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Tilting at Windmills

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January 28, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

ROGER!....I dunno. I used to think Roger Federer was the best tennis player on the planet, but I'm not so sure anymore. I think he may be the best tennis player in the galaxy.

Kevin Drum 3:26 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (53)

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Yes, I'm sure we're light years ahead of the tennis players from the planets without life.

Posted by: dj moonbat on January 28, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Are people still playing tennis?

Posted by: Ten in Tenn on January 28, 2007 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

I wait all day for a post and you come up with a sports-themed two-liner?

Who even knows from Roger Freder?

Posted by: Knudds on January 28, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

No kidding. Does anybody dominate any sport currently, or even previously, the way he does? An aside, he has won the French, right? I know he lost last year, but not sure. I could look it up...
And he's so damn boring! Brilliant player, though.

Posted by: Stacy on January 28, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

No French for Federer (yet) - man I wish he'd take that one so that all the haters would quit their hating and join in the Roger celebration! The guy is too good to be true.

Posted by: reader on January 28, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Roger!!!!!!

Posted by: Michael on January 28, 2007 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Stacy. He may be the most dominant player in his sport in history. He's certainly the best tennis player ever.

Yes, Ten in Tenn, people still play tennis.

Posted by: shnooky on January 28, 2007 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Home or away games?

There's a lot of red clay on Mars.

Posted by: B on January 28, 2007 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Stacy. He may be the most dominant player in his sport in history.

That means you've never heard of Rodney Mullen.

Posted by: dj moonbat on January 28, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

When Britney dumped him, I was afraid he'd fall apart completely. It's reassuring to see him moving ahead with his life and I wish him much success.

Posted by: John on January 28, 2007 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Umm, skateboarding is not a sport, it's an activity, so Rodney Mullen doesn't compare to Roger the Great.

Posted by: Adam on January 28, 2007 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

The other thing about him is that he makes it almost impossible to hate him also. He carries his greatness with such incredible humility. That's pretty amazing considering he's a tennis player.

Posted by: stand on January 28, 2007 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Course, that conveniently excludes the planet Skyron in the galaxy of Andromeda.

Posted by: Boronx on January 28, 2007 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Tennis -- like golf and racquetball -- may be fun to play, but 90% of the time it is excruciating to watch on TV and in person.

But to be fair, i've heard many, many people say the same of baseball, which I love.

And regardless of my personal feelings about watching tennis, there is no doubt that Roger Federer's accomplishments on the courts are certainly superior to the recent home run feats of Barry Bonds -- if only for the fact that no 'roids were involved.

And Kevin, how about a mention of Serena Williams' startling comeback to win the women's crown? I actually thought she had retired, and didn't know that she had in fact suffered a debilitating bout of clinical depression after the murder of her half-sister.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 28, 2007 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, the Serena comeback was insane, considering she took on the top seed in straight sets, almost cold.

But Federer....good god. Can this man be stopped on any court outside of clay?

Posted by: Kryptik on January 28, 2007 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

I put watching tennis in the same category as watching basketball or soccer -- it is normally extremely boring, but watching truly great players or very high stakes situations can ameliorate that. One of my favorite sports-watching experiences ever was the men's semis and final at Wimbledon in 2001, but if the same matches had happened on some nothing tournament in Ft. Lauderdale it wouldn't have been as compelling.

Posted by: Aaron S. Veenstra on January 28, 2007 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Adam: "... skateboarding is not a sport, it's an activity ..."

I usually find that such dismissive statements of irrelevancy usually come from people who don't know how to do whatever it is they're dismissing.

If you don't consider skateboarding -- which requires an enormous amount of athletic and physical skill -- a sport, then how would you categorize surfing, skiing or snowboarding?

For the record, I don't know how to skateboard, either. And I consider games like chess and poker -- of which TV coverage of the latter has proliferated on ESPN and FOX Sports beyond any reasonable bounds of good sense -- to be an activity, like needlepoint or stamp collecting.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 28, 2007 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, R-Fed is great. But he makes watching men's tennis pointless--it's almost a forgone conclusion that he'll win.

It is true that he may be the most dominant athlete in their sport today. But I don't know that I'm confortable saying he's the best ever. It just seems like the current men's field is exceptionally weak. Glancing at the ATP top ten, I see no one spectacular besides R-Fed.

Posted by: gq on January 28, 2007 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

John LOL.

Posted by: MP on January 28, 2007 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

Just imagine if he had won the French last year against Nadal--he would now be working on a streak of seven consecutive major titles. It's inconceivable. If only he could have held on and won the French last year after taking that first set against Nadal.

Posted by: coffeequeen on January 28, 2007 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

In terms of watching tennis, while Roger's endless winning may be boring, one of events I've enjoyed most out of any sport was watching a Conners night match at the US open. Was there anything more entertaining?

Posted by: b.H. on January 28, 2007 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

So when does he turn 26?

Posted by: Adam on January 28, 2007 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

b.H., more entertaining? Granted, he's got Connors in his camp now, but how about an Andy Roddick press conference?

And why am I watching tennis?

Posted by: notabbott on January 28, 2007 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

I think that honor belongs to Serena Williams.

Posted by: TruthProbe on January 28, 2007 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Have to agree with gq--Federer is dominant in a field of nobodies. Compare today to the 70s and 80s: Connors, Lendl, McEnroe, Borg, Vilas just for starters. Today it's Roger and the Seven Dwarfs. So what's the big deal? Yeah, he beats everybody he plays--that says at least as much about them as it does about him.

NatTurner

Posted by: NatTurner on January 28, 2007 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

But John Edward (the entertainer who pretends to communicate with the dead) has already been voted the Biggest Douche in the Universe! Galaxies are far too small to blog about.

Posted by: Greg in FL on January 28, 2007 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

Have to agree with gq--Federer is dominant in a field of nobodies. Compare today to the 70s and 80s: Connors, Lendl, McEnroe, Borg, Vilas just for starters.

Federer belongs on that list. His skills are awesome, and although he would be winning less often in the 70s, he'd still be winning a lot.

Posted by: dj moonbat on January 28, 2007 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

TIGER!!!

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on January 28, 2007 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

If you had a time machine that could transport the great players of the 1970s onto a contemporary court, they would be destroyed by any top player, let alone Federer.

Today's players a far better conditioned and have much better equipment. It's like asking what would happen if you put an NFL or NBA team from the 70s on the same field with their counterparts today.

Now if you're speculating on how good Borg or McEnroe would be if they had been born in 1980, that's different.

Posted by: Paul Campos on January 28, 2007 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

Agreed:

Federer is to tennis
As...
Lieberman is to Israeli interests.

Best in the galaxy man!
Best in the galaxy!

By the way...
I am more interested in AMERICAN interests that I am in ISRAELI interest.

Does that make me traitor to my USA country?

If you think so...
Then here is my response in Cheney lingo:

GO FUCK YOURSELF!

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on January 28, 2007 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

HAving 35 years or so playing tennis under my belt my opinion is Federer is likely the best ever though it is hard to compare eras especially with the improved equipment. But this guy does things that Sampras, Agassi, Lendl, Borg did NOT do and possibly didn't even imagine. McEnroe at his genius best touches upon some of the stuff that ROger comes up with on a regular basis. Yes it's true that there are not a lot of dominant players around to really challenge him (NAdal on clay and that's about it) which is a shame. But weak field at the moment takes nothing from him. And no he has not won the French yet. That will be a really interesting hurdle for him. Nadal has sagged a bit lately so perhaps this year is ROger's chance.

Posted by: Sarah on January 28, 2007 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

And oh by the way the women's tour should be FREAKIN' EMBARRASED that a fat girl who takes a year off acting in sitcoms and shows up 25 lbs overweight with no match play can win the whole tournament. When you make 67 unforced errors and still win, your opponent sucks. Petrova embarrassed herself. Sharapova served like an 8-yr old.
I mean props to Serena for competing so well and having faith in herself, but God. Come on. The mental frailty in the women's game threatens to make it a joke.

Posted by: Sarah on January 28, 2007 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

Today's players a far better conditioned and have much better equipment. It's like asking what would happen if you put an NFL or NBA team from the 70s on the same field with their counterparts today.

Well, I'd reverse the process. Put Federer on a court with a small-headed, laminated wood racket (I know Sampras says his coach made him learn the game this way, rather than let him lean on the modern, teardrop-shaped composite rackets), and I still think he'd do quite well.

A lot of it, as you say, is the modern athletes' conditioning edge. But Federer also shows artistry.

Posted by: dj moonbat on January 28, 2007 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

Props to Fernando Gonzalez, too, who had a fantastic tournament.

But, yes, we're all lucky to be around to see Federer play.

Posted by: scruncher on January 28, 2007 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

Serena didn't look fat at all - probably 10 lbs over her weight 3 years ago, but the hunger seemed to make up for that.

Now all those huge, immobile white girls she used to destroy back in the day (before they retired) ...

Posted by: Matt on January 28, 2007 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

Sarah, but that is why Serena's win was so remarkable. She didn't make all those unforced errors, at least not in the final. If she can clean her game up like that then she'll be unstoppable, better than she was two years ago. But to prove herself she'll have to beat the best female player out there, Justine Henin.

Posted by: Gabriel on January 28, 2007 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with dj moonbat. Federer is one of the few among today's player who would be just as good with the old wood rackets, though the power and consistency would naturally be less. He'd probably come to net a lot more as well, since passing shots would be tougher.

Posted by: Jim Bartle on January 28, 2007 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

He needs to win the French at least once to be considered the greatest in my opinion. All of the tennis grand slam tournaments are different surfaces (hard court, clay, grass) and/or conditions (night tennis at the US Open-Borg's undoing on more than one occasion). The versatility of winning all of them would put him in a very small group (Perry, Budge, Laver, Emerson, and Agassi--and Agassi's the only guy in the last 40 years).

Posted by: DoubleB on January 28, 2007 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

Plus, Agassi had both the best and the worst hair ever.

Posted by: dj moonbat on January 28, 2007 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

Agree that McEnroe was an artist. My all-time favorite match was the 1980 Wimbeldon final (Borg-McEnroe 18-16 tiebreaker in the fourth).

I don't like the power baseline game that has become the dominant model because of the equipment and conditioning, but Federer is fun to watch.

Nadal needs to get 10% more consistent and 5% better to challenge Federer for dominance. He's only 20, so he very well might.

Posted by: Paul Campos on January 28, 2007 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

"Federer Wins Another Slam"

is about as surprising as

"Bill O'Reilly Named Worst Person in the World"

Let's not forget Gonzalez, who played great in beating Hewitt, Blake, Nadal and Haas.

Posted by: Jim Bartle on January 28, 2007 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin's post reminds me of the conceit Gregg Easterbrook used to make involving Kurt Warner of the St Louis Rams being a Space Alien.

Posted by: Paul on January 28, 2007 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

Federer isn't the greatest ever until he wins the French...then he is. But you can't claim to be the greatest ever unless you are the best on grass, hard court, AND clay.

That said, there is something to the argument that the field he is competing against is historically weak. There is nobody else playing today who measures up to the likes of Laver, Rosewall, Newcombe, Emerson, Ashe, Borg, McEnroe, Connors, Becker, Wilander, Edberg, Lendl, Agassi, Sampras, etc.

To give you an idea of how weak the field is right now, all the other active players combined have won a total of nine Slams (Nadal - 2, Roddick - 1, Safin - 2, Hewitt - 2, Fererro - 1, Gaudio - 1), and the other nine members of the current top ten have won a grand total of three slams.

In comparison, look at the 1981 Wimbledon tournament, for example, which contained players who had won a total of 27 Grand Slams and who would go on to win 17 more; or look at the 1991 Wimbledon field, which contained players who had won a total of 37 Grand Slams and would go on to win another 32.

Posted by: mfw13 on January 29, 2007 at 12:21 AM | PERMALINK

The contest for best ever is between Federer, Borg and now apparently The Borg. The Swedish Borg won 11 Grands Slams eventhough he only played the Australian once. He never won the US Open however falling in 4 finals. Once Federer wins the French he will be the best ever on your planet.

Posted by: 6 of 9 on January 29, 2007 at 6:29 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, Federer doesn't have the competition of the great players of the past. But then again, if he played against them none of those other guys would be remembered as great players.

The only thing left for Federer is to try and become the White Sox' center fielder.

Posted by: calling all toasters on January 29, 2007 at 7:59 AM | PERMALINK

This guys a white tiger woods

Posted by: klyde on January 29, 2007 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Federer is good but he has no competition. When Mac was going good, he had to compete against Connor, Mat Wilander, Stefan Edberg , Ivan Lendle etc...

Roddick sucks big time. Who the hell is this guy Gonzalez? I am not trying to deminish his talent but Federer has it so easy.

Posted by: bob on January 29, 2007 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Federer really needs to die so we can all forget about him.

Note: This is not a threat against his health.

Posted by: MNPundit on January 29, 2007 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

The competition in men's tennis get better year after year. It's a sign of Federer's dominance that the competition seems weak. Safin, Gonzales, Blake, Roddick, Nadal, Hewitt etc are better competition than what existed in the 80's or 90s.

Just ask Ivan Lendl or Laver. Lendl says that Roger is the only tennis player he'd pay to watch. Laver thinks that Federer is the best ever. He should know.


But it would be nice if he won the French Open.

Posted by: ppk on January 29, 2007 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Federer is the man! I can't help but feel that when people compare his dominance to Tiger's dominance, they are actually short-changing Roger a bit. I think the gap between him and his peers is larger than the one between Tiger and his. (Not that Tiger isn't also a once in a lifetime athlete...)

Posted by: Gex on January 29, 2007 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

It is interesting to see, in a thread discussing Roger Federer's dominance, a person citing the relative lack of GS wins by other players as a sign that the rest of the competition is weak. Isn't the logical disconnect here obvious?

Perhaps this point would be clearer if I shifted sports and eras:

Clearly the Celtics of the 1960s benefitted from playing against weak competition. After all, none of the other teams could win the NBA championship!

Posted by: Rick on January 29, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

here in Switzerland, Roger is a god!

Posted by: Michele on January 29, 2007 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

What does Mr. Federer have against France?

Posted by: freelunch on January 30, 2007 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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