Federer's h2h with top rivals [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

Federer's h2h with top rivals

eduggs
05-25-2011, 05:18 AM
Below is a selection of Federer's head to head records against several of his past and current rivals.
His opponent's strongest surface is underlined and weakest surface is in bold. Total matches on each surface is in brackets.

Against:
Nadal: 2-11 [13] on clay, 6-5 [11] other surfaces (grass, hard, carpet).
Djokovic: 11-8 [19] on hard, 2-1 [3] on clay.
Murray: 6-8 [14] on hard, 0-0 on clay.
Roddick: 19-2 [21] on grass, hard, and carpet, 1-0 on clay.
Hewitt: 13-6 [19] on hard/carpet, 3-2 [5] on grass. 1-0 on clay
Agassi: 8-3 [11] on hard.
Sampras: 1-0 on grass.
kuerten: 1-1 [2] clay, 0-1 hard.
coria: 2-0 on clay, 1-0 on other surfaces.
henman: 7-6 [13] on carpet, hard, and grass, 0-0 on clay.


Against most of his biggest rivals, Federer has played a strikingly high percentage of matches on his opponent's strongest playing surface. While this might at first glance seem like bad luck, I think it's more reflective of the fact that Federer has had similar success for a very long time on all the playing surfaces. It also suggests that it might be easier to have a positive head to head when your career is relatively short or when you dominate only one surface. If you dominate a particular surface, you can accumulate victories on that surface over good but slightly lesser players. And then on your weaker surfaces, where you fail to progress deep into tournaments with the same consistency, your losses are spread around to many other players, not just those same "good but lesser" players you were beating on your dominant surface. This phenomenon is especially evident in the H2Hs with Nadal, Murry, and Henman. Federer has been unable to balance out the losses to Nadal on clay, Murray on hard, and Henman on fast surfaces, with victories on grass or hard against Nadal, and clay against Murray and Henman. This is because there are few tournaments played on grass and because those players did not consistently progress deep into tournaments in which Federer was waiting.

It's doubtless that Nadal has become Federer's equal or better on grass, but if there were as many tournaments played on grass as on clay, it's likely Federer would have racked up a handful more victories over Nadal - especially between 2004 and 2008 - when Nadal was the 2nd best player in the world.

shiaben
05-25-2011, 05:21 AM
I still have no idea how he lost to Kuerten. It was very strange.

n8
05-25-2011, 05:46 AM
Yep. Nadal uses this to his advantage. Not with Murray, but definitely with Federer and Djokovic.

If Nadal had performed better on hard courts in 2005-2008 (that is make Grand Slam finals on this surface), his career head to head against Federer would probably be worse.

Haelfix
05-25-2011, 06:10 AM
Thats one reason why H2Hs and even winning percentage aren't that important relatively speaking. Tournament wins (slams and masters) is ultimately what the game is about.

Assume that I don't know, a singularly great clay court player like Rafa only played on clay and took the rest of the calender year off. His winning percentage would be superior to what it is now, his major h2h against all rivals pretty much perfect and his career likely would go on longer (heck he might actually make up some of the slams that he wouldn't have won by winning the FO a few additional times). However I think you could say that he would be ultimately looked on as a lesser player than what he has instead achieved (by winning wimbledon, the AO and the USO).

DipSet
05-25-2011, 06:19 AM
It is what it is.

Mario000
05-25-2011, 01:19 PM
where is Nalbandian?

Certinfy
05-25-2011, 01:22 PM
Yep. Nadal uses this to his advantage. Not with Murray, but definitely with Federer and Djokovic.

If Nadal had performed better on hard courts in 2005-2008 (that is make Grand Slam finals on this surface), his career head to head against Federer would probably be worse.
Knowing Federer he still would have shit his pants and lost to Nadal on those finals though.

n8
05-25-2011, 01:23 PM
It is what it is.

Welcome, love the pink.

Yeah. Head to head scorelines have so many aspects to them. You really need to break it down by surface, year etc. Even after you do that, there's still form and other factors.

Pipsy
05-25-2011, 01:54 PM
Tim Henman has a very reasonable record vs Federer despite the fact that most of the matches Tim won were in the early years of Federer's career. It took a while for young Fed to figure out the best strategy to cope with Tim's superb volleying ability especially on grass and carpet :yeah:

eduggs
05-25-2011, 05:55 PM
where is Nalbandian?

Nalbandian is an interesting case:

Federer vs. Nalbandian:
6-5 on hard
3-1 on clay
1-2 on carpet
0-0 on grass

But the real story is:
1-5 before 2004
9-3 after 2004

Both players are adept on every surface. The H2H progression suggests that Nalbandian developed faster and/or was the better player early on. Then between 2003 and 2004, Federer caught and surpassed him. The players themselves have talked about this progression.

Sophocles
05-25-2011, 06:36 PM
Interesting.

Start da Game
05-25-2011, 06:56 PM
Yep. Nadal uses this to his advantage. Not with Murray, but definitely with Federer and Djokovic.

If Nadal had performed better on hard courts in 2005-2008 (that is make Grand Slam finals on this surface), his career head to head against Federer would probably be worse.

that's wrong.......if fed was so great on non clay, why din't he put up something like 10-1 or 9-2 against rafa on hardcourts and grass?

RagingLamb
05-25-2011, 06:58 PM
Sampras was definitely a top rival of Federer

Eden
05-25-2011, 07:02 PM
that's wrong.......if fed was so great on non clay, why din't he put up something like 10-1 or 9-2 against rafa on hardcourts and grass?

It's quite easy. Because Rafa often didn't reached finals where he could meet Roger. There is only a chance for Roger and Rafa to play once a year on grass so there was not really a chance to improve the h2h that much ;)

It has been discussed so many times already on MTF but for some people the h2h seems to be more important as the titles of a player. According to the logic of some people on this forum Roger would be a better player if he would have lost early in clay tournaments and therefore had a balanced or positive h2h against Rafa.

Sunset of Age
05-25-2011, 07:05 PM
It's quite easy. Because Rafa often didn't reached finals where he could meet Roger. There is only a chance for Roger and Rafa to play once a year on grass so there was not really a chance to improve the h2h that much ;)

It has been discussed so many times already on MTF but for some people the h2h seems to be more important as the titles of a player. According to the logic of some people on this forum Roger would be a better player if he would have lost early in clay tournaments and therefore had a balanced or positive h2h against Rafa.

It's as obvious as can be, and that H2H is only considered important to those who've ran out of other arguments. ;)

According to this logic, Jan Siemerink is absolutely in the running for GOAT!
He's got a positive H2H against Federer, after all. ;)

bright
05-25-2011, 07:05 PM
Is this a good or a bad thread? I mean Fed bashing or the opposite? I'll base my opinion on whether read it or not on that.

Start da Game
05-25-2011, 07:06 PM
It's quite easy. Because Rafa often didn't reached finals where he could meet Roger. There is only a chance for Roger and Rafa to play once a year on grass so there was not really a chance to improve the h2h that much ;)

It has been discussed so many times already on MTF but for some people the h2h seems to be more important as the titles of a player. According to the logic of some people on this forum Roger would be a better player if he would have lost early in clay tournaments and therefore had a balanced or positive h2h against Rafa.

if there were more grass tournaments, nadal would have had enough looks at fed on grass by 2006 itself and started owning him even on grass.......the head to head would have been even more one sided.......

fed is lucky that nadal did not hit his peak until 2008 on non clay surfaces.......

Sapeod
05-25-2011, 07:09 PM
Who would've guessed that 2 of the players with 2 of the best records against Federer would be British :spit:

barbadosan
05-25-2011, 07:10 PM
Is this a good or a bad thread? I mean Fed bashing or the opposite? I'll base my opinion on whether read it or not on that.

I think you'll find there's only one Fed basher - the same one you'll find in every thread :)

bright
05-25-2011, 07:13 PM
I think you'll find there's only one Fed basher - the same one you'll find in every thread :)
I find the board is full of such.:o I can barely find Fed supporters here. One way traffic forum this seems to be...

eduggs
05-25-2011, 07:15 PM
that's wrong.......if fed was so great on non clay, why din't he put up something like 10-1 or 9-2 against rafa on hardcourts and grass?

Because Nadal is also a great player. I think you're partially right with your implication. But also partially wrong. Nadal has challenged Federer, even dating back to their first encounter in 2004, at places like Miami or more recently at the Australian and Wimbledon. But where Federer was at his best, on faster hard surfaces, carpet, or indoors, Nadal did not reach many finals. From 2005-2007, when Nadal was the 2nd best player in the world, Federer was 5-1 against Nadal off clay. But really, they should have played far more than 6 times in 3 years off clay.

Yes Nadal was more dominant on clay than Federer was on hard or grass (by a small margin), but Federer clearly did much better than Nadal at advancing to the final stage on his relatively weaker surfaces.

I estimate Federer would have won roughly 2/3 of their hard/grass encounters, had they played more often. I also think he should have won their 5 setter at Rome and their second RG encounter. But credit has to go to Nadal. His fight and determination won him some of those close encounters, NOT his superior tennis.

barbadosan
05-25-2011, 07:16 PM
I find the board is full of such.:o I can barely find Fed supporters here. One way traffic forum this seems to be...

oh I meant in this particular thread. Don't be put off though, there are many people here, as everywhere else in the world, who enjoy and appreciate the talent and skills of Roger

eduggs
05-25-2011, 07:17 PM
Sampras was definitely a top rival of Federer

Only in the stat books.

Start da Game
05-25-2011, 07:18 PM
Because Nadal is also a great player. I think you're partially right with your implication. But also partially wrong. Nadal has challenged Federer, even dating back to their first encounter in 2004, at places like Miami or more recently at the Australian and Wimbledon. But where Federer was at his best, on faster hard surfaces, carpet, or indoors, Nadal did not reach many finals. From 2005-2007, when Nadal was the 2nd best player in the world, Federer was 5-1 against Nadal off clay. But really, they should have played far more than 6 times in 3 years off clay.

Yes Nadal was more dominant on clay than Federer was on hard or grass (by a small margin), but Federer clearly did much better than Nadal at advancing to the final stage on his relatively weaker surfaces.

I estimate Federer would have won roughly 2/3 of their hard/grass encounters, had they played more often. I also think he should have won their 5 setter at Rome and their first RG encounter. But credit has to go to Nadal. His fight and determination won him some of those close encounters, NOT his superior tennis.

had nadal reached those finals, it would have meant that he was THAT good like in 2008 and that's basically curtains for fed.......you know why? nadal doesn't beat fed with his game, he beats him with his brain......always did......

FiBeR
05-25-2011, 07:19 PM
I still have no idea how he lost to Kuerten. It was very strange.

back then, the easiest way to beat Roger was to open him up with the backhand and then make him hit the forehand on move.

That's what Nalbandian used to most of his wins :p and Kuerten had a good backhand so no surprise here ;)

FiBeR
05-25-2011, 07:20 PM
Appaulled Coria is considered a top rival with 3 meetings, and Nalbandian is not included in OP :rolleyes:

barbadosan
05-25-2011, 07:25 PM
bright, I hope this will assure you you're not alone in the MTF universe - lol

http://www.menstennisforums.com/showthread.php?t=175018&highlight=active+favorite

eduggs
05-25-2011, 07:25 PM
had nadal reached those finals, it would have meant that he was THAT good like in 2008 and that's basically curtains for fed.......you know why? nadal doesn't beat fed with his game, he beats him with his brain......always did......

Again, I partially agree. I've only seen two matches in which Nadal OUTPLAYED Federer - RG 2008 and Miami 2011. But I wouldn't say that Nadal outthinks or intimidates Federer.
My read is that Federer likes to dictate play with his serve and forehand, and prefers to end points on his terms. Nadal's dogged determination, fight, and movement make it difficult for Federer to execute his preferred style. This makes Federer uncomfortable, and simultaneously energizes Nadal, the eternal underdog. On purely tennis terms, Federer has always had the weapons to defeat Nadal on all surfaces. But Nadal has the uncanny mental strength to fight back. Credit to Nadal. But we don't have to denigrate Federer while doing so.

Eden
05-25-2011, 07:26 PM
I think Roger's h2h against Roddick doesn't show for example that some of their matches could have gone either way.
For example the RR at the Masters Cup in Shanghai where Roddick had 2 MPs. Then the Wimbledon final 2009.

Roger is a really bad match-up for Andy and when people say that Roger's career has been overshadowed by Rafa one should think a bit about what Roddick could have achieved if it wasn't for Roger... Yes, it's useless speculation how a match would have went and there's no guarantee that Roddick would have got more GS titles but I think the chances for him would have been really good against any opponent than Roger.

eduggs
05-25-2011, 07:30 PM
From the way they were playing coming in, and the way they played in the match, I think Federer should have won Rome 2006, RG 2006, and Australian 2009. The H2H would then be 11-13 in favor of Nadal, which feels more reasonable based on their careers and abilities. Then I think we'd also hear a lot less about this silly H2H subject. Again, credit to Nadal for winning when he could have and maybe should have lost. This partially defines his greatness.

Eden
05-25-2011, 07:32 PM
Nalbandian is an interesting case:

Federer vs. Nalbandian:
6-5 on hard
3-1 on clay
1-2 on carpet
0-0 on grass

But the real story is:
1-5 before 2004
9-3 after 2004

Both players are adept on every surface. The H2H progression suggests that Nalbandian developed faster and/or was the better player early on. Then between 2003 and 2004, Federer caught and surpassed him. The players themselves have talked about this progression.

Same goes for Hewitt. The rivalry between him and Roger go back to their teenager days but Lleyton also developed faster. But when Roger's game and mind started to click he was able to turn around the H2h.

Eden
05-25-2011, 07:48 PM
From the way they were playing coming in, and the way they played in the match, I think Federer should have won Rome 2006, RG 2006, and Australian 2009. The H2H would then be 11-13 in favor of Nadal, which feels more reasonable based on their careers and abilities. Then I think we'd also hear a lot less about this silly H2H subject. Again, credit to Nadal for winning when he could have and maybe should have lost. This partially defines his greatness.

Then you could also say that Rafa should have won the Wimbledon final in 2007. He had the chance to go up a break in the 5th and it would have been quite unlikely that Roger would have got the break back then...

eduggs
05-25-2011, 08:00 PM
Then you could also say that Rafa should have won the Wimbledon final in 2007. He had the chance to go up a break in the 5th and it would have been quite unlikely that Roger would have got the break back then...

You know, I thought about mentioning that one. I went back and watched it to see if I could pick up anything new. It's true that Federer didn't have a ton of break point opportunities in that match, but he did win the 5th 6-2. Who knows how it would have finished if Nadal had gotten a break early in that deciding set. Ultimately, I don't consider that match one in which either player SHOULD have won. In my mind, it was more of a toss-up match in which one player did win.

I also thought about not including the 2009 Australian, because it was a similar toss-up match to the 2007 Wimbledon. But the difference that I saw was that at the Australian (and also in the 2006 clay encounters), Federer's serve, forehand, and confidence really seemed to give him the upper hand at important stages of the match. It seemed a little miraculous that Nadal was able to stave off the barrage.

The greater point - that it's silly to consider who should have won - when we know who actually won, is a point well taken.

NYCtennisfan
05-26-2011, 03:25 AM
Nalbandian is an interesting case:

Federer vs. Nalbandian:
6-5 on hard
3-1 on clay
1-2 on carpet
0-0 on grass

But the real story is:
1-5 before 2004
9-3 after 2004

Both players are adept on every surface. The H2H progression suggests that Nalbandian developed faster and/or was the better player early on. Then between 2003 and 2004, Federer caught and surpassed him. The players themselves have talked about this progression.

The turnaround in the Federer/Nalbandian rivalry is a very interesting one and the turnaround speaks volumes about Federer's overall grasp of the game's trends and where the game is headed.

Three or four things really turned around this rivalry:

1. Federer's improved BH, primarily his BH after having worked with Roche, especially his footwork i.e., his final step before setup moving to the BH side. In many of the early encounters between these two players, Nalbandian found a safe spot hitting CC to Federer's BH and Federer was unable, other than occasionally, to change the rallies by hitting BH DTL or topspin BH CC with good depth. This inability limited Federer's ability to consistently control rallies against Nalbandian because the Argentine, unlike many other players, could/can take the ball so early off of either wing which prevented Federer from running around his BH on many points against Nalbandian. After Federer ripped apart Nalbandian at the 2005 USO, a quietly devastating performance that is forgotten by many, Nalbandian was quick to point out that it was the Federer BH that was the difference. David said that Federer played "too fast with the BH," something Federer had not been able to do before.

Of course, Federer's first win over Nalbandian at the 2003 TMC was before Federer had a vastly improved BH, but Federer was playing really well with his BH that entire tournament and was hitting his FH unbelievably well.

2. Federer stopped serving and volleying and relied on his overall game. When you have more game than just about anyone and are also physically gifted, why would you give an opponent a chance to end the point on one or two shots when the percentages say that if you play out the point, chances are that you have a good chance to win it? This scenario is especially exacerbated in Federer's match ups with Nalbandian -- Nalbandian has a great return off of either wing so why give him a chance to end the point right there? Federer knew that serve and volley tennis would NOT be the way to proceed about matters in the future and therefore wanted to work on an overall game that would concentrate on an aggressive backcourt game that allowed him to eventually finish points at net.

3. Federer's improved serve. It's disappointing to see many tennis novices on here don't give proper credit to a player because the player appears to have the advantage of a great serve. Perhaps a poster has a point if a player is a 6'5" or 6'6" and has a great serve, but players like Sampras and Federer are "only" 6'1"; at this height, nobody is guaranteed to have a "great" serve at all. They have had to work on it and work on it some more and the development of the serves at this height demonstrates the players' talent and work ethic.

There are plenty of players over 6'1" that don't even have a good serve let alone a serve as good as Federer's or even close to Sampras's. Look at Djokovic's serve -- his serve was abysmal last season and his serve's return to "pretty good" status has helped his game enormously. Delpo is 6'6" but his serve is not the weapon that it could be, and is, as of now, nowhere near what Sampras's was of course, and isn't even close to Federer's when Federer's was at its best. Delpo has a really high ceiling for improvement because of how much possibility there is to improve his serve.

Federer's serve was off and on early in his career. He could get good pop on it, but the %s could be really low. He worked on it and gained consistency and was able to add the sidewinder serve up the T on the AD side, a very difficult serve to master. Sampras had the greatest righty sidewinder up the T on the AD ever. Federer's second serve wasn't all that special early on in his career, but as he ascended to the top of the game, and again especially under Roche, his second serve improved dramatically, something he had to work very hard on, not something that was magically handed to him as an unfair advantage. It is a real talent to be able to develop this kind of serve when you're "only" 6'1" later on in your career.

4. With an improved game comes improved confidence which leads to winning which then further improves your confidence c.f., Djokovic.

Johnny Groove
05-26-2011, 03:33 AM
Yep. Nadal uses this to his advantage. Not with Murray, but definitely with Federer and Djokovic.

If Nadal had performed better on hard courts in 2005-2008 (that is make Grand Slam finals on this surface), his career head to head against Federer would probably be worse.

Maybe.

But had Nadal made those AO/USO finals from 05-08, he'd be presumably playing incredible tennis, which means he would at least a fair shot to beat peak Fed.

eduggs
05-26-2011, 04:10 AM
Maybe.

But had Nadal made those AO/USO finals from 05-08, he'd be presumably playing incredible tennis, which means he would at least a fair shot to beat peak Fed.

But surely there is a gap between being good enough to make a few finals and consistently beating 2006 Federer. After all, Nadal was the 2nd ranked player in the world for this entire stretch. Federer was well ahead of the field during this era, so playing well enough to make a final does not mean Nadal would be even with Federer. And it wasn't just the hard court slams. It was the pre-Ausy hardcourt tuneups, the spring US hardcourt masters events, the summer US hardcourt season, and the post-US indoors/hardcourt/Asia swing. Federer won a majority of these, and he rarely faced Nadal. It essentially denied Federer a chance to balance out the results of the lengthy clay court season. How such encounters would have played out, we'll never know.

stewietennis
05-26-2011, 05:08 AM
Back in 2005-2008, if Nadal modified his game to win on hardcourts it would have likely compromised his dominance on clay. Where he may have won 2-3 slams on other surfaces, he would have lost 2-3 slams on clay. Nadal has a whole lot of skill but I believe his pool is zero sum.

eduggs
05-26-2011, 06:04 AM
Back in 2005-2008, if Nadal modified his game to win on hardcourts it would have likely compromised his dominance on clay. Where he may have won 2-3 slams on other surfaces, he would have lost 2-3 slams on clay. Nadal has a whole lot of skill but I believe his pool is zero sum.

Interesting theory. I think there's a lot to consider there in terms of serve, court positioning, spin etc...

But I think you're short changing Nadal a bit. Even as a teenager in 2004, I think he was already good enough to compete at the highest level on hard courts. He made one final on the surface and lost a lot of close matches against brand name players. Then by 2005, there should be no doubt he had become an elite hardcourt player, making the final at Miami, and winning Montreal, Beijing, and Madrid indoors. He also ascended to the number 2 world ranking. His game didn't need any modification. It was already good enough to win the biggest tournaments.

It's certainly strange how few times Federer and Nadal played each other during this period despite clearly being the best two players in the world beginning in 2005. Consider, by comparison, how often Nadal and Djokovic have played just this year. As an example, this is how and why they didn't meet very often off clay in 2005:

Doha: Nadal loses to Ljubicic in Q, Federer defeats Ljubicic in F.
Auckland: Nadal loses R32, Federer skips.
Australian: Nadal loses to Hewitt in R16, Federer loses to Safin in SF.
Rotterdam: Nadal skips, plays clay events - loses Q in Buenos Aires and wins Costa do Sauipe, Federer wins.
Dubai: Nadal, skips, wins Acapulco (clay) , Federer wins.
Miami: Federer defeats Nadal in F.
Indian Wells: Nadal skips, Federer wins.
Halle: Nadal loses R32 to Waske, Federer defeats Safin in F.
Wimbledon: Nadal loses R64 to Muller, Federer defeats Roddick in F.
Montreal: Nadal defeats Agassi in F, Federer skips.
Cincinnati: Nadal loses to Berdych in R64, Federer defeats Roddick in F.
US Open: Nadal loses R32 to Blake, Federer defeats Agassi in F.
Beijing: Nadal wins, Federer skips.
Bangkok: Nadal skips, Federer wins.
Madrid: Nadal wins, Federer skips.
WTF: Nadal skips, Federer loses to Nalbandian in F.

1 meeting in 16 possible tournaments. 3 tournament wins for Nadal. 9 tournament wins for Federer. Uncanny how they never peaked at the same tournaments and took turns skipping tournaments that the other won. It's almost like they planned it that way. This rivalry could have had a much richer history considering the long period of co-domination. But fluke years like this kept a lid on things.