Two of my readers remarked that this is becoming Ruans Nadal Blog of late, and although I am disappointed about that, this post is not in response to them. This is a post that I found necessary to make for all Fedfanatics, if not for all tennis fans. As a member of a tennis forum myself, I know how much hate exists between different fan bases, and none more so than between Federer and Nadal fans. That is to be expected I guess, as Federer and Nadal are two of the most dominant tennis players ever who happens to play in the same era. I myself have been guilty of downplaying Nadal’s achievements in the past. But that was before Nadal had came through adversity successfully. I gained a lot of respect for him of late, just like I gained respect for Federer when came through that period in 2008 where he was on 13 slams.
I am first and foremost a Fedfanatic, and nothing will ever change that. I would not have started a blog about a single individual if that was not the case. Where most people have tennis blogs, I have a Federer tennis blog. This is because I believe Federer is an extremely special athlete, the likes of what we may never see again in our lifetime. But like any great champion, Federer needed a rival that could push him. In this way Nadal is very special as well. In an era where no once could touch Federer, Nadal did that and more. As a Fedfanatic I respect that. To disrespect Nadal is too disrespect Federer, because their destinies are so intertwined. Federer needed Nadal, because Nadal is the only player that took him out of his comfort zone and pushed him to greater heights. This is why you would often see a kind of irritation Federer shows when asked about Nadal.
Nadal on the other hand needed someone who could set him an example to which he could strive to live up to. This is why Nadal often shows a kind of fan mentality when talking about Federer. Nadal himself is a Fedfanatic, but a unique one, because he is also his biggest rival. You see, I don’t see Nadal as evil and Roger as good anymore. How can you call Nadal evil if he is a Fedfanatic? I truly believe he is a misunderstood Fedfantic . He is like a little boy who admires Federer while at the same time relishes the challenge of chasing down his records. It’s almost like Federer is a big brother to him. I don’t see anything wrong with that. In fact I think Nadal has been a blessing for Federer. Nadal is both Federer’s friend and enemy. Why do I say this? When Federer is on top, Nadal tries to bring him down.
But when Federer is down, Nadal pulls him up. How does that work? Consider what is currently going on. Federer is at an all time low, while Nadal is on a high. Nadal has just won his 8th slam, and there is a remote possibility that he could catch up to Federer in slams won. If Nadal was not around, Federer may be inclined to just call it a day if things don’t improve for him. But with Nadal around, he can’t take that chance. He must find a way to stay in the game and either keep Nadal from winning slams, or win more slams himself. A lot of people think that is not a possibility anymore. I beg to differ. Lets just go back to 2009 for a minute here. Federer came off his worst season in a long time in 2008 after a bout with mono. He then lost in a heart wrenching Australian Open final to Nadal in 2009. Federer looked to be done.
At that time many people thought Federer won’t win another slam, and for a while it looked like they were correct. Federer kept hitting all time lows. We fans were just hoping he could somehow get lucky and win one more slam, let alone 3. But in spectacular fashion he won the French Open of all tournaments, and then two more slams after that. No one in hell expected that. In fact, for Federer to win another slam now would be less surprising than him winning the French Open last year. People don’t see this fact, but it is true. I believe Federer will be back, and he will win at least one more slam, if not more. There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever. This is just the nature of the Federer and Nadal ebb and flow. And I don’t believe that ebb and flow is over. Federer will be back to win more slams and keep Nadal from winning slams.
What I am trying to say is that Federer and Nadal are involved in this seemingly eternal dance. There is a big similarity with what could be referred to as spirituality here. You could say Federer is good and Nadal is evil(or in the case of a Nadal fan that Nadal is good and Federer is evil), and they are both involved in an eternal dance. As soon as you think the one has won, the other comes back to triumph again. Every Fedfanatic and Nadal fan knows this feeling all too well. Evil never ends, but it is possible to go beyond both good and evil. As long as you choose sides, you will be subject to disappointment. But since this is tennis, not spirituality, there could always be a certain amount of agony and ecstasy involved. Unless you like either player equally. But those people are in the minority. So what is the solution? I think it is possible to appreciate both players for what they bring to the game while you still prefer one over the other.
As a Fedfanatic I can’t help but to appreciate Nadal because he keeps things interesting. Imagine there was no Nadal, or he never came back from adversity the way he did. This means Federer would have the slam record with no one in sight that could challenge that record. Fedfanatics may claim that they hate Nadal for this, but they can’t deny it keeps them interested. Also, if Nadal was not there to challenge Federer’s records, Federer may have been inclined to call it a day after everything he’s been through of late. He is married and have a family now. Why bother with the grind of tennis when this new generation of ballbashers keep hitting him off the court? He would have had no reason to really fight it out and make a comeback. So for this reason Fedfanatics must be grateful for Nadal, because he is keeping Federer in the game.
When you look at things more closely, there is really no need for this hate for either Federer or Nadal. The one is not what they are without the other. Hate is always due to ignorance. Nadal and Federer are opposites, just like good and evil are. You can’t have one without the other. If it wasn’t for Nadal’s ‘ugly’ strokes, we would not appreciate Federer’s beautiful strokes as much as we do. If it was not for Nadal’s ‘gamesmanship’ we would not appreciate Federer’s fair play as much as we do. If it was not for Nadal’s ‘stomping’ around the court, we would not appreciate Federer’s effortless and graceful movements. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Although it may be hard for us Fedfanatics to understand, some people find Federer’s game to be ugly and Nadal’s game to be beautiful. I’m trying to show you a different perspective here.
Of course I find Federer’s game at least a 100x more attractive than Nadal’s game, but a Nadal fan may think the opposite. This is sport, and duality is very much a part of it. We all like the drama that goes with it, even though we may claim we don’t. And if we enjoy the drama, then from a Fedfanatic’s perspective we indirectly like Nadal as well, because he is the one that causes the most of the drama if you’re a Fedfanatic. If you don’t like the drama you wouldn’t follow sport and I would recommend you read my spirituality blog. If you had enough of drama and the ego, spirituality is definitely the thing for you. Personally I like both. For now at least. Maybe when Federer finally calls it a day I would lose interest in tennis as well. Who knows. But first I want to be the best possible sports fan I can be.
And for me that means to appreciate all aspects of the game. In this way tennis is a spiritual discipline, because you can either look at it from the outside with detachment, or you can be inside it and lose yourself. I prefer to look at it from the outside and see Federer and Nadal as part of a whole. I can still prefer Federer over Nadal, but I do not have to condemn Nadal. I think I have already given enough reasons for this. As long as you resist evil, it will persist. The same with Nadal. If you continue to resist him, he will come back to haunt you. As long as you resist evil and can’t see that you can’t have good without evil, evil will continue to haunt you as well. But like I said, this is sport, and I still enjoy some of the drama. I am eagerly awaiting the next chapter in this ‘eternal’ dance between Federer and Nadal. The dance is not over…