Hi guys. It’s been a while since my last post which became my most popular post to date. My link got posted on Mens Tennis Forums, Tennis Warehouse Forum, Facebook, Twitter, and even Vamos Brigade. My traffic has been through the roof and the discussion is still going on. I haven’t made a post since because I was getting ready to come back to South Africa and I have lost a lot of hope for tennis of late. But I am not ready to give up on it just yet. Ironically my last post actually inspired me. For better or for worse, the publicity my last post received was enjoyable. I received some of the worst insults you can imagine as well as some of the best compliments. To the ones who complimented me I appreciate it and to the ones who insulted me I appreciate the hate as well. I just enjoy writing about tennis and whatever publicity I receive is enjoyable.
Of course with my link getting posted all over the place people came here who have never been here before and they just assumed I was some bitter and biased Nadal hater. My regular readers would know however that I have had plenty of good things to say about Nadal of late, and that I have criticized Roger many a time in the past. In fact someone recently commented that they are leaving because this blog has become a blog full of Nadal fanboys and that I should change the name of my blog to Ruans Nadal Blog! I have also frequently criticized Roger for his lack of mental fortitude against Nadal. In turn this has been interpreted by my readers as implying that Roger is mentally weak. Being misunderstood just comes with writing I guess. I don’t think Nadal is the devil nor do I think Roger is a mental weakling.
Both are equally ridiculous. If anyone is the devil it is the people who make it possible for there to be doping in sport and whose greed and corruption is ruining the sport. As for Roger you don’t win 17 slams being mentally weak. Roger is mentally strong but mental strength is not the strongest part of his game, and Nadal has managed to exploit that part of his game after which other players followed suit. And of course Roger’s decline hasn’t helped. Currently Roger appears extremely fragile mentally, but that is a post by its own for another time. In this post I want to look at some of the positives about Nadal, if only to remain balanced as a writer and to steer clear of being the fanatic type, which of course I can’t stand. That doesn’t mean I am changing my view on the current state of tennis. I still don’t like the direction it is going in.
And to a certain extent I needed to vent in my last post. I am not particularly against the way tennis is being played at the moment. I quite enjoyed the US Open final, until Djokovic failed to put Nadal away in the 3rd set that is. There were some really good rallies. It was certainly more exciting than some of the tennis played at Wimbledon in the nineties. What I did not like was Nadal’s constant defense and loopy topspin shots which eventually forced Djokovic into an error. Nadal fans see this as heroic, but I see it almost as cowardly. Nadal has always played this type of negative game, even though he has become more aggressive of late. I must say I have been impressed with how early he has been able to take the ball. In the past I didn’t even know he was capable of it. Nadal is no doubt a very talented player.
I always said he is one-dimensional compared to Roger, and that still holds true. Nadal will never possess the serve, volleys, or feel of Roger. But he makes up for it in the mental department. And that in itself is a talent. As I have said before, I now believe Nadal has the capability of equaling or even surpassing Roger’s slam count. What Nadal lacks in talent he makes up for in the mental department, and what Roger lacks for in the mental department he makes up for in talent. Roger was once asked about who is the best between him and Nadal and he replied that he believes we will never know. I always thought Roger was better, but since Nadal won the US Open this year and the way he has played all year I don’t think so anymore. It is always nice to support the better player and I always liked the idea that Roger was still better in the big picture than his nemesis.
Of course Nadal is still only on 13 slams and he still has some way to go to catch up with Roger. His resume is still quite unbalanced in favor of clay. If he wants to become as great as Roger he must win more slams on grass and hard. He also has to spend a lot more time at number one and win at least one or two Masters Cups. Nadal also needs to show that he can dominate for an extended period of time and have the kind of consistency Roger had. Roger’s consistency across all surfaces and dominance in his prime is what made him so great. I mean 300+ weeks at #1, utter dominance from 2004-2007 where he won 3 slams per year on 3 different occasions, 4 slam titles at 3 different slams, 1 slam title and 4 more slam finals on his worst surface, 23 consecutive slam semis, 18/19 slam finals, 36 consecutive slam quarters, 6 Masters Cup titles, the list goes on…
These numbers show incredible consistency and dominance and will be unbelievably hard to top. In fact Nadal will never top it, but he could top the all important slam titles and due to the fact that he exposed the slight mental glitch in Roger’s armor, he could have a claim to be at least equally as great. Like I said recently, there is an inevitability about it. Nadal’s biggest strength probably is his uncompromising will. When he wants something he takes it and nothing can stop him. In that sense he is a good role model. You can be sure he wants to surpass Roger and therefor I don’t see anything stopping him. He gets whatever he wants. He is a cyborg like that. Since Nadal will most likely at least equal Roger in slam count, it is a good time to also look at why exactly we are Fedfans. As I have already admitted I always liked the idea that Roger would go down as a better player than Nadal.
And I never had any doubt that he would. But now that is not the case anymore, and I have to question my own reasons for being a Fedfan. And fortunately I am not so superficial a human being as to only care about winning or being the best. Believe it or not, I am a Fedfan for much deeper reasons than that. I identify with Roger in many ways, such as honesty, objectivity, integrity, sensitivity, humility, and an artistic side. To people who don’t understand or know me I would often appear as arrogant or insensitive, but they are mistaken honesty for those qualities. I am just brutally honest and I can’t help it, which is why me or the readers of this blog are not your average Fedfan. We are not the fanatic kind who worship someone we don’t know personally. I often criticize Roger to the point that my readers get very angry at me.
So for me being a Fedfan is an expression of who I am and what I stand for. Of course I don’t claim to be 100% true to all these ideals that I mention. In fact I come up short on them more than I’d like to admit. But ultimately they are what I stand for and I view myself as a good person despite all my shortcomings. As far as Nadal goes I could never identify with him and my allegiance won’t shift even if he wins 100 slams. For me Roger has always been honest and open and I always knew what he was about. With Nadal it has been the opposite. I could never quite sum the guy up and I don’t trust him. There are too many incongruities in his personality. Just today I read a comment in response to someone saying that Nadal was humble and nice to everyone. The response was that former pro Bjorkman didn’t agree with that at all.
Bjorkman said that Nadal is nice to Federer and in front of the media, but behind the scenes with the other players he is basically a prick. Roger on the other hand treats everyone the same. There is no inconsistencies or deceit in him. His fellow players have the greatest respect for him which is why he receives the sportsmanship award just about every year and why he has been on the players council for so long. The players respect him and believe he has their best interest at heart. Nadal appears much more self-centered. It seems he is always thinking of number one first, despite the fact that the tour is pretty much tailor made for him. For instance he plays in an era where court speeds have been slowed down significantly, benefiting his defensive game style. The clay court season is also much longer than the grass court season, including 3 Masters Series events compared to none on grass.
Yet he is still has the nerve to complain about court surfaces and asks for a two year ranking system so he can remain at the top of the rankings despite his ridiculously long breaks from the sport. Clearly he couldn’t care less about the struggling up and coming young players who would find it much harder to break through into the top of the game with a two year ranking system. These are just a couple of examples why Nadal appears egotistical and false. There are many more. He has for instance disrespected past greats by calling tennis by the likes of Sampras and Ivanisevic at Wimbledon in the 90’s ‘not really tennis’. To the world and the media he is projecting this image of someone who is humble and innocent, but his actions betray something entirely different. This is why I can’t trust Nadal and why I will never be a fan.
More than anything I hate falseness, and Nadal reeks of it. Off court he appears to be a nice guy but on court he doesn’t have a problem to pull out any dirty trick in the book to unnerve his opponents, including taking a toilet break when the opponent is about to serve for the match, fake injury time outs at important junctures in the match, time wasting, getting coaching from his uncle, grunting harder the more important the point gets, shoulder charging opponents at the change over to intimidate, etc. This was supposed to be a post about giving credit to Nadal, but I went with the flow and it seems it has turned out to be more a post about revisiting our reasons for being Fedfans. There are some good things to be learned from Nadal however, despite the negative things I mentioned above. His relentless will and ability to overcome obstacles is certainly admirable.
He is extremely clutch as well, even though I think it takes more balls to be an attacking player than a defensive player. This is in fact another very important reason why I am a Federer fan and not a Nadal fan. I like the player who has the balls to take initiative and go for their shots, instead of the player who negatively retrieves their opponents into submission. I’m sorry I just can’t respect that part of Nadal’s game. It is ugly to watch and since he calls the playing style of past greats ‘not really tennis’, I will go ahead and call that style of play ‘not really tennis’ either. It is every bit as boring as the big serves of the 90’s, and Nadal is therefor a hypocrite. With Nadal winning the US Open for a 2nd time we have now reached the opposite end of the spectrum which was the boring power game of the 90’s, and it is not a pretty sight.
Sampras was the leader of the power game of the 90’s and now Nadal is the leader of the base line grinders in the 2010’s. I consider Roger to be somewhere in between. This is why I still consider him to be the greatest of the modern era. Sampras and Nadal to me are very similar in many ways, even though their game styles could not have been more different. I have always considered them to be on par with each other, while Roger has something extra. Why do I say this? Sampras and Nadal are to a certain extent opportunists who took advantage of their respective eras which suited their game style. Roger on the other hand is so complete and adaptable that he is not dependent on eras or conditions. He would be equally great in any era. Sampras has some shortcomings as a defensive player, while Nadal has some shortcomings as an attacking player.
Roger to me is the ultimate because he is as good in the fore court as he is from the base line. He is better than Sampras as a defensive player and better than Nadal as an attacking player. He has it all, and his resume has it all as well. For this reason he will always be the modern era GOAT to me. I can’t talk for the eras before that because there is too big a difference. It doesn’t really matter to me that Nadal dominated the head-to-head or if he passes Roger in slam count. Roger will remain greater to me. So in fact I still think Roger is greater. We will see what the future holds, but one thing is for sure and that is that my allegiance will never switch to Nadal and I am very well established and steadfast in my reasons for being a Fedfan. And when I say that, what I have in mind has nothing to do with who is the better tennis player…