Wednesday, 15 July 2009

This GOAT's beginning to get me Gruff...

Aaaah! Just when you thought that the question of GOAThood had been put to bed, or had made your peace with the entire philosophical intractability of it all, Pete Sampras had to go and upend your hard-earned new found coziness.

"I do understand the argument as far as being the best ever. You have to be the man of your generation. He (Roger) has come up short against Nadal. I can see the point. It's hard to answer that. I don't know how to answer it.You know, it's not done yet. Roger's career isn't done yet. He's going to play Nadal a number of times over the next number of years, and he has to beat him. He has to beat him in the finals of majors. To be considered the greatest ever, he certainly in my book is (already that). But he has to figure this kid out. He has to beat him. He's lost to him a number of times. You know, you got to be the man of your generation. He certainly is the man of his generation; he just has to figure out Nadal."

"Well, God, you're giving it some thought, huh (laughter)? It would have bothered me if I had a losing record against Andre in majors. It wouldn't have sat well with me. Did it mean I was the greatest or not the greatest? I don't know. It's the debate of greatest of all time. We so badly want to pin it on someone. With the numbers you have to give it to Roger. His record against Nadal, okay, you might not give it to him.

"I mean, if I was 7-15 against Andre and I was done, it's hard to say I was the player of my generation - just because he got the best of me. Like I said, the story's not over yet. We have another probably three, four years of these two guys competing against each other. If anything, I think Nadal is going to be hungrier now, seeing Roger getting back to No. 1. It's hard to give you a definitive answer when it's not done yet. I think Roger knows he's got to figure out this kid. It's a tough, tough matchup. Nadal is one of the few guys that believes in himself that he's better than Roger."


"Well, I think one thing Roger doesn't see on grass the last number of years is really a true serve-and- volleyer, someone that's willing to come in and put the pressure on and make him pass, make him return these big serves. I don't think anyone really scares him. I think my game would make Roger a little bit more uncomfortable. I would obviously come in on both serves and put the pressure on his backhand, sort of go from there. . . I would sort of dictate the play. But, you know, he'd be a tough guy to break, especially when he's hitting 50 aces like he did (in the recent Wimbledon final). It would have been a great matchup.

"If I would beat him? If I felt my best on grass, I did feel unbeatable, especially in the mid '90s. I was a tough guy to break, played well from the back court to have chances, and I moved well enough. It's a flattering comment. Do I think I could have beaten Roger in my prime? Sure. I don't think anyone could beat me in my prime on grass. I felt as Roger does now - he feels unbeatable."



Talk about a Cluster****!

Though I do think the entire conference call has a slightly contrived feel to it.

As if Sampras' post-Wimbledon proclamation of Roger's GOATness, kind of pooped on someone's picnic blanket.

Well I'll not be drawn into it again.

What I will say is that anyone that thinks that Nadal with his 6 Slams, is in GOAT contention --
as great a player and sportsman as he is -- should be hooded, cuffed and carted off to LALALand.

I've also gotta disagree with this assertion that Federer will be thinking of Djoko in as affectionate terms as Sampras does of Marat:

"Marat and I always got along very well when we were playing. He's a really nice guy, great player, showed what he could do especially at the US Open the one year, he tuned me up pretty good. He's an expressive guy on the court, shows emotion. Off the court, he's a happy-go-lucky guy. I was pretty reserved when I was playing, to myself. For whatever reason, he and I seemed to get on really well. We practiced quite a bit together.

"You know, he's a champion. He got to No. 1. He won a major, I think two majors. It's sad to see him go because I think he brought a lot to the sport. Haven't sort of kept in contact with him. But certainly when I see him, we'll talk about some of our matches. When Paul (Annacone) was coaching (Tim) Henman, Marat would ask Paul, How is Pete doing? He was always just a personable guy, really nice guy, and someone that I've always gotten along really well with."

One day, Federer will be talking about guys - Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, maybe even Nadal - just like this, just like the tired warrior that he will no doubt have become.

Is there room on that aforementioned cart? We have another customer.

For the record, I continue to believe, Federer needs to get the betterer of Nadal in Slam finals - it's what I was screaming all the way through the French Open. 2Hander even had the cheek to call me up on it!

For those interested, here's what I had to say on the topic right after the French Open, in which I touch on Sampras, Nadal and of course his-right-honourable-GOATness-himself. It's the point at which I considered the case to be well and truly closed.
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