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Roger Federer: How Does He Stack Up Against the 10 Greatest of All Time? 3

Posted on April 14, 2011 by JA Allen

Roger Federer wins Wimbledon in 2009.

In over a century of judging the hits and misses of men’s professional tennis, tournament rules have come and gone. Styles of play rose and fell with the passage of time.

Technology has increased speed, spin and accuracy as rackets evolved and athletes became bigger, stronger and faster.

In light of constant evolution, it becomes difficult to compare players from one generation to the next because unlike baseball, tennis has never been a game noted for rote statistics.

That is not to say the stats were not there, but as a professional organization, no one thought to keep numbers comparing players in a consistent and forward-thinking manner. Sometimes even the most rudimentary facts about a match are missing.

Even today, there is no consensus about just what statistical measures are important in judging the overall careers of the top men in tennis.

The statistics that seem to matter most currently are: (1) the number of grand slam victories; (2) the number of weeks or total length of time holding the No. 1 ranking; (3) the number of year-end tour championship wins over the best eight men in the field, and (4) the number of Master’s Shields won. Many other statistics considered important by the ATP are detailed here

This ranking looks at players of the modern era, since 1968, although a great case can and should be made for male tennis stars who played before the Open Era.

Compare Federer’s numbers to the stats of others with him in the top 10, especially those who have won slams on all surfaces.

These 10 players in the modern era have set the bar for the rest following in this 21st century.

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Is Novak Djokovic the Next Pete Sampras? 1

Posted on February 08, 2011 by Rob York

Can Novak Djokovic emerge from the shadows of Federer and Nadal to become a consistent winner?

Precise time frames escape me, but at some point in the past 18 months my good friend Rajat Jain compared Novak Djokovic to Pete Sampras.

Both men had won their first majors at a very young age (Sampras was 19, Djokovic 20) and spoke frankly of wanting to be No. 1. However, both of them soon found that Grand Slam glory brings a new weight of expectations, and both soon found themselves beset with struggles relating to their conditioning, their on-court tactics, and even their technical skills.

At the time, I couldn’t quite buy into the comparison. Sampras, for one thing, was a far bigger surprise when he won the 1990 US Open than Djokovic was at the 2008 Australian Open. Sampras had one just one title and a pair of 4th round appearances in majors going into that event. In 2007 Djokovic had won two Master’s Shields, beaten both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and reached the final of the ’07 US Open.

Furthermore, Djokovic was a much more developed product than Sampras, who possessed an attacking game early on but not the best net coverage or the best instincts regarding when to go in. Pete Sampras circa 1991-92 had clear room for improvement that the Novak Djokovic of 2009-10 apparently did not. Read the rest of this entry →

The 20 Greatest Male Australian Open Champions of All Time, Part 1 1

Posted on January 18, 2011 by JA Allen

Roger Federer serves in 2010, winning the Australian Open that year.

It used to take 45 days on a ship to get to Australia from Europe.

For that reason, in the early days, the Australian Championships were not well-attended by players outside of Australia and, at times, or even by their own players.

But as the world grew smaller, the importance of this colorful slam down under grew until now it ranks up there with the other three, receiving the attention from the players and the media the Australian Open so richly deserves.

This year as the 2011 Australian Open gets underway, the world is focused on many fascinating tennis stories.

For example, the women will be looking to crown a new champion with the absence of last year’s winner and former World No. 1 Serena Williams.

On the men’s side, the questions center on whether Rafael Nadal will be able to complete his “Rafa Slam,” winning the Australian Open––owning all four major titles at one time.

No one has accomplished that since Aussie Rod Laver completed his own grand slam in 1969.

There is also much speculation wondering if Roger Federer, who is the defending champion, can win career grand slam title No. 17.

It would also give Federer five Australian Open Championships, which has not happened in the Open Era of men’s tennis.

Such a win would surely boost Federer higher on the list of the 20 all-time greatest Australian Open Champions.

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Classic Match: Pete Sampras vs. Boris Becker 1996 ATP Championships 5

Posted on November 17, 2010 by JA Allen

Pete Sampras Vs. Boris Becker in 1996 ATP finals.

In 1990 the ATP World Tour Championships moved from Madison Square Garden in New York City to Germany, home of native tennis phenoms Boris Becker and Steffi Graf.

New York City was vacated, bowing to the wishes of the German tennis hierarchy to move the year-end tournament to Frankfurt––offering more convenience to Europeans on tour. Madison Square Garden had served as home of the “Masters Grand Prix,” as it was then known, from 1977 through 1989.

After six years, the tournament moved from Frankfort to Hanover where it was played on carpet.  Pete Sampras entered the 1996 year-end finals as the top seed while the German Boris Becker was seeded No. 6.

No one suspected the level of drama that would unfold in the final match for the championship. The German contingent, of course, hoped that Becker would do well and make the ATP final so the stands would be packed.

So far in 1996, Sampras had lost once in nine finals, ironically to Becker in Stuttgart one month prior to this tournament. Also  of note––during the year Sampras had captured one major––the 1996 U.S. Open.

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Roger Federer Is No ‘Casey At the Bat’ 7

Posted on November 12, 2010 by JA Allen

Somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout; but there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out.

At the start of the $5 million Breeder’s Cup Classic held at Churchill Downs on November 6, the track announcer kept repeating “And Zenyatta is dead last,” as the race continued.

It was her 20th and supposedly last career race for the finish line.  The big girl had made her reputation running over the competition including all the boys for the past four years.

In fact, she had never lost a race.  Now as the oldest in the field at age six, Zenyatta had one more hurdle––in order to allow her to go out as perhaps the greatest racehorse in the history of the sport.

Traditionally Zenyatta came out the gates slow and sat at the back of the pack until the final curve toward home. That’s when she turned on the afterburners launching her signature heart-stopping finish.

Zenyatta continuously left the competition panting and spent, wondering how this racing marvel had come so far so fast, beating them to the finish line.

During this race on November 6th, the track announcer at last began to report Zenyatta was moving forward, zigzagging in and out, squeezing her way past most of the pack.

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Will Roger Federer Become the Greatest Champion of the World Tour Finals? 1

Posted on November 03, 2010 by JA Allen

Since 2009, the WTF has been held in London.

It is a given in any sport that happens to light your fire––at the end of the season, fans need to crown a winner––the ultimate champion whose accomplishments set him, her or them above all the rest.

For men’s tennis, this event rolls around shortly in November.

The World Tour Finals, paradoxically referred to as the WTF––the latest moniker for the year-end tournament for men’s professional tennis––will be held in London for the second year. It is an unfortunate acronym, although purportedly unintentional.

Since 1970 men’s professional tennis has tinkered with the year-end tournament, finally settling on its current format in 1999 when the ATP and ITF decided not to compete with each other. At long last the guys at the top realized that competition between the governing bodies in tennis was counter-productive.

Now if they could do something equally as innovative for the Davis Cup, the tennis world could breathe a collective sigh of relief! The Davis Cup should be a premiere event instead of a lingering afterthought as it is now.

The Masters year-end tournament, first played in 1970, features the top eight players on the men’s tour selected based on accumulated calendar year ATP ranking points.

The top eight men draw to create two teams with members of each four-man team competing with each other in three round-robin matches. From each group, the two players with the best results move onto the semifinals where the top-ranked player from each group plays the second-ranked player from the other group.

The final is contested by the winners of the semifinal contests.  The winner of that match is accorded 1500 ranking points as well as the honor and prestige of winning in a field of the best eight players in the world. Ironically, last year’s champion, Nikolay Davydenko will not make the field in 2010.  It is tough out there when you get injured.

So in the 40 years the championships have been held, who are the greatest champions of the event? We will count them down here.

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