Federer and Nadal: The Grand Slam Record And Head-To-Head Stats Don’t Matter - UBITENNIS
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Federer and Nadal: The Grand Slam Record And Head-To-Head Stats Don’t Matter




Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal (zimbio.com)

In one of the most exciting rivalries in sports history, the numbers can sometimes be deceiving. The ATP ranking system decides which player is No. 1 without considering the outcome of the matches between the two rivals, but at least it is based on objective standards.   


Despite being ranked No. 1 in the world, in 2017 Rafael Nadal has lost all four encounters against his legendary rival Roger Federer, including the final at the Shanghai Masters on Sunday. Federer has also captured the last six sets played against the Spaniard. In terms of head-to-head between the two, Federer is on a five-match winning streak – his longest in the rivalry against Rafa. If Federer and Nadal clashed again in Basel, Paris-Bercy and London on fast indoor courts that will favor the Swiss during the upcoming weeks, Roger would have a very good opportunity to end the year with an astonishing 7-0 record against his former nemesis. In 2017 the tables have incredibly turned: In the past when Federer was No. 1 in the world, the Swiss had a very poor record against Nadal. Now their rivalry finds itself in the exact opposite situation, with Federer dominating the head-to-head and each player capturing six titles (including two majors).

Despite four losses against Roger, Rafa should end the year as the world No. 1. Federer is trailing by 1,960 points at the moment, which leads us to believe that computers know nothing about tennis and numbers should be interpreted with expertise. At the same time, the ranking system is based on a methodology that doesn’t leave any room for subjectivity.

In the history of the Federer-Nadal rivalry, we had years during which the head-to-head stats perfectly reflected the verdict provided by the ATP ranking system. In 2008 Rafa Nadal won all four matches against Federer and finished the year as the world No. 1.

On the other hand, in 1977 Guillermo Vilas won two Slams and countless tournaments, but Jimmy Connors undeservedly remained the world No. 1.

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Regarding the fascinating conversation about the Greatest of All Time, do the head-to-head stats really count? Should they be a key factor in determining who the better player is? The answer should theoretically be affirmative in case the two rivals were close in age. We often forget that Roger and Rafa are not the same age, even if they have been battling each other for 13 years. It is unusual how Federer wasn’t able to capitalize on the age difference at the beginning of their rivalry, when Roger was a more experienced and established champion and Rafa was a teenager. As matter of fact, the exact opposite occurred, with Rafa dominating the preliminary stages of their rivalry.

At the twilight of their respective careers, many would think that the younger player should have an advantage, instead this year we saw 36-year-old Federer dominating 31-year-old Nadal.

While age doesn’t seem to be a factor, game styles and playing surfaces certainly are. In the past Federer and Nadal often faced each other on clay, which certainly favored the Spaniard. Considering that Roger will probably not play on clay anymore, Rafa will not have the opportunity to improve his record against the Swiss on that surface. Federer is certainly better than Nadal on indoor courts and medium-fast hardcourts.  Since Nadal should overall continue playing on hardcourts, Federer will have the opportunity to improve his record against the Spaniard. At the end of the day, the head-to-head stats are not completely reliable as they depend on how often the two legends played each other on each surface. If they clashed on clay more often, Rafa would have the advantage. If they played on indoor hardcourts, Roger would have the edge.

As for the number of Grand Slam titles captured by the two champions, Federer has 19, while Nadal has 16. Are these numbers relevant? Not necessarily. Only one Slam event is on clay, while two are contested on hardcourts and one on grass, which gives Federer the edge in three out of four majors. In 2017 Federer could skip the entire clay court season including Roland Garros without compromising his year, while Nadal can’t certainly afford to skip three Grand Slams.

The ATP ranking equally values all tournaments and surfaces, so the frontrunner certainly deserves to be at the top. Nadal could lose 7 times to Federer in one year, but if Rafa plays more than Roger and collects more points, the Spaniard deserves to be No. 1 player.

The No. 1 player in the world doesn’t necessarily have to be the best in the world. The absolute best is someone who dominates on every surface. Despite 14 Slam titles including 7 Wimbledons, Pete Sampras never went further than the semifinals at the French Open and can’t be considered the absolute best, unlike Rod Laver who captured the Calendar-Year Grand Slam in 1962 and 1969. Truth be told, in the 1960s three of the four Grand Slams were contested on grass, while Roland Garros was played on clay.

In closing the Greatest of All Time doesn’t really exist. Besides the numbers provided by Grand Slam records and head-to-head stats, there are too many intangibles that prevent us from truly determining who the best player was.  It is a very subjective opinion, as anyone can say that a certain player was the best during a specific Era depending on their personal judgement.


(Article translation provided by T&L Global – Translation & Language Solutions – www.t-lglobal.com )


Laver Back In the Conversation For Greatest Player?

Daniil Medvedev thwarted Djokovic’s Calendar Year Grand Slam ambitions and is ready to take over as the best in the game.




Who’s the greatest player ever?


How about Rod Laver, the owner of two Calendar Grand Slams?

Or what about Rafa Nadal, the owner of 21 major singles titles (including Olympic Gold)?

Or what about 20-20-20-Laver?


Since Novak Djokovic failed in his bid to win a Calendar Grand Slam on Sunday, I nominate the last of the three possibilities. 20-20-20-Laver sounds like a winner.

For Djokovic just to enter the conversation was a major achievement, and that was spurred by the Serbian’s bid for a Calendar Grand Slam.

Daniil Medvedev ended that conversation on Sunday, at least for now, with his straight-set 4-4-4 dismantling of Djokovic in the U.S. Open final.


As 2021 turned out, it was a really disappointing year for Djokovic, even though he won the year’s first three Grand Slam events. Most players would be out celebrating if they won three Grand Slams in one year.

The loss to Alexander Zverev in the Tokyo Olympics ended Novak’s Golden Grand Slam. And then Medvedev took care of the Calendar Grand Slam talk and the possibility of Djokovic breaking a 20-20-20 deadlock with Nadal and Roger Federer.

So, what’s next? I doubt that Novak is planning to skip the Australian Open in January. Even that one won’t be easy for Djokovic as a result of what has happened in late summer.


Djokovic has practically owned the Australian Open with nine titles in Melbourne, and eight of the last 11. But Medvedev and Zverev will be major obstacles for Djokovic in Melbourne, along with Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The Australian Open isn’t likely to be a picnic for Novak, even if Federer and Nadal skip the trip. If so, Federer and Nadal will be leaving the Australian Open in capable hands.

Things should start heating up by the quarterfinals Down Under.

By the way, Djokovic is 34 years old. That’s about the age Nadal started having trouble winning Grand Slams.


Medvedev beat Djokovic at just about everything he tried on Sunday. Djokovic was never in the game on serving competition or powerful forehands.

Those areas belonged to the 25-year-old Russian.

And movement? On this day, Medvedev had a picnic. The 6-6 first-time Grand Slam winner was everywhere with his amazing quickness. Djokovic couldn’t put a dent in his baseline defense.

Medvedev even out-did Djokovic in the Serbian’s usually solid drop shot department, pinning  even more disappointment on Novak.

Novak even caused a ball girl to change directions during the match as he swung his racket near the surface in  frustration after losing a point. Later, he punished his racket by smashing it into the court and destroying it.


The key to the relatively easy win for Medvedev was his serve. He was a perfect 15-for-15 on first-serve points in the opening set.

Medvedev obviously had little trouble with his serve until he was ready to end the match. With Medvedev owning a match point at 5-2 in the third set, the crowd tried to help Djokovic. Only then when the crowd got into the act of trying to break Medvedev’s attention did he double-fault twice in a row before netting a forehand to give Djokovic the game.

But in the final game of the match, Medvedev was ready for the crowd attack, although he double-faulted another match point away before ending the match with a big serve out wide for a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory. Djokovic managed only to hit the bottom of the net with his backhand return.

And suddenly, the tall Russian looks like the best player in the game.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award as the tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspapers. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com

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Raducanu Proved She’s The Better Player

The British sensation shocked the tennis world – can she keep it up in the coming years?




They played in the largest tennis stadium in the world.


They were teenagers. They achieved a dream early in their careers.

It just as easily could have been a junior championship a year earlier in their careers.

Only a few people would have been watching then. Such an event might not even have drawn newspaper coverage.


This meeting was much bigger and more important. The two participants would be $2.7 million richer between them before the day ended. They would become famous the world over, at least for now.

But this was Saturday, 9/11/21.

Real life now sets in. There probably are at least 100 other players in the world who are just as outstanding as Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez. Yet, most of them will never be involved in a Grand Slam singles final.


What Raducanu and Fernandez accomplished will never be forgotten, always listed in tennis annals.

England will always be proud of its new Grand Slam champion. At long last, Virginia Wade has company.

And Canada will never forget its feisty Grand Slam runner-up.

They stood the test while other more touted and talented players buckled at the knees. High-ranked players crumbled at the thought of losing to a mere teenager.

Next time, that advantage probably won’t exist.


Raducanu and Fernandez played the final like the teenagers they are.

Raducanu came close to making it a one-sided result when she held match point twice with a 5-2 lead in the second set. But Fernandez did not give up on her left-handed game that Raducanu had conquered before in the junior ranks.

After losing both points and the game to make the match closer, Raducanu fought off a pair of break points in the next game before making good on her third match point for a 6-4, 6-3 victory.

The British 18-year-old generally outplayed the 19-year-old Fernandez most of the 111-minute final. Raducanu had more firepower on her serve and ground strokes.


Raducanu played like a tour veteran, even if it was only her fourth tour-level event. It was her 10th straight win without dropping a set, counting her three wins in qualifying just to get into the main draw. No women’s qualifier before even had advanced to a Grand Slam final.

She has the game to win consistently on the tour, but probably not strong enough to challenge the Top 10 players and Grand Slam titlists right away. She’s now no longer under the radar. Everyone wants to beat a Grand Slam champion.

This may have been just a one-shot opening that Raducanu took full advantage of to win a Grand Slam title.  Just in case the road ahead gets bumpy, she might want to be thrifty with the $1.8 million payday.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award as the tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspapers. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com

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Novak Djokovic Was Pushed To An Amazing Performance

Zverev fell just short of beating the world N.1, and now Medvedev is the last obstacle still standing on his path to a Calendar Year Grand Slam




Novak Djokovic was simply amazing Friday night.


True, he made a few mistakes against Alexander Zverev, but not when they counted most.

Zverev also was superb, but his mistakes came when they counted really big.

For those reasons, Djokovic is getting ready to play for the unthinkable. No one had thought much about a Calendar Grand Slam until back in June when Djokovic shocked the tennis world with a victory over Rafa Nadal at the French Open.

By the time Wimbledon came around without Roger Federer and Nadal in the field, the odds were high that Djokovic actually could achieve a Calendar Grand Slam. And then he won Wimbledon and in the process turned the race for most Grand Slam titles into a 20-20-20 battle.


When Federer and Nadal pulled out of the U.S. Open, all of Djokovic’s goals except a Golden Grand Slam when he lost to Zverev at the Olympics were in play.

Nearly two weeks later, Djokovic is one victory away from breaking out of the 20-20-20 deadlock as well as completing a rare Calendar Grand Slam.

Zverev pressed Djokovic into playing his very best to escape with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory in the U.S. Open semifinals. Only a cold start to the fifth set chilled Zverev’s hopes of spoiling Novak’s dreams.

Even after losing the first five games of the fifth set, Zverev still came close to making things interesting by winning the next two games and going to 30-30 in the eighth game.


Zverev’s improving game, and his big strokes and serves probably were enough to make Novak hope he won’t have to face Zverev’s hard balls again in January at the Australian Open.

That leaves only Daniil Medvedev between Djokovic and immortality.

Medvedev will have to be at his best to beat Novak. The slender 6-6 Russian can’t afford even a brief meltdown if he is to take Djokovic to the wire.

Medvedev appeared to be in awe of Djokovic when the two met in  this year’s Australian Open final.  Djokovic won that one easily in straight sets.


Medvedev’s game is a piece of work. He is completely unpredictable.

His whip forehand is one of the best shots in tennis. He backs it up with incredible movement.

It all depends on whether Medvedev can stick with Novak until the end. If Medvedev is still there, Novak likely will feel the heavy legs from his 214-minute bout with Zverev.

Not even Djokovic can out-move Medvedev. And the Russian’s uniquely quick serve has plenty of pop. He is due to win a Grand Slam.

But Medvedev will have to pull off a miracle against one of the smartest and slyest players tennis has ever seen if he is to win this U.S. Open.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award as the tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspapers. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com

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