Simon Reed

Who’s the GOAT? 1-Federer v 16-Courier

Simon Reed

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Our Who's the Goat? tournament kicks off with a match-up between top seed Roger Federer and rank outsider Jim Courier.

A straight-forward victory for the current world number one?

The contenders.

Roger Federer
Nationality: Swiss
Seeded: 1
Grand Slam titles: 16
Australian Open W (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010)
French Open W (2009)
Wimbledon W (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009)
US Open W (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)

Jim Courier
Nationality: American
Seeded: 16
Grand Slam titles: 4
Australian Open W (1992, 1993)
French Open W (1991, 1992)
Wimbledon F (1993)
US Open F (1991)

Who would win if both players were playing at their absolute best? (One set hard court, one set clay, one set grass)

Simon Reed's verdict:

This match might look a banker to most, but if they are playing one set on each surface, I think Courier could just sneak the set against Federer on clay.

It's interesting, but I actually think Federer will play better on clay this year than he has has done before because the pressure is now off him since he won at Roland Garros last year.

I sense winning that tournament meant more to him than breaking Pete Sampras's Grand Slam record at Wimbledon.

I think he will play really well at the French Open again this year, and strangely, while we may have already seen the best of Federer in his career, I believe there is more to come from him on clay - he has a great chance of defending his title at Roland Garros.

Having said that, and despite Federer being the second best on clay in the world by some way over the last five years, Courier was an immense clay court player in his time and good enough to trouble the Swiss.

It's a very close call, but I'll give the clay court set to Courier in a tie-break.

At Wimbledon though, I'm afraid it's a gimmie for Federer. Courier might be able to hold serve three times, but he wouldn't be able to win anything else, so I'd have that 6-3 to Federer.

On hard courts, again, with Federer  at his very best it is likely to be a similar story. Courier might get a few holds but little more.

Courier had a very good serve and a huge forehand. It was a different type of forehand to Federer's. The Swiss master has many different forehands he can use and that makes it very difficult to read.

Courier's was slightly easier to read, but it was so strong it meant he could go the distance with anyone. It was cruel forehand, especially when played in-to-out - it was a massive shot.

Courier I suppose was the Andy Roddick of his time, with a powerful serve and forehand that could really hurt - although he was better at implementing that style than Roddick.

However, his backhand, while I wouldn't say was a weakness, was not as strong as his other shots. Federer's backhand has varied in consistency at times, but in Australia it was working better than I have seen it for years, probably better than it has ever been.

So I think Federer's backhand helps him win this match as Courier only really used his backhand to keep the ball in play.

In a hypothetical meeting, I imagine Federer's tactic would be to get on that Courier backhand. Courier would probably try and do something similar but he wouldn't be as good at it.

Final Verdict

Federer wins 2-1

6-3 (hard court), 6-7 (clay court), 6-3 grass.

What's your view on the match-up? Leave your comments below and remember to vote on the tennis page. We will publish the final result and the best of your comments next Wednesday.

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