Tennis - ATP/WTA

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  crimson king on Sun Mar 02, 2014 7:57 am

I keep posting on but well I just found this article by Arunabha Sengupta.  Was sure he had written on the subject of best batsmen against WI of 1976-1995 and Aus of 1995-2007.  Interesting 'discoveries'.

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  fring151 on Sun Mar 02, 2014 9:34 am

Interesting that there are whispers about Nadal. His unusually fast recoveries from potentially career threatening injuries does raise an eyebrow. The cynical Fedex fan in me though thinks - well, if he turns out to be not-so-squeaky-clean, that would at least seal Fed's position as the best of his era, which is not something I would necessarily mind.  Razz 

You have argued well for Rod Laver's case. A similar argument can be made for Bradman - no one has even come close to that jawdropping average, but as a counterargument, in cricket, a high batting average is a poor index for measuring GOATness and in the face of other facts like having virtually never face anyone but England all his life, his GOATness is by no means incontestable like the Aussie-English axis might believe.

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  Michael AF on Sun Mar 02, 2014 9:40 am

Why I wanted to boo Nadal, too
[url=http://www.backpagelead.com.au/our-team#Charles Happell][/url]
I was at Melbourne Park for the men's final on Sunday and, to all those sanctimonious types who've wailed about the crowd's heckling of Rafael Nadal, I must say I felt exactly the same way as the boo-boys.


I'd been mesmerised by Stan Wawrinka's play over the first set and a bit. It was tennis of the most sublime quality - backhand winners peeled off down the line, crunching off forehand winners - that rendered Nadal's power game almost impotent. The crowd had turned up hoping for some sort of contest - anything but the straight-sets bore-athon which had been predicted by just about every expert - and they were loving the way Wawrinka was, in his first Grand Slam final, totally dismantling the world No.1 and raging favourite.


Here was a sporting moment that every underdog-loving Australian could revel in: a no-hoper - tennis' Buster Douglas - playing the match of his life to give the world champ not just a bloody nose but a standing count from the ref. 
I was actually, by some ticketing quirk, sitting in Row A, right in the corner of the court, above the Chinese characters that apparently denote the ANZ Bank. Close enough to feel the hoardings reverberate every time a Wawrinka serve crashed into the signage just below me; close enough to see the despair on Nadal's face as his opponent bullied and bossed him around the court in a way that few, if any, players have done before. 


When Nadal came back on to the court after his medical time out, at 1-2 in the second set, he walked towards the ball boy just below me to collect a handful of balls, his brow furrowed even more deeply than usual as boos echoed around the stadium. He couldn't seem to comprehend the crowd reaction: they're booing 
me?


Four nights earlier, I'd seen the usually imperturbable Roger Federer feel aggrieved enough at Nadal's antics to complain to chair umpire Jake Garner about the Spaniard's grunting and time-wasting. 
Channel Seven flashed up a stat at one stage of that match, indicating Nadal was taking an average of 28 seconds between points on his service, Federer 20 seconds, the maximum time permissible under ATP rules. So why was Nadal allowed eight seconds longer than everyone else? And why isn't he more regularly called out on that?


Federer wanted to know as much, calling on weak officials to clamp down on the Spaniard's serial gamesmanship.
He later said Nadal had been given just two time violations in the 33 times they'd met, covering 80 hours or more of tennis. Two measly violations.


Which is why I felt Eva Asderaki, the Greek chair umpire during Nadal's round-four match against Kei Nishikori, deserved some sort of Australia Day medal. There was Nadal serving, with the third set locked at 4-4 and deuce, and taking his usual interminable time between points when Ms Asderaki piped up: ''Time violation, Mr Nadal'', meaning the gobsmacked world No.1 had to forfeit his first serve.
For me, an absolutely priceless moment that should feature in any tournament highlights package.  


(Just to illustrate how Team Nadal doesn't get it, uncle Toni later told Spanish radio it would be better if umpires were drawn from a pool of former players who knew what it was like to be out on court in a pressure situation. "We had a problem with a girl (Asderaki)," uncle Toni gallantly explained to the interviewer.)


Nadal's flirtation with gamesmanship - bolder commentators (of the sort you don't tend to find in the Seven commentary booth) might go so far as to call it cheating - has been going on for years.


Here's the start of a piece in the New York magazine from July 2011 about the very same subject:


''Rafael Nadal is in acute distress. He's just lost the game, he's facing a momentum-defining tiebreaker, and his opponent has his second wind. Rafa's just hit yet another impossible shot from an impossible angle, and one foot seems to have borne all the acrobatic brunt. He's in deep crouch, trying to gauge the extent and implications of the pain. Then he heads to his chair and calls for the trainer; the tiebreaker will have to wait; his opponent, oozing adrenaline, will have to cool his heels. After a tense interlude during which his opponent, visibly upset, remonstrates with the umpire to restart, Nadal returns, takes the tiebreaker, and romps. The press waits with bated breath to hear the results of the MRI — will he be able to carry on and defend his title? The results show nothing of any concern, and Nadal smashes his next opponent in four sets, fresh as a daisy...''


That account of Nadal seeking medical attention mid-match took place during his fourth-round US Open victory over Juan Martin del Potro. After days of speculation about the Spaniard's injury, he dismissed Mardy Fish in the next round, telling reporters that he was using a heavy anesthetic to numb the pain in his foot.


Yet that sequence of events could have been from any number of Nadal matches in the past five years. In 2010 at Wimbledon, in the third round against Germany's Philipp Petzschner, Nadal was trailing by two sets to one. Petzschner, as anyone who was watching the game could see, was in the zone and serving bombs that Nadal was simply not able to get a racquet on.


Nadal called for the trainer several times on the way to a hard-fought five-set victory yet never appeared injured, a tactic his opponent characterized after the match as "pretty clever." He did the same thing to disrupt Federer's rhythm during the first set of the 2011 French Open final. In each instance the timing was impeccable, and unsportsmanlike.


So that's was the backdrop to Nadal's injury time out against Wawrinka on Sunday night. That was the reason for the crowd's booing. That was why Wawrinka went ballistic in his courtside seat, berating the chair umpire and gesticulating to uncle Toni and Team Nadal sitting across from him in the stands.


Those who follow the sport for longer than two weeks a year - the ones being derided by Angela Pippos in the New Daily, Cameron Tomarchio in the Herald Sun and Will Brodie in Fairfax as ignorant and boorish - understood exactly what was happening. That this was Nadal's tried-and-tested fallback position, his modus operandi, when his opponent has all the momentum and he needs to do something to stall proceedings and win himself back some breathing time.The Swiss player clearly felt he was being duped as well, complaining to chair umpire Carlos Ramos that he deserved an explanation about the nature of Nadal's injury.

The crowd picked up on Wawrinka's annoyance and started slow hand-clapping the Spaniard who was still doing whatever he was doing underneath the Rod Laver stands. 
And then when Nadal finally appeared, well that's when they gave it to him with both barrels. Critics have labelled the booing of Nadal as un-Australian. Yet this concept of what constitutes 'Australian' and 'un-Australian' behaviour - nebulous at the best of times - is now so blurred as to be rendered utterly meaningless.  


This country's cricket fans booed England's Stuart Broad for two whole months this summer for doing what every Australian Test cricketer (with one notable exception) has been doing since Ian Chappell had sideburns: not walking after edging a catch. So is that Australian or un-Australian behaviour? 
What Australians don't like (if I can indulge in a little racial stereotyping here myself) is shysters and conmen.
And they felt on Sunday night that they - and Wawrinka - were being conned.


The Swiss blew him off the court in the first set and then broke him to love in the opening game of the second set (have a look at that on YouTube if you want to see a small slice of tennis perfection) and suddenly Rafa starts grimacing in pain and clutching at his back.
Well that's mighty convenient, isn't it?


Of course he was hobbled by the back complaint but cynics will wonder just how badly. Will he, for example, front up next week, as bright as a button, claiming the back problem was just a momentary spasm and everything is A-OK now? That he's taken a 'heavy aneasthetic to numb the pain'. We'll see.

Nadal is a wonderful champion and gracious winner, always heaping praise on his vanquished opponent. It's this descent into gamesmanship when he's losing, though, which is threatening to become a blot on his career.


http://www.backpagelead.com.au/index.php/tennis/12098-why-i-wanted-to-boo-nadal-too


Last edited by Michael AF on Sun Mar 02, 2014 9:46 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  Michael AF on Sun Mar 02, 2014 9:45 am

A comment from the above article!!!

I admire Rafa... His achievements as a tennis player truly are remarkable. But some of those "antics" are just NOT missable, are they? Taints most of his victories - a pity not many scribes note that, choosing instead to showcase a 'gladiator'.
May be except for 2011 (when Djokovic bashed him fair-and-square) and late last year, but from 2009 (not looking at earlier instances), almost all of Rafa's losses have been "attributed to injury", in one way or another. Or "fatigue".
Cases in point - loss to Soderling at RG09, loss to del Potro at USO09, WTF09, retirement at AO10, WTF10, loss to Rosol, Darcis and now, Stan.
Similarly... He was "fatigued" in his losses to Roger at WTFs in 2010 and 2011 (where he was pummelled, btw), but the very next week - he most certainly was fresh as ever and took his country to Davis Cup victories.
Of course, many other matches which I haven't bothered mentioning (e.g. walkover to Murray at Miami 2012), the numerous "dubious" timeouts during a match [v. Del Potro at Wimbledon 2011 (not the US Open like you've mentioned), v. Federer at RG 2011, etc.] and the like.
Some instances I could quickly pen down... I am sure there are more.
2006 - Roger Federer calls out Toni - midmatch - for illlegal coaching.
2006 - Ivan Lubijic got pissed off with Rafa's time wasting and made it clear everyone wanted Federer to win the French.
2006 - Scolding Tomas Berdych who made a "Shhh" gesture to the crowd after beating Rafa.
2007 - Robin Soderling, at Wimbledon, for time-wasting and butt-picking before every point.
2008 - Medical time-out against Federer in Hamburg while he was losing.
2010 - Retires against Andy Murray at the Australian Open (but "bravely battles" David Ferrer next year)
2010 - Medical time-out against Philipp Petzschner and illegal coaching
2010 - Wimbledon; against Robin Söderling. Argues and threatens umpire Carlos Ramos, I think. Even had the crowd jeering. Can you actually imagine Wimbledon center court crowd jeering Rafa!?!
2010 - World Tour Finals. Against Berdych. Argues with umpire Bernandez (one of the respected fellows) and threatens to not play.
2011 - Wimbledon; against Juan Martín del Potro. Takes a time out to get some tape cut, hobbles before MTO, comfortable goes on to win (despite tough DelPo fightback) afterwards.
2012 - Indian Wells; doesn't take a loo break before Federer serves for the match (play had already been suspended due to rain); but rushes for one just before *match point*.
2012 - Madrid; Blue clay is fine when he beats Nikolay Davydenko but dangerous when he blows a lead to Fernando Verdasco.
2012 - French open; conditions are good when winning and bad when losing.
2012 - Wimbledon; complaining about opponent, time wasting, illegal coaching and bumping on opponent (Lukas Rosol).
2013 - "Pain" after loss to Steve Darcis; nothing when winning almost everything all year!
2013 - Paris; Mysteriously loses to Ferrer, cites "rustiness", but handily defeats the same opponent four days later at the O2. 
2014 - Australian Open again. Needn't elucidate.

Oh btw - returning to that fourth rounder you've referred to - he gave Asderaki an earful following the match, chatted sheepishly with Courier later and et voila! Eva was nowhere to be seen again.

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  crimson king on Sun Mar 02, 2014 9:50 am

Nadal is basically a very (outwardly) nice and polite version of Connors.  Connors at least had no pretensions, made no apologies for who he was and what he did.  Nadal tries to pretend it's the umpires and the opponents who are against him and being unfair and that he does not indulge in gamesmanship.  And he has all these chippy, inferiority complex fueled fans (somewhat like ARR  Razz ) who jump into the fray the moment anybody dares dig up the unsavoury side of Nadal.  If there's a rule that he must serve within 25 seconds, he has to, period.  Umpire is not obliged to give him n number of chances to redeem himself before handing out a point penalty.  

I was delighted that the courts in Aus Open were sped up, albeit marginally, and Bull had to bend down to his knees to get to Wawrinka's scorching one handers.  If that hurt, too bad...I am sure the players who played a more classical hard court game felt likewise when they were forced to play heavy balls against Bull just to appease the spectators. Uncle Toni should decide whether Nadal's fitness is more important or the "spectacle of long rallies"; they can't have it both ways.  I echo the sentiments of that above article (which I have read before) largely.  I admire Nadal's fighting spirit and determination, he is a great champion.  But I am not able to excuse his penchant for gamesmanship and politics.

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  crimson king on Sun Mar 02, 2014 9:52 am

fring151 wrote:You have argued well for Rod Laver's case. A similar argument can be made for Bradman - no one has even come close to that jawdropping average, but as a counterargument, in cricket, a high batting average is a poor index for measuring GOATness and in the face of other facts like having virtually never face anyone but England all his life, his GOATness is by no means incontestable like the Aussie-English axis might believe.

Exactly the reason why I too don't completely buy the Bradman myth.  Laver's case is different.  The sport was more continental and professional already by the time he came on the scene so it was not some nice amateur uncle beating similar dibbly dobbly slow moving amateur gents.  He was an amazing sportsman for sure.

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  Michael AF on Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:00 am

Crimson king, I know you had read this post earlier in hub but I haven't posted it here. I was meaning to post it here for the likes of Plum, Bala etc etc who don't come there anymore.

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  crimson king on Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:02 am

Of course, saar, please share.  Just mentioned in passing that I had read it before.  Are you still on hub by the way?

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  fring151 on Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:19 am

Michael AF wrote:http://www.backpagelead.com.au/index.php/tennis/12098-why-i-wanted-to-boo-nadal-too

Wow that was epic. I almost want to hate Nadal now  Razz . I was thinking about the Fed outburst at the Aussie open -"This is surprising. Never expected this from Fed". In the context of this article, it makes a lot of sense.

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  crimson king on Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:27 am

Fed and Nadal have had a lot of mutual respect.  It must have taken a lot for Fed to say that because he's not the sort who tries to get on the wrong side of all his competitors.  Looking at the way Fed and Djoko embraced each other after the Dubai match this Friday, I wonder if Fed has overcome his earlier misgivings about Djoko and begun to like him more.   Razz   Especially since he is more likely to lose once in a while to Fed.   Razz   Jokes apart, Djoke is one of the most graceful in defeat on the tour, tends to smile rather than scowl when he's shaking hands.

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  fring151 on Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:32 am

crimson king wrote:I keep posting on but well I just found this article by Arunabha Sengupta.  Was sure he had written on the subject of best batsmen against WI of 1976-1995 and Aus of 1995-2007.  Interesting 'discoveries'.

Lol at "shocking revelations". But I am not a fan of this going by averages business. I like to look at the context in which the runs were scored, the way they were scored etc - and sadly in test cricket, unless one actually watches a match live, it is hard to gauge these things from mere statistics. Dhoni's statistics, for that matter would present a more flattering picture of his batting than we think. Also on a matter of minor detail I disagree that the "Aussie era" started in 1995. It was not till 1999 that they really started steamrolling their oppositions. I remember some people even mocked McGrath as some sort of Manoj Prabhakar equivalent fellow during the 1996 world cup. And the Windies decline began around 1992-93 itself, though they didn't actually lose a test series till 95 (I think).

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  Bala (Karthik) on Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:37 am

Thanks AF for posting those. I started watching the AO final from the end of the 2nd set (or beg of 3rd set). What happened in the 3rd set was insane. Was exchanging tweets with DM at that time. Clearly, it should have been on the mind, Stan's that is. On watching highlights later, 1st 2 sets totally different and the transition was abrupt. Kalathula vlaadravanukku thaan theriyum but idhu oru pattern maadhiri dhan irukku

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  crimson king on Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:39 am

Yeah, I agree on that point.  Australia were really good from 1995-99, the no. 1 team, but still vulnerable.  They became a tidal force after WC 1999.  Their 99-00 home series was a bloodbath - for the visitors.  Even then, I am not sure they ever matched WI in the 80s - Marshall, Roberts, Holding, Garner, doesn't get better than that.  Gillespie without McGrath was not a matchwinner whereas any of those four WI giants could blow away the opposition on their day.  

The other problem with that article is more that it focuses on the performance against WI only.  Fine, because that's what he intended to write.  But some of those players like Wasim Raja were average against other teams.  Martin Crowe on the other hand is a very credible contender.  A strangely underrated and unheralded great.  I guess like film stars, cricketers also need a big propaganda machine behind them now to get their due recognition, not just in their time but later.  Crowe was considered the best batsman in the world in 1992.  How can he not even figure in all time greats list anymore.  Yeah, because his average is 45 and averaging 50 on dead tracks apparently counts for more than averaging 45 against great attacks in hostile conditions.  

Net net, I don't think there is any one GOAT batsman in cricket.  All time greatest CRICKETER?  Maybe Sir Garfield Sobers.  Too bad the niggas beat the Anglo Saxon uppities at their own game!  Razz

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  fring151 on Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:51 am

crimson king wrote:All time greatest CRICKETER?  Maybe Sir Garfield Sobers.  Too bad the niggas beat the Anglo Saxon uppities at their own game!  

Lol. True that. Em niggas never been surpassed brotha. I will always vote for the Windies late 70s-80s teams as the GOAT team ever, if only to piss off stiff upper lip Anglos.  Razz . You should read Dickie Bird's autibio to get a sense of their REAL dominance at the time . And I steadfastly refuse to append the Anglo given "Sir" title to King Viv or Gary's names.

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  Drunkenmunk on Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:56 am

fring151 wrote:
Lol. True that. Em niggas never been surpassed brotha. I will always vote for the Windies late 70s-80s teams as the GOAT team ever, if only to piss off stiff upper lip Anglos.  Razz . You should read Dickie Bird's autibio to get a sense of their REAL dominance at the time . And I steadfastly refuse to append the Anglo given "Sir" title to King Viv or Gary's names.

illEnAlum adhAn uNma. WI team of 70s-80s >>> Aus team of 90s-early-mid 2000s and Don's invincibles.

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  fring151 on Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:59 am

Drunkenmunk wrote:
fring151 wrote:
Lol. True that. Em niggas never been surpassed brotha. I will always vote for the Windies late 70s-80s teams as the GOAT team ever, if only to piss off stiff upper lip Anglos.  Razz . You should read Dickie Bird's autibio to get a sense of their REAL dominance at the time . And I steadfastly refuse to append the Anglo given "Sir" title to King Viv or Gary's names.

illEnAlum adhAn uNma. WI team of 70s-80s >>> Aus team of 90s-early-mid 2000s and Don's invincibles.

Of course. Naa summa oru flow'la appdiyE....Invincibles'Avadhu mairAvadhu. viLayAdinadhu oru teamu kooda, adhuku ithanna builduppu.... Razz

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  crimson king on Sun Mar 02, 2014 11:01 am

Even objectively, without having to piss them off, WI in 70s and 80s were the greatest Test team of all times.  They didn't lose a series from 1980 to 1994.  Australia under Waugh and Ponting could not match that, thanks to VVS and Plintoff/Pieter Pan!  Razz

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  crimson king on Sun Mar 02, 2014 11:02 am

Oh, DM beat me to that.  Hip hip hurray to WI and Gatting's broken jaw. Razz

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  crimson king on Sun Mar 02, 2014 11:03 am

Aussies also injured WI players in the 1975 (or was it 76) series.  Wonder why they were not called brutals then (which David Frith did in a recent article on WI!).

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  Drunkenmunk on Sun Mar 02, 2014 11:04 am

crimson king wrote:Even objectively, without having to piss them off, WI in 70s and 80s were the greatest Test team of all times.  They didn't lose a series from 1980 to 1994.  Australia under Waugh and Ponting could not match that, thanks to VVS and Plintoff/Pieter Pan!  Razz

adhE. Quite comfortably, the best ODI team too. oru did a skewed article claiming to be objective (all of us do that don't we Razz ) to favor team India before Champions Trophy final for a friend's blog. This is what I got: http://setpiecegoal.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/busting-crickets-accepted-myths/

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  crimson king on Sun Mar 02, 2014 11:08 am

Well written.  Evalavodhan Aussie oye oye kathinaalum, they can't change the incontrovertible truth.  WI in that period was producing an assembly line of the finest cricketing talents.  All the more painful to see them flounder the way they have.   Crying or Very sad

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  Michael AF on Sun Mar 02, 2014 2:29 pm

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FEDERER AND DJOKOVIC

Having emerged from the triumvirate of the big 3 as the ultimate contenders for the year end #1 ranking (with all due respect to Andy Murray), it now comes time, for those of us with little to write about in the blogosphere, to turn to the age old endeavor of shit-stirring.  The topic this time is the presumed frosty relationship between Federer and Djokovic, which over the course of the last 6 years (yes, they've been competing with each other for 6 years!), has gone through its ups and downs, and at the end of this year culminates in a struggle to reach the north pole of the ATP first, and alone.

There is clearly respect between Federer and Nadal, the latter of which has always professed his admiration of the other, with the former only recently appearing to concede a comfort with sharing the greatest esteem in the game.  Between Djokovic and Nadal, there rarely appears to be any antipathy - even in the midst of Nadal's desprate 7-match losing streak to his (other) nemesis, there didn't appear to be any hard feelings between the two - unusual for a rivalry which has been so unbalanced in both directions at various times.

Which leads us to what appears to be the frosty Fedjoker relationship - though they both deny it, and few specific qualms have shed light on the true nature of the distance between the two, it always appears to be there...lurking...just waiting for the light of day to reveal itself.  Below is a chronology of what, at best, could be considered circumstantial evidence of a rift.  Having said that, circumstantial cases are made in the judicial system all the time. So here goes:

2006 Davis Cup - Switzerland

During the relegation tie with Serbia/Montenegro, Djokovic played his first rubber against Stanislav Wawrinka, a grueling 5-set match that saw Djokovic prevail in the end.  The match also saw the opening salvo in a stealth war of words between the two ever since, where Federer labelled the young player "a joke" after making multiple calls to the trainer during the match.  This year Federer went out of his way to explain that he was simply irritated that his friend (Wawrinka) had been beaten despite the calls to the trainer, and that the rift was addressed a month or so later in Madrid (when it hosted an in indoor Masters 1000 tournament - which Federer won, by the way). 

Federer went on to obliterate Djokovic in their second career head to head, in 3 straight sets to clinch the tie for Switzerland.

This was not a new or isolated complaint against Djokovic and his penchant for calling for the trainer, who has since been accused at various times by multiple players (including Tommy Robredo and Andy Roddick) of being something of hypochondriac following and preceding their respective matches with the Djoker at the 2008 US Open. By then, Djokovic had already earned a reputation of being quick to call for help and making miraculous recoveries, and quick to retire from matches.  Both players so noted with disdain.

It's also worth noting further that the comment following the match with Wawrinka by Federer, was the first time any player of note made any complaints to that effect, so there could be a question of whether Federer actually initiated this reputation, or at the very least paved the way for it.  To be fair, Djokovic did little to contradict it over the next 4 years, but it should also be noted that both Robredo and Roddick are of Federer's generation, and their opinions might be considered today to be somewhat old school by the standard of modern players.

Nevertheless the plot thickened.

Montreal 2007

By the time they met in the final of the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Federer had beaten Djokovic the first 4 times they'd played, and rarely been troubled by his game. Thus, it would have come as a surprise to most that the tennis yokozuna, who had won 2 of the first 3 majors that year, reached all three major finals, had just won his fifth Wimbledon title in a row, and enjoyed a huge lead in the race for #1, lost so close to the US Open to Djokovic.


In the post match press conference, Federer was asked if he saw and respected the similarities between his game and Djokovic's, as compared to the differences between his and Nadal's and his response was:

"No, not really. I mean, he plays like many other players on tour. You know, I mean, he's steady off the baseline, he's got a pretty good serve. But...nothing outrageous in his game. Always pretty predictable, which is a good thing. Yeah, you get some good rallies against him because he scrambles well, moves to the ball well, moves the ball around very nicely. Yeah, I enjoy playing against him."

Although there's nothing directly insulting in that statement, it's hardly laudatory.  And notable is a lack of appreciation for 1) any comparison to his own game, 2) Djokovic having beaten the top 3 players in the same tournament (Roddick, Nadal and Federer), or 3) winning his second Masters 1000 of the year (he had already won Miami).  So one could hardly argue that he played like "my other players on tour" - after all, had many others on tour won two Masters 1000's that year? And if you didn't know any better, you'd almost interpret his throw away statement, that he enjoys playing him, because he's predictable and there's nothing outrageous in his game, as a euphemism for the guy being easy pickings!

He went on to say, in assessing his game that day that:

"I could never really breathe. Maybe that was a bit my problem today. It's such a pity, you know, when I start a match against a player like him serving so bad in the opening game."

Now, if I were Djokovic, I wouldn't take too kindly to being referred to as, "a player like him" - if it were meant as a compliment, it would be prefaced or modified with, "a tough player like him", or "a player who returns as well as him" - but in the absence thereof, it just seemed he was lamenting that conditions and an unusually bad serving day was the cause of the result, and not anything Djokovic did!

Djokovic for his part didn't really take the bait that day.  Although, there was something of an interesting response to the next question about learning what it takes to be #1 from playing Roger:

"Yes, I learn every time I play against Roger or Rafa. I learn from those matches always something new, try to, you know, improve on some things which I need to improve."

Two interesting notes - he refers to Roger and Rafa, but at that time, Rafa hadn't come close to reaching #1, he had been a distant #2 for almost 3 years, and secondly, to state so plainly that he was on the road to reaching #1 while Federer was still at the height of his powers was an extraordinary admission of his intent. Few players at the time talked about actually usurping Federer, rather than waiting out his dominance.  Even if the Djoker put it off for at least 3 years (one-year off and from the right player, as it turned out).

The last salvo, although it was meant in jest, was this telling exchange:

"Q. Do you think it should still be called the Roger's Cup?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Somebody scream during the match, it's the Roger's Cup. I think it was the third set. It was pretty funny. Yeah, nothing against the sponsor, but obviously I'm going to have to arrange somebody to call Novak's Cup for next year."

Interesting...

Flushing Meadow, New York 2007

Here the Djoker finally made his first major final, and despite having beaten Federer a month earlier in Canada, was a clear underdog in the final.  By that time, Djokovic had endeared himself to the press with his underwear modeling and player imitations, and despite rumblings from some corners, he continued to press on with his game and his off-court antics.  But note in the next press exchange how he first tacitly acknowledged, then feigned ignorance of the murmur of dissent to his routines:


"Q. How do the players feel? Like Nadal, has he come up to you, or Roddick, I know you do him, Maria, have they made any comments to you about impersonations?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, yeah.

Q. And?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I'll keep that is as secret.

Q. They're not mad about it? They're not offended?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No. Everybody accepts it positively.

Q. Is there anyone who has been really hard to capture, their mannerisms?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, the untouchable one, Roger. Well, he's too perfect for my style. I cannot. Plus, I don't have a long hair. I hope he doesn't hear this."

By this time, even light-hearted ribbing of Federer was a strict no-no in the hierarchy of professional tennis - though you'd have to assume there were a number of players who would like to have had a word or two about him, apparently nobody but Djokovic dared to do so.  Furthermore, it appeared that he was being less than forthcoming - there were already clips of him on youtube imitating his Hairness.  This was Federer's response to a question about them (not his in particular):

"Well, in the locker room he's always very respectful toward me, you know. He's pretty quiet. I only hear stuff. I didn't see the stuff he did on court the other day. I didn't see what apparently he did in the locker room either. For me, these things, you know, I only hear. But people don't really talk about it. I know some guys weren't happy. I know some guys might think it's funny...He's walking a tightrope, for sure."

Walking a tightrope? Between what and what? Or whom? And specifically, who doesn't like it? Obviously one of the players being imitated, right?  And there weren't (at that point) very many - namely Nadal, Roddick, Nalbandian (of whom, when he was asked to imitate him, the Djoker simply distended his belly) McEnroe (retired, not in the locker room), Ivanisevic (retired, not in the locker room) and Federer.  Maybe there were others, but who, at that time, on the ATP tour was sufficiently well known to be the subject of an impersonation that some may not have liked?

Though he tried hard to conceal it, it's obvious there were a couple of things bothering Federer about Djokovic. And this was, in all likelihood, and in no small part, due to comments revealed later...

Melbourne, 2008

Here, Djokovic finally got the better of Federer in a major, and here also, began the inclusion of the Djokovic entourage in the simmering tete a tete between the two.  First and foremost, Djokovic beat Federer in straight sets, and prevented him from having any chance at the grand slam - something he'd had the previous two years, and once before in 2004.  But more of a catalyst to the tele-confrontation, were the remarks of Djokovic's parents.


Although Djokovic's mother, who speaks English better than the father, did most of the talking (the content of which Djokovic later distanced himself), both parents got in their shots at Federer, in support of their son. At first glance, it's no surprise that parents would be proud of, and trying to instill confidence in, their son - all parents would, under the circumstances.  But who would do it so publicly, and so brashly? Of her son, vis a vis Federer, Mrs. Djokovic famously had the following to say:

"As we said, 'The king is dead, long live the king',"

Ha-zzing!

She went on:

"Because the last time the US Open they played, my husband said, 'This is the last time he win against Novak'. Because Novak was making the points with Federer's weapon. He told him that he is so mature that he can win, like him (Federer)."

Eventually, she went on to predict that her son would reach #1, and that this would prove to be the first of many majors - of course this was nothing new, but to be so eager to dance on the grave of the man to whom her boy king gaped to his heir, had to be irritating to Federer.  If nothing else, he had to feel it was somewhat premature.  In fact both Federer and Mrs. Djokovic turned out to be right - it was the first of many, and he did reach #1, but it was also (3 years) premature.

The seeds were sown, nonetheless.

Later, when Federer revealed his diagnosis of mono, explaining he didn't mention it until Dubai (in March) because he didn't want to detract from Djokovic's victory in Australia, it had to raise a few eyebrows in the Djokovic clan, not the least of which because what he professed to avoid, was exactly what he did.  And (hard to believe it was coincidentally) after Mrs. Djokovic decided to declare Federer dead. After all, he didn't appear to have mono against anyone else in Australia, so why would it have been a factor against sweet little Nole? 

Perhaps because Djokovic won. 

In fact, I would argue that there didn't appear to be anything wrong with Federer physically at that time.  He beat a plucky Fabrice Santoro, a difficult Tomas Berdych, and a resurgent James Blake in succession, playing some brilliant tennis, with no inkling that there was anything wrong with him or his game.  However, in his defense: 1) if there were something wrong, he'd hardly want to share that with the world and 2) if it were the mono it would have few outward symptoms to the untrained/unknowing eye...but nothing justifies announcing that excuse as he did.

If I were Djokovic, I wouldn't have liked it one bit.

Monte Carlo, 2008

Having lost to Djokovic in Melbourne earlier in the year, and having certainly heard the previous comments from Djokovic's parents thereafter, it wouldn't surprise anyone if Federer were even more motivated to win their encounter in Monte Carlo in the first big tournament of the European clay court season.  The surprise was the ease with which Djokovic conceded the match, after complaining of dizziness and retiring because of what would later be (somewhat unjustly) characterized as a "sore throat". The tame resistance he put up, and the resulting hollow win, would certainly have irritated a man who would have been motivated to settle the score.  But nothing would irritate him more than what the Djokovic entourage came up with along the way.


In the middle of their match, with friends of the enemy seated in sufficient proximity to be heard at barely their "indoor voices", a shot from Djokovic was called long on the baseline, from which Federer had retreated to position himself for his reply, before the call was made.  Having immediately moved, without prompting, towards the mark to check it, as do almost all professional players under the circumstances, Federer had the pleasure of hearing the Serbian peanut gallery call for him to "check the mark!"

What followed was an angry glance at the box, an indignant shout in their direction to, "be quiet, okay?", a begrudging, if not defiant swipe at the mark (indicating that it had indeed hit the line), a continued glare in their direction, as he lined himself up for a replay of the point and sado-masochistically bludgeoning the bottoms of his shoes with his racquet - ostensibly to release caked clay in the tread.  It's worth noting that a player's entourage, by the rules of the tour, have no more right to engage the players in conversation than a random spectator.  And any player can request that any spectator be removed from the premises, and the umpire and tournament referee have the right to grant that request - that would include the Djokovic's.

But as it were, Federer put his head down, finished the match, and had this to say when asked about it:

"Q. Was it obvious to you he was ill?

ROGER FEDERER: No. I didn't see anything anyway from my side till when he called the doctor...I didn't feel like he was playing, you know, too sick. Obviously after calling the doctor, you know...you might see some signs. But...I didn't think it was that extreme. Same as Davydenko last week. I mean, I didn't see any big signs till the moment they all of a sudden retired."

There's a palpable reluctance to confirm that Djokovic was, in any demonstrable way, hindered by his illness.  Ironic, given his own contention that an unseen illness affected him in Melbourne. Furthermore, when lumping Davydenko in with Djokovic, two players who had developed a reputation for giving less than their best effort at times, Federer did neither any favors, although it may just have been because both retired against him in that tournament.

Of the incident where he told the Djokovic's to shut up - neither player was asked about it in the post-match press conference, and no player made any comments thereafter.

But still...

Melbourne, 2009

Having returned to the Australian Open in 2009 as the defending champion, and having suffered the ignominy of becoming the arch-villain at the US Open in 2008 (a year after endearing himself to so many at the tournament with his personality), Djokovic didn't appear to have the bollocks to fight through the physical challenge of winning in Australia.  The advantage there always goes to the player with the best preparation, since it is the first major of the season, and few have had a chance to hone their games. Roddick had abundantly prepared by shedding 15+ pounds of weight, and appeared to be fit, quick and (as always) competitive as hell.


Djokovic just looked like hell and retired, not only the match, but the first major title he was defending.

And he got no sympathy from Federer, who said after dispatching del Potro in his quarterfinal:

"He's not a guy who's never given up before ... it's disappointing."
"I've only done it once in my career ... Andy totally deserved to win that match."
"I'm almost in favor of saying, you know what, if you're not fit enough, just...get out of here."
"If Novak were up two sets to love I don't think he would have retired 4-0 down in the fourth. Thanks to Andy that he retired in the end. Andy pushed him to the limits. Hats off to Andy."

Wow - 'just...get out of here'? He wouldn't have retired if he were up two sets to love?  If you were Djokovic and/or his family, if the antipathy weren't already there, it would have to be now.  After all, what business was it of Federer's to comment on Djokovic's health? (Save for the fact that he had been specifically asked about it).  And would he have been so categorical had it been Nadal? Or would he have assumed that the injury/issue must have been severe enough to make him quit, and expressed concern?

Ironically, although Federer suggested he wouldn't have retired had he been up two sets to one, Djokovic had in fact done just that - leading two sets to one, against Nikolay Davydenko (the other oft derided retiree)in a Davis Cup match in February of 2008 Djokovic retired with a fever.

Yes, a fever.

So, that particular consideration would have to be considered invalid - of course, it's unclear if that's a good or bad thing for Djokovic!

Nevertheless, the pot was stirred.

Miami, 2009

It's never fun to get your ass handed to you on a tennis court, and you would think that a player of Federer's caliber would handle it well, given that it was happening so rarely, but his semi-final loss to Djokovic in Miami in 2009 included a shocking breakdown in his calm veneer when for the first time in years (it seemed) he violently destroyed a racquet in frustration.  The match was of quite poor quality, with Florida's early spring winds making the ball play tricks on both players - but clearly Djokovic handled the conditions better, and found a way to win, rather than fall a apart, as did Federer.


You couldn't help but wonder if any other player on tour would have elicited such a response from Federer? Could losing to Djokovic, after losing his #1 ranking and his beloved Wimbledon crown, and an Australian Open final to Nadal, and getting obliterated by Mardy Fish in Indian Wells a couple weaks earlier, have been the straw that broke the camel's back? To anyone observing Federer's uncharacteristic meltdown, it seemed to be. After all, if there was a player on tour against whom he should have lost his temper, because he just couldn't take it anymore, it should have been Nadal (against whom he did lose his temper back in 2005 at the same tournament, but never/rarely since).  Come to think of it, Federer had some pretty harsh things to say about Nadal & Co. at that time as well, so maybe his reaction to losing to Djokovic, and the context thereof, was not dissimilar to his reaction to losing to Nadal, and the context thereof.

Basel, 2009

So this one is the wild-card, but apparently, as a gesture of good will, Federer's mother invited the Djokovic clan to their home in Basel (during the indoor tournament in 2009) for a two-family dinner, which supposedly did much to improve the relationship - but why would that be necessary if there was nothing in it to improve?


I think that is probably the clearest evidence yet of a rift to be healed.

Indian Wells, 2011

After their Indian Wells final in 2011 - having lost his first big final of the year to Djokovic, Nadal said in his acceptance speech:


"I lost today but I lost against one of the greatest."

Perhaps in response, or in defiance of the going sentiment that Federer is the GOAT, Djokovic said to Nadal in his acceptance speech:

"It's always a pleasure playing against you, you are a big champion - to me you are the greatest player ever..."

Well, well, well...I don't know any player on tour who has said this - they all defer the GOAT debate to Federer - it's only in some quarters of the media, and in the lunatic fringe of the blogosphere that he isn't. But here, the hottest player on tour, with a growing major record of his own, having played almost 30 times against each of the game's most respected players, identified Nadal - and more importantly not Federer - as his choice for the greatest of all time. 

A lone voice among so many of their contemporaries - but a significant one. When asked to explain himself in the post-match press conference, far from backing away from his comment, he doubled down on it:

"Q: What was behind you saying to him in the trophy ceremony that you thought he was the best player ever?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think I have said what I needed to say. There is nothing behind. It's just what I think.

Q: So you think he's better all-time than Roger?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think he's the best ever because, even though he's 24, 25 years old, he has done so much already, you know. Many years in front of him to, you know, I think even to overtake Roger in the Grand Slam trophies."

How about that? So, even after joining the families for dinner, and having nothing but nice things to say about each other since, it seems one or the other cannot resist the temptation to do or say something that would obviously get under the other's skin.

Neither has made any comment on the matter since then.

Paris, 2011

The semi-final between Federer and Djokovic at the French Open in 2011 denied what many suspected would have finally been the day Nadal would learn the word "comeuppance" in French, after losing to his nemesis 4 times in 2011, and twice on his best surface, in Madrid and Rome.  All of their matches had been very close, most of them going the distance, and the immoveable object of Nadal at Roland Garros, would have met an apparently irresistible force in Djokovic had he made the final.


But somebody forgot to tell Federer to read his own obituary - and nobody was more irritated than Djokovic.

Throughout the match, Djokovic appeared to be irritable - when a spectator had a seizure at the end of the first game, his first service game, which was broken, by the way, Djokovic appeared to be on the verge of having a go at the crowd for intentionally (or otherwise) disrupting him.  Reason got the better of him when he realized it was a medical emergency - I guess nobody told him the "Au secours" he heard in french means, "Help!"

But as the match wore on - not only did Djokovic have problems with his footing, something that he seemed to have resolved with significantly improved footwork, there seemed to also have a problem with the crowd - again! Over and over again, they seemed to take Federer as an adopted Frenchman.  While Nadal has grown accustomed to this treatment by the French, at the hands of Federer, he had (and still has) the game to let all of that wash over him like a warm breeze.  But Djokovic had no answer to Federer's brilliance that day.  And, as is most often the case, with Federer serving as well as he did, Djokovic was left to respond to point after point with sarcastic, head-shaking incredulity at how his winning streak, and his almost certain coronation as the champion against a Nadal, a player he owned at the time, was fading away like the light on Phillipe Chatrier that twindled so poetically at the end of the match.

If you watch the clips, you can see, at one point, Ion Tiriac, a fellow eastern European, angrily and fervently gesticulating in support of Djokovic as he stood alone, with the exception of his entourage, struggling to keep the match alive, while the French crowd ruthlessly bayed for his blood. Tiriac, no stranger to being unappreciated by the game, appeared to be the only one not related, in love with, or working for Djokovic that wasn't. It is at these times when tennis can be its most cruel.  After all, as a global sport, why should one player, who has won so much, be so heavily supported by the crowd? So the reception Federer received must have been an arrow in the heart to a player who so obviously wants to be loved.

That's why that little index finger of Federer's, shaken after hitting an ace on match point, at once dismissively and defiantly, in the direction of Tiriac, Djokovic and his entourage, was so unexpected. After all, were they the only ones Federer saw in the crowd? Could he have better blocked out the undying support from the French spectators (who so desperately willed him to win), than Djokovic (whom they so desperately willed him to lose)? Could that laser focus have been due, in part, to a commensurate disdain with which he continues to view Djokovic and his coterie?

Conclusion

It took a while for Federer to come to grips with the fact that Nadal was not just an irritant, who had no business beating him, but a great player in his own right, and the glowing terms with which he has spoken of him since 2008 is a testament to that.  Nadal, for his part, has had little to say that could be construed as negative towards either of his main rivals.

And Djokovic, who has avoided stirring the embers of what is presumed to be a long dead fire of discord, also seems to be reading from the same script. Perhaps Federer, who would certainly resent the bombast, if not from Djokovic, from his parents, and also view Djokovic as an irritant who can't hold a stick to the breadth and depth of his game, would have to conclude now that there is no shame in losing to him. Perhaps this would do much to temper what, for all the above evidence, would have appeared to be a cold war between the two - always circulating, rarely confronting, but always on the verge of a renewed conflagration.

But is that good for the game? Isn't it better to have the feeling that they really don't like each other? For my part, I would prefer the latter. Think:

Connors/McEnroe
Connors/Lendl
Lendl/McEnroe
Agassi/Sampras
Agassi/Becker
Sampras/Rafter

Isn't it more compelling when you know they don't care for each other? I'm not saying they have to engage in a kind of pro-wrestling pantomime, but part of me feels there is that one thing missing from tennis, that isn't altogether a bad thing. It is often said that Rugby is a game for rogues played by gentlemen, and football is a game for gentlemen played by rogues.

What is tennis? These days, it's a game for gladiators played by hypersensitive types, who you know can't stand each other, but won't give you the satisfaction of admitting it.

Give me my satisfaction, please.


http://tennis-column.blogspot.in/2012/10/the-relationship-between-federer-and.html

Michael AF

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  crimson king on Sun Mar 02, 2014 2:34 pm

Speaking of Connors, just yesterday I learnt that Aaron Krickstein used to be friends with Connors and practiced with him...until THAT 1991 fourth round match.  Since then, they haven't talked.  That's the other extreme.  Fed-Djoko's frostiness is nothing compared to Sampras-Agassi.  Agassi was chippy as hell about Sampras though he had to admit the latter was the better, especially head-to-head.  And the chippiness came out in full view in an exhibition match.  Razz 


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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  Michael AF on Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:54 am

crimson king wrote:Of course, saar, please share.  Just mentioned in passing that I had read it before.  Are you still on hub by the way?

Yes. mostly in sports - tennis & cricket threads. Action reduced in cricket since srt retirement. !!! Smile

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Re: Tennis - ATP/WTA

Post  Michael AF on Thu Mar 13, 2014 11:42 am

boys please!!

http://www.dnaindia.com/sport/report-roger-federer-s-wife-expecting-twins-for-second-time-1968927

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