Half a set has determined the GOAT

A Wimbledon ballboy once told Jeff Borowiak to get to net, sound advice which helped Borowiak turn a loss into a win at Wimbledon.

Tennis intelligence of the highest form can come from any source. A friend at the local courts I play at made a smart point this week that not one expert tennis pundit, yours truly included, has been able to see. The greatest of all time debate has been determined by a half a set.

The 2017 Australian Open final fifth set had Nadal up 3-1 on Federer and then it was 3-3 before Federer rolled to the 6-3 triumph. Federer now stands with 20 major titles and Nadal’s recent Roland Garros win tallies his total to 18. So, as Pete Lavalle points out, if Nadal closes out Federer in that AO final, their Grand Slam total is locked at 19 apiece.

Federer is four and a half years older than Nadal, with only two more majors. That is a fragile advantage. But considering the wear and tear on Nadal’s legs, you never know when the engine is going to explode.

It’s a marvel that a combined 2,162 ATP match wins (1,211 for RF) and 183 singles titles (101 for RF), that the greatest of all time difference maker is that single half set in Melbourne two years ago.

It’s fascinating evidence of the minute closeness of this rivalry which commenced in 2004 at the Miami Open R32 when the 17 year old Nadal upset ATP world no. 1 Federer 63 63.

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  • catherine · June 18, 2019 at 11:05 am

    Hartt – this is bad. Bianca has such promise but the hard court season will be tough, if she makes it. Looking back, she should have skipped Paris. That long match was too much. Maybe she should just forget this year and try to recover completely rather than attempt to carry on and do permanent damage.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 18, 2019 at 11:12 am

    No, we want Borfiga. USTA can relocate a hundred other French people to Orlando to Frenchify Florida. We want Borfiga!!

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 18, 2019 at 11:14 am

    Does reddit community hate Tsitsipas?

  • catherine · June 18, 2019 at 11:15 am

    Jeff – it’s a good thing the words ‘male chauvinist’ are not in my vocabulary 🙂

    You could bear in mind that not all tennis followers are men and the appeal of dainty skirts and cuty pie outfits and lots of makeup on court is not universal.

    As for other sports – women don’t play football that well, I’d never watch women’s cricket (women aren’t strong enough) and as for women’s boxing…..

    Tennis is clearly the best sport for women and by far the most profitable. I want to see more depth in talent.

  • catherine · June 18, 2019 at 11:19 am

    Who cares what the ‘reddit community’ thinks ?

  • Hartt · June 18, 2019 at 12:04 pm

    Scoop, your campaign to get Borfiga does not stand a chance! He won’t leave the lovely cosmopolitan city of Montreal, where he can live in French, to move to Orlando, no matter how many French people are imported there!

    Besides, all his hard work is coming to fruition with FAA. He will want to be around when Felix becomes a superstar! 🙂

  • Hartt · June 18, 2019 at 12:16 pm

    Catherine, of course I agree that not all tennis fans are men. Honestly, the way some of the guys here talk you’d think that was the case! I forget the stats, but I think tennis is a sport with a lot of female fans.

  • Harold · June 18, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    Back to Women’s coaches. What happened to the Tursonov is a genius, greatest coach of all time, drum beating. His charge is in the dumps. Will she be able to protect all her points from last year, or will she be in 50’s by year end, and coach less.

    How you do the year after your big breakthrough will always be the proof if a tennis players arrived.
    Pulling a Spadea,(ha ha) Piling up points in lower levels, with maybe a big couple of wins in bigger events, mean nothing, if you’re getting straight into bigger events the next year, and failing to protect your points

  • Dan Markowitz · June 18, 2019 at 1:03 pm


    Don’t know about soccer, but women’s basketball is not popular–it has its niche–because women by and large aren’t athletic or fluid enough to capture the imagination of basketball fans. I don’t think it has much to do with looks. Sure a Sue Bird might attract more attention because she’s very attractive or a Candace Parker, but for the most part, there also haven’t been many standout superstar women’s basketball players and basketball is a superstar-driven sport.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 18, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    Hartt, I’m in charge of the Task force to recruit Borfiga. Operation Get Louie. He’s done it all in Canada, he needs a new challenge. 20 majors minimum with felix shap andreescu fernandez. America looking like zero right now. What happened to kayla day and sam crawford?

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 18, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    Tennis may have more female fans. Dan is going to do a head count in newport.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 18, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    Sabalenka has simply imploded. In my Rios book, one player said certain players like Rios (and sabalenka) get clise to the major title but something happens and they cant do it. Vaidisova, Martin, many examples.

  • catherine · June 18, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    Sharapova wins SS in Mallorca although she doesn’t look in overwhelming form. Next is Kerber who took 3 sets to beat qualifier Bonaventura – Angie hasn’t played since losing in Paris and the match v Maria could go either way. But I’d go for Kerber to win if she can make Maria run. The dress she wore at Caro’s wedding was quite nice too.

    Garcia flew in from Nottingham and knocked out Azarenka. Vika is not the player she was. Fisette will be gone at the end of the year.

  • Hartt · June 18, 2019 at 3:34 pm

    Scoop, to have the slightest chance at recruiting Borfiga, you MUST spell his name correctly. It is “Louis” not “Louie.” He is a proud Frenchman and he will take one look at that and say “They are trying to turn me into an American. Mais non!”

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 18, 2019 at 5:27 pm

    Hartt, Canada lost Rusedski to Great Britain, it can happen again 🙂

  • Hartt · June 18, 2019 at 9:23 pm

    Scoop, from what I understand, Rusedski wasn’t a huge loss, but Borfiga would be. Canadian tennis fans would put up a fight!

  • Jeff · June 19, 2019 at 12:04 am

    Reddit community hates Tsitsipas for his confrontation with Medvedev last year. Then came his awkward flirting online with Naomi. I think he has matured since then but he has yet to develop a fan base.

    Tsitsipas and Zverev are the players Redditors hate the most. Radu Albot is our favorite since he did an AMA with us and gives away free tickets to his matches.

    Regarding cute tennis players, tennis is the sport with the most sex appeal. It has the most women fans since they love to ogle the male players – go to any tournament and you see this. Let’s face it, tennis players are super athletic and women love them. Similarly, we love the cuties in their short skirts.

    The sport should be easy to market yet fails to market the tremendous athleticism and sex appeal of its stars. It is hard for me to understand.

  • catherine · June 19, 2019 at 1:17 am

    Jeff- it seems to me tennis does quite a lot of ‘marketing’ – we’re swamped with it. And when it comes to marketing ‘sex appeal’ – well, that can end in tears, believe me.

  • catherine · June 19, 2019 at 1:48 am

    Heavy rain in parts of England is making the grass difficult. Interesting to see inexperienced players struggling with this exotic surface. I’m surprised Kyrgios hasn’t moaned about it.

    In Mallorca Angie said she was ‘looking forward to the grass season’ – she must have been reading off a cue card because for her the grass season consists of two tournaments. I’m not sure about her state of mind going into Wimbledon as defending champion – she may not actually be looking forward to opening the women’s programme on the Centre Court.

  • Hartt · June 19, 2019 at 6:16 am

    Kyrgios claims to love grass – it is one of the few positive things he has to say about tennis.

  • Hartt · June 19, 2019 at 6:25 am

    Jeff, I do read comments on Reddit and occasionally post there, but I find it hard to take what most Redditors have to say very seriously.

    I think tennis marketers need to be careful about emphasizing the players’ looks too much. The best players aren’t necessarily good-looking. I can see talking about their wonderful athleticism.

    If a player is good-looking, it is sort of a bonus, but that can’t be a main selling point.

  • catherine · June 19, 2019 at 7:12 am

    Hartt – yes, it’s dangerous using looks, sex-appeal etc as marketing angles. It can be particularly difficult for young women and girls – they have to balance so many things. I’d like to think the WTA is aware of this but somehow I doubt it. Talk of ‘cuties in their short skirts’ is a bit medieval in 20019 and most tennis fans aren’t stupid – they won’t pay to see a cutie with tons of SA if she’s no good. Not in the long term.

    It was largely this kind of stuff which drove Sabatini out of the game at 25. She hated the spotlight and there was no way she could avoid it.

  • catherine · June 19, 2019 at 8:29 am

    Hartt – Bianca is still on the entry list for Eastbourne and I can’t find a mention of her withdrawal anywhere. Do you think the story was right ?

  • Hartt · June 19, 2019 at 8:38 am

    Tom Tebbutt is usually very reliable when it comes to Canadian tennis news. Perhaps someone on her team told him this, but she hasn’t officially withdrawn. I guess we shall see.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 19, 2019 at 9:06 am

    I guess this sex appeal factor started with Gussie Moran who was a very good but not great player. Not much else to offer on this topic, sorry.

  • catherine · June 19, 2019 at 10:20 am

    Scoop – yes, indeed it all probably did start with ‘georgeous’ Gussie and her panties which would seem the height of modesty these days. And no, there’s probably not much to add – people watch tennis for all sorts of reasons – mainly subjective in nature.

  • Jeff · June 19, 2019 at 10:39 am

    Catherine, you are right you can’t just put hot women on the court as a product. We would just have playboy models play bad tennis then.

    The fact is Sharapova was the most famous women’s athlete next to Serena for some time. It is not hard to see why, especially with her dating history.

    Look, I think the men share in the problems as well. They don’t go out and party and pick up women like past eras, at least not to that extent. Taylor Fritz is married and Tiafoe has a steady. None of these top players are playboys, which would draw attention to the sport like when Agassi was dating Barbara Streisand and partying every week.

  • catherine · June 19, 2019 at 10:51 am

    Jeff – I think guys probably do go out and meet girls, it’s their expected social behaviour, but maybe we don’t hear so much about it now what with social media and nosey press. And men pros are more aware of the demands of the game – unlike Andre whose career took a massive dip around time he was partying.

    I think we need more playboys 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 19, 2019 at 11:36 am

    My sources say Bouchard is the closest thing to a playboy in pro tennis. Heard some astounding stories about her from insiders.

  • Harold · June 19, 2019 at 11:41 am

    All these teases about “ inside information” , think you should change your handle from Scoop to “close to the vest”, or “under my fedora”

  • catherine · June 19, 2019 at 11:53 am

    You should come to England Scoop and write for Private Eye. You’d be a riot.

    Meanwhile in Birminghasm – Penko ousts Konta. Pleased for Jelena who has had such a long slump.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 19, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    One insider said if I do a Facing Bouchard book of interviews with some of her love interests, it would sell huge 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 19, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    Harold, be happy to tell you some of the hotter scoops at US Open qualies in person, not here 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 19, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    Catherine, have not heard of Private Eye, what kind of content do they specialize in reporting to the public? Nice to see Lopez win a round vs Fucsovics, he is ranked 113 and needs points to get back into the ATP tournaments. He plays Delpo next.

  • catherine · June 19, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    Scoop – Private Eye has been around since the 60s. It’s a publication which prints scandal stories no one else will touch – usually political/business but also plenty of gossip about various celebrities. The covers are often very funny. PI has been sued many times but so far nobody has closed it down.

    I appeared in PI once – they mocked a pretentious remark I made about John McEnroe. I blush to think of it now.

  • Hartt · June 19, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    So, Catherine, we have a celebrity in our midst. 🙂

    On a more mundane topic, Canuck players at Queen’s had mixed results. Shapo lost to Delpo, who played very well, especially with his serve. Unfortunately Delpo hurt his knee, so there is concern about whether he will be able to play his next match.

    Raonic had an easy SS win over Cecchinato. FAA’s match was postponed, yet again, to tomorrow. The poor kid must be wondering if he will ever play.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 19, 2019 at 3:10 pm

    Catherine what did you say about McEnroe that made headlines? 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 19, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    Delpo is supposed to play FLO next who has been accused of match fixing at Wimb doubles two years ago, losing in four sets to Reid/JP Smith.

  • catherine · June 19, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    My quote came from an article about McEnroe and it was printed in a feature PI ran called ‘Pseuds Corner’ – a regular roundup of pompous comments – ‘Tennis is the most purely formal sport, an oddly Anglo Saxon mixture of creativity and masochism with some of the peripheral characteristics of drama thrown in.’

    Don’t ask me what it means. I probably wrote it in the pub. The most amazing thing is that our magazine (circ around 1500) ever came to the notice of Private Eye. I think I was explaining to everyone what it was about tennis which forced Mac to play when it clearly drove him nuts. Lots of people wrote that stuff then.

  • Hartt · June 19, 2019 at 5:06 pm

    Poor FAA could play 3 matches tomorrow – 2 singles if he wins his match vs Dimitrov, plus a doubles with partner de Minaur. Félix probably has a lot of energy, he is so young, but this seems downright cruel. I know the culprit is the British weather, but it is still tough on the youngster.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 19, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    Thanks for digging it up, this quote is way over my head, read it 3x too. It is always nice to have your work noticed.

  • catherine · June 20, 2019 at 1:25 am

    Don’t worry Scoop – it’s meaningless. PI spotted that straightaway. I find quite a lot of sports writing today pretty bland but overall not as much up itself as it used to be.

    Hartt – Felix should be able to cope. He’s young and strong. He’s just learning that life isn’t perfect 🙂

    Sun is shining at the moment but who knows ? This is England.

  • catherine · June 20, 2019 at 1:31 am

    Hartt – just noticed something on Bianca – she pulled out of Birmingham but no mention of Eastbourne. She’s also just signed a deal with BMW so someone has confidence in her future. Cross fingers.

  • Hartt · June 20, 2019 at 6:41 am

    Catherine, thanks for the news about Bianca and BMW. I hope she has her diver’s license. When Félix was in the running to win a Mercedes, there was one little problem – he did not have his license. He said his sister had hers, however.

    Unfortunately, there are other reports that Bianca won’t be playing Eastbourne.

    As for Félix and his crazy schedule today, the kid probably thinks he is Superman. 🙂

  • catherine · June 20, 2019 at 8:23 am

    Hartt- you’re probably right about Bianca and Eastbourne but she is still on the entry list and nothing on other sites like WTA. I’d have thought it would be news.

    Just hope Felix doesn’t overdo things – luckily it’s grass which tends to be injury friendly.

  • Harold · June 20, 2019 at 9:19 am

    Lots of good tennis. TC is showing Kyrgios, probably praying for a meltdown of some kind

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 20, 2019 at 10:10 am

    How can Nick upstage himself next? Moonwalk and break dance after winning sets? Play a match wearing a mask and cape? Skateboard around the court on changeovers at US Open? Let’s give Nick some ideas 🙂

  • Hartt · June 20, 2019 at 10:24 am

    FAA is turning into a serving machine! He won in SS over Grigor. He had 15 aces to 4 DFs, a first serve % of 65%, plus winning 85% of first serve points.

    Along with his good ROS and terrific groundies, he is a force to be reckoned with! He is scheduled to play Nick later today, along with a doubles match. It’s a good thing the youngster won in SS!

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 20, 2019 at 11:16 am

    Dimitrov is done, Dan get your shovel out. Felix is a dark horse to win Wimbledon IMO.

  • catherine · June 20, 2019 at 11:18 am

    This thread’s getting pretty long but I’ll just note Osaka went out SS to Putinseva in B’ham. Some experts have her winning W’don but I’m not sure about that.

    Kerber is ahead v Sharapova who is playing really badly. I’d retire on my millions if I were her.

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