Alternate reality GOAT

Discussion in 'Pro Tennis (Mens)' started by brokenshoelace, Mar 31, 2016.

  1. brokenshoelace

    brokenshoelace Masters Champion

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Messages:
    955
    Likes Received:
    271
    Trophy Points:
    63
    With the greatness displayed by the likes of Borg, Sampras, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic (in chronological order. And those are the 5 greatest players of all time IMO, as I just don't take the Laver era seriously, sorry), it made me think about certain things.

    Namely, how much surfaces and circumstances affects these all time debates. Now to be clear, we live in reality. In other words, we can only go by what we know. So things like surface homogenization, different eras and whatnot should not impact this conversation, at least not in any meaningful way. So what matters is your accomplishments.

    I'm pointing that out in order to clarify that this thread is more in fun, rather than a weak attempt at claiming "there is no GOAT" or whatever copout excuse people use.

    So, let's imagine that, for the past decade or so, two majors were played on clay, one on hards, and one on grass. Rafael Nadal would have some 7 extra slams to his resume. Roger Federer would be missing quite a few. Ditto for Djokovic. And we'd be talking about Nadal being the GOAT (by a landslide).

    Now imagine there were two grass court slams, one hards and one on clay. Not sure how many this would add to Roger's tally as he was winning many of the hard court ones anyway (in his prime), but I think it would definitely have negatively affected Novak's tally.

    The only reason I mention this is I think it's funny how this is so affected by something as arbitrary as the majority of tennis being played on hards. When it is all said and done, this is what the GOAT debate might end up hinging on. Clearly, Novak is the best hard court player of the bunch, Federer the best grass court player, and Nadal the best on clay. The overall tally is reflected accordingly.

    Of course we can play this game for any era. As in, I think Sampras would be the clear GOAT if two grass court majors took place in the 90's. Just food for thought.
     
    Denis and britbox like this.
  2. Denis

    Denis Masters Champion

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2015
    Messages:
    642
    Likes Received:
    129
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Good to see you posting again BS.

    I will get back on this later, but first thought: Djokovic actually has the second-most slams at Wimbledon. He has beaten Nadal and Federer (twice) in the final there. So not sure about your statement that more grass would impact him that much.

    I agree that more clay would def. favour Nadal, kind of obvious I guess.
     
    britbox likes this.
  3. Moxie

    Moxie Multiple Major Winner

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2015
    Messages:
    5,141
    Likes Received:
    1,218
    Trophy Points:
    113
    That probably is the top 5. In the alternate reality of this thread, I also wonder how Borg would have fared if he'd been in a era when Majors count had as much weight as it does now, and he'd gone regularly to Oz. He never won a Major on HCs, but he was so close at the USO, and there's no reason I can think of why he shouldn't have been able to win one. And he would have had 8-9 more chances to win a Major.

    One thing I've always been surprised at is that Sampras never improved his game on clay. Whether he never tried, or if it's difficult to become good on clay if you don't develop the basics early on, I don't know. But if it was a question of giving up on it, and your notion that there were 2 majors (in his era) on clay, as ambitious as he was, I can't believe he wouldn't have taken it more seriously.
     
  4. brokenshoelace

    brokenshoelace Masters Champion

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Messages:
    955
    Likes Received:
    271
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Re: Novak and Wimbledon:

    I meant that for example, let's say the Australian Open was played on grass. There is simply no way that Novak would have dominated that tournament as much as he did. It's not that he's not good on grass, as he clearly is. But we'll both agree he wouldn't have won it 6 times. So yeah, I do think it would have impacted his total slam tally without a doubt. Keep in mind, if he were to win it say, 3 times instead of 6, you're removing 3 slams from his tally while potentially adding them to one of the other two. I could easily see Federer winning the AO in 2008 and 2009 if it were on grass for example (in this case 2009 would be removed from Nadal, but you get the point).
     
  5. Moxie

    Moxie Multiple Major Winner

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2015
    Messages:
    5,141
    Likes Received:
    1,218
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I'm not clear what you mean that Novak has the "second most Slams at Wimbledon." Federer and Sampras have 7 each. Borg has 5. Djokovic has 3. What did I miss? EDIT: You mean the "second most" of his own Majors, yes?
     
    #5 Moxie, Mar 31, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2016
  6. britbox

    britbox Multiple Major Winner

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2015
    Messages:
    13,553
    Likes Received:
    2,312
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Interesting post Broken.. and I see your points, although I think if you change the structure of the majors it has a knock on effect and we can't take the winners for granted just based on the current make-up.

    If the tour went back to having at least two grass court majors, I think you'd see a reflection in players preparing predominantly for grass rather than hards and you might see it reflected in styles of play and a bunch of other parameters.

    I still think looking at what players win outside of the alternative reality is a fair reflection... because they are reacting to the cards they were dealt.
     
    Denis likes this.
  7. Ricardo

    Ricardo Masters Champion

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2016
    Messages:
    707
    Likes Received:
    141
    Trophy Points:
    43
    yeah but he only beat Fed when grandpa was 33 yo, so that can't be the measuring stick right? not to mention that it took him 5 sets to do it in a match that could've gone either way (first 2 sets hinged on a couple points). or you forgot how close it was?
     
    Rides likes this.
  8. Moxie

    Moxie Multiple Major Winner

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2015
    Messages:
    5,141
    Likes Received:
    1,218
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I think you make a good point that if you change the surfaces of majors, you probably change the way players approach the game. I was alluding to that when I asked about Sampras on clay. (Though the reality-based part of my question is still something I'd like to hear people weigh in on.) If there were 2 Majors on grass, that would imply more tune-ups on grass, and you have to wonder if the baseline game would be as dominating as it is now. There would be more S&V in some players' games, and I'd think there would still be more one-handed backhands.
     
  9. mrzz

    mrzz Major Winner

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2015
    Messages:
    1,083
    Likes Received:
    382
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Broken, what is your agenda with this thread? Who are you trying to denigrate? You know damn well that...

    Wait! I am not crazy. Damn!

    Back to the boring non-crazy world: As a fan I propose a slitghtly different alternate reality: what if one of those "winners" on match point on the classic Fedal Rome final have landed in, and Federer would have won 3x2? Would that have affected their rivalry, and could have Federer snatched at least one FO after that? Only this little difference would have a huge impact on the GOAT discussion.
     
  10. Moxie

    Moxie Multiple Major Winner

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2015
    Messages:
    5,141
    Likes Received:
    1,218
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Broken may have his own opinion, but, in the interim, I'll bite: I think that was the 2006 final. (The 2005 one was v. Coria.) That was after Nadal had beaten Roger at RG in the SF the previous year, but it was still when Roger believed he could beat Rafa, even on clay. Personally, I don't think even a victory there would have changed the dynamic between Rafa and Roger at RG, mostly because Rafa was so superior on clay to everyone in that period, and particularly over best of 5; and partly because young Nadal had no fear, as is typical of youth. That one match wouldn't have made him balk against Roger at the FO, even if it would have made Federer more confident of victory. That same year he beat Roger in the final at RG in 4. Maybe it would otherwise have taken 5, but Nadal would most likely have come good. No one was beating Nadal in best of 5 on clay at that point.

    In the alternate reality of this discussion, I would propose something that might have made a difference in the GOAT discussion: if Federer had won the FO in 2004, free and clear of the shadow and aspect of Nadal. He lost to Kuerten, which is no shame, but it was one of Guga's last hurrahs. Given how the final worked out, I can't imagine that Roger hasn't felt some regret that he didn't get it done that year. That would have given him the career slam much earlier, and have provided the "out" that he was only usurped by the best ever on clay, rather than the small asterisk that someone else had to take out Nadal for him to win at the French. I know "asterisk" is loaded, in tennis forums, but, essentially, you brought it up, without saying so.
     
  11. mrzz

    mrzz Major Winner

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2015
    Messages:
    1,083
    Likes Received:
    382
    Trophy Points:
    83
    I disagree. There is a reason why back then Federer was the only guy who could occasionally beat Nadal on clay, and make some matches go to the distance. With time people assumed the narrative that all their clay matches were a walk in the park, but most of them weren't. Nadal was the superior clay court player? No doubt. But you are making the claim that he was so perfect that nothing would have changed the outcome of any match, which is a bit too much.

    You probably saw many tennis matches in your life. You now that most of the time they are completely "non-linear". One small deviation in one point, a missed winner, a miraculous save, and the dynamic of what comes next change completely. If you agree that a different outcome of the 2005 Rome match (thanks for giving the right year) could give Federer another set in their next big match, you cannot say for sure that it would stop with just one set. Remember, I am not saying that it would change completely their H2H on clay. I am saying that it could give Federer one more match.

    But I liked the idea of putting Kuerten on the conversation. Had he not have all his physical issues...
     
  12. Twisted

    Twisted Major Winner

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2015
    Messages:
    2,187
    Likes Received:
    332
    Trophy Points:
    83
    ^ It's always been an interesting thought that Rome 2006 affected so much. I don't buy it though because Rafa simply was a lot better than Roger on clay. And at RG that year Roger came out strong and confident before Rafa got going. If it had been a match where Rafa won the first set and ended up winning in 5 then I think the argument would have more merit. But Roger came out confident and won the 1st set 6-1. So as it stands I don't think winning Rome would have changed the outcome of the RG final, and if it didn't change the outcome of that final it wouldn't have changed anything.

    I actually think if Roger is kicking himself over anything on clay it'd be the 2005 match. Rafa was obviously already great on clay but given who Roger was at that time and the fact Rafa was a 19 year old who had never made a GS semifinal you'd have expected Fed to do better and he should have.
     
  13. britbox

    britbox Multiple Major Winner

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2015
    Messages:
    13,553
    Likes Received:
    2,312
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Title says 2010, but the Video is of the 2006 Final in Rome.



    A classic.
     
    Moxie likes this.
  14. brokenshoelace

    brokenshoelace Masters Champion

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Messages:
    955
    Likes Received:
    271
    Trophy Points:
    63
    While winning is always better than losing (duh! revolutionary thought, I know) so of course it would have been nice for Roger to convert on one of those two match points at Rome, and would have helped his confidence, I think it's really rich to suggest it would have dramatically altered their rivalry in any way. I'm more interested in how an earlier change in tactics by Roger and playing the bigger points better in general would have affected the H2H, but I think the disparity in the h2h is way too big to pin point one moment as THE moment where it could have been different. I mean, when a guy has beaten you on clay 13-2 or whatever it is, and won 9 FO's, including 4 in a row and 5 in a row respectively, I don't think one match point at an unrelated tournament would have changed that.

    As Twisted noted above, the 2006 RG final was still a 4 set affair after Roger took the first in convincing fashion. It wasn't a match that went the distance and hinged on a few big points that a more confident Roger could have converted. Just my opinion.

    Let's not forget that the previous year in Miami (2005), Nadal was up two sets and a break, before Roger broke back and won in 5. That didn't seem to alter the rivalry that much. You could argue we didn't know it would be that big of a rivalry then, so neither of them made much of it, and I agree, but the Rome final was 5th meeting. It wasn't until after the Wimbledon final later that year that it everyone knew these two would be locking horns for years to come.
     
  15. Moxie

    Moxie Multiple Major Winner

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2015
    Messages:
    5,141
    Likes Received:
    1,218
    Trophy Points:
    113
    @Twisted While I agree that Roger perhaps "should" have done better re: Rafa in the 2005 SF at RG, I don't think there's any reason to think he would have won it. As you said, Nadal was already much better than Fed on clay. And I'm with Broken on wondering about the parallel universe whereby Federer made adjustments to his game for Nadal much earlier than he did, but at that point (2005,) there was no reason for him to have done it yet.

    I still like my theory that the lost 3rd round match to Kuerten was more of a lost opportunity. Guga was hampered by injury; in their only previous clay meeting, Roger had won; he was favored to beat GK; it was his only GS loss that year, (and the last time he lost before QFs at a Major until Stakhovsky.) Had he won that match, he'd have gotten F. Lopez, Nalbandian, Gaudio and Coria in the final, who never beat Roger in 3 meetings, including 2 on clay. Obviously, it's a lot to presume that Roger would have won the tournament with 4 more matches to go, but you can see the possibilities. And it wouldn't just have been the career Slam, it would have been the CGS.

    I know there are a few matches you especially think that Roger "should" have won over Rafa, but I don't think there's any good argument that he should have won that SF, other than Nadal being young and a first-time GS semi-finalist, but Nadal had already proven himself to be sturdier than that, mentally.
     
  16. mrzz

    mrzz Major Winner

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2015
    Messages:
    1,083
    Likes Received:
    382
    Trophy Points:
    83
    All points above are fair, but I never suggested that this "win" would have altered their H2H dramatically. I suggested that it could give 1 more win to Federer. Given that they mostly met on big finals, this 1 match, by its turn, could have bigger implications (for example, RF with 2 FO right now).

    It is a fair point also that the 2006 RG final was still done in 4. However, we would have to watch (maybe you guys remember it pretty well, sorry) all the match to see if, for example, that at one set all, 2-2 on the second, there were no 0-30, or break points opportunities that could have gone the other way. And you don't need to stop in 2006. You guys know the role confidence have, and sometimes all you need is a little cliff to hang on. For those strange mental reasons, maybe it is extremely different to look back in the last five matches and find out one lone win. We, from the outside, may look at 1-4 and 0-5 and think that's the same, but I am pretty sure that inside the court, waiting for the serve, that lone win can make a huge difference.

    And the point is not confidence when you are winning, but also when you are losing. I remember very well one Nadal x del Potro match in Davis Cup. Nadal had just lost the first set 6x1, and got broken in the first game of the second. JMdP was serving and was up 40-0. Nadal never gave up and started his comeback right there. He won that game (and not with 5 UFE's from del Potro) and the match.

    Course that Federer will never come even close to that resilience, but a step on that direction would help.

    Anyway, please remember that we are talking about alternate realities, and I am suggesting a mere possibility. I see all the points above, which are fair, and most of them I was not aware of. I only want to insist in the point that tennis matches are completely non-linear.
     
  17. Ricardo

    Ricardo Masters Champion

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2016
    Messages:
    707
    Likes Received:
    141
    Trophy Points:
    43
    oh boy (or girl, just to be fair), what simplistic views you always carry...... Rafa was 'much better' than Roger on clay, so any time someone suggests that Rog could've done better or won a few more against Rafa is denied with such gusto, wow if he was that much better then Roger should've lost every time in fact every set, given there is such such wide margin there..... scores should've been like 6-2, 6-1, or 6-3 at most, if Rafa is off his game!! nobody in his right mind would say Rafa isn't better, it's already set in stone given his record, but come on, Roger has taken enough times of their matches on clay to deciding sets or closer, that it isn't so ridiculous to say he could've snatched a match or two more, even at RG.
     
  18. Ricardo

    Ricardo Masters Champion

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2016
    Messages:
    707
    Likes Received:
    141
    Trophy Points:
    43
    it is non-linear, except you can't argue with someone who has mono-thinking in such dynamic sport. Roger shouldn't have won any match against Rafa on clay, because Rafa is 'much better'.....maybe we just hand trophies to players whom are 'known' to be better, forget playing out the matches and save everyone time and energy. That's economical!
     
  19. brokenshoelace

    brokenshoelace Masters Champion

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Messages:
    955
    Likes Received:
    271
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Nobody is saying Nadal should be awarded clay wins over Federer before the matches take place. We're saying Roger can't be awarded wins for matches that WERE played and he lost, due to potentially winning one match that he lost but probably should have won.

    How much is Nadal better than Roger on clay? He's only lost to him twice and beat him 13 times, and won 9 French Opens to Roger's 1. I think the point is that even in an alternate reality in which Roger beats Nadal in Rome 2006 (and for the purposes of this thread, it's absolutely fine to talk about that since the whole idea is alternate reality), Nadal has indeed proven he is much better than Roger on clay to where one match is unlikely to have resulted in anything too different to what we have seen, especially at the FO, where Roger's problems against Rafa are way more than just confidence and big points.

    That is not to say that Roger couldn't or shouldn't have won more clay matches against Nadal. The aforementioned Rome 2006 as well as the Hamburg final in 2008 are glaring examples where Roger was firmly in the driving seat and let the match slip away.
     
    Moxie likes this.
  20. Ricardo

    Ricardo Masters Champion

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2016
    Messages:
    707
    Likes Received:
    141
    Trophy Points:
    43
    point is that their margin as clay courters are not as big as certain fans make out to be. A mere suggestion that Roger could've won more match against Rafa on clay is countered with such backlash, one who doesn't follow the sport would've thought that Roger can't even get more than a few games....it's not that simple. Sure we take their RG results 9-1, and H-H 13-2 to conclude that Rafa is much better, sure he really is as one cannot debate against facts, but one should also note that many matches were CLOSE with Roger leading in some of them and in a lot of the close sets results have hinged on a couple points.
     

Share This Page