Friday, June 12, 2009

6 comments Jay Mariotti Is Still Not Impressed With Roger Federer

I may not hate Jay Mariotti quite as well as the guys from his home hate site FJMariotti do it but I would say that I feel a certain disregard for him as a human being. He just seems like a completely negative and antagonistic person. I am not sure I have ever heard someone come out and just say what a great guy Jay is, which is probably because he is not a great guy, he is most likely a jerk like he seems to be in print.

Either way, Mariotti is still not completely impressed with Roger Federer and thinks he should have to do more to be the greatest tennis player ever. I am not saying I necessarily disgree, I am saying Jay Mariotti does not make a very good case for why he believes this. He contradicts himself and then sets a standard for Federer to achieve this goal and then completely ignores the own standard he set.

Yes, Roger Federer at last had seized the French Open, the one crater on his Grand Slam resume. But he'd done so only after Rafael Nadal, his injured nemesis, was bounced in a fourth-round loss that ended his 31-match winning streak at Roland Garros.

I wasn't aware that if the Finals of one of the Grand Slam events was not Nadal v. Federer, it did not count as an actual Grand Slam victory for whoever wins that tournament. Under this logic, if Nadal and Federer both lost early in a tournament and if someone else won the tournament, Mariotti would not think it really counted because that person did not beat Nadal or Federer.

Plus in this present case, Nadal was injured, so Federer may as well just throw his trophy away.

This is akin to having a tryst with Angelina Jolie while Brad Pitt is in a coma. It's a bit misleading, wouldn't you say?

No, I would not say. The fact that Nadal lost should be of no concern to Federer. Federer has played through injuries repeatedly. He had mono last year. Nadal lost and Federer did not, this should not take away from his achievement. He did not beat Nadal to win the French Open, that is true, but he still won the French Open after Nadal had lost.

Doesn't he have to beat Nadal at least once on the Paris clay, stlll a glaring bugaboo, before being declared the preeminent player of all time?

I see Mariotti's logic here, but since Nadal is not the greatest player of all-time I would say that Federer doesn't have to beat him to be declared greatest player of all-time. Maybe if Federer played against those players thought to be the greatest of all-time in a tournament, which is impossible of course, then yes he would have to defeat all of them to be considered the greatest.

I don't think beating Nadal in the French Open one time will all of a sudden make Federer the greatest player ever. One victory would not do that in my mind. Not defeating Nadal on clay is a slight against Federer's resume but every single great tennis player has a rival that has given them trouble. Nadal is fantastic on clay and Federer has dominated him previously on other surfaces.

Almost arrogantly, that ignores the epic achievement of a old-schooler such as the Australian, Rod Laver, who won the true Grand Slam twice -- all four majors within a calendar year, which Federer has not done. Laver won 11 Grand Slam titles, leaving him three shy of Federer and Pete Sampras, but he surely would have won many more in his prime had he been allowed to play in the majors between 1963 and the advent of the Open era in 1968.

Yeah, well Laver wasn't allowed to play in the majors so he didn't. We have no idea what he would have done. If Federer did not have to play Nadal he would have won more French Opens by now, but he had to so it's a moot point.

You don't. Yet Federer and his boosters take a quantum leap anyway, as if not considering what happened as recently as January at the Australian Open, where he was such an emotional wreck in losing another big one to Nadal that he wept uncontrollably at the trophy ceremony and had to be consoled by the Spaniard.

I tell you what we should do. We should not consider Federer the greatest tennis player of all time because he cried at a trophy ceremony one time. That makes perfect sense. I need better reasoning than this.

At that point, Nadal had beaten him five straight and won 13 of their previous 19 matches. Suddenly, we're forgetting all of that? Do we really think Nadal, at full health, would have lost to Federer in Paris? How do we anoint Federer as THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME when he has been on a lengthy death spiral against Nadal, whose most memorable triumph in the rivalry was the five-set classic in the Wimbledon final last July?

No one is forgetting this. Why are you forgetting that Federer absolutely owned Nadal on grass and at the US Open prior to this? Federer is old for a tennis player and Nadal is absolutely in the prime of his career. When comparing Nadal and Federer, which is really what Mariotti is doing, you have to consider this as well.

I am not saying Federer is the best player of all-time but you can't even compare Nadal's accomplishments to Federer at this time because Nadal has never been the hard court and grass court player that Federer has been.

Career records on each surface:

Clay courts: 9-2 (Federer is the clear cut #2 best clay court player...I don't think he has to be #1 to be the greatest of all-time.)

Hard courts: 3-3 (Since 2004, Federer has won 8 of the 11 Grand Slams on hard courts, including 5 straight US Opens)

Grass courts: 2-1 (Federer won 5 straight Wimbledon Championships from 2003 to 2007)

My point is this: Federer is the best hard court and grass court player in the world, even not being in the prime of his career, and is the #2 clay court player in the world. That counts for something in my book. The only time Federer has lost a Grand Slam Final is to Nadal and considering Nadal is shaping up to be one of the greatest players ever, I find it hard to hold that against him. If Mariotti is really insisting on comparing Nadal and Federer, he would also have to take into account the fact that Nadal has struggled to be consistent on hard courts throughout his career and hasn't always played well on grass either.

I feel very uncomfortable crowning Federer when Nadal has been appreciably better in head-to-head competition.

I don't think Federer is the greatest player ever and Nadal does hold the advantage head-to-head over his career 13-7, that is true. 11 of the 20 matches have been on clay and Nadal is the greatest clay court player I have ever seen. You can't hold this against Federer, I just don't think you can. Outside of clay courts Federer has a record of 5-4 against Nadal. It's actually a pretty even rivalry now, compared to what it used to be.

Can we not make the argument that Nadal, who just turned 23 and is almost five years younger than Federer, is positioned to win the most Grand Slams of anyone?

If we want to have pure speculation, how about this? What type of record would Nadal have against Federer if Federer were 23 and Nadal were 28? I don't know, I am just asking. I am admitting Federer may not be the greatest ever but I think it is closer than we think because he is having to go against one of the other greatest players ever and Federer has dominated on two surfaces. It would be helpful if they were the same age.

Point is, the only way Federer got his mojo back was when Nadal struggled at the French.

And Nadal only beat Federer at Wimbledon after they changed the grass surface to bounce a little bit more like a hard court.

The announcement should come by Wednesday. If Nadal skips Wimbledon, Federer will have a golden opportunity to win his 15th -- again, because Nadal was absent.

Yes, Federer will have a great chance to win his 15th because Nadal may be absent. I don't like the implication that Federer would not win the tournament no matter if Nadal was able to play. Federer has been an absolute master on grass in the past and regardless of whether Nadal is the defending champion, I would still consider Federer the better grass court player.

With advances in racket technology and physical training, you sense we're watching the game at its optimum level, even if tennis doesn't jazz the masses as it did 30 years ago.

Just a few paragraphs ago Jay Mariotti was saying that Rod Laver could be the greatest tennis player ever when he played in the 1960's, but he thinks tennis is being played at it's optimum level now. So the greatest player ever would have to come from the era of when tennis is being played at its optimum level (logically), which would mean Federer or Nadal are the greatest tennis players ever. I don't agree, but I am not also not undermining my own point like Mariotti is.

If Nadal plays at Wimbledon and beats Federer, the Swiss gentleman will lose the cachet he reclaimed in Paris. The sport will belong to Nadal again.

I will agree with this sentiment. It will show the Wimbledon Final from last year was an outlier and Federer is still the greatest player on grass. I still think we have to take their ages into account and the fact Nadal is a great tennis player in his prime, while Federer is not in his prime right now.

Not to mention Nadal has been so much more inconsistent in reaching Grand Slam Finals than Federer has exhibited this year when he lost in the 4th round and Federer won the French Open. Something has to be said for consistency over a long period of time.

Federer should be all about amassing major championships over the coming two or three years, aiming for a final number that history can't ignore.

Jay Mariotti irritates the shit out of me. He doesn't even stay on topic with his argument. So if Federer wins three more Grand Slams over the next two or three years and loses in the French Open to Nadal every year, how does this make him the greatest player ever? Mariotti was basing his whole argument on the fact Federer can't beat Nadal on clay, but Mariotti is ready to say he is the greatest player ever even if he never beats Nadal at the French Open? That doesn't make sense to me.

I can't remember an athlete trying to make history when the precious present is holding him back. Federer got a reprieve in Paris -- a shot of rejuvenation -- but it will be forgotten if Nadal continues to school him.

Nadal has never schooled Federer, except on clay courts. Federer has schooled Nadal and the rest of his competitors on nearly every other surface. Federer has been in the Finals of Grand Slam events consistently while Nadal has been out of the tournament already before reaching the Finals. Somehow Mariotti forgets all of this. The only reason Nadal-Federer have not played more on grass and hard courts is because Nadal can't always make the Finals.

Head-to-head it is a close matchup but when you look at the big picture, Federer is a better player.

And don't be surprised if in 10 years, we'll be calling Nadal the greatest tennis player ever.

You can't. Federer won 5 straight Wimbledon titles, 5 straight US Open titles and three Australian Open titles, at the exact time when Nadal was playing as well. Only after Federer has gotten older and Nadal has entered his prime has the matchup become more even on any surface other than clay.

Fourteen is debatable. Nineteen is unassailable.

Even if he never beats Nadal at the French Open? Based on Jay's argument how the hell does this make sense? He argues that Federer is not the greatest tennis player of all-time because he has not beaten Nadal at the French Open, but says if Federer wins 5 more Grand Slam tournaments he will be the greatest tennis player of all-time...and he can do this without beating Nadal on clay. That doesn't make sense to me. I just wish he would make a clear-cut argument and stick with it.


Anonymous said...

I love this blog but I stopped reading in the middle of this post. Mariotti is just so stupid I feel stupider reading the words he's allowed to put on paper. I don't have a lot of room to get stupider so I am just going to assume you raked him over the coals and he's since retired from blogging.

The internet thanks you BGF.

Chris W said...

I love how Federer's inability to beat one of the potential top 10 players in the history of the sport on a surface where that player excels and on which Federer's strengths are minimalized is somehow evidence that that player is somehow better than Federer (even though Federer is clearly better than Nadal on the other two surfaces)

That's just Mariotti for you. Opening his asshole and seeing what falls out (often: dude goo)

Bengoodfella said...

The idea Federer could not be the greatest player of all time on clay shows a complete ignorance of tennis. Nadal is awesome on clay, maybe the best ever.

Chris, you are right. Federer has traditionally dominated Nadal on other surfaces. I just hate that he is getting older so I can see Nadal catching up some more and Mariotti may accidentally stumble onto being right.

KentAllard said...

There have always been situations like this. When Jimmy Connors was world #1 Guillermo Vilas gave him hell on clay. It's played on three distinctly different surfaces that require different skill sets, so even to be competitive on all three is a huge accomplishment. Ivan Lendl used to skip Wimbledon, a lot of Americans used to skip Paris. The fact that a principal rival is better on one out of three surfaces doesn't mean as much as Jay thinks. I don't ask that sports writers be geniuses, just that they understand things that everyone who follows/plays a sport knows. Arrgh.

AJ said...

I agree with Sean, I can't read much of his work. I mean i got the point of what he was trying to say within the first few lines, then it seems like he repeats himself over and over.

They play 1 of 4 major events on clay. The greatest players of all time can't win every single event they enter, it's just not possible. He won the French finally, and who is to say he won't win it again?? Lets not talk about greatest of all time till their careers are over with and everything is all on the table. Roger still has plenty of years left, and he could win the grand slam this year...then what?

Bengoodfella said...

I obviously thought this article was dumb, but my favorite dumb part was when he mentioned that if Federer wins a few more major tournaments then he will be the greatest ever...yet he still may never beat Nadal on clay.

Typical Mariotti.