Can Roger Federer be Best Ever Without Winning the French Open?

I had a great debate with Peter Brown on Sporting News Radio Sunday night. The whole conversation started because Rafael Nadal kicked Roger Federer’s ass in the French Open finals, only giving up four games in three sets for his 4th straight title at Roland Garros. With a performance like that coupled with Roger’s inability to win the French made Peter say that he can’t consider Federer the best tennis player of all-time. On an absolutely basic level, it is hard to fight this argument, but I think it’s faulty. Here were some of the several points to refute this notion.

First off, Roger’s dominance on all other surfaces is unprecedented. From ’04-’07, Roger won nearly every tournament he entered, including 11 of the 16 Grand Slam events. In four of the five he didn’t win, he either made the finals or semifinals. Federer was 315-24 over those four years, good for a cool 93% winning percentage. That type of dominance is just silly. The counterargument would say Federer isn’t playing in a competitive era. Well, before he came into his own, there were guys like Roddick, Safin, Hewitt, and Nalbandian reaching finals and still doing so. You telling me these guys wouldn’t have more wins if Federer weren’t around? If that were the case, what would you say about the competition then?

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Ana Ivanovic Gets Her First Grand Slam

I pretty much had this up and ready to go for the last few days, I was just waiting to sub in a few details like the score she won by. Pretty much everything broke perfectly for Ana Ivanovic to win the French Open title this year, her first major win. First it was the news of Justine Henin retiring, then Maria Sharapova went out early, and the Williams sisters made their exits in the 3rd round leaving the draw wide open for Ana’s taking. Ivanovic capitalized and won the tournament without dropping a set, her first major win. It was great to see Ana get the win especially after the way she performed in her last two finals appearances; she got crushed by Henin last year in the French Open finals, and was handled easily at the Australian by Sharapova. Best part is that the win coincides with Ana’s rise to No. 1 in the world — she’ll have the top ranking when the new ones come out next week.

Now, onto important matters. With a Grand Slam win her pocket and the No. 1 ranking to come, where does this place Ana on the list of hottest top-ranked tennis players of all-time? I say she takes the top spot amongst the No. 1′s easily. After the jump, I have some of her competition …

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Roger Federer: ‘This Is My Year’

I didn’t exactly keep it a secret that I was pulling for Novak Djokovic earlier in the year at the Australian Open when he knocked the king off the mountain. Turns out Roger Federer actually had mono during the tourney and that probably explains why he lost. I bet most players would love to reach the finals of a Grand Slam with such an illness. Anyway, Federer has reached the finals of the French Open and will have the daunting task of facing Rafael Nadal on clay to try and win the major that has eluded him thus far. No worries though — Federer thinks he has this one:

It looks good for Sunday,” and then, “I feel I have the right tactics, I have the right game, and I have the fitness to beat him,” and then, “We are testing each other, you know, over and over . . . I believe very strongly that this is my year.”

It really would be nice to see Roger get the win and expunge the one and only criticism of his career. Is it really his fault that Nadal is 27-0 at the French Open? What can he do about the fact that Nadal has not lost a set at Roland Garros this year? Nadal is almost unbeatable on clay — 114-2 in his career. The only thing standing between Roger Federer and infallible immortality is winning the French. I’m glad he has the confidence this year and the attitude — you need that approach if you want to have a chance against the nearly unbeatable Nadal. This will be quite the match.

Ashley Harkleroad Posing in Playboy

I bet when the P.R. reps over at Playboy were discussing the matter of how they would handle the announcement that Harkleroad was going to appear in the August issue of the magazine, they were thinking that releasing the news the day before the French Open — one of tennis’ majors — would be the perfect time. Might as well go on the attack while tennis is fresh in everyone’s mind and while ESPN is pushing their coverage of it. I’ll bet in their meetings they never really considered how this would go over if their star made a dubious first-round exit in the grand slam event. Of course, that’s usually how things work out, isn’t it?

So yeah, Harkleroad lost badly to Serena Williams in the first round of the French, and really hasn’t made much of a name for herself as a tennis player. She’s currently ranked around 61st in the world right now — nowhere near even what Kournikova was. And you know what, when it comes to all the possibilities we could have had from female tennis players posing in Playboy, I’ll go with the Bob Uecker, “Frankly, I think we got hosed on that one.” Like Harkleroad’s OK I guess, but she wouldn’t have me running to the newsstand. And she’s not even that good at her sport. I’m kinda scratching my head on this one. And not to mention, think about all the different places Playboy’s efforts could be better focused.

Your Chance to Lick Ana Ivanovic

Let’s be honest here: pretty much all of us sports bloggers are just looking for an excuse to throw up a post on Ana Ivanovic. And if I can’t speak for them, then at least I’m speaking for myself. I haven’t exactly been shy when discussing Ana’s amazing looks, so why stop here? The Serbian tennis player is now being featured on a stamp in her home country, so says FanIQ. Apparently 30,000 of these special edition stamps have been produced. The best part is you can match the stamp together with an Ana envelope. Check it out:

I don’t know about you, but I’m bout it bout it. I mean seriously, what better way to send your business than with Ana? I might even opt for snail mail over email just to justify picking up a few of these bad boys.

Andy Roddick and T.O. Are Homies

Much like the Snoop Dogg/David Beckham relationship, I have a tough time grasping this one. Word on the street is that tennis player Andy Roddick and football player Terrell Owens are boys. Apparently T.O. was even in attendance at the Sony Ericsson Open to watch Roddick play this week. The two took turns complimenting one another to the media:

“I wish a lot of the public saw what I saw,” Roddick said Wednesday after a morning practice. “He’s a pretty friendly guy, he’ll meet people — friends of mine — who he doesn’t really even know, and he’s nothing but nice and sweet to them. I wish the public saw a little bit more of that side of him.”

[Owens said about Roddick] “He’s on the cusp of really being that No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 guy. If he keeps pushing, letting the games come to him and try not to press so much during the matches, he’ll win. He just has to keep his focus.”

Oh Andy, we sure did get a glimpse of that T.O., in case you have forgotten. I even fell for it. And apparently the two met through a personal trainer. So while Roger Federer enjoys mutual admiration with Tiger Woods, Andy Roddick’s crossover companion is Terrell Owens. Yeah, exactly.

Richard Williams Hates the White Man

This might initially appear to you as a headline written for immediate shock value. Au contraire, it is merely representative of Richard Willams’ thoughts. Richard Williams, for those of you unfamiliar with him, is the father of Venus and Serena Williams. He is no stranger to racial issues in tennis, nor is his daughter, Serena. But You Been Blinded points out that Richard Williams was exceptionally caustic in his comments about the white man recently. As he told the Deccan Herald:

Tennis is a prejudice game. Well, I’m Black and I’m prejudiced, very prejudiced. I’ll be always prejudiced as the White man. The White man hated me all my life and I hate him. That’s no secret. I’m not even an American, it just so happens that I was born in America. People are prejudiced in tennis. I don’t think Venus or Serena was ever accepted by tennis. They never will be. But if you get some little White no good trasher in America like Tracy Austin or Chris Evert who cannot hit the ball, they will claim this is great.

Must we revisit this subject again? It’s not my place to discuss how Richard Williams has been treated his entire life — I don’t have a clue. But I do know that any time a person says “I hate ___,” they’re putting themselves on thin ice. It also doesn’t help when you’re talking about most of the population either. Man, talk about going waaaay off the deep board here. Sheesh.