I usually only do this after slams, but the fact that Roger beat his nemesis on the way to the title makes Indian Wells worth reviewing. Indian Wells and Miami are like slams in the sense that it is also a 128 draw and it is played over the course of more than a week. But let me get back to the Nadal match. Whenever Roger beats his nemesis it is a special event since it doesn’t happen often. For a Fedfan it doesn’t get much better. It feels good because it is a reminder to Nadal and the critics that Nadal does not own Roger completely. Roger have gotten some key victories over Nadal in the past which can’t be overlooked. Off of clay, Roger leads Nadal 8-6, while Nadal leads the head-to-head on clay 12-2. Those are pretty telling stats.
In slams it’s 3-2 in Nadal’s favor off of clay, but again they have met five times on clay in slams, making the overall head-to-head 8-2 in Nadal’s favor. Clay plays a huge role in this rivalry, with exactly half of the matches having been played on clay now. And Nadal is a clay court specialist after all. So it is only natural that he should lead the head-to-head. Having said that, we all know this rivalry is about more than just surfaces. Even when Roger beats Nadal, you still get the feeling it was a very close match, and Nadal could have easily come back int the match(with some exceptions, including all the indoor matches). If you look at their match in Indian Wells it could have gone either way. The point at 6-3, 5-4, and 30-30 was the key.
Nadal had gotten one break back after trailing 2-5 and was closing in on Roger. Roger had one more chance to hold his serve for victory, but Nadal knew the pressure was increasing on Roger. And just to remind him of all the past failures he took a bathroom break right before Roger had to serve for the match. Roger was clearly feeling the pressure as he kept missing first serves. At 30-30 Nadal was playing attacking tennis as he does when there is a big point. Roger was desperately defending and then Nadal missed an inside out forehand in the net. If he made that shot I think he would have won the point and the match. Then came the short rain break which seemed to give Roger a chance to settle down a bit, and when he came back he served a clutch ace to finish the job.
Today I read on a forum someone saying that the point at 30-30 may have been a turning point in the Fedal rivalry. As far as I am concerned there is no reason to believe so. I didn’t want to spoil your party during Indian Wells, but it is time to get some perspective. If Roger held serve at 5-2 in the second set then I may have agreed that we reached a turning point. But like I said this match could have gone either way. If Nadal won that point at 30-30 he could easily have broken and then he would have won the match 99% certain. I think the rain break also helped Roger before that last point. He seemed very nervous throughout that last game and the rain break just allowed him to gather himself and do what was needed to win the match.
If he didn’t serve an ace Nadal would still have had a very good chance to win the point and even the match. It is all just too close for comfort, which is why this match doesn’t carry any special significance to me(other than the fact that Roger won). We have seen Roger beat Nadal in best of three sets before. Should we be content with the way the rivalry is going? As a Fedfan I am greedy. I always want more and better. As far as Roger’s form goes this year and his career in general I am content, but as far as the Fedal rivalry goes I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking for better. Or do we just accept that Nadal is a scumbag and leave it at that? I have to say I was pretty disgusted by the bathroom break Nadal took before the last game.
It was just terrible sportsmanship, and reminded us of what Nadal is all about. For Nadal it is all about winning, and the means always justifies the end. That is why it is also easy to believe that he is doping. The Fedal rivalry is something very complex. It goes further than just tennis. It is also about moral values and integrity, which Nadal have none of. At least not as a tennis player. For Nadal winning is everything, and morals mean nothing. Gamesmanship is not against the rules, but we see Nadal break the rules all the time anyway. He receives coaching on court and consistently takes more time between points than allowed. He is also a false person. He creates a public image of humbleness which is utterly fake.
The true Nadal would step over anyone and anything to get what he wants. He epitomizes everything that is wrong with the world, which is selfishness and greed. For this reason I have never and will never warm to Nadal. I respect some of his fighting qualities but I will never like him. I also can’t stand falseness. I would rather someone be honest and be labelled arrogant for it, rather than being fake and labelled humble for it. It’s an easy choice, and for anyone with any moral values it would be an easy choice too. This rivalry is certainly more than a tennis rivalry. It is a moral rivalry. I think Roger is ok with taking some key losses to his main rivalry for the sake of integrity. To beat Nadal he has to become like Nadal, and he refuses to do so.
I have said before that as a tennis player I always became involved in gamesmanship as soon as my opponent started it, but that is the cowardly way out because it makes you no better than them. You sink to their level instead of retaining the moral higher ground and being strong. Roger has the integrity and strength of character not to sink to the levels of Nadal, even if it means he has to take some heart-breaking losses in the process. This is what makes him a true hero, and not the amount of titles he has won or records he has broken. Whatever happens on the tennis court, Nadal will always be a boy and Roger a man. Roger has moved past the narrow confines of his personal ego and realized that life is about more than the ego’s greedy needs. Roger is more than a tennis great.
He is a truly great man, and I am humbled to be a fan of his.