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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-02-2005, 02:24 AM Thread Starter
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Federer and Safin: Clay Potential?

I guess it's quite early in the season to be talking about clay, but having seen a number of threads being bumped up about the clay prospects of different players I thought I may as well start one as well.

I think most agree that at their respective bests Federer and Safin are the two best players on tour. However on clay does this statement still hold true?

Obviously these two don't have the results, particularly at Roland Garros, to be called the best clay court players in the world. But if both play their best on the surface is their anyone currently who can beat them? Roger obviously has a lot of ability on the surface with his two TMS victories; Marat made his first big splash on the surface by beating two RG champs back to back, has a very consistent record at RG and at his best has overpowered Ferrero on the surface and stretched a peak Guga to five sets. Yet both have been found wanting when it comes to the best of five sets format at RG. They eventually play a poor match, usually against a superior grinder, and it's bye bye.

Obviously, PATIENCE is the key for both players when it comes to the red stuff. They both have so many options, but I don't think they have yet demonstrated the sustained ability to GRIND on clay even when they are not performing at their optimum. They have the tools to go far at Roland Garros, but will one or both ever win it? Who has the better chance?
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-02-2005, 02:35 AM
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Re: Federer and Safin: Clay Potential?

Are you feeling left out JeNn?

Safin has won many 5 set matches at RG and last year I wouldn't call Nalbandian a grinder per se, if there was a match should have lost in 2004 RG it was to Mantilla who could be called a grinder.

There is a specific thread for Federer and his RG hopes, but not one for Safin.

For one they are both good on the surface, but the same thing can happen to both of them, as there are many more players on the surface that can beat them than on the other surfaces it leaves them vulnerable.

At least Marat thinks he is a chance here and doesn't complain about Chartier court like Federer.

On Nadal bumping him on the changeover, Rosol said: "It's ok, he wanted to take my concentration; I knew he would try something".


Wilander on Dimitrov - "He has mind set on imitating Federer and yes it looks good. But he has no idea what to do on the court".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Filo V. View Post
I definitely would have preferred Gaba winning as he needs the points much more, but Jan would have beaten him anyway. I expect Hajek to destroy Machado, like 6-1 6-2.
Machado wins 6-2 6-1
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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-02-2005, 02:44 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Federer and Safin: Clay Potential?

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Originally Posted by GeorgeWHitler

Safin has won many 5 set matches at RG and last year I wouldn't call Nalbandian a grinder per se, if there was a match should have lost in 2004 RG it was to Mantilla who could be called a grinder.
Mantilla is a typical grinder. However I think Nalbandian is a grinder too, albeit with a touch of brilliance. He has all the hallmarks of a grinder; the tenacity, the consistency and impeccable depth off the ground.
.

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At least Marat thinks he is a chance here and doesn't complain about Chartier court like Federer.
Interesting that Marat said when he got to the RG semis he didn't believe he could win the tournament. Of course this has nothing specifically to do with clay and was a broader confidence issue, but I think that if a non-believing Marat can make the RG semis, if he takes some confidence from his AO victory, he will be very difficult to beat if he can negotiate the first week this year. I definitely think the first week is danger time for both of them; for either being bounced or so tested that they have no energy left for the latter rounds.
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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-02-2005, 02:56 AM
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Re: Federer and Safin: Clay Potential?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeNn
Mantilla is a typical grinder. However I think Nalbandian is a grinder too, albeit with a touch of brilliance. He has all the hallmarks of a grinder; the tenacity, the consistency and impeccable depth off the ground.
Make up your mind about Nalbandian. He is not a grinder, he just happens to play well on all surfaces and not win titles, he is far from a grinder and you must have a very loose interperation of the world if you consider him a grinder.

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Interesting that Marat said when he got to the RG semis he didn't believe he could win the tournament. Of course this has nothing specifically to do with clay and was a broader confidence issue, but I think that if a non-believing Marat can make the RG semis, if he takes some confidence from his AO victory, he will be very difficult to beat if he can negotiate the first week this year. I definitely think the first week is danger time for both of them; for either being bounced or so tested that they have no energy left for the latter rounds.
Safin has shown he can play on clay many times and that is not the issue for him in this case. There are many things that can effect him and the opposition quality is one of them, then again when he is playing like crap nearly anyone can beat him, if the weather is cold and the courts are a bit slow that could be a problem, but he won't win RG this year. If he proves me wrong that'll be great.

Don't make excuses they are pro athletes and if they are going to win RG, they know and have to be prepared to work harder for it than on faster surfaces, so being tired isn't an excuse for a defeat.

Still feeling left out?

On Nadal bumping him on the changeover, Rosol said: "It's ok, he wanted to take my concentration; I knew he would try something".


Wilander on Dimitrov - "He has mind set on imitating Federer and yes it looks good. But he has no idea what to do on the court".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Filo V. View Post
I definitely would have preferred Gaba winning as he needs the points much more, but Jan would have beaten him anyway. I expect Hajek to destroy Machado, like 6-1 6-2.
Machado wins 6-2 6-1
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-02-2005, 03:01 AM
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Re: Federer and Safin: Clay Potential?

They are definitely going to be major factors during the clay season, along with Coria, Nalbandian, Moya, and probably Ferrero and Guga if they are fit! Nadal should also do well on clay!

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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-02-2005, 05:12 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Federer and Safin: Clay Potential?

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Originally Posted by GeorgeWHitler
Make up your mind about Nalbandian. He is not a grinder, he just happens to play well on all surfaces and not win titles, he is far from a grinder and you must have a very loose interperation of the world if you consider him a grinder.
Grinding is "hard, monotonous work". A tennis player who wins points by wearing an opponent out mainly in longish rallies is, by my definition, a grinder. That fits Nalbandian to a tee. I know there is a a common tendency to look at the topspin weaponless clay courter journey man like Mantilla as a grinder, and that the word has a negative connotation but I don't see why, in line with the definition, either should be so. Hewitt's worse surface is clay and he does not employ much top spin but he still a grinder. Nor does having a weapon prohibit you from being a grinder. The fact is that the Mantilla mode of classic grinder is going to be slowly phased out as the next generation begins to fill the ranks. Most new players who make the top 100 in the next 10 years will have a weapon. Does this mean the grinder is dead? Not to my way of thinking. The "neo-grinder" has more ability to close off points than his predecessor but he still goes about his work in the same way relying on superior fitness, consistency and will power to win matches. Grinding is as much to do with a state of mind as it is to do with the way in which you physically play the game. Jim Courier was probably the first neo-grinder. Nalbandian is certainly one.


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Don't make excuses they are pro athletes and if they are going to win RG, they know and have to be prepared to work harder for it than on faster surfaces, so being tired isn't an excuse for a defeat.
Who said it was an excuse? It doesn't take much to realise that a player who takes 4-5 sets to win rounds 1, 2,3,4 is going to be, in most cases, at a disadvantage in the later stages of the tournament to a player who cruised through mainly in straight sets for the first week. It wears you out not only physically, but mentally. That's common sense. So yes Federer and Safin can improve their chances at RG by improving their fitness, but it's more than that. Because things come so easily to them on faster surfaces they don't have the mentality to grind, round after round, which the champion at RG almost always does. I don't know if this mentality can change. I have no doubt that if they are physically and, more importantly, mentally fresh going into the later rounds and in top form they can beat any clay courter around. But I think they are both going to have to have a fortunate draw to get to that stage unscathed. I wouldn't ever back either for the crown unless they have soft draws for the first 3-4 rounds.

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Still feeling left out?
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-02-2005, 05:14 AM
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Re: Federer and Safin: Clay Potential?

Of course they both have potential to win at Roland Garros. Federer was brought up on clay, and I don't think Marat minds any surface apart from grass. As always, they'll have a good shot if they don't draw some good claycourters early.
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-02-2005, 05:28 AM
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Re: Federer and Safin: Clay Potential?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeNn
Grinding is "hard, monotonous work". A tennis player who wins points by wearing an opponent out mainly in longish rallies is, by my definition, a grinder. That fits Nalbandian to a tee. I know there is a a common tendency to look at the topspin weaponless clay courter journey man like Mantilla as a grinder, and that the word has a negative connotation but I don't see why, in line with the definition, either should be so.
You really want me to be patronising to you don't you? Yes, I have missed the monologues and the essays.

Neo-grinder is that your new fad term? Nalbandian is not a grinder or a neo-grinder he has his own style and he can finish points easily and what is the rubbish about negative connotations. I'm probably one of Mantilla's biggest fans on this board and I haven't used this term negatively to address him.

As for Courier considering he was an attacking baseliner and by definition that would exclude him from being a grinder and used his higher fitness levels at the time to sustain his game.

Quote:
Who said it was an excuse? It doesn't take much to realise that a player who takes 4-5 sets to win rounds 1, 2,3,4 is going to be, in most cases, at a disadvantage in the later stages of the tournament to a player who cruised through mainly in straight sets for the first week.
It's a ready made excuse to justify if one of these players loses early.

Quote:
It wears you out not only physically, but mentally. That's common sense. So yes Federer and Safin can improve their chances at RG by improving their fitness, but it's more than that.
If it's that logical, why bother explaining it to me? Do you seriously think I haven't taken that into consideration. You really don't read my posts that closely do you? It wasn't because he was tired he lost to Nalbandian who is not a grinder.

Quote:
Because things come so easily to them on faster surfaces they don't have the mentality to grind, round after round, which the champion at RG almost always does. I don't know if this mentality can change.
More players are capable of beating them on this surface, did you miss that point as well?

Quote:
I wouldn't ever back either for the crown unless they have soft draws for the first 3-4 rounds.
Unless it's Agassi that doesn't happen at RG.

On Nadal bumping him on the changeover, Rosol said: "It's ok, he wanted to take my concentration; I knew he would try something".


Wilander on Dimitrov - "He has mind set on imitating Federer and yes it looks good. But he has no idea what to do on the court".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Filo V. View Post
I definitely would have preferred Gaba winning as he needs the points much more, but Jan would have beaten him anyway. I expect Hajek to destroy Machado, like 6-1 6-2.
Machado wins 6-2 6-1
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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-02-2005, 06:15 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Federer and Safin: Clay Potential?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeWHitler
You really want me to be patronising to you don't you?
Not really, but then again that's your debating style, atleast when addressing me, so I have come to accept it.

Quote:
Neo-grinder is that your new fad term? Nalbandian is not a grinder or a neo-grinder he has his own style and he can finish points easily and what is the rubbish about negative connotations. I'm probably one of Mantilla's biggest fans on this board and I haven't used this term negatively to address him.
I am quite capable of a different appreciation of a player's style than what you have. Yes Nalbandian can finish points easily, but so can Mantilla, but that is not how they usually go about winning points. And yes, grinder is in common usage a less than flattering term.

Quote:
As for Courier considering he was an attacking baseliner and by definition that would exclude him from being a grinder and used his higher fitness levels at the time to sustain his game.
Nonsense. An attacking player can still be a grinder. As I said it's more than just game-style. Courier is probably one of the best grinders i have ever seen, regardless of the fact that he was attacking.


Quote:
It's a ready made excuse to justify if one of these players loses early.
It's not a ready made excuse because the most important thing at RG is to be able to handle those five setters or even long 3 and 4 setters in the first week and still produce your best in the later rounds. If Safin and Federer can't do that, then they do not have one of the necessary attributes to win RG and that's that. There is a difference between an explanation for a defeat and an excuse.


Quote:
If it's that logical, why bother explaining it to me? Do you seriously think I haven't taken that into consideration. You really don't read my posts that closely do you? It wasn't because he was tired he lost to Nalbandian who is not a grinder
Nalbandian is a grinder and on that day he won because he was more consistent and mentally tough than Safin was. I don't think there is any doubt that Safin did not play his best that day either. Was Safin drained from his two 5 setters and was this the reason he played below par? I'm not sure but it can't have helped.


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More players are capable of beating them on this surface, did you miss that point as well?
Not if they play their best IMO although they can certainly make life tougher for them than they might on fast courts and of course beat them if they are not at their best. The difference is that when they don't play their best on fast courts they can still get by, if they are below their best on clay they are more likely to be saying goodbye.
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-02-2005, 06:43 AM
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Re: Federer and Safin: Clay Potential?

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Originally Posted by JeNn
Not really, but then again that's your debating style, atleast when addressing me, so I have come to accept it.
Just for you I will put it on.

Quote:
I am quite capable of a different appreciation of a player's style than what you have. Yes Nalbandian can finish points easily, but so can Mantilla, but that is not how they usually go about winning points. And yes, grinder is in common usage a less than flattering term.
I think I'm more than aware of Mantilla's game and oh I forgot he actually he has hit a winner in a match, ah thanks for reminding me.

Quote:
Nonsense. An attacking player can still be a grinder. As I said it's more than just game-style. Courier is probably one of the best grinders i have ever seen, regardless of the fact that he was attacking.
Muster was more of a grinder than Courier ever was. If Courier is considered a great grinder in your eyes you need to watch more tennis.

Quote:
It's not a ready made excuse because the most important thing at RG is to be able to handle those five setters or even long 3 and 4 setters in the first week and still produce your best in the later rounds. If Safin and Federer can't do that, then they do not have one of the necessary attributes to win RG and that's that. There is a difference between an explanation for a defeat and an excuse.
Wow there is a difference between an explanation and an excuse, this is so revealing and at least you are not using stats as the sole research for this conclusion. Why do you think that I am unaware of what happens with tennis on clay especially at RG? It's an excuse, because if they are not ready physically and mentally to play as long as it takes it's their own fault for lack of preparation and not peaking at the right moment.

Quote:
Nalbandian is a grinder and on that day he won because he was more consistent and mentally tough than Safin was. I don't think there is any doubt that Safin did not play his best that day either. Was Safin drained from his two 5 setters and was this the reason he played below par? I'm not sure but it can't have helped.
It's not the fact that Nalbandian is a grinder and that is irrelevant. Nalbandian played well and on that day was better than Safin and that's why he won, as for what happened previously, that comes down to preparation plus mental and physcial reserves.

Quote:
Not if they play their best IMO although they can certainly make life tougher for them than they might on fast courts and of course beat them if they are not at their best. The difference is that when they don't play their best on fast courts they can still get by, if they are below their best on clay they are more likely to be saying goodbye.
You are trying to tell me that there aren't more players capable on clay of beating Federer and Safin than on faster surfaces? If you are, then you are kidding yourself and don't seriously watch tennis properly. How many tournaments do you see on TV that are played on clay besides RG?

You just answered your own question, but I wonder if you can see that.

On Nadal bumping him on the changeover, Rosol said: "It's ok, he wanted to take my concentration; I knew he would try something".


Wilander on Dimitrov - "He has mind set on imitating Federer and yes it looks good. But he has no idea what to do on the court".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Filo V. View Post
I definitely would have preferred Gaba winning as he needs the points much more, but Jan would have beaten him anyway. I expect Hajek to destroy Machado, like 6-1 6-2.
Machado wins 6-2 6-1
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post #11 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-02-2005, 07:02 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Federer and Safin: Clay Potential?

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Muster was more of a grinder than Courier ever was. If Courier is considered a great grinder in your eyes you need to watch more tennis.
Yes, Muster is the best grinder I have ever seen. Courier is up there though.


Quote:
It's an excuse, because if they are not ready physically and mentally to play as long as it takes it's their own fault for lack of preparation and not peaking at the right moment.
I agree. But saying that so and so was tired can explain a performance, while not excusing it.


Quote:
You are trying to tell me that there aren't more players capable on clay of beating Federer and Safin than on faster surfaces? If you are, then you are kidding yourself and don't seriously watch tennis properly. How many tournaments do you see on TV that are played on clay besides RG?

You just answered your own question, but I wonder if you can see that.
3 masters series, world team cup, RG.

Yes, there are more players who can beat them on clay IF they don't play at their best. I thought I made that quite clear.

And yes I have my own ideas on their chances at RG - that neither will ever win there. Why? Because I don't think they have the ability to sustain a high enough level over 7 best of 5 matches on clay. But unlike some, I am capable of receiving other people's opinions and was genuinely interested in what other people have to say.
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post #12 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-02-2005, 07:17 AM
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Re: Federer and Safin: Clay Potential?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeNn
I agree. But saying that so and so was tired can explain a performance, while not excusing it.
It's still an excuse whether you like it or not. Conditioning is part of the game, there are days when players aren't feeling their best for whatever reason, mental or physical this is when they have to find a way to win the match, if they don't then they weren't good enough on the day. So and so was tired, is still an excuse justifying the defeat. When Gaudio lost to Hrbaty at the AO I didn't blame cramps, it happened he wasn't good enough to beat him earlier and he paid for it later on in tough conditions.


Quote:
Yes, there are more players who can beat them on clay IF they don't play at their best. I thought I made that quite clear.
Why use the essay to explain that when it was obvious from the start.

Quote:
And yes I have my own ideas on their chances at RG - that neither will ever win there. Why? Because I don't think they have the ability to sustain a high enough level over 7 best of 5 matches on clay. But unlike some, I am capable of receiving other people's opinions and was genuinely interested in what other people have to say.
Another incorrect assumption, that is not surprising. Considering I can talk with many different people about different subjects and don't have a problem with if we don't agree and there are plenty of examples on this board that this is the case, but the thing is this coming from someone who is such an arrogant prick (myself). Why don't you just come out and say it straight away, instead of wasting time on stuff that really doesn't need to be said.

Why? Because I don't think they have the ability to sustain a high enough level over 7 best of 5 matches on clay. That's fine and all that other stuff wasn't needed.

Are you a law student by any chance?

On Nadal bumping him on the changeover, Rosol said: "It's ok, he wanted to take my concentration; I knew he would try something".


Wilander on Dimitrov - "He has mind set on imitating Federer and yes it looks good. But he has no idea what to do on the court".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Filo V. View Post
I definitely would have preferred Gaba winning as he needs the points much more, but Jan would have beaten him anyway. I expect Hajek to destroy Machado, like 6-1 6-2.
Machado wins 6-2 6-1
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post #13 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-02-2005, 07:27 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Federer and Safin: Clay Potential?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeWHitler
It's still an excuse whether you like it or not. Conditioning is part of the game, there are days when players aren't feeling their best for whatever reason, mental or physical this is when they have to find a way to win the match, if they don't then they weren't good enough on the day. So and so was tired, is still an excuse justifying the defeat. When Gaudio lost to Hrbaty at the AO I didn't blame cramps, it happened he wasn't good enough to beat him earlier and he paid for it later on in tough conditions.
But there is a tale behind every match; a reason why a player wins or loses. I agree that conditioning is part of the deal, and poor conditioning IS NOT an excuse. But it can be an explanation for a defeat. Just like if you say somebody made too many UE's, although somewhat less tangible, to be sure.


Quote:
Why don't you just come out and say it straight away, instead of wasting time on stuff that really doesn't need to be said.
So this has been your problem with me all along?


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Are you a law student by any chance?
How did you know?
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post #14 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-02-2005, 07:44 AM
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Re: Federer and Safin: Clay Potential?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeNn
But there is a tale behind every match; a reason why a player wins or loses. I agree that conditioning is part of the deal, and poor conditioning IS NOT an excuse. But it can be an explanation for a defeat. Just like if you say somebody made too many UE's, although somewhat less tangible, to be sure.
There you go again. Of course there are reasons to nearly everything and a tennis match is no different in this case. There are many factors that can't be measured by numbers alone in a tennis match, yes Player X had a slight physical problem, but it wasn't so bad that he couldn't or didn't default from the match, therefore injury shouldn't be used an excuse. I am the same with players I like and players that I don't when it comes to this issue.

Quote:
So this has been your problem with me all along?
Not just that, but it helps. I mean that opinion yes fine and only a portion of what you typed would have been needed to justify it as well.

Quote:
How did you know?
Not hard to tell.

On Nadal bumping him on the changeover, Rosol said: "It's ok, he wanted to take my concentration; I knew he would try something".


Wilander on Dimitrov - "He has mind set on imitating Federer and yes it looks good. But he has no idea what to do on the court".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Filo V. View Post
I definitely would have preferred Gaba winning as he needs the points much more, but Jan would have beaten him anyway. I expect Hajek to destroy Machado, like 6-1 6-2.
Machado wins 6-2 6-1
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post #15 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-02-2005, 08:09 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Federer and Safin: Clay Potential?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeWHitler
There you go again. Of course there are reasons to nearly everything and a tennis match is no different in this case. There are many factors that can't be measured by numbers alone in a tennis match, yes Player X had a slight physical problem, but it wasn't so bad that he couldn't or didn't default from the match, therefore injury shouldn't be used an excuse. I am the same with players I like and players that I don't when it comes to this issue.
Yes, there's a fine line between explanation and excuse. If someone is fatigued then that's a factor that goes into deciding the match, although obviously you can't put a gauge on how much it contributes. Whether it's used as an explanation or an excuse is up to the person analysing and their bias. If I say someone is tired, I don't mean it as an excuse. It is their fault, they are not conditioned enough but it can still be the reason or one of the many reasons they lost.

Quote:
Not just that, but it helps. I mean that opinion yes fine and only a portion of what you typed would have been needed to justify it as well.
I've always been verbose, I'm suprised it got up your nose so much.

Last edited by JeNn; 02-02-2005 at 08:16 AM.
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