This is a follow-up on my last post, which was somewhat controversial. I hope you didn’t misunderstand me. I don’t wish Federer bad fortune. I was merely pointing to the fact that if Federer lost at Wimbledon it would not necessarily be a bad thing. I also want to prepare Fedfanatics for more disappointment, because it is possible. I will obviously be glad for Federer if he wins Wimbledon, but it won’t necessarily be the best thing for his future in tennis. Some people think I’m disrespecting Federer or that I’m giving up on him too easily. But it is exactly because I believe so much in Federer that I made that post. I think he is capable of winning 20+ slams, but then he needs to make some changes and continue to improve. And this is where Nadal comes in. As always, Nadal and Federer is complete opposites in this regard.
Where Roger has always been told how complete and peRFect he is, Nadal has always been told how much he lacks. He has been called a moonballer, a clay court specialist, a talentless grinder, and many other similar things. This has had a profound effect on his mentality. Instead of accepting to believe in all those limitations people have labeled him with, he has constantly improved and proved people wrong. This is where I have huge respect for Nadal. When it comes to natural talent, Roger is in another dimension than Nadal. Yet Nadal holds a 14-7 head-to-head record over the GOAT, and he has won majors on hard and grass as well, something no one gave him a chance to do. He has improved his game immensely over the last few years. He has improved his volleys to such an extent that he is now a competent volleyer.
He has improved his backhand to such an extent that it is a big weapon now. Finally he has improved his serve to such an extent that it is no longer a liability, but a solid serve that often puts him on the offense. At Wimbledon he improved every year since he first made the final in 2006, until he finally beat the GOAT in his own back yard. You can’t say the same for Federer, who was beaten more convincingly each year by Nadal in the final of Roland Garros. In 2008 he had his worst defeat maybe ever when Nadal thrashed him 6-1, 6-3, 6-0. I don’t care what people say about Nadal, but I have huge admiration for the way he has constantly pushed himself to improve over the years. Not for once has he allowed himself to become complacent. In this Nadal has one major advantage over Federer.
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I have always said that Nadal will burn out early. But if you want the perfect recipe for early burnout, it is to become complacent and self-satisfied. And I’m afraid this is what happened to Roger. Roger never had to change much, because he was always dominating and told how complete he was. But we are far past that point where he was once so dominant, and still he finds it difficult to change a single thing. And because of this, he keeps losing to players he once owned, like a dog chasing its own tail. Always the same thing. Wins the first set and then lose it for no apparent reason. Again, this is a lack of flexibility. When Nadal got beaten on faster surfaces he looked at the reason for it, and then he changed. This is why you see that Nadal is also a much more humble person than Roger. Roger has often been labeled as arrogant and self-satisfied on the other hand.
Roger does not want to listen to anyone and he does not want to change. But he finds himself in a dilemma that may force him to change. He has stated over and over again that he wants to play for many more years. He said until after the 2010 Olympics, which means after the age of 31. Can he honestly go on the way he is at the moment for 3-5 more years? Imagine what some of his head-to-heads would look like. Players he once owned would all of a sudden have a respectable head-to-head against him, while others may even get a positive head-to-head over him. Not to mention Nadal who can keep owning Roger in head-to-head meetings. At the moment Roger is still having the odd great performance which allows him to remain in denial. He is even saying that he enjoys his career more than ever. Really, Roger?
Is it really that enjoyable to lose to Del Potro(2), Djokovic, Benneteau, Davydenko(2), Baghdatis, Berdych, Gulbis, Montanes, Nadal, Soderling, and Hewitt since last year September? Since then he has only won one tournament, which happens to be a major. But according to Roger it’s more fun losing to these guys than winning 12 tournaments a year, including three majors. Does that seem strange to you as well? And lets not forget that he lost the number one ranking just 2 weeks shy of having the record all by himself. If Roger does not win Wimbledon, things will only get worse for him. We will see how much he enjoys tennis then. What is it gonna take for him to make some changes? I’m afraid if he wins Wimbledon he will already view this year as a successful year(which for anyone else it would be), and he won’t be inclined to change a thing.
Maybe if he doesn’t win another slam this year, coupled with the fact that he lost the number one ranking, it will finally be enough to make him realize he needs to change something. I’m also not so sure he will ever breaks Sampras’ record if he doesn’t change something, so maybe that was some kind of blessing in disguise that he lost the ranking to Nadal at the French. I think it has become obvious that something has to change if Roger wants to compete for 3-5 more years or even longer. Or else I can’t see him really enjoying the game or avoid doing his legacy damage. He may claim that he is enjoying the game now more than ever, but eventually he must realize that is not the case as he keeps losing. Losing can’t be fun, especially for someone who has dominated as much as Roger has. I’m looking forward to Wimbledon, because whether Roger wins or loses, I’ll be equally satisfied.
May the Fedforce be with you.
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