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Tennis Tangent – Episode 1


Hello everyone, Mark here. This is the beginning of a little experiment. I am going to release one podcast a week for the next four weeks, each on different topic. This first one is about tennis. The other planned podcasts are about MMA, DC United, and sports videogaming. We get good response when we cover these topics. However, I am the only member of Washington Sportsjam very interested in them so they will be solo shows. The most popular one will become a regular monthly podcast to complement the regular Washington Sportsjam podcast.

There will be a poll going up once all of the podcasts have been released but you can let me know what you think at

Episode 1 Topics

Recap of Sony Ericsson Finals

Preview of the clay court season

Update on the Americans in the Top 50

Update 4/28/11: Check out the Tennis Tangent on iTunes!


New Coverage Poll

Hi everyone! Mark here. We’re going to talk about this a little on the next podcast, but there is going to be a change coming to Washington Sportsjam. Please let us know what direction you’d like it take!


Is Federer the Best Tennis Player of All Time?

This morning I caught the tail end of Federer’s French Open Finals victory over Robin Soderling. This is significant for a number of reasons.

Reason number 1, with this Grand Slam victory, Federer tied Pete Sampras’s record of 14 Grand Slam wins.  Additionally, Federer did something Sampras never did: win on the clay at Roland Garros.  During the post-match commentary John McEnroe declared the Federer the best tennis player of all time unequivocally.

Reason number 2, no  Rafael Nadal in the French Open Finals.  Perhaps not coincidentally it was Robin Soderling  who defeated Nadal in the 4th Round.  Nadal has been struggling with knee injuries this year and may even miss Wimbledon. This makes Federer’s victory a bit bittersweet in my eyes; getting his 14th Grand Slam and his first French Open title against his greatest rival would have been poetic.  With Nadal not at full strength, that makes Federer’s pursuit of a record-making 15th Grand Slam title much easier.

Reason number 3, Robin Soderling. I really haven’t been able to keep up with the French Open, but ending Nadal’s streak on clay is incredibly impressive. Nadal was practically a god on clay, and defeating him  on his surface, at his tournament is an accomplishment even if he was injured.  And even though Soderling lost to Federer in straight sets he pushed the champ at times, and looked capable of beating the greatest. During the award ceremony Soderling joked that even though Federer beat him 10 times in a row, no one beats him 11 times in a row.  Here’s hoping that Soderling continues to improve and is able to challenge both Federer and Nadal in the future.  There should be some interesting tennis going on for the next couple of years if all three players continue to play at the same level.

So what does everybody think? Does this make Federer the Greatest of All Time?


The Best Modern Rivalry: Federer vs. Nadal

Editor’s Note: Since the writing of this Article Nadal has defeated Federer in the Wimbledon Final. That ends Federer’s streak of Wimbledon championships, and is the first time Nadal has defeated Federer on grass.

These days there are not many good individual sports rivalries going. Team rivalries are still going strong, but not many individual ones come to mind. Tiger Woods is one of the greatest golfers of all time, but he has no one who pushes him consistently. The entire sports of boxing has fallen off, so no one much cares if there are any rivalries going on right now. Mixed Martial Arts has potential for some great ones, but that sport does not yet have the presence. The best rivalry right now would have to be in tennis: the rivalry between Men’s No.1 Roger Federer and Men’s No. 2 Rafael Nadal.

Two things make a great rivalry: two opponents at the top of their sport, and two opponents whose matches against each other are always entertaining. Federer and Nadal deliver on both fronts.

Federer has just been a monster the past few years. In 2006 and 2007, he won 3 of the 4 Grand Slams. Both years, the only Slam he missed was the French Open. The same situation also happened earlier this year. Federer is especially god-like on grass; he has won five Wimbledon Tournaments in a row and could win a sixth. He is also the only man to ever advance to the finals twice without dropping a set.

Nadal seems equally unbeatable on clay. He has won three straight French Opens and has never lost at Roland Garros. Nadal also pushed Federer incredibly hard in last year’s Wimbledon final; at times, it looked like he was going to upset the king on his home court. If there were a weakness in Nadal’s game, it would have to be hard court. He has never made it past the semifinals of the Australian Open, and never past the quarters of the U.S. Open. Still, he is easily considered the second best player in the world now and could eventually be considered the best. Ten years from now, both these men will likely be in the talk for best tennis player of all time.

The rivalry between the two has been great as well. They have met in both the French Open final and the Wimbledon final for the last three years. Each year, Federer seems like the only hope of stopping Nadal’s clay domination, and Nadal the only hope of stopping Federer’s grass domination. Though this year’s French Open final may have been a disappointment because of Nadal’s straight set win, I think it just shows how much better Nadal is getting. Last year’s 5-set Wimbledon final was one of the best tennis matches I have ever seen; it is right up there with the 2002 Sampras-Agassi U.S. Open final.

Overall, Nadal actually has quite a significant lead over Federer, including a 4-2 win record over Federer in Grand Slams. However, if you break it down, Nadal has beaten Federer four times at the French Open, and Federer has beaten Nadal twice at Wimbledon. It really is a matter of surfaces because on hard courts, Federer has a slight 3-2 edge.

Nadal and Federer bring out the best in each other, because no one else is at their level. Only when they play each other are they forced to dig down deeper than usual. Only when they play each other do they seem human. At last year’s Wimbledon final, there were two tiebreak sets. Going into the fifth set Nadal was up 3 sets to 2 and had just won the fourth 6 games to 2. Federer’s comeback really showed he had heart, not just amazing talent. Seeing such a high level of tennis being played is always a treat to watch and the drama of the rivalry just adds to it.

Come Sunday, watch the Wimbledon final. Even if you do not like tennis and do not understand it, watch it. You will see two of the greatest at their sport compete against their best competition. Like Ali vs. Frazier, and Agassi vs. Sampras, this is a historic rivalry you do not want to miss.