The Great And The Merely Good

5 07 2010

The tennis world is truly blessed at the moment. In Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, the tennis watching public have two of the greatest players ever to have played the game, although, we cannot help but feel a little sorry for Andy Murray and the other merely excellent players around as really – what chance do they have?

From the watershed of 2002 when Federer first won Wimbledon, 24 out of 32 Grand Slam titles have been won by either Federer or Nadal. Federer, who is still only 28, has won 16 out of these whilst Nadal, at 24 years of age, has now brought his tally to 8. We have taken 2002 as the point where essentially the rest of the world conceded their realistic claims on these Open titles, yet, that is actually a little unfair on Rafael Nadal being younger and coming on the scene later. Since 2005, when the Spaniard first won the French Open, the pair’s hegemony has been almost complete. In this time an incredible 21 out of 24 available titles have been won by this pair with only Juan Del Potro (US Open 2009), Novak Djokovic (Australian Open 2008) and Marat Safin (Australian Open 2005) managing to sneak the odd one away.

Andy Murray was yesterday reported in the papers to be going on holiday and “staying away from tennis for a while”. Like Thomas Berdych in the final, Murray was never entirely out of his match, several times opening up break opportunities, yet each and every time bar one Nadal simply stepped up a gear recovered the situation. You can forgive Murray his frustration as quite simply he is never going to beat these two players unless they are having an off day, which as their win percentages of above 80% in all games shows, is depressingly rare. Worst of all Murray knows this and, despite Federer’s kind words after his defeat of Murray in this years Australian Open when he said that the Scot is “too good a player not to win a Grand Slam”, it is unlikely to happen unless they are injured or retired. This latter thought crossed several peoples minds in Federer’s case following his loss at Wimbledon last week, and which Berdych, Murray, Djokovic et al probably hoped might be the case, turned out to be an unfounded rumour as the Fed has reiterated his hunger and desire to keep winning since then.

The only question is for these two maestros of the game is how many can they win. We would not be surprised if Federer ended up with somewhere in the region of 20 to 22 and Nadal somewhere not too far behind. For Murray of course; the question is whether he will ever do it. He should, undoubtedly, but the problem for him is that somehow, not only does he have to overcome the top two, but also the other half dozen players who upon seeing the early demise of the two superstars will recognise their opportunity and raise their game accordingly.

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4 responses

5 07 2010
Chris Ross

I really enjoyed reading your article keep up the good work! I thought that this year’s wimbledon was very exciting and was happy to see Rafael Nadal take home his second title. But you have wonder if his injuries are going to catch up to him. I’m worried for how his career is going to pan out because of the injury problems considering it could be an unbelievable career rather than just very good. Also, you think you could check out my blog? I really want to know what your opinion is on my thoughts. http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/nadals-last-chance/

6 07 2010
Bradders

Do you not think his career could already be considered great? 8 Grand Slams and fifth (i think) on the list of all time… But yes I hear what you’re saying…

7 07 2010
apurvadesai

Nice article– good insight and research. I would, however, disagree with the comments on how many Grand Slams that you think Federer and Nadal will end up with. For Federer to get to 22, he’d have to win 6 Grand Slams during the age group of 28-31, assuming he’d play and retire at age 31 to get there. That’s more than any other player in modern era– Agassi had the most at 4. I just don’t think that’s reasonable expectation for Federer and we’ve started to see his decline this year. I’d say he wins 2 more over the next 2 years and ends at 18 Grand Slams– he’d have won 3 Grand Slams during his post 28+ years which would put him on par with Sampras, Connors, and Lendl which I think is a reasonable expectation. More data supporting my views:

http://apurvadesai.com/2010/07/04/a-renewed-look-at-nadals-case-for-greatest-of-all-time-goat/

7 07 2010
Bradders

Thanks for commenting – yes and having read some similar articles since then perhaps I am being a little optimistic on Fed’s behalf. The only thing is is that Fed is probably the best ever and the beginning of his decline has been called before… Therefore I think another four isn’t too out of his reach. Not sure you can compare him to Agassi as he is probably on another level to him. As for Rafa – its all in his knees!

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