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post #1 of 96 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 01:35 AM Thread Starter
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Edberg vs Federer -- hypothetical match-up, aesthetics, mentality and competition

I've been debating with myself over whether or not to open a thread of this nature for a variety of reasons, one of which being the shortage of active members who would seem apt to participate in such a discussion. Thus, I won't be at all surprised if this thread fails to generate discussion; on the contrary, I'd be pleasantly surprised if it were to generate a noticeable level of intrigue, given the current state of affairs on this forum.

It's difficult, and perhaps to some degree, hazardous to one's health to deal in hypothetical scenarios -- especially in sports. After all, the world is seemingly in a constant state of change. How are we to objectively compare two immensely talented athletes who operated under such different conditions ? Well, the truth is, it's an almost impossible endeavor; however, there are certain factors which are able to withstand technological advancements and high-bouncing courts which, in relation to low-bouncing and quick-paced courts, are disproportionately represented.

For example, player H2Hs produce their own irrefutable form of evidence. Moreover, individual weaknesses and strengths can be measured against one another, irrespective of the particular era in question. Lastly, intangibles (e.g., psychological endurance, mentality and self-belief) constitute a stable foundation upon which to build an objective review of two players.

Significant H2Hs:
Federer vs Henman (7-6)
Federer vs Rafter (0-3)
Federer vs Sampras (1-0) - Wimbledon

Edberg vs Henman (2-0) - 1996
Edberg vs Rafter (3-0) - 1995
Edberg vs Sampras (6-8) - (2-0 in slams - US Open Final '92, Aussie Open '93)

In the case of Edberg's five victories over Rafter and Henman, his age is noteworthy: He was well beyond his prime, and would retire in 1996. Based on this fact, we are able to conclude that the very same players against whom Roger Federer once struggled were no match for even an old, declining Edberg.

Federer's poor record against Rafter is significant insofar as it serves as an illustration of the trials and tribulations of a developing star. However, Federer did lose to Rafter on three surfaces (clay, grass, hard). With respect to Tim Henman, Federer won their final six meetings after going 1-6 in their first seven matches.

Edberg triumphed over a young, virile Pete Sampras in their only two meetings at Grand Slams; Federer beat Sampras in a 5-set Wimbledon thriller, barely defeating a declining 13-time Grand Slam champion (Yes, Sampras had 13 slams in 2001).

Based on Federer's ratio of success against inferior serve-and-volleyers, it's difficult to conclude that he would "dominate" Edberg, even under today's painfully slow conditions. Could he beat him ? Perhaps so, but one shudders to imagine how Federer would have fared against an Edberg in his prime, given his mediocre record against less accomplished serve-and-volleyers. Moreover, one could easily make the case for Edberg as the best serve-and-volleyer, even when compared to the likes of McEnroe and Sampras (the latter being the weaker of the two at net, a fact which was diluted by the Sampras 1st serve).

Game analysis:
Forehand: Federer by far
Backhand: Edberg by far
Serve: Tie (Kick-serve - Edberg) (Slice - Tie) (Flat - Fed)
Passing: Federer (better forehand pass)
Movement: Tie
Defense: Federer
Mental fortitude: Edberg (came back from a break down in the 5th set at Wimbledon against Mecir and Becker, also repeated this feat against three successive opponents (Krajicek, Lendl, Chang) at '92 USO)

Also, with respect to Edberg's kick serve (which would be enhanced on today's high-bouncing surfaces), Federer would struggle to consistently attack it with his backhand, which would be a requisite in order to combat an endless barrage of net attacks by Edberg.

Last edited by prima donna; 04-24-2009 at 01:54 AM.
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post #2 of 96 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 01:54 AM
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Re: Edberg vs Federer -- hypothetical match-up, aesthetics, mentality and competition

Get outta here.
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post #3 of 96 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 01:56 AM
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Re: Edberg vs Federer -- hypothetical match-up, aesthetics, mentality and competition

PD opening a thread in GM, now that's a bold move.

I will have to disagree with the mental fortitude part, Federer at his peak had a legendary mentality, how easy is it to come back down two sets against a player like Nadal and win the 5th set so convincingly like he did? this is just one example.

maybe you have the recent Fed in mind..

it's a great matchup and tennis would have been the winner, but I give peak Federer (2004/2007) the edge in most matches, that Federer played S&Vs with closed eyes.

it would be interesting if someone posted Federer's statistics against S&V players in general.

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post #4 of 96 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 02:05 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Edberg vs Federer -- hypothetical match-up, aesthetics, mentality and competition

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PD opening a thread in GM, now that's a bold move.

I will have to disagree with the mental fortitude part, Federer at his peak had a legendary mentality, how easy is it to come back down two sets against a player like Nadal and win the 5th set so convincingly like he did? this is just one example. .
How difficult is it to put oneself in such a precarious position against an 18-year-old ? Moreover, Edberg's comebacks came on the grand stage -- Wimbledon, not to mention his three consecutive USO comebacks.
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post #5 of 96 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 02:17 AM
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Re: Edberg vs Federer -- hypothetical match-up, aesthetics, mentality and competition

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How difficult is it to put oneself in such a precarious position against an 18-year-old ? Moreover, Edberg's comebacks came on the grand stage -- Wimbledon, not to mention his three consecutive USO comebacks.
well, the Wimbledon final 2008 is another example, although it didn't end with a victory it required alot of mental determination and power to win the third and especially the fourth set tie break and push the 5th set to the limits.

in any case, as mental fortitude is seldom the criterion to decide matches, I look at their matchup from a technical point of view and still see that Federer has the upper edge on all slow surfaces, and it could go either way on fast HC and grass and still Fed would win most of those encounters.

of course that's all speculation.

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post #6 of 96 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 02:22 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Edberg vs Federer -- hypothetical match-up, aesthetics, mentality and competition

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well, the Wimbledon final 2008 is another example
Great example -- Roger lost.

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in any case, as mental fortitude is seldom the criterion to decide matches,
Oh ? Then how does one explain Nadal's domination over Fed ? He certainly isn't the better player in the technique department, much less any other area of the game.
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post #7 of 96 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 02:26 AM
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Re: Edberg vs Federer -- hypothetical match-up, aesthetics, mentality and competition

look I'm trying to give my opinion, if you are going to ridicule anyone who disagrees with you then what's the point of the thread?

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post #8 of 96 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 02:27 AM
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Re: Edberg vs Federer -- hypothetical match-up, aesthetics, mentality and competition

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Great example -- Roger lost.


Oh ? Then how does one explain Nadal's domination over Fed ? He certainly isn't the better player in the technique department, much less any other area of the game.
Four words...

Cause his backhand sucks.
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post #9 of 96 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 02:28 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Edberg vs Federer -- hypothetical match-up, aesthetics, mentality and competition

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look I'm trying to give my opinion, if you are going to ridicule anyone who disagrees with you then what's the point of the thread?
Ridicule ? I'm stating simple facts. Nadal has a psychological edge over Federer, which debunks your assertion that mental fortitude doesn't decide matches.
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post #10 of 96 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 02:36 AM
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Re: Edberg vs Federer -- hypothetical match-up, aesthetics, mentality and competition

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Ridicule ? I'm stating simple facts. Nadal has a psychological edge over Federer, which debunks your assertion that mental fortitude doesn't decide matches.
I didn't say it doesn't decide matches.

about the mathcup, it's a great matchup for tennis, as any S&V player against Federer always provides a good match, so with Edberg it would be a wonderful matchup, they could even play someday in an exhibition, Edberg hasn't lost his touch at the net from what I've seen recently.



as for the hypothetical matchup in their peaks, Federer would win most the matches.

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Re: Edberg vs Federer -- hypothetical match-up, aesthetics, mentality and competition

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as for the hypothetical matchup, Federer would win most the matches.
Fair enough. Mind sharing with me how you've arrived at this conclusion ? Based on what ?
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post #12 of 96 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 02:45 AM
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Re: Edberg vs Federer -- hypothetical match-up, aesthetics, mentality and competition

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Fair enough. Mind sharing with me how you've arrived at this conclusion ? Based on what ?
well, Federer has a more complete game, more power in his groundstrokes, great passing shots, better return of serve, I don't see how Edberg could hurt him really.

but then again it's the fallacy of judging the modern game with the classic game, I have no idea how Edberg's game would have been if he played in this power generation, from what I know Federer will handle Edberg's charges at the net well and have more chances when recieving, and he will control the rallies easily on his own service games with his superior groundstrokes.

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post #13 of 96 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 02:49 AM
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Re: Edberg vs Federer -- hypothetical match-up, aesthetics, mentality and competition

I'll jump in, PD.

I watched and admired, at the time, plenty of Edberg matches (keeping in mind that they were Saturday or Sunday afternoon dalliances of the major networks here in the US)...but I've also had the chance to watch some vintage matches...as well as some of his more, ah, senior and current efforts. It's indeed a beautiful game, then and now. But I can't help but believe that Edberg, at his prime, with the equipment of his time....versus Federer at his prime, with current racket/training technology...would be the loser. And I'll note that I'm far from a FedFan.

I have nothing on which to base it, no statistics that could/would point in that direction. It's more of a gut feeling...that the current (GOAT-nominee) player would prevail over the past (and I've yet to see someone even put Edberg, as good as he was, in the GOAT category).

But I'll say this: I would pay GOOD money...to see such a match. LIVE. Prime vs. Prime. We can only watch those in our dreams, I suppose.

Good on you for starting such a discussion, though. It's rare to see Stefan included in a "dream" (all puns intended) matchup.

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post #14 of 96 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 02:53 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Edberg vs Federer -- hypothetical match-up, aesthetics, mentality and competition

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well, Federer has a more complete game, more power in his groundstrokes, great passing shots, better return of serve, I don't see how Edberg could hurt him really.
The same way that Henman was able to hurt him -- to an even greater extent. Roger's record against serve-and-volleyers is hardly impressive. Moreover, a serve-and-volley strategy requires that the opposition consistently generate extraordinary shots. It's not a type of game which is geared towards "hurting" the opposition. It's about persistence, composure and mental strength.

It's one thing to consistently hit winners against a player camped out on the baseline, having to hit those same shots often from compromised and hurried positions is a more difficult task, especially against a player approaching net at least 130 times.

Roger struggled against inferior serve-and-volleyers early in his career. Why would he suddenly manhandle one of the greatest, if not the greatest serve-and-volleyers of all time ? The shoe doesn't fit.
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post #15 of 96 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 02:55 AM
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Re: Edberg vs Federer -- hypothetical match-up, aesthetics, mentality and competition

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The same way that Henman was able to hurt him -- to an even greater extent. Roger's record against serve-and-volleyers is hardly impressive. Moreover, a serve-and-volley strategy requires that the opposition consistently generate extraordinary shots. It's not a type of game which is geared towards "hurting" the opposition. It's about persistence, composure and mental strength.

It's one thing to consistently hit winners against a player camped out on the baseline, having to hit those same shots often from compromised and hurried positions is a more difficult task, especially against a player approaching net at least 130 times.

Roger struggled against inferior serve-and-volleyers early in his career. Why would he manhandle one of the greatest, if not the greatest serve-and-volleyers of all time ? The shoe doesn't fit.
I'm obviously talking about peak Federer.

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