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Only scenario when Federer’s total shut out against Nadal on clay wouldn’t have mattered.

Posted by tennisplanet on August 7, 2010

Historically most former greats have had zero success at the FO in particular and clay in general leaving some wiggle room. But if you have the GOAT of clay running wild, smack in the middle of your reign, it adds that much more room for play – for legit discounting.

Translation: If Federer had not won a single match against Nadal on clay – FO or otherwise – just the fact that he managed to get to the finals so many times would have more than compensated for his dismal record given what’s on the record from the beginning of time / sport.

But a certain record injected itself – forcibly – into the equation to deny Federer that allowance. Have a clue? No, you don’t!!!!!!

It’s got something to do with these numbers: 5-4.

If Federer was to brush aside his poor showing on clay against Nadal, he shouldn’t have allowed even ONE win on ANY other surface – irrespective of how insignificant the event was. Forget about a win, EACH of those matches should have been such lopsided wins so as to leave nothing open for debate.

Not only did that not happen, Nadal won two SLAMS by beating Federer in the final – one on Federer’s home turf – GRASS. Not enough? What Federer should have achieved was actually produced by Nadal in reverse by not letting Federer extend him to five sets on clay – ever – with couple of lopsided wins to seal the deal. Still not enough? Nadal beat Federer in straight sets – on a hard court back in 2004 at the very height of Federer’s career.

Need more? Of the five times Federer has won, for two of those he was extended to five sets.

Here are the matches on surfaces not called red:

Player Surface Event Score Year Round
Nadal Hard AO 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-2 2009 Final
Grass Wimbledon 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(8), 9-7 2008 Final
Hard Dubai 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 2006 Final
Hard Miami 6-3, 6-3 2004 R32
Federer Hard Tennis Masters Cup 6-4, 6-1 2007 Semifinal
Grass Wimbledon 7-6(7), 4-6, 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-2 2007 Final
Hard Tennis Masters Cup 6-4, 7-5 2006 Semifinal
Grass Wimbledon 6-0, 7-6(5), 6-7(2), 6-3 2006 Final
Hard Miami 2-6, 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-1 2005 Final

16 Responses to “Only scenario when Federer’s total shut out against Nadal on clay wouldn’t have mattered.”

  1. banti said

    Its not a mystery that Rafa has always had a “match up” edge with Roger. His game tactically has the exact ingredients to match up against Roger. This has been analyzed countless times. Check these stats T.P., hard court slams played together/ finals reached by both/ finals facing each other in these. This should explain it all. Grass is the middle ground for the two by the way, Rafa even went out and said Wimbi in the second week was like playing on clay. Roger excels on faster surfaces where is superior reflexes and his offensive game break down his opponents. Proof coming to you at the end of the month:)

  2. Sir Vibhudi Aatmapudi said

    Well said Banti. And TP, here’s the thing though, the equation is tighter in hard courts and grass because of Nadal’s victories on Clay. When you beat someone constantly on clay, your confidence level and belief becomes stronger to beat the same opponent on other surfaces. Thus, Nadal grew stronger with every victory on clay and he was able to transfer that confidence and belief on other surfaces while Federer always had that last defeat on Clay ( and subsequently, defeats on other surfaces) at the back of his head before the next encounter with Nadal. Plus, I think, as the h-2-h somehwere around 2008, helped Nadal surge ahead as the mentally tougher player.

  3. Andy said

    Very good points above, but the main problem I have with TP’s post is the premise itself, as it actually dismisses the greatness of Rafa.

    This is the funny thing about those who knock Fed. They often end up having to kind of dismiss Rafa as some guy who can be “brushed aside” in “lopsided wins” for Fed. It is a line of thinking that is incorreect, illogical and, ironically, disrespectful to one of the greatest tennis players ever who is in the course of at the very least making an argument for the GOAT, Mr. Rafa Nadal.

    So I look at it the other way. Despite a few of their matches being played when Fed is obviously in the downside of his prime, and despite the excellent points made above regarding match-up/benefit of clay victories when Rafa plays on other surfaces, Fed’s overall non-clay record against the AMAZING, WUNDERKIND, MENTALLY TOUGH AS NAILS RAFA is



    Well done Fed!

  4. wuiches said

    Do you know what do these numbers mean TP???

    If Nadal wins the USO at least once, and lets say he wins 14 or even 13 slams(and Roger stops at 16), it’s gonna be impossible to say that Roger is the GOAT!!!

    With masters 1000 record(if Roger doesn’t get more), davis cup, the gold medal(keep in mind that a player will have at most 2 chances in his career to get it, that’s why it’s so important) and given the h2h record, how can someone say that Fed is the greatest????

    To me GOAT means, ok, you can take this guy to any other era and he would dominate the tour against anybody!!!

    but there’s a player in his own era that he can’t dominate!!!! on any surface!!!!!!!!!

    Some might say ok, but Roger was the #1 for so many years over Nadal!!! yes, but he is also 5 years older than Nadal!!! when Rafa didn’t even have pubic hair Roger was kicking Sampras’ ass at Wimby!!!!!

    Roger made his way to the top when Rafa was just a teenager!!!!!

    Nadal was a child prodigy of clay, and he needed some time(less than Roger) to be mature enough to compete on other surfaces, and when was ready he kicked Roger’s ass there too!!!

    Anyway we’ll have to wait until Nadal’s career is over, if he stops at 8, at least to me Roger will be greater than Nadal.

    • banti said

      14 Hard court slams played with just one final appearance. That is not in anyway GOAT like. Roger however has WON almost 50% of the hard court slams he’s entered, and has infact dominated Rafa on the hard courts, just not head to head bc he matches up so well against Fed. The only thing I agree with, is lets wait to see what Rafa does on a surface he has performed very poorly on. He made that Aussie Open final without facing a top ten player, that won’t be the case ever in the future. I do think with Murray seeming like he doesn’t care, Roger unmotivated, Potro injured this maybe his best chance to win the Open.

      • wuiches said

        “14 Hard court slams played with just one final appearance”

        Neither finals nor semifinals makes you a great champ!! How many finals and semi finals played Lendl?? Would you consider him a match to Fed just because of that?? Only consistency rising titles makes you a great player.

        So you give me that “14 hard court slams” statistic, ok, Roger has on clay 11 titles with 1 GS, Rafa has 9 titles on hard courts with 1 GS, that’s a real statistic, titles not finals, #2 is the first loser!! and again Rafa is 5 years younger than Fed.

        “He made that Aussie Open final without facing a top ten player”

        Ok, but he defeated Rog in the final, Rog might have defeated many top 10’s to reach several finals but lost to Rafa at the moment of truth!! And if you discard this title because he faced only tomato cans to reach that final, I discard Roger’s slams against Gonzalez, Baghdatis, Agassi(granpa’), 2 times Murray(nutless), 4 times Roddick(nothing but serve), all of them good players, but not slam material!! Ok, Roddick has a slam, so what?? Richard Krajicek has one too!! Who remembers him now??? The only 2 guys who never feared Roger defeated him clearly!

        “Murray seeming like he doesn’t care, Roger unmotivated, Potro injured this maybe his best chance to win the Open”

        With this you are already discarding Rafa’s title IF he gets it, ok let me remind you that huge ASTERISK in Roger’s RG, history will always say: “ok, but Rafa was injured”, Roger will never erase that from his records sheet!!! Unless he is able to defeat Nadal at the FO which seems a point less than impossible!!

        And nobody will never question any of Rafa’s slams, actually he defeated the” GOAT” in almost all of them.

        Any way at this very moment I consider Roger a greater player since a historical point of view, I mean, if both careers finish at this moment Roger would be the man without a doubt, but we have to wait…

      • Vr said

        ‘Roger unmotivated..’ What do you mean??? With Wimbledon result and #3 ranking, bet he is motivated as hell to win USO

      • banti said

        Yeah its pretty obv. from his play that is motivation level is suffering. Even some players have come out and even pointed this out including Roddick and Nalbi recently. Not sure where his mental game is at but he was no where near his top level mentally after his Aussie Open win.

      • Jenny said

        I still think consistent motivation is tough to maintain year in year out, even for a great player like Roger. He has been in the top three since 2004, that’s a long time. Roger has lost mega points this year, hence his dip in ranking, fitness could be a factor, other times he was simply outplayed on the day, whatever the reason, he lost. I take what players like Roddick and Nalby say on board because they’ve worn the t-shirt and they’ve known Roger for a long time.

    • Andy said

      I take a fairly basic approach to the “who is greater” debate.

      Even if you give the weak competition argument, the huge edge to Rafa on clay argument and all the other arguments out there against Fed a significant amount of weight, doesn’t Rafa have to succeed off clay, at the very least, to more than HALF (just over half ONLY!!!!) of the level of Roger’s Grand Slam success off clay?

      So, to me, to even be considered in the same category as Fed historically (let alone greater than him), as an overall player on all surfaces at all the Slam tourneys I mean, Rafa has to win, at the very least:

      2 more Wimby titles
      2 more AO titles
      3 USO titles

      If Rafa wins another 4 or 5 FOs (as many think will happen), and Roger doesn’t win any more Slam titles anywhere (as many think will happen), I suppose each of the numbers above going down one might be appropriate, but not more than that, in my opinion.

      Certainly the above is not out of the question on the one hand. But certainly it is not something that should be thought of as a given on the other hand.

      • wuiches said

        I said:

        “Anyway we’ll have to wait until Nadal’s career is over, if he stops at 8, at least to me Roger will be greater than Nadal.”


        “Any way at this very moment I consider Roger a greater player since a historical point of view, I mean, if both careers finish at this moment Roger would be the man without a doubt, but we have to wait…”

        I’ll repeat it again, at this very moment, I consider Roger gretaer than Nadal!!! now, about the titles you say the spaniard must get in order to be considered a greater player I just don’t agree with you.

        do you know what is a carrer grand slam?? it’s a record that only 3 men have make it since the open era(which is the most important era because “open” means you are competing against the rest of the world), Roger is one of them(with circumstances that we all know) and it’s the 2nd most difficult record that you can get in tennis, the first would be a calendar year slam, which is to win the 4 slams in the same year, Laver is the only one that has done so, but in those days there were only 2 surfaces(at the slams at least), grass and clay.

        Do you know how many players have made 2 career grand slams????(open era, Laver made one before and one after) not even one!!!!!!!!!!

        Nadal needs only 1 OZ and 2 USO to get 2 career grand slams!!!!!!!!!!!

        IF he is able to do so, and he gets 2 or 3 more slams whatever they are, he definitely would be making something greater and more difficult to do than Roger did!!!

        I know that Roger’s consistency making semifinals and finals at the slams is very impressive, but remember that only titles make you a great player, making a final is “almost” a title but not the title, you can’t get almost pregnant dude!!

        Again, lets wait and see!

      • Andy said

        TP – Sorry,I didn’t make one of the corrections I meant to above — please post this one, not the two above. Thanks and sorry again for the confusion!


        Wuiches – my post wasn’t meant as a comment on the parts of your post that you quoted. We agree there.

        We disagree on the level that Rafa has to reach to “out-great” Roger, but that’s fair enough. Everyone has a different opinion on that, and some out there disagree with both of us and say that Rafa is even currently at a greater level than Fed despite the actually quite astounding 15-3 edge in Fed’s favour off clay.

        On our disagreement, I’ll only say a couple of things. First, you make an interesting point about the two career slam thing and it really highlights just how important at least two USO are for Rafa’s legacy in terms of this sort of debate. But I again come back to an earlier post I made about how people in some ways have to dismiss Rafa’s greatness in order to come up with arguments to lower Fed historically. Where that comes into play here is that if the career grand slam thing is SUCH a huge measure to you, then you have to also consider that the only thing stopping Fed from having a career slam FOUR times over is a guy named Rafa Nadal, and on the surface that Rafa is KING, and widely considered one of, if not the best ever! I know, yeah, but Roger didn’t actually win those titles and only actually has one career slam… BUT, if you are going to be short of achieving that mark, what’s the most honorable way to go down? I’d say against perhaps the best ever on clay is a pretty freaking honorable way to go down!!!!! Fed did everything but beat Rafa. That is part of the context here.

        While talking about “context,” I have to also strongly disagree with you on the “you can’t get almost pregnant dude” comment. DUDE, generally speaking, unless you’re talking about pregnancy itself, that expression is not all that applicable in life. There is a context to just about everything, and in that sense, everything usually has room for “partial pregnancies.” In this case, of course, semi-final and final showings are part of the context and should get a significant amount of consideration here. More on point, so should the fact that the only thing that stopped Roger from 4 of the Career Slam thing that you covet so much is the GREAT RAFA NADAL, ON CLAY!

        Lets say Rafa get’s his USO, but is stopped at one, and not by Fed. Then there would be a big difference between Rafa saying “only Murray, Delpo, Youzny, Blake stopped me from my getting my second career slam” then Fed saying “only Rafa on clay stopped me from getting my second career slam”.

        That’s a “partial pregnancy” to consider!

  5. O said

    There’s still a long way to go with this rivalry, but with each tourney and each slam, it’ll be clearer who is better. It looks like one of them will take home the us open again.

    • claire said

      Problem is Federer is 29 and Nadal is what, 24? I wish Federer was 24, then I think we would really see who is the best! Seems like you all agree that age is a factor in tennis!

      • wuiches said

        the age issue it’s important not because one can run faster than the other because of the youth, it’s because Nadal has 4 or 5 more years(IF the new knee treatment works and with better schedule management) to try to match Roger’s records.

      • Sol said

        It’s also important because one is at his prime and the other not so much anymore. It’s a huge factor that Nadal fans like to overlook.

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