The Latest on the Federer/Nadal Rivalry

Above you will find a recent article by Peter Bodo, someone who is supposedly a tennis expert. I’ve criticized him once before, and I’m afraid I’m gonna do so again. It just doesn’t seem right to me that someone like him, as is the case with Simon Reed, have such massive exposure, yet they talk so much nonsense. First of all it misinforms people, and secondly it doesn’t reflect well on someone like Roger, who is an extremely special athlete. So I see it as my responsibility, in whichever small way I can, to educate people properly about tennis, but more importantly give credit to Roger where it is due. Because clearly guys like Reed and Bodo does not do that. In his latest article, Homeless Rafa, Peter Bodo makes some inaccurate statements in my opinion, although he does not make it as blatantly obvious as Simon Reed does.

But back to Rafa. One of my big takeaways from the Australian Open and the performance Roger Federer put on was that no matter what he or anyone else said, Rafa was in his head – as deeply embedded as a piece of shrapnel – until the unexpected events of last spring, starting at Madrid. For as Rafa has appeared to become vulnerable and suddenly less than picador perfect, Federer seems to have flourished. It’s almost like the guy can breath deeply and freely again, or like a judge has just thrown out a legal action that had been brought against him. Since Federer won the French Open last June, he’s looked like a man with a new lease on life. Is it coincidence that this occurred at the same time that Rafa hit the first serious roadblocks in his career?

To start off with, this whole paragraph is utter nonsense. Bodo even have the nerve to mention Madrid in this paragraph, as if Roger’s victory against Rafa in Madrid meant nothing whatsoever. Since Bodo finished with a question, let me respond in kind. Is it a coincidence that Rafa hit the first road blocks in his career after losing to Roger in the Madrid final? Up until that point there was no problem whatsoever. Rafa dominated the clay season up until that point probably more so than he has ever done, and even after losing that final, he was still a lock to win the French Open in most people’s books. It would be silly of me not to admit that Rafa had gotten into Roger’s head on many occasions, and I have also admitted this fact on many occasions before. But what happened at Madrid?

Roger threw Rafa off rhythm from the start, thereby getting in Rafa’s head this time around. He also played with a kind of belief that he could beat the Spaniard which I don’t think I have seen from him before. Remember this was on clay, and in front of Rafa’s home crowd. I don’t think these so called experts have much of a clue about tennis to be honest, and that fact has been proved over and over again. Yet some people are too blind and will never see the truth. That win in Madrid was a very significant win. Rafa’s confidence was shaken after that match, and he went on to lose against Soderling in the fourth round of the French Open. Before this upset I said on several occasions that Rafa does not look as confident, and I predicted that Roger would win the title. If you think I’m talking nonsense then go to my blog archive and go see for yourself what I wrote.

The day Federer stepped into the light, thereby initiating the the downfall of his greatest rival.

After that loss against Roger in Madrid, Rafa was starting to look vulnerable, and when he lost to Soderling it was confirmed. Then he started having the injury problems, which you can of course say have nothing to do with Roger. Or does it? Rafa has put an immense amount of effort into chasing down Roger at the top of tennis, and his body has broken down as a result. Roger and Rafa have been pushing each other to greater heights at the top of the game, but guess what? Rafa could not keep up! Not only did his body start breaking down, but he has also started losing to players who seems to be getting the better of him more and more. This is not happening to Roger. So you can see this apparent demise of Rafa has a lot more to do with Roger than Bodo wants to give Roger credit for. In fact Roger started Rafa’s whole decline. After that loss in Madrid Rafa was never the same again.

What does Bodo think would have happened in the slams if Rafa was not ‘injured’ anyway? If he played Wimbledon, in all likelyhood he would not have even made it to the final, after not being able to defend the French Open. At the US Open nothing would have been different either, because he would have been crushed by Del Potro no matter what. And at the Oz Open this year he might well have lost to Murray anyway. In fact he did. He was playing really well in Abu Dhabi and Doha before the Australian Open, so there wasn’t much of an excuse for losing to Murray. He was simply outplayed. Some of the things I’m saying is hypothetical, but I’m trying to show you how ridiculous some of Bodo’s arguments are. He’s making it seem that Roger has been doing so well of late because Rafa was ‘absent’, when in fact Rafa is simply not good enough to play as consistently well as Roger.

That nine-match advantage had enormous repercussions – among them, Federers’s failure to secure a clay-court Grand Slam title until 2009. If tennis history stopped right now, this much could be said: the only man who was able to win a title at Roland Garros during the Nadal era was Federer, but he was only able to do it with Nadal absent from the draw. That was a good effort by Federer. The guy can play on clay, but let’s face it, he’s no Adriano Panatta. You may recall that Panatta was the only man ever to beat Bjorn Borg at Roland Garros, and he did it twice – including a quarterfinal in 1976, after which Panatta went on to take the title. There’s no real or imagined asterisk alongside that one, as there is beside Federer’s Roland Garros triumph.

Here Bodo is as blatantly ridiculous as Reed in fact, when he says that Rafa was not in the French Open draw. He made the fourth round for crying out loud. How exactly was he not in the draw?! Rafa did what he has done on countless other occasions, which is to lose before he could meet Roger. It’s nothing new at all, so why make such a big deal of it on this occasion? So you say; yes but it was on clay. That makes it even worse! Rafa is not even good enough to meet Roger in the final of an event where he has a clear advantage over other players. Just shameful stuff. Yet Roger goes on to make a fourth straight final and wins the title. Again it comes back to consistency. Even though Roger kept running into Rafa in the final of the French, he kept making final after final until finally Rafa wasn’t there.

So if he couldn’t win it by beating a certain player, he did it through consistency. What matters is that he found a way to win it. This brings us to the next point, where you will realize just how much Bodo tries to deceive his audience, and he seems to be succeeding by the amount of readers he gets. Bodo mentions that Roger is no Adriano Panatta. He is totally right when he says that, but for all the wrong reasons. Roger is no Adriano Panatta because Panatta is not even close to the player Roger is. It’s like comparing Roger with Thomas Johansson or someone like that. It’s a complete insult. Yet he has the nerve to insinuate that Panatta is better than Roger at clay court tennis, simply because Panatta had one good season. Here it is, see for yourself:

As you can see, Panatta won the French open once like Roger, but that was the only time he made the final. Roger won the French Open last year, but he also made the final there on three other occasions. So far. Who’s to know how many more times he will win it or make the final. Also Panatta won 8 clay court events, while Roger has already won 9. As you can see, even as a clay court player, Roger is in another class than Panatta. So all of a sudden, after doing just a little of homework, it is clear that Bodo is trying to deceive his writers with false claims. Why does he do it? Who knows. I guess his readers kind of assume that he won’t lie, so they don’t do their homework. Or they just don’t care, which is even worse. The point that I’m trying to make is that Roger is in fact an extremely good clay court player, one of the best ever, and he clearly deserves to have won a French Open title.

In any other era he would have probably won a lot more by now, because remember he also lost to Rafa in the semi’s in 2005. That’s potentially 5 French Open titles he could have had by now. To even mention that Roger won the French Open with Rafa absent from the draw, is not only false, but it also shows that Bodo, supposedly this great tennis writer, can’t appreciate greatness for what it is. Maybe it is because he is American, and doesn’t like to see other countries succeed, but that is of course no excuse. It seems even Simon Reed shows more appreciation for Roger. You just get the feeling that Bodo is trying to get in some low blows, which doesn’t reflect well upon him. If he does not like Roger then why not come out and say it? At least that way I will have some respect for him. But by using his influence as a writer to break down Roger’s achievements and deceiving his writers, I can’t have any respect for the guy.

As far as a writer goes, he has some skill. Much more than I have in fact. But it means nothing if he writes rubbish. I’m not saying everything he writes is rubbish, but as someone who knows something about tennis myself, I am not impressed at all.

To get back to the rivalry, who knows what the future holds. It will depend on Rafa, because Roger is still there right at the top of the game. If Rafa can get it together then the rivalry will continue as before, but that seems unlikely. But the interesting thing is that should Rafa keep moving down in the rankings, as he is currently doing, him and Roger is likely to meet earlier in tournaments. This will play into Roger’s hands, because it will give him a chance to improve his head-to-head with Rafa while Rafa is not at his best. It doesn’t matter how he does it, because as long as he does it the record books will reflect it. It is one of the few things Roger can still improve upon in his career, but if he does not it won’t matter all that much. So as far as the rivalry go, I think it is entering a new phase now, where we will see less finals between the two, but not necessarily less meetings.

And I do think that Roger will improve his head-to-head with Rafa from here on. I don’t think Rafa will get back to the level he was before, while Roger is pretty much still there right at the top. It should be an exciting rivalry for Fedfanatics to look forward to now.

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  1. Thank you so much for writing this. I really do not have time for Bodo’s rubbish. All this talk about ‘Roger won Roland Garros b/c Rafa wasn’t there” is just so…. OUT. As for Simon Reed…. I don’t have time for him either! hahaha! And frankly, don’t care for his ‘apology’. He can continue to idolise Murray as the ‘real no.1’.


    Ru-an Reply:

    Im glad there is someone appreciating this ;-) LongLiveKingRog!


    LongLiveKingRog Reply:

    Got this from gototennis blog. At last, some journalist writing some sense. Have to say, reading rubbish such as Bodo’s really makes me very angry!!!!!


  2. Well..well..well..seems we have another of Mr.Reeds likes here. Why dont these people, for a while, open their eyes wide and just have the courage to take in the truth….”Roger is THE Best” simply doesnt suit with their health it seems!
    Ofcourse there’s no doubt that Rafa is a great player. I do respect his game very much and he’s also my second favourite player BUT roger’s game n his game cannot be compared. Both of them play at diffrent levels. One plays an intelligent game while the other a fast one.
    Also as far as “Roger-won-the-frenchopen-coz-Rafa-wasnt-there” is concerned, nothing could be more rubbish than that…..Roger won the title out of his own caliber. And even if Rafa would have reached the finals And it would have been a Roger-Rafa head to head…i truly dont doubt that Roger would have emerged victorious in that case too.
    Being at the top for so many years now isnt a joke. With so much compition around you, it takes a hell lot out of u to stay at the No.1…..

    Anyways, no matter what we the FedFanatics are always there by Roger against all odds. ALLLEEEZZZ Roger! ;-)


  3. Once again this writer talks down to his readers and insults their intelligence.Really annoying.Why is so hard for some people to accept Roger´s record ?
    Roger in Ethiopia, nice article to comment in Reuters.


  4. “He’s making it seem that Roger has been doing so well of late because Rafa was ‘absent’, when in fact Rafa is simply not good enough to play as consistently well as Roger.”
    True, and that has been the case numerous times. Should we put an asterisk next to every Grand Slam Roger won except Wimbly 06 and 07 just because he didn’t face Rafa in the final?! Bullshit. This guy writes so much nonsense it’s becoming pathetic and laughable. And I don’t even want to discuss the whole Panatta thing, this is just ridiculous. I never take Bodo seriously when he writes about Roger, the guy just can’t say interesting things or write insightful articles. Reminds me of his Wimbledon piece about the ’15 jacket’, it was shameful to write such a long and stupid article about this. I prefer Tignor, he’s much more thoughtful and balanced even though he has less readers (and I think this is no coincidence LOL)


    whynotme Reply:

    HAHAHAHA Just another proof in the podcast that Bodo writes and speaks nonsense :
    They’re discussing Roger’s so-called smugness and his victory at RG until around 9min and Bodo is unable to make any point, it’s hilarious ! Basically he’s saying “all credit to Roger for winning the French when the pressure was as high as I’ve ever seen after Rafa lost to Soderling, but at the same time he didn’t beat Rafa so there’s an asterisk, even though we shouldn’t think that because Rafa was in the draw’ Does that make any sense to you?! Not to me!! What a clown.


    Ru-an Reply:

    Bodo is a tool. Period.


    Ru-an Reply:

    Very good comment. That whole 15 think was so much BS. It just shows how classless this Bodo is. And like you said, i think the better you are the less readers you get, which makes me pretty much the best hahaha.


  5. here’s a very nice article on Federer:

    Federer could have had several French Open titles if it wasn’t for Nadal to be the clay dominator for many years. This is frequently forgotten when comments are made about Federer not being the favorite for Roland Garros and clay not being his strongest surface.

    What was it exactly that allowed Nadal to get so much into Rogers head? And will he be able to do it again if they meet, let’s say in a quarter final in Paris? Or has Federer really got over with his Nadal complex? Hopefully they will meet on court to give a response


  6. Interesting as always.

    You do seem to be doing Rafa a considerable disservice regarding his injuries though. Its clear that some of Federer’s “failures” have been through injury. He lost in the semi’s of the Aussie Open when suffering from mono for example, and subsequently had a back injury that he stated inhibited his movement on the court and I think most observers agree that this was the cause (at least in part) of Roger’s subsequent bad spells. You know all this.

    In this blog though you seem to be claiming that Rafa’s knee problems only came on *after* he lost at Roland Garros to Soderling, when it must be the case that he struggled with his knees for a good while in the run-up to that loss. Rafa hadn’t always looked his usual immense self on clay in the run-up to RG and I think you are under-estimating the impact his knees had on him at the time (and probably for weeks/months previously).

    You tend to be happy to give Roger the benefit of the doubt when it comes to injuries explaining poorer performances (as is right) but much less keen to extend the same courtesy to Rafa.

    Otherwise, I agree with much of your post. There clearly isn’t an asterisk alongside Fed’s name indicating Rafa was absent from RG. And I too suspect that the H2H record between them will close (as it has done between Fed and Murray recently).


    Ru-an Reply:

    Well as i said in the post, Nadal was doing pretty well in the clay season up to the Madrid final, winning everything in sight i think. So its kinda hard to believe it was the injury problem. If there was a problem, id rather think it was the marriage problem of his parents. But yeah i suppose its not impossible. I just get a little tired of Nadal ALWAYS having an injury excuse when he loses. You didnt see Roger do that.


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