Thursday, 8 July 2010

Post Womble Ramblings: “Tennis is not Tennis without a violin-playing GOAT.”

» Don’t believe in GOATs, never have never will.


marc chagall10 

Were such a fabled creature to exist, it’d probably be zapped out of existence by the sheer weight of its own existential implausibility.


I should suppose even the GOAT itself has made it’s peace with it’s “fading rock star” status and is now leading a passable existence teaching courses in organic farming somewhere in the outskirts of Dorset. Doing the odd Chagall violin-playing cameo on the side to make ends meet.


Problem is, most fans and media merchants alike are having trouble letting go.


I keep hearing three things since Rafa’s victory, each of which are being used to either bolster or diminish his claim to tennis greatness:


1) That he’ll now begin to post “Federer like numbers” winning 3 Slams a year.


B*llocks. Pathological, fanciful dogs b*llocks.


The last (and only) time he won a hard court Slam, his injuries prevented him from being a factor at either of the other three. Nadal’s knees have spoken – and I suggest we take note.


Contrast that with Federer winning three out of four Slams for three out of the four years running from 2004-2007.


Nadal being Nadal, I’d not want to be the one that ruled him out from doing it once. But no more than once. Unless, that is, you happen to believe in violin-playing goats. Which of course many of us do.


2) That Federer’s record of 16 Slams is in jeopardy.


Discussed this already.


Not as improbable as it was once considered, though still highly unlikely.


Most commentators have Rafa at the top for no more than four more years (give or take a year).


Were Rafa to win 4/4 RG titles, a couple of Wimbys and a single hard court Slam over those next four years, he’d still only be within spitting distance at 15.


Were we to be generous and throw in another two on the grounds that “weird shit sometimes happens” and that,Rafa being Rafa, his “winningest” years may last a year or so beyond 28, he’d still hit the wall at 17 Slams.

Were we to be even more generous and assume Federer won’t ever win any further Slams…..


Were goats to play lutes as well as harps and violins……


3) That he’s now in GOAT contention


Even if I suspend my disbelief in goats for a while, it seems to me that any such GOAT criteria would have to have “total Slams won” (asterisked , weak-era or otherwise)  at it’s heart.


I realise the shows not quite yet over for either of the two, but the last time I looked, 16 was still greater than  8.


What it boils down to is this: were Rafa to somehow start winning more hard court Slams without compromising either his knees or his form at the other Slams (something I’d argue is nigh impossible), you could make the case for either, or indeed, all three of the above.


As it stands, however, any talk of goats belongs in the same domain as the one in which they play stringed instruments in.


» Serena Williams: Greatest viola-playing, nail-designing Doe of all time.

I defy you to fashion a farmyard acronym out of that.


serena_getty Getty


Yes I know Steffi has 22 Slams, which is why I said it’s time to “start the debate” rather than to end it.


Though you can certainly make the case for Serena being a better qualitative player than Steffi.


Yes I know Wertheim just said the exact same thing; yes I arrived at the same conclusion independently.


No I don’t care that you don’t believe me.


I even said “qualitatively” first.


» Federer is not Deaderer


End of an era in so far as domination is concerned, yes. End of being a contender at every Slam he enters until (quite possibly) the day he retires? Err no.


And for goodness sakes, can we not call him….


» “Low Rent”


It sent out waves across the twitterverse within minutes of the words being uttered. And I wish he hadn’t said it.


“Shabby” I can understand. Shabby is about cutting corners. Shabby speaks to a lack of attention to detail, to propriety even.


“Low rent”, on the other hand, seems to conjure up all sorts of confused images of two-bit hustlers and sub-prime mortgages.


The language seems deliberately designed to rankle, which of course it is. It’s perhaps, also,  not the language to use for a 16-time Slam Champion after an uncharacteristic outburst.


My own feeling is Wertheim felt almost journalistically bound to correct a perception amongst some that Fed’s standing in the game means he gets a free-pass from the media once too often. He just over shot a little.

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