Mr Sinnett said: “The study raises a number of interesting questions for tennis. For example, if Rafael Nadal is grunting and Roger Federer is not, is that fair?”
It was always pretty obvious to me that Nadal uses grunting to his advantage. The real surprise to me is not the results of the study, but that more players have not used grunting against Nadal themselves. But the problem with that is that it’s not in everyone’ nature to grunt. Someone like Djokovic grunts anyway, so for him to use grunting to counter Nadal’s grunts is OK. But for someone like Roger who doesn’t grunt, it’s probably a bigger liability to start grunting just to counter Nadal’s grunts, compared to just accepting Nadal’s grunting. I have remarked before that Nadal uses a different grunt for different situations. When things get tight he uses a more raw version to intimidate his opponent. To me that is just a bit childish, like something an amateur would do. It shows he doesn’t have enough confidence in his tennis abilities to rely on that alone.
Roger himself have stated that he finds grunting childish. He doesn’t feel like it should be part of the professional game as far as I can gather. I’ve never believed Nadal is a better player than Roger, but I’ve always known it is a tough match up for him given Nadal’s personality. Nadal is two different people off court and on court. He literally transforms from a nice, humble guy into an animal. That explains why him and Roger is good friends off court even though they are so very different on court. Roger on the other hand is pretty much the same on court as off court. Of course he is more intense during a match, but as far as the personality goes it stays pretty much the same. I happen to like Nadal off court. I think he is a great guy. But as soon as he steps on court my like of him transforms about as much as his personality does.
He is the kind of guy that will do anything to win. Morality goes right out the window when he steps on court. Winning becomes everything. This is why people are also speculating about him doping. If he was as well behaved as Roger on court there would probably be no speculation. But the fact that he receives on court coaching, takes questionable injury timeouts, grunts, etc., makes people more suspicious. If I didn’t know Nadal the tennis player, but only the guy that appears off court, I would say no way this guy does anything questionable. But having seen the way he acts on the court makes me suspicious as well. People who have doped in the past is the one’s for whom winning is everything. They will win at all costs. There is this complete obsession with winning, and a very unhealthy one at that.
We know why Roger plays the game. It has always been about about the love of the game and he is always very respectful about the traditions and the people around him. This is why I would be very surprised if he has ever used any forbidden substances. I don’t see Nadal this way. I think he thrives on fear of losing and he is obsessed with winning. The gamesmanship he uses on court is a clear sign of this. This grunting thing is now the latest, and there can be no doubt now that he uses it to his advantage. It is these small, subtle advantages that Nadal have used against Roger to gain the upper hand in the head-to-head which now stands at 14-7. Nadal believes in intimidation, while Roger doesn’t. So it shouldn’t be any surprise that the head-to-head is skewed towards Nadal. It is just the result of their different personalities.
This may sound crazy, but winning isn’t everything for Roger. It’s first and foremost the love of the game. He has his priorities in the right place, because he realizes that no one is bigger than the game itself. Karma will come back to bite Nadal because he acts like he is bigger than the game. People should get this once and for all. This is really the key to the Fedal rivalry. It’s a moral matter, and when Nadal steps onto the court morals go out of the window. He will do whatever it takes to get an edge over his opponent, even if it means cheating or using gamesmanship. This is why Roger will always be better in my eyes. He is the better man. He is truly a great man, because he is prepared to take all the criticism for his h2h with Nadal instead of changing his morals. Roger transcends tennis not only as a player but as a human being as well.
Nadal is just a kid obsessed with winning. As a human being he is nothing special. Talking of karma and Nadal, he just lost in the ATP 250 Bangkok event to unknown Spaniard Guillermo-Garcia Lopez, 2-6 7-6 6-3. I’d day that is a pretty big setback for him after having one of the easiest draws in US Open history and then playing a tired Djokovic in the final. This will also raise suspicion again. Well, I guess the grunting didn’t prevail this time…