seemingly an outright winner and then put it back to corners or in the lines forcing opponents to react defensively. His mental game is also so string that he will not concede any one single point without a big fight.

To this, his opponents are often ever frustrating to get just one point from nadal forcing then to go beyond their limits and control.

I don't see how nadal will lose unless to injury.

Mon Jul 05, 01:06:00 AM EDT  
Blogger xyz1903319 said...

Looks like underdogs find it difficult to win Wimbledon singles events.

Who was the most surprising winner at Wimbledon ever?

Mon Jul 05, 03:17:00 AM EDT  
Blogger 佳蓉佳蓉 said...

一個人的價值,應該看他貢獻了什麼,而不是他取得了什麼............................................................

Mon Jul 05, 03:53:00 AM EDT  
Blogger 柏辰柏辰 said...

當一個人內心能容納兩樣相互衝突的東西,這個人便開始變得有價值了。............................................................

Mon Jul 05, 03:54:00 AM EDT  
Blogger TennisAce said...

And this why I cannot buy into the Nadal narrative. When will he ever get beat fair and square? We have all bought into the narrative that the only way to beat him is when he is injured. What that does is take away every player's win against him.

When Federer loses, it is because he is done and dusted and needs to retire (yeah there are those who are calling for his retirement) and when Nadal loses, oh it is the aching knees.

Has anyone ever asked the question how come tendonitis just flares up out of the blue? We have seen many players out for months with knee tendonitis (Simon anyone) and yet we see Nadal doing somersaults, somersaults on wonky knees. Come on people.

He even used his loss against Roddick. Roddick, who has not won anything of significance for so long, he used the knee excuse as to why he lost.

He is taking 3 weeks off to have his right knee treated with some form of hi-tech treatment that not even he can explain and apparently the reporters who ask questions are too stupid to even ask the questions or do their own investigations. Is he using the blood platelet thing that James Blake mentioned as a treatment option for his tendonitis, but which almost caused Tamira Paskek to be banned from the sport.

It would be nice if someone could do some investigation to see what type of treatment Nadal is getting. I am sure a whole host of players would thank him and it would be his contribution to the sport and to sports medicine.

Mon Jul 05, 07:05:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

According to ESPN, he is indeed going to have the blood platelet treatment.

Mon Jul 05, 10:36:00 AM EDT  
Blogger jo shum said...

what is blood platelet treatment, it sounds scary...

tennisace, i did think he was beaten fair and square by federer before. and even at AO when he retired he was outplayed by murray. nadal's 'all-out' game style is not supposed to be long lasting on his body, but got to admire that he plays to his ultimate body stretch to win sometimes impossible matches. so he will probably achieve the greatest results in the shortest period of time, but how long can his body take this toll is anyone's guess.

Mon Jul 05, 11:29:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

A blood platelet treatment involves drawing the patient's blood, spinning it in a machine and then putting it back into the patient. There are a few variations on the procedure, including the Paszek variation, which gets you investigated for doping.

Mon Jul 05, 01:44:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

xyz-

Hmmm, looking back at the past champions it's easier than I thought it would be. Your first thought might be Sharapova at 17, but I don't think so (I actually picked her to make the final before that tournament, so I was expecting big things from her that year).

It's Conchita Martinez. Plain and simple.

Now, she was a very good player. A Hall of Famer (though just barely, and a legit question w/o the Wimbledon title, though her FC play might have gotten her in). But there is no way in a million Spanish summers that anyone thought that the one slam she'd win in her career would come at Wimbledon. Paris, yes. London, no. And to beat Navratilova, even at 37, in the final? Stunning.

With the men, I'd say maybe Pat Cash. But even with him, injuries were why he didn't win more. Maybe Michael Stich, or Richard Krajicek just because he interrupted what could have been an eight-year run by Sampras? Agassi winning in '92 was unexpected at the time, too, largely because he'd avoided even playing the tournament for years before.

Actually, though, Becker winning as an unseeded 17-year old was maybe the biggest stunner that I can remember. After what he did after that, it looks less surprising now. But at the time, it was a HUGE thing. In many ways, him winning that year (he wasn't much older than me at the time) is what took my interest in the sport to a whole different level. He's still my all-time favorite men's player.

Mon Jul 05, 01:49:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

T.Ace-

My, you're really on a tear with Nadal, aren't you? That's okay. I respect it, considering my often-contrary opinions when it comes to how a certain Belgian has been covered over the years. :)

As Jo said, I think Federer has always been given credit when he's defeated Nadal. And I think the only time his knees have REALLY been used as an excuse for losses was last summer, and considering his loss to Soderling at RG last year is his only career loss in Paris (38-1) I'd say the injury played some part. That he missed attempting to defend his Wimbledon title, too, shows the legitimacy of the situation.

You know, you've sort of done the same thing with Venus and Federer the last few days, too, by noting their injuries (or in Venus' case, possible injury) as potential explanations that no one mentioned. All are legitimate, I think, as well.

As far as Federer and Nadal's losses are judged against each other, I think a lot of that has to do with Federer just being in a different time in his career than Nadal. Federer has been spectacular over the years, but even if he goes on to win 3 or more slams the rest of the way there's no denying he's in the back third of his career. Nadal might not have quite reached the absolute peak of his career yet (it could be that this summer will be as good as it'll get). One day, he'll be in the same position Federer is now. But as long as he has no devastating injury, he's probably three (maybe four, if all goes well) years away from entering that phase of his career. Not shockingly, Federer is four years older than Rafa. This is all just about right on schedule.

Sometimes it sounds like an excuse, and it's why so many have bristled over the years when a top player mentions an injury after a loss. Even if they're not making an excuse, it sounds like it and some people are going to take it that way. All players play with injuries.

As far a Nadal goes, though, since his game is a more physical brand that, even while the style of play is totally opposite, brings to mind the old serve-and-volley players of past eras. Players like Becker were so physically-oriented on the court that an injury for them that limits what they do DOES affect their results more than it might some others with the ability to play different sorts of styles during a match.

Maybe it's because he's always made things so easy, but I think (outside of his never-talked-about fitness training) one of the reasons Federer hasn't had injuries plague his career's forward progress has been because of his tremendous versatility. He could win at the net, or from the baseline. He could win with a big serve, or defense. At his best, he was never dependent on one shot or one style of play. He could always compensate in some way to make up the difference if a lingering physical problem was an issue.

Rafa is very much like a great, shifty running back in the NFL. If his knees are bothering him, he's just not the same player. In one fell swoop -- or misstep -- his legacy could go from "great" to "sad." So any possible problems with his knees are a very big deal.

Mon Jul 05, 01:56:00 PM EDT  
Blogger TennisAce said...

Todd, thanks for taking the time to respond. I am not on a "tear" against Nadal. I am on a tear for fairness. I applaud all that Nadal has accomplished but I am getting a bit tired of the narrative that is being written, i.e that one is a warrior who can only be beaten when he is injured, while the other is a sissifed fellow from Switzerland whose time has come and who is being overtaken by better players.

It is unfair to legends of the game when the media just sits there with bated breath ready to write their epitaphs.

What I found unfair about the whole injury thing is that Federer had a big old bandage on his right thigh, and not one reporter asked him about it. Not one. I went back and looked at every transcript until he got taken out in the quarters and did not find a single question on that, but on every single Nadal presser, the question is asked about the knees.

I know that I have said that injury perhaps contributed to the loss of both Venus and Federer, but I am a fan, I am supposed to say those things. My issue is with tennis media who should know better.

I understand that in order to use the blood replacement therapy thingy you need an exemption. I think Kamakashi Tandon wrote an article about it on ESPN.

Mon Jul 05, 06:40:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

The discussion of injuries aside, I certainly agree that the narrative about Federer and Nadal has become ridiculous. If Rafa wears a pink shirt (and who should care at all, other than it looked really good), he is "courageous," but if Roger wears an old-school cardigan, he is "gay." Rafa wears a $500,000 watch on the court, and commentators talk about its construction. If Roger wore it, he would be so "elitist" and so "gay" that the commentators' heads would explode.

(This comment may disappear; I am dealing with some Blogger bugs. If it does, I know how to put it back.)

Tue Jul 06, 10:19:00 AM EDT  
Blogger xyz1903319 said...

My first thought wasn't Sharapova. I was rooting for her in every match at Wimbledon (just that year's, she was that likable).

I thought of Novotna and Ivanisevic, the wild card champion. Coincidentally, both are one-slam wonders.

Martinez is really surprising. Spanish players would normally perform well on clay but winning a sole grand slam on grass at Wimbledon, that's kinda shocking.

I never get to see Becker play but for a 17-year-old unseeded player, that's amazing. Maybe I will look forward for your time series on him :)

Tue Jul 06, 06:27:00 PM EDT  
Blogger TennisAce said...

Diane, did you see the post that Pete Bodo wrote about Roger's outfit last year? OMG it was so sad. I think I have already decided why American and British commentators deride Federer so much. You only have to look at 3 people. For the Americans, Sampras and Roddick. For the Brits, Andy Murray.

I have decided to not put their visitor count up any more and have decided in my own way to just no longer visit certain places until some amount of fairness and objectivity can be done by the media. I know I will have a very long wait.

The latest narrative that I am reading is that Federer played in a weak era. I just have one silly little question. Who else has Nadal played apart from the same players that Federer has played? The only exception is del Potro who has only won 1 Grand Slam and is yet to win a Masters Series title.

Tue Jul 06, 09:42:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Diane said...

T.A.,

Bodo makes funs of almost everyone's outfit, so I guess you can look at the criticism of Federer at business as usual. I did see it; he is not the only U.S. writer to be obsessed with the concept of "masculinity."

I read an article yesterday in which the author maintained that Federer had never beaten anyone important in a major--"has beens," "not-quites," etc. You can spin anything any way you want to, but there seems to be a mad rush in some parts to discredit Roger.

(signing in with my account to test the bug stuff)

Tue Jul 06, 10:12:00 PM EDT  
Blogger jo shum said...

thanks diane for the explanation.

a lot of times the media ppl are just looking for things to write. it's all the hype rather than plain actual facts. and the US media always embrace certain players and dislike certain. well, the pen (or computer) is in their hands. at this point, they are riding the momentum of nadal's winning streak, well the way to do? praise one and beat the other.

Tue Jul 06, 11:54:00 PM EDT  
Blogger TennisAce said...

Diane, the thing is he never criticises people like Roddick. He reveres people like that. As a matter of fact last year he made it seem as if it was Federer's fault that Roddick lost at Wimbledon.

Bodo is a conservative in relation to politics. He is also the writer of Sampras' autobiography and therefore he has a vested interest in maintaining that Sampras is/was better than Federer. The fact that almost the entire tennis community in the rest of the world disagrees with him makes no never mind to him.

As to the whole weak era argument, when a player such as Nadal goes through an entire part of the season without dropping more than a game, and not even dropping a set, then we can say that a certain aspect of the season is weak. The only person who is benefitting from playing on clay is Nadal. Perhaps we need to scrap the whole clay season and see how well he matches up.

I am taking nothing away from Nadal. He has worked hard to reach where he has in the game and kudos to him for that. However, the media are doing a disservice to him and his legacy by maintaining this stupid weak era argument.

Wed Jul 07, 08:11:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

xyz-

I wouldn't have said Novotna just because she was a constant threat at Wimbledon for years (QF-or-better from 1990-99, and three finals) before she won, and SHOULD have beaten Graf in '93. Ivanisevic, the same way. He'd reached three Wimbledon finals and lost before he finally won. He was never really a huge threat at the other slams, but on the grass his serve made him a contender every time. The year he won it was really a case of now-or-never for him.

I wish I had something from when Becker won his first two titles, but I didn't start writing any post-final things until after that. Which sort of backs up the thought that his rise spurred me on, I guess. I've done a Time Capsule with Becker/Edberg, though. I've sort of scheduled myself to do a Wimbledon TC next year for a season in which both Graf and Becker made it an all-German title sweep.

I've toyed with the idea of going back and watching an old match as if it were occurring live, then doing something with that. Becker at Wimbledon in '85 and '86 would be a good first candidate.

Thu Jul 08, 04:05:00 PM EDT  
Blogger xyz1903319 said...

Todd, gonna watch the world cup?

I mentioned them because they could had never won any grand slam title. Maybe Thomas Johansson AO '02, Gaston Gaudio FO '04.

Looking forward for your Time Capsules :)

Sun Jul 11, 10:36:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Todd Spiker said...

Novotna did reach an AO final (and was up a set vs. Hingis), and the SF of RG/US, though, at least. Alas, Wimbledon was her only title. :(

Sun Jul 11, 11:40:00 PM EDT  

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