A Word on 2017 Fedal



Australian Open 2017

Federer’s Draw:
Berdych (10 seed)
Nishikori (5)
M.Zverev (def. 1)
Wawrinka (4)
Nadal (9)

French Open 2017

Nadal’s Draw:
Bautista Agut (17)
Carreno Busta (20)
Thiem (6)
Wawrinka (3)

Wimbledon 2017

Federer’s Draw:
Dimitrov (13)
Raonic (6)
Berdych (11)
Cilic (7)

U.S. Open 2017*

Nadal’s Draw:
Del Potro (24)
Anderson (28)

*Since this draw is so unbelievable, for clarification, Nadal could’ve faced:
Gasquet (26) R32, Berdych (15) R16, Dimitrov (7) QF, Federer (3) SF and a host of other players in the final. But that’s tennis; you can only play the survivors of your draw.

With Nadal’s 2017 U.S. Open title, 2017 Fedal at the majors is complete. What started-out as a shocking development down-under in Melbourne, that continued through the sunshine-double, that became La Decima, Federer’s 8th, and Nadal’s consolidation of his rise to #1, by winning his third U.S. Open: these two legends have undoubtedly added considerable weight to their already mammoth legacies.

They’ve cemented further their own association, the use of the obvious portmanteau, Fedal. Has this amazing year of legendary tennis benefited one over the other? How can it when they split the four majors of 2017? I would probably lean Federer because of the victory over Nadal in the finals of 2017 AO, IW and MI and because this year adds more meaning to Fedal. Prior to 2017, most might see the association as reference to that ironic comparison of Federer having the most majors, Nadal second, but the Spaniard ahead in that lopsided H2H.

Now, after all of this, 2017 adds quite the embellishment to this complicated duo; there’s even more to the story.

But the year really belongs to both, and right now, we might actually lean Nadal on the way the year is shaping-up because of a very simple reason. The significance of the No. 1 ranking is for real, and exists almost separately from the consideration of majors and other accomplishments in the sport (the mark carries a lot of clout).

Federer has spoken several times of the importance of this achievement, speaking specifically here of the year-end No. 1 and his desire to accomplish that feat in 2017. I have written about this mark in several posts, in several contexts. Pistol Pete leads that race with 6 year-end No.1s. Federer and Connors are next at 5, followed by Lendl/McEnroe/Djokovic at 4, and Nadal alone at 3.

Think of the race for the 2017 year-end No.1 we have before us. Both Nadal and Federer can make waves on that legacy front, obviously. Nadal is adding to his overall weeks at No.1, as well.

This is exceptional work from both players, which is just mind-boggling when you consider where we were a year ago. I watched a few sets of the 2016 U.S. Open final yesterday, as a matter of fact.

Wow. It was weird watching Djokovic play. I almost forgot about that guy (kidding aside, it was odd, a blast from the past). He still had glimpses of the Novak Slammer on that September early evening, that diabolical baseline witchcraft still going strong (comparing his ROS position to Nadal’s. . .the courts were faster in 2016 and Novak is still returning from atop the BL; not 18 feet back).

Djokovic you can see is really starting to breakdown in that match and still he was a witch with the stick. Stan found that dominant animal spirit, as we recall, and proved way too much for Novak that day, but that was still Novak’s tour, the Djoker still holding-on to that No. 1 ranking.

Then Murray makes his run in the latter part of the year (post-USO) while Djokovic gets-up off the mat and tries to hold-off the challenge. However, Murray is able to finally wrestle the top of the tour for good from the Serb at the WTF.

We moved to the off-season with anticipation of those two re-kindling their fight the following season.

And lo and behold: 2017 Fedal.

What a nutty ride.

Still so much to discuss and still so much tennis to play.

Beautiful stuff, no?

19 thoughts on “A Word on 2017 Fedal

  1. Utsav

    Great post, Matt. Certainly, NO ONE could have foreseen this last year. Absolutely no one.

    Until Cincinnati, I’d have said that Nadal was number one only in name; now (that the US open is 99% likely won) however, I’d say that he is the deserving number one. He has outlasted Federer physically and mentally till this point, and while he got a lot of help from the surface at Flushing Meadows, you can still only play those in front of you.

    Roger’s back is a worry, but he needs to get his Indian Wells freshness, purpose and form back pronto. No better time to do that than the indoor season.

    On another note, the poverty of the bottom half at the USO has convinced me that the tour needs a fit and firing Djokovic (which we might get next year) and a chasing pack from the next generation which isn’t as hopeless as Dimitrov & Co in big matches. Sascha has been a massive disappointment at the majors this year, as has Dimitrov, post-AO. Kyrgios is Kyrgios. Shapovalov MAY get there, but he needs time and great coaching.

    This leaves only Thiem as the one fairly consistent performer (he lost early at W but that was expected). This lot really need to get their shit together!


    1. Matt

      Djokovic will be back in 2017 for sure. As will the other handful or more of guys to fill-out these draws. The USO was the bottom of the barrel, one last hurrah for Fedal. Too bad Federer couldn’t stay healthy enough to make this tournament truly organsmic for the Fedal universe.

      I agree Nadal is a more comfortable #1 now. He made 3 major finals, won 2. That’s better than Roger and the points are the points.

      I am not holding out hope for some young behemoth rising to take the tour by storm. Zverev will continue to build (but, as many have pointed-out, pretty underwhelming at majors), Thiem is already pretty solid and I suppose Shapovalov looks promising.

      But as I said in an earlier comment – and this I will explore maybe even tonight because this is a true reality (and a bit troubling): the distance between the Big 4 or 5 and the rest of the tour is still quite significant. Federer at 36 is arguably the best player on tour. The rare Cilic or Del Potro-type can break-up some of this oligarchy, but I don’t see this status quo changing much, at least next year.

      Who other than Fedal, Murkovic, or Stan will win a major? Can a Thiem or Zverev rise up? Bo5? With those 5 legends fiendishly trying to accumulate majors?

      Or maybe we’re in for more big surprises. Mcshow Blog will certainly be following along.


  2. Caligula

    It is that time again for my epic USO final prediction. I have established a secure link with the tennis gods, and they have given…. Anderson the nod?! Brace yourselves, a new GrandSlam champion is about to be crowned!

    Anderson will henceforth be known as the South African Decimator of Spanish USO tennis dreams.


  3. Matt

    You all saw that this post was written a day ago. Of course, you did. I just checked and saw the final score of the final- I did watch the first set or so. So predictable; again, I wrote this post a day ago. Ha ha.

    No, you’re not forgiven, Caligula. I will clean-up after that mess of a sinister note you slid beneath my door a few minutes before the match that stinks like something’s rotten in Denmark. No?

    Folks, since I’ve already discussed, essentially, Nadal’s win and put 2017 Fedal in perspective (yesterday, ha ha), I will now turn to some deeper thoughts.

    Stay-tuned for the post of the year. I compare Nadal’s ROS court position to the media’s coverage of Hurricane Irma, among other things.

    In typical Mcshow fashion, we see the beauty and the beast of all of this. The year of tennis has been incredible and unimaginably crap at the same time. You pay for all of this indulgence you fanatics. You know better.

    Leave it to me to explain your punishment. Caligula, though he never had the actual honor here in the first place, has been dismissed.

    Carry-on, revelers.


    1. Caligula

      With my demi-godly tennis insight powers, I may have adversely affected Anderson’s chances. For that I sincerely apologize! Was it too much to ask for a 4-5 set epic?

      Speaking of epic, I have just realized that Nadal now has completely eclipsed Novak in hardcourt street credentials. Those peasants (insert your favourite fangirl bloggers) don’t understand how tennis really works. I say, having an extra USO to your name is x5 better than having 5 more AUO titles.

      Let’s see the GOAT standings at the current juncture:

      Numero Uno: Federer – “They just finished building a second monument of me, come check it out!”

      Numero Due: Nadal – “Vamos! What is time violation?”

      Numero Tre: Sampras – “These amateurs wouldn’t stand a chance against me when the grass was fast!”

      Numero quattro: Nole – “How could I know I wasn’t allowed to touch the net before the ball was out of play?”


    1. Matt

      Thanks for the contribution, holdco. 16 = 19? You mean the article perhaps adds to Nadal’s legacy? Luckily we have a staff of translators here to do this kind of reading.

      Just so you know, there are a bunch of those kinds of “analyses” going around, for Djokovic and Nadal.

      I’ll address this and more when I can finally sit down and write about tennis. I’m buried right now, but the goods are coming.


      1. clint grike

        holdco the analysis you link to evaluates difficulty of slam victories based on the Elo ratings of the champions’ defeated opponents. But Elo ratings can be pretty misleading. If you check out the table here http://tennisabstract.com/reports/atp_elo_ratings.html you’ll see that Stan Wawrinka is rated an easier opponent than nishikori, raonic and kyrgios. This is obviously very misleading. Sure stan often flops out of tournaments early but an in-form stan in a semi or final is not an easier opponent than these guys!
        Andy Murray is also rated a much more difficult opponent than stan and – embarrassingly for the analysis – a more difficult opponent than rafa.
        In the pre big 4 era when fed picked up many of his slams the most dangerous players were not always the most consistent. Guys like Safin, Nalbandian etc. would be rated as much easier opponents on this system than Andy Murray. But I don’t think beating an on-fire Safin is less of an accomplishment than rolling over Murray. The difficulty rating of nadal’s wins is also boosted by his many victories over roger. Take a hypothetical case – 2 majors – FO and USO – rafa wins FO and roger wins USO. They face equally tough opponents en route to the final. But in the FO final rafa beats roger (high Elo) whereas in the USO final roger beats someone with a lower Elo because rafa was knocked out early. That’s a familiar story from the early years of the fedal rivalry. On this analysis rafa gets more credit. HIs slam is worth more and adds more to his greatness. But that’s ridiculous. It entails that roger would be greater than he is if he had been knocked out in the FO first round instead of making the final.
        We’ve come to expect flawed and facile analysis from fanboys and fangirls. This is up there with the worst of it.


  4. We are all so lucky to have those two guys and Djokovic. There’s no sport in the world at the peak in terms of history making suck as tennis. It’s an amazing generation of players.


  5. Caligula

    @Clint grike. I applaud you for taking the time to dismantle that garbage article, after reading it I needed to take a shower.

    @Matt. My ominous presence will always be felt. Time to put the Fedal 2017 Slam year into perspective, these “old” greats are still lethal when the stars align for them, but I think we can all agree that they probably can count themselves “lucky” all things considered. Looking forward to reading that write up.

    BTW did you notice that our enemy is calling it quits, the deceiver and false prophet can’t see a reason to go on anymore, lol! I am sure he will be back once his favourite player “of the highest tennis level ever played, of all time!” returns on tour.


    1. Matt

      Stuck on the 2017 Fedal party bus with limited internet services around-the-clock drunk on world class champagne. . .I mean tennis. I’ll be back.


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