One Major Advantage Nadal has Over Federer

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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13 Comments

  1. Hy again. Rationally you are right and following the rational logic I should be a total fan of Nadal. Still I don’t like him not even a little bit. Why? Is hard working but his game is based not on beauty, grace and intelligence but on muscles and getting psychical advantage on the opponent not matter what is the way. Postponing the serve as much as he can etc. I don’t admire him running as a hurdler and catching balls that cannot be caught according to the laws of physics just to break his opponents confidence that can hit a winer against Nadal. I can say you are right that he is improving but he is the one that has to do a lot of improve in his game in order to be called he is playing tennis and not baseball. Roger has just to level his game to a position where he is not going to be ashamed. For example those 25 minutes of the last set in Madrid final this year where brilliant. Not enough to win the game but still brilliant. A constant game at a 80 – 90% of this level would have granted the victory. Of course accidents can happen. Such a day that Soderling had in French Open against Roger I think that will guarantee the success against any opponent. The only thing is that this kind of day it is not going to appear again too soon. If ever… I am just hopping that Roger will face Nadal in the final of Wimbledon and will win, not crushing Nadal, but making him questioning his career as Murray did after Australian Open. The king is not dead is just changing his attitude. After all in 2008 he was doing the same thing…

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    jane Reply:

    there are alot of players that has more power than nadal but i dun see them dominating, anyway tennis is not just made up of beautiful strokes, retrieving balls that noone can and creating winners on the run is a great talent,nadal has a great spirit of an athelete not just a tennis player,i actually believe that federer is scared of nadal,he doesnt really have to change much of his game but his mental is weak,,anyway nadal is a fearless guy who fears his own health more than any opponent.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Exactly Jane, you said it. Roger needs to change his mental to be more like Nadal. He needs to be willing to win ugly.

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    Dragos Reply:

    Really? Do you want Roger to win ugly? Come on, be honest with you! Or do you want to say that he needs to wish more the victory? In this case I agree with you.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes Dragos, i want Roger to win ugly. I want him to prove that he is not ‘above’ winning ugly. Its not like i want him to win ugly all the time. Just when it becomes necessary. Nadal wins ugly and he has a 14-7 h2h record against Roger. Its time Roger learned something from someone who owns him in h2h. You do whatever it takes to win. You dont say i am above winning ugly so i keep losing. That is immature.

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    Dragos Reply:

    @Jane. Well, Nadal sure looks like “Tarzan”, Jane :-) . I don’t think that there is a more powerful player in the circuit and when I’m saying this I’m thinking of the total physical involvement, not only to the power of the serve or strokes. I don’t want to admit, but you are probably right that there is something that is giving some emotional extra load to Roger, when he has to play against Nadal. Still, I’m sure that he is not as passive and scared as you think. In a little more than two weeks we will find out who is right or wrong.

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  2. I completely agree with Dragos.Is Roger mental weak? he was in the top for years, he can´t be weak…I can´t stand Nadal and his ugly tennis, face,manners,I´m going to be biased …I don´t like spaniards, I want them to lose badly in the WC,spaniards are arrogant…
    I really need a rest of Nadal, his knees,stupid bottles and sweats.
    Please Ru-an this was such a nice blog, a support one
    make a come back to The Roger Federer mystique,did you read this article?
    Don´t kill me I have a place here as a fedfan
    and that´s what I want,as a fan I have no one site to read only the Rf.com.

    Dislike 1 How is this? is for you…

    [Reply]

    Dragos Reply:

    Thank you for your support. It good to feel that you are not alone. One issue is not quite clear for me. Ines seems to me that is rather a Spanish name… so your statement about Spaniards is quite strange to me. Can you clear this problem for me, please?

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    ines Reply:

    Dillon is from Ireland and Ines is a grecian name “agné” and it means a “pure female”,I´m pure with my feelings and my thougths tha´s why sometimes I´m in trouble.

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    Dragos Reply:

    OK thank you for the information. I am always in trouble despite the fact that I am not at all pure with my feelings and, not to mention, my thoughts.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Ines, i dont think Roger is mentally weak. You are not mentally weak when you have won 16 slams. I just think he is stubborn and unwilling to change when its called for. I dont like what you say about Nadal and Spaniards. You know you are an important part of this blog, but this is not a biased blog. We must respect Nadal for what he has achieved. Roger can learn a lot from him. Also, Roger respects Nadal and they are friends. About the article, i could not find it. If you leave a link i will look at it.

    [Reply]

    ines Reply:

    I don´t say your blog is biased, I´m biased about Nadal and spaniards.I can respect Nadal for what he has achieved but I don´t like him,you have to respect Serena for what she has achieved
    but do you like her? You don´t.This was a relax Roger blog,it´s your blog but always comparing Nadal with Roger…
    Last year you have said Nadal was going to be out of the top ten, in the YEC he didn´t win a set, so please see the whole picture.Sick of reading negatives about Roger´s chances of winning Wimbly for so many journos.I just want to forget all the bad things and be positive.Roger doesn´t get the credit he deserves.

    [Reply]

    marella Reply:

    Roger didn’t win – Nadal did

    [Reply]

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