Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Federer Wins the French

Believe me when I say that very few people were happier to see Federer win the French than I was. I think he's the best of all time and getting the French Open and his 14th major bolsters that case. (The only serious counter-argument, I think, is that he's had the best stretch-run of all time. I'm open to idea that at particular instants, other players were better. But I would need a lot of convincing.)

But does his victory really mean that the Age of Federer continues? I don't think so. Here's what I wrote after last year's Wimbledon final:

The age of Federer is over. He'll hang around near the top for the next 18 months. He'll be a regular in the semis and finals of the slams, but absent him getting some help (injuries to other players, a draw with lots of upsets) I don't think it's certain he will win another big one. It's hard to imagine how he could win three more.

I still think this is about right. Since Wimbledon he's won two majors. I'm still doubtful he can get another--unless Nadal is seriously injured and Federer continues to get very favorable draws.

It doesn't take anything away from Federer to note that during his run at the French Federer faced only one top-10 player (and only two guys from the top 20). He didn't see Nadal, Murray, or Djokovic or run a gauntlet of second-tier, top-fifteeners. Maybe other draws will shake out similarly. If Nadal pulls out of Wimbledon, or shows up hurt, and Djokovic continues his slide, and a bunch of flukey upsets clear a path for him, he can win more majors. But I still think that the days of Fed blitzing through a major thumping a string of guys like Hewitt, Haas, Murray, Gonzalez, Robredo, and Nadal are over.


Al said...

Right, because the days of Federer being able to beat guys like Djokovic and Murray back to back are over. Oh, wait, Federer beat them back to back to win the US Open?

Right, so the days of Federer beating guys like Roddick and del Potro back to back are over. Oh, wait, Federer beat them back to back to get to the finals of the Australian?

Right, so the days of Federer being able to beat Nadal anywhere are over. Oh, wait, Federer beat Nadal at the Madrid Open a few weeks ago?

This idea that Federer got *lucky* is ridiculous. He can beat Nadal. He can beat Djokovic or Murray or Roddick or any of the others at any time, and in consecutive matches. Therefore, he can win multiple more Slams, no matter the opponents or draw or whatever.

It's funny ot see you defend the "Age of Federer Is Over" by refining the "Age of Federer". Now, apparently, that doesn't mean the ability to win Slams. It doesn't even mean , apparently, the ability to win 2-of-3 Slams. No, apparenly, now the "Age of Federer" means *only* the best player in history playing at the very tippy top of his game such that he will never be challenged at all even playing all of the other best players in the game.

So when Federer wins 3 or 4 more Slams over the next couple of years - which seems overwhelmingly likely at this point - we will still have JVL defending his statement that the Age of Federer is Over, no matter how many Slams he wins.

Jacob said...

This strikes me as a little uncharitable to Federer. He’s still pretty much dominating in the majors, and in the main it’s only Nadal that gives him trouble. Yes, there are always hiccups – the five-setter against Haas – but there are also moments of matchless greatness (vide: the three-set destruction of Gael Monfils, a well-regarded clay-court player). On the whole, at any given major, Nadal seems to be the only thing standing between Federer and a title, which in practice means that the slightest stumble or injury on Nadal’s part, and Federer wins. And now we hear that Nadal is a nursing a knee injury that may keep him out of Wimbledon. Number 15, here we come…

Jonathan V. Last said...

Go back and read the original post, Alex. I never said that Fed couldn't win more majors. Rather that (1) he'd need help; (2) getting ahead of Sampras had gone from a sure-thing to a questionable proposition; and (3) getting far ahead of Sampras, as once seemed given, was out of reach.

As for your individual points: The U.S. Open win was great. You'll note that after beating del Potro and Roddick, Fed did not win the Australian--which kind of supports my point, no?

As for the Madrid win against Nadal, that was the tournament that supposedly pushed Rafa over the edge physically. I very much doubt that Federer can beat a healthy Nadal anywhere at this point. Maybe I'm wrong. Or maybe Nadal has gassed his body and will never get back to 100%, which would certainly open things up for Federer.

As for it being "overwhelmingly likely" that Federer will win four more slams--you should go to Vegas for some sweet action if you think that's the case. My guess is that you'll get great odds for such a sure-thing.

Anonymous said...

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight. We'll just conveniently forget to mention the luck of the draw that has made possible half the victories in tennis (including SEVERAL of Nadal's): Navratilova's ninth Wimbledon singles crown means nothing because Graf lost in the semifinal; half Graf's titles are worthless because Seles owned her and would have owned those titles had the felon not assaulted her; Mauresmo's Australian title wasn't real because Henin withdrew in the midst of the final...Ludicrous. Every player benefits hugely from the luck, and suffers terribly from the bad luck, of the draw. I think Nadal's Wimbledon title should be forfeit--the light was bad and the match should have been suspended. I'm truly sick of this drivel.

Tennis Plaza said...

Well it seems you've stirred everyone up with this post about Federer. I was impressed that he pulled of this win with the following 4 things heavily distracting him:

1. He's never won at the French Open.
2. He is a newly married husband.
3. He is expecting to be a father soon.
4. He had "Jimmy Jump" interupt the game and try to attack him in the middle of it.

I have seen him play from the front row seat at the US Open and this guy is magic to watch. I have never seen someone play like him on the court. His body is giving him no problems and I think he has at least 2 more grand slams before he will decline.

Scrutineer said...

I think [Federer is] the best of all time ...

How many Grand Slam titles does Bjorn Borg score if he bothers to play in the Australian Open and doesn't retire ridiculously early at 25? Even including his U.S. Open losses, he has the best ever Grand Slam winning percentage.

imho, the one guy who utterly dominated on the fastest and slowest surfaces is the best ever. If Federer wins a few more French Opens, I'll agree with you.

Anonymous said...

After Wimbedon:

Whose age is it now in your opininon?

Nadal (AO-cham)?

Roddick ( )?

Murray ( )?

Federer, being the US-Open, French and Wimbledon champ can't be it of course.