Roger Federer ThoughtsJul 02, 2011 by Ugh
However, a debate has arisen on this point due to Spaniard Rafael Nadal's success against Federer, both in the Grand Slam's and overall. In Grand Slam finals (finals!) Nadal has a 6-2 lead, 7-2 in Slams generally, and overall Nadal leads 17-8. Not close in head to head matches, IOW. This has led some to ask (sorry, no cite, tho all information generally available on wiki), how Federer can be the greatest of all time if he isn't even the greatest player in his own time, pointing to his record against Nadal (who has won 10 Grand Slam titles, tied for 6th all time and with a win on Sunday will tie for 4th, and generally thought of as a threat to break Federer's record of 16).
I don't want to talk about who is the best between Rafa and Roger, I want to pose what I think is a remarkable a counterfactual: what if Rafa never came along in tennis? How good would Roger then look? And unlike most counterfactuals, I think this one is pretty easy to model by pointing to their remarkable matches in Grand Slams. As noted above, Roger has lost 6 Grand Slam finals (finals!) to Rafa, 4 French Open titles, a Wimbledon and an Australian. The other match Roger lost in a slam was a semifinal match at the French, where Rafa went on to win his first Grand Slam title. Take those seven losses away, which considering 6 of the 7 were in finals and thus not that great a stretch to project a Roger win in the Slam, and Roger has 23 Grand Slam titles, 9 more than Sampras (or 64% more than Sampras, putting it on par with the greatest sports records of all time).
Further, Roger would own 5 French Open titles absent Nadal, instead of 1 (though in the 1 he won he defeated the player who defeated Nadal). That is, the only person to defeat Roger at the French from 2005-2009 was Nadal. Roger would thus be considered one of the best (if not the best) clay court players of all time (though I guess he is now). Instead, he's run into the Nadal clay-court buzzsaw, which probably has a few more years to run, at the end of which there will be no contest as to who is best on clay in tennis history.
In any event, this just seemed to me to be a rather remarkable case of teasing out a sports counterfactual, given Roger's career dominance yet his (relative) failure against Nadal in a few year period. Are there any other seemingly simple counterfactuals in sports at the highest level (the obvious related example is Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova in women's tennis, where it is probably even more stunning, or maybe Lakers-Celtics in the NBA)?
Jul 05, 2011, 21:02:15 libjpn wrote:
I've lost touch with tennis, but I was under the impression that Pete Sampras didn't really have a rival.Wikipedia says it was Agassi and then Rafter, and the reason I bring it up is that with any counter factual, you wonder if Federer had blown thru those grand slams, would he have thought that there were no more mountains to climb and just be happy with what he had won and quit a lot earlier.
Jul 09, 2011, 03:55:37 Ugh wrote:
Off topic (though now that I have the keys I guess I could create a topic) - I see our lawyer friend from Texas is in the news:
Jul 09, 2011, 07:20:49 Turbulence wrote:
Wow. She accused him of rape because she didn't want people to gossip about them sleeping together...um...just wow. Is it just me or is that whole claim completely absurd? Accusing someone of raping you is not a good recipe for silencing gossip. Quite the opposite actually, what with the investigations and recriminations.
Jul 12, 2011, 05:15:21 Ugh wrote:
Also, this report from Mother Jones:
Jul 12, 2011, 06:45:05 dr ngo wrote:
Thanks, Ugh. I really didn't want to know this - too depressing, in multiple ways - but I suppose I should. (Sigh.)
Jul 13, 2011, 00:10:57 Ugh wrote:
Two stories on why I am no longer as mad over the OJ acquittal as I once was, and why I don't get upset over results in these publicly broadcast trials one way or the other (whether it be Casey Anthony or KBR/Jennifer Leigh Jones). Both stories can be summed up with: it's hard to judge unless you're there.
First, Bernie Goetz. In law school this is was taught as some horrible trial gone awry, and how could he have possibly been acquitted. But Goetz made a compelling witness to the NY jury, given the crime ridden city and subway at the time, and that watching him testify you really do believe his self-defense explanation (and it probably helps if you experienced the same environment yourself).
Second, the famous (or infamous) McDonalds coffee case, where a woman won a several million verdict from McDonalds after spilling coffee on herself. This sounds ridiculous on its face and is (still, I think) held up as an example of torts/litigation gone wild in the US. However, what if you knew that McDonalds brewed its coffee at much higher temperatures than any other chain? That McDonalds knew this? And that McDonalds also knew that the lids on its coffee cups tended to be defective? Further, that McDonalds had settled several other coffee-burn lawsuits before, and yet had not changed the temperature for brewing? Finally, what if you knew that the plaintiff had sufferred third degree burns on her labia from the incident? Seems to change one's perspective (or at least it did mine) on whether such a lawsuit was frivolous in the first instance.
Anyway, while I was surprised at the KBR verdict, upon reading the mother jones piece, and McKinney's longish comment on the case in a thread over at ObWi, it no longer surprises me, and, in fact, it seems the jury reached the right decision (but again, I wasn't there so who knows).