I couldnt help but copying this and posting it. I am sure the thalivest will love, and TennisVeritas will hate it, and it will start a combative war between the two, but hey that is fun isnt it.
Basically it is an argument of someone who believes the current general field is quite weak and much weaker then the 90s. The individual is not questioning the strength and merits of the abilities of Federer and Nadal, but rather the overall field. The whole summary, whether you agree with it or not, definitely was very well thought out and brought up alot of good points. Here it is:
The other side of this discussion is mis-interpreting any challenge to the claim that today's game is deeper than its ever been as if we are claiming the '90's are the golden age of tennis. Seems to touch on a sensitive nerve.
The claim that some of us are making are that the mid 90's were in fact deeper than the present decade.
Most of us have said ad-infinitum, that this critique DOES NOT call into question the greatness of Federer. He has already put himself with Laver, Borg and Sampras at the very top of the Open era Greats, and shows no sign of stopping and clearly passing them.
It's not Federer or Nadal, for that matter, being questioned. It's the remainder of the field.
The argument for greater depth today requires a suspension of dis-belief and/or requires "the believer" speak out of both sides of the mouth simultaneously.
First and foremost is Agassi. He is the link to both generations. He is in truth a generation and a half removed. For the depth of today's game to work one is forced into several presumptions:
Agassi was not only as good but a better player after 29 than he ever was
Edberg who vied for titles, won a MS and qualified for YEC through '94 wasn't, that's the first third of Sampras period of dominance.
Becker who vied for titles, won a Major (the same major AA won late in his career) an MS shield and reached the his third consecutive YEC FINAL in '96 and played the reigning #1 to a near draw, but he wasn't viable. That's 2/3's of Sampras's period of dominance.
Stich who won his slam AFTER Sampras's first, beat Sampras in the '93 YEC Final, and reached at least a SF of all 4 majors including the finals of the USO and RG from '93 to '97 and he doesn't compare favorably to anyone today. In and out yes, but spanning almost all of the Sampras era.
Courier has to be an elusion and an even bigger one than Hewitt. From the '92 USO through '96 RG, that's 15 majors he competed in, Courier met Sampras in the QF or later in nearly half, seven, and went 1-6. Did Courier fade or was he shoved off the top of the pyramid? Somehow Courier is discounted despite having twice the Major results as Hewitt.
Rafter a two time Major winner, who, let's say for argument sake, took the place of Becker in '97, was 5-6 v. Agassi from '96 through '01 and splitting their Major match-ups 2-2 AFTER Agassi turned 29 who was "ARGUABLY A BETTER PLAYER" THEN, yet, somehow, Rafter, doesn't measure up by today's standards.
How does that work out? An objective person would conclude that something has to give here.
Either Rafter was better than being credited for or Agassi wasn't as good as he was in '94-'96 or '99. Not both.
How does the premise on AA himself reconcile with his loss to Sampras in the '02 USO Final or AA's absence from the finals of '00 or '01. Sampras was there.
Another two time Major winner, Kafelnikov, who was 4-5 v. AA from '94 to '99 two of those wins coming in '95 and '99, AA's actual best years, has to be a nobody, otherwise the claim can't work.
Chang who aside from his other accomplishments was 7-11 v. Edberg from '88to '94, 5-7 vs. AA from '93 to '98, has to be a non-factor. If he's a "B" what is Davydenko? Chang had winning records vs. the top 16 every year he was advancing in Majors, Davydenko can't make that claim.
The '90's had its Baghdatis-like spikes too. Moya for one. Yeah its early for Bags, but thus far he's taken an eerily similar path to Moya's just not quite as good.
And before attacking Moya, remember that attack will also cut two ways, for despite the claim of the alleged greater depth of the 2000's, not only Moya but another holdover from the end of the Sampras era, Henman at 31, were in the Top Ten as late as mid-2005.
Again if these guys sucked in the '90's what were they doing in the '05 Top 10and why is Moya still in the Top 17 now at 31 in the middle of Fed's run?
One thing missing from today are the champions from the pre-Fed generation.
No, NOT the Sampras era holdovers, who are there, the one between Sampras and Federer, the Kuerten generation.
The class of that class, Kuerten and Norman blew out hips, unfortunately. Rios was well, just nuts. Philippoussis never could find the consistent motivation, and as per another directive of convenience, can't be used to call into question today's depth even though he reached the '03 W Final vs. Fed.
Who else? Grosjean? Hrbaty? Stepanek? Without anyone aside from Kuerten distinguishing themselves it simply subtracts from the depth, today.
Clement? Schuttler? Those are the two "names" the "arguably better Agassi" beat the AO finals in '01 and '03.
Moya and Henman were threats on the specific polarized surfaces when they joined the tour yet somehow emerged in the top ten during this generation. Interesting.
Any Champions from the Kuerten generation lurking/threatening?
Then this class. Ferrero? Safin? Both tremendous promise but unfortunately both are all but gone.
Hewitt? He actually wore out faster than Courier it turned out.
What is the generation left with? Nalbandian with his on/off results? Roddick with tremendous holes in his game? Davydenko with just as big holes? Blake? Ljubicic? Ferrer? Name the player who is setting themselves up at the top just below Federer, Nadal and now Djoker.
There is no Sampras/Federer 'tweener generation. Much of the current generation are absent and have been for longer terms than AA ever was in the 90's.
So you have Fed and a few Fed contemporaries with either serious holes and/or palpable questions of heart, PLUS the "promise" of the next generation.
There's obviously Nadal. And Djoker looks legit. Gasquet and Bags? What have they done so far sets him apart from the, (no offense) but the other French trained Forgets, Lecontes and Piolines. Has Murray shown much other than he's as crazy as a Nastase, Ivanisevic or Safin without the results yet? Yeah they're young. Yeah we don't know yet.
But looking at the Kuerten generation and this generation: How does "promise" manifest itself most often. And NOW, RIGHT NOW, by what mental gymnastics does mere "promise" translate into depth?
That is not a recipe for depth.
Rios was considered a true talent, but for other reasons (more Safin-like) than other top guys of his generation like Kuerten and Norman (who, again, suffered debilitating injuries) was from the generation between the Sampras and Federer eras, but disappeared very prematurely from the tennis landscape.
Had they continued as they started, and Safin and Hewitt, or even a JCF or Coria for that matter, maintained a better level, this may have been an era of very good depth. It had the potential.
But they didn't and here we are.
Again, this is to cast no doubts on the abilities of either Fed or the surface specific abilities of Nadal. Like other repeat champions in any era they would be champions and great in any era.