Re: is this the weakest clay field ever?
I don't like to be involved in endless era debates, because here on MTF, the "weak era" argument is very often used without any proofs only to diminish some player's successes.
But when I am looking back to history I have to say that the competition level this year is very weak, one of the weakest. And it's not only about clay, it's overall. All the big four players are declining and I am not going to maditate about the reasons - it's definitely about the age, runnning out of the gas, some family issues, maybe some minor injuries and whatever else and so on. But the worse thing is that (using the famous MTF cliche) any new generation cannot be found. All right, there's Raonic, Dimitrov or Nishikori, but I really don't know what to think about them... It wasn't so long ago when young guns like Safin or Hewitt challenged Sampras and Agassi, but it was a little different situation, because when you watched Agassi - Hewitt match you could see the difference between the attitudes. Hewitt was able to run after every ball, while Agassi with much worse fitness tried to produce attacking tennis trying to tire the opponent. But now, when I am watching for example Federer-Dimitrov match, it seems to me like Federer has much more left in the tank, he seems to be better in terms of fitness...and overall, many of those "old" players, like Ferrer or Youzhny....or just look at the old Haas... have so much stamina to tire young players.
The result is that despite their decline Nadal or Federer are still winning matches over young guns.
This level of competition reminds me 1998, when Sampras was clearly far from his best, Agassi was nowhere, famous Korda won the Australian Open, there were at least 40 favorites to win RG, Greg Rusedski reached 4th place in rankings, hardcourt legend Carlos Moya challenged another hardcourt legend Alex Corretja in the Masters Finals and Sampras managed to stay at no.1 with maybe half of current Nadal's points.
These are just my thoughts written very quickly, hope it's clear what I wanted to write...