What Does the Future Hold for Nadal?

Thanks for all your comments on my previous post. I really enjoyed reading how you became Fedfans and I hope to see more comments soon. In this post I want to look at Nadal’s future in tennis. Can he still beat Roger’s slam record? Can he figure out how to beat Djokovic again? These are some of the questions I want to explore in this post. At age 25 Nadal has now been a professional for ten years, after having turned pro in 2001. That is a long time in the game for someone who has a taxing game style like him. Never in the history of the sport have we seen someone expend so much energy on a tennis court. It is just unreal how year after year he keeps grinding down opponents and play the most grueling physical matches. In 2009 he went through a slump after losing to Roger in the Madrid finals.

He was really struggling and it looked like his taxing game style had finally caught up with him, the same way it did with the likes of Courier, Chang, and Hewitt. At this point he had won six slams, and personally I started writing him off. It just seemed probable that he was starting to burn out. I mean he had lost his Roland Garros crown and started losing all over the place after that. But of course he was far from done, as his best year was still ahead of him in 2010. Roger was struggling and Djokovic had not found his best level yet. So there wasn’t much competition for Nadal on his way to completing the career slam at the 2010 US Open. I never thought with his one dimensional game he would be able to complete the career slam, but he made it look easy. He was now on nine slams and it didn’t look like anyone would be able to stop him for some time to come.

He was also starting to close in on Roger’s slam record. At the start of 2011 he had an opportunity to win four slams in a row, something even Roger has never been able to do. But thankfully he lost to Ferrer in the quarters of the Oz Open. Somehow I felt that winning four slams in a row would be a tall order for him, and I was relieved to see that my gut feel turned out to be right. Djokovic won in Australia and was starting to make some waves. In Indian Wells and Miami Nadal was still in top form, making the final of both and only losing out to Djokovic on both occasions. It was two telling losses but no one actually believed that Djokovic would threaten Nadal on his favorite clay. When Djokovic beat Nadal in the final of Madrid it was not that big a surprise, since he played Nadal close there in 2009 at the high altitude.

But no one really thought he could beat Nadal on Rome’s slow clay. Djokovic however surprised everyone as he beat Nadal in straight sets. It now seemed there was a good possibility that Djokovic could dethrone Nadal in Paris. But is was not be, as Roger defeated Djokovic in an epic semi-final and thereby saving Nadal. Nadal went on to win his tenth major over a player he is used to beating in slam finals. Things worked out well for him and he went into the grass court season with loads of confidence. He was probably the favorite to win Wimbledon, but got denied in a fifth consecutive final by that man Djokovic. It was a crushing defeat, and as the US hard court season got under way it seemed like his confidence had taken a hit. Yet when the US Open rolled around he almost miraculously made the final again, destroying all opposition in his path.

But once again he would be denied by Djokovic in a brutal four set encounter. This means Djokovic cost Nadal two slams and four Masters Series titles in 2011 so far. Nadal has met his match. I mean he was still playing very well, beating everyone else on tour with ease. It hasn’t been a case of Nadal’s level dropping, but rather the fact that Djokovic 2.0 is so good and at the same time a bad match up for him. Aside from the early rounds of the French Open and the beginning of the US hard court season it did not look like the losses to Djokovic messed up his confidence much. Will it happen now that he lost to Djokovic in yet another slam final? I won’t bet on it. Having said that, the indoor season is coming up and it is Nadal’s worst part of the season. So it will be interesting to see how he fares.

Anyway I think he will try to finish this year strongly and then prepare for 2012 as hard as ever. Nadal won’t lie down that is for sure. It is just not in his mental make up to give up. He is at his best when people start writing him off. I have learned this the hard way. Whenever I have written him off he found ways to reinvent himself and come back stronger than ever. Having said that, he now faces a bigger challenge than he has ever faced before. Djokovic has properly owned him in 2011. In six matches he hasn’t made any headway in finding a way to beat Djokovic. In the US Open final, after losing the first two sets, it looked like he was trying to be more aggressive. This pay some dividends as he won the third set, but not after having expended so much energy that he had nothing left in the tank for the fourth set.

Not even an injury could stop Djokovic from serving Nadal a bread stick in the fourth. Nadal had given absolutely everything in that match, but was still found wanting by a large margin. As much as I respect Nadal’s ability to adapt, I feel like beating Djokovic is a huge problem for him. It just isn’t a good match up for him. Djokovic’s defense is on par with Nadal these days, and he doesn’t get tired anymore either. Nadal’s usual tactic of pounding the right hander’s backhand into submission with his forehand is completely futile against Djokovic. Djokovic has the best backhand in the business and his defense off that side is out of this world as well. Neither pace, spin, nor angle bothers him on that side. His backhand is indestructible. So this pretty much takes away Nadal’s A game and main strength.

How do you beat Djokovic 2.0? The only person who have beaten Djokovic in 2011 is the GOAT himself, and he did so in masterful fashion. To beat Djokovic you must have excellent variation, the ability to play first strike tennis, and a very competent net game. Roger uses his backhand slice to great effect against Djokovic. He used his slice to keep Djokovic off balance, and if he gets a short ball he rips his forehand for a winner or follows it to the net. You can’t give Djokovic a chance to settle into a rhythm from the back of the court. You have keep him guessing and use calculated risk. Can Nadal do this? I don’t see how. He doesn’t have a good enough serve to help him get through his service games with ease or to save him when in trouble. He doesn’t have a great slice to keep Djokovic off balance.

He doesn’t have good enough volleys to take Djokovic on at the net. He is not good at playing first strike tennis either. His strokes are loopy and he prefers playing defensive instead of attacking tennis. He is not comfortable playing first strike tennis. You can see for yourself that Djokovic is the worst possible match up for Nadal, just like Nadal is the the worst possible match up for Roger. If anyone can solve this riddle it is probably Nadal, but how exactly is he going to do it? Nadal will never have Roger’s serve, slice, volleys, or ability to play first strike tennis. You can’t change that much as a player, especially not at this stage of his career. He has already improved his backhand, his serve, and his volleys. He has pretty much maximized everything he has at his disposal. He doesn’t have the ability to change much more.

He is simply not as talented as Roger. This is the problem for Nadal. He is ultimately a one dimensional player. You are only gifted with a certain amount of talent, and once you maximized it that is it. Nadal doesn’t have unlimited talent like Roger. This is why I believe Roger is the true GOAT. Roger can adapt to all surfaces and conditions. He would have been dominant in any era. Sampras played in an era when the conditions were fast which suited his serve-and-volley game perfectly. Sampras was one dimensional himself. He could not adapt to slow surfaces, as evidenced by the fact that he could never win the French Open. Sampras would have struggled a lot more in the current era where surfaces have been slowed down so much, and volleying has become much more difficult due to the pace with which the players hit the ball these days.

Now lets do the same for Nadal and put him in Sampras’ era where conditions were a lot faster than these days and racquet and strings have not evolved so far as it has today. Nadal would have found it very hard to win on the fast, low-bouncing grass of Wimbledon and the fast US Open courts. I seriously doubt he would have won the career slam. Racquet and string technology has also allowed him to hit the ball with unreal amounts of power and spin. I think it is safe to say that Nadal would have had a harder time of it in the 90’s. Roger on the other hand could adapt to both eras without a shadow of a doubt. He likes slow clay and would have been able to win the French Open in the 90’s. It is also obvious that he would have dominated the low-bouncing grass of the 90’s as evidenced by the fact that he beat the king of grass at the 2001 Wimbledon when the grass was still low-bouncing.

Roger may have been even more dominant on the 90’s grass, because I don’t see him losing to the likes of Nadal on that surface. The point is that Roger can adapt to either slow or fast conditions. He is a multi-dimensional player. He can play from the back or he can serve-and-volley. He is a naturally attacking player but his defense is superb as well. He is just the complete tennis player. This is where I believe Nadal falls short in the GOAT equation. I think he is about on Sampras’ level. Close to Roger but not quite there. Roger just have that edge which makes him the prime candidate for GOAT. So in the end I think Nadal won’t quite have the tools to deal with Djokovic in the future. The match up is just very bad for him and we have seen that match up can be too difficult to overcome even for someone as talented as Roger.

This doesn’t mean Djokovic can afford to slack. I have seen some things in the US Open final which he can improve upon against Nadal. For instance he often has Nadal on the run way behind the base line, but instead of coming in and putting away the easy volley, he hangs back and allows Nadal more chances to get back in the rally. Also in the third set I felt he was not being aggressive enough. He could have been more dominant with his ground strokes. If Djokovic works at these things Nadal will find him even harder to beat. My guess is that Nadal will work as hard as ever in the off season and try to come up with a solution in 2012. That won’t guarantee him any success against Djokovic though. If Djokovic maintains his 2011 level I think Nadal will continue to get owned. And of course that makes tennis interesting for me.

Next year is a big year for Nadal if he wants to remain in the run for GOAT status. He is currently 25, and history has shown that after 26 it becomes very hard to win slams. History has also shown that after 600 matches a player starts to decline. And given that Nadal has the most taxing game style in the history of the sport, you would certainly expect that he will not be exempt from these historical facts. Nadal already passed 600 matches this year. How much longer can he keep up this grueling grind? Like I said, I think 2012 will be big for him. He has already passed 600 matches and is turning 26 in June next year. I think he needs to win at least two slams to stay on track for beating Roger’s record. But that means he needs at least four more slams after turning 26 just to equal Roger’s record. It would defy logic if he is able to win 4-5 more slams after the age of 26 with the miles he has on his body.

So actually he needs to win three slams next year. I just find it hard to see that happening. He is still only losing to Djokovic at this point, but it must take a mental toll on him to keep losing to Djokovic and not making any headway in beating him. There are also new players coming up who are starting to threaten in slams. Guys like Tsonga and Del Potro have both destroyed Nadal in slams and they will for sure be a force to be reckoned with in 2012. Hell, even Murray could threaten Nadal in 2012. You know I don’t have much faith in Murray, but he has had a very consistent year in the slams in 2011 and will be looking to make his mark at slams again in 2012. No slam is a guaranteed title for Nadal anymore. Djokovic has shown that he can easily beat Nadal on clay, and Roland Garros is not a lock for Nadal anymore.

He got lucky this year when Roger took care of Djokovic for him, or he might well have found himself dethroned in Paris and wiining no slams. The French Open is the slam that is missing for Djokovic before he can complete the career slam, so I think he will target it next year. If he dethrones Nadal there it will be a big blow to him. The ownage of Djokovic over him would be utterly complete. There would be nowhere left for him to hide, and I for one would love that to happen. If that happens Nadal may win no slams in 2012. But for now Nadal is still a threat at all the slams. Realistically I think he still has a chance to win the French, and then he could possibly win Wimbledon too. So I think at most he can win two slams. Anything more than that would be a big surprise. But I also think he can end up winning no slams if Djokovic beats him in Paris.

Roger won five slams after he turned 26, but given the vast difference between the playing styles of him and Nadal, and the fact that Nadal peaked way earlier, you would not expect Nadal to come close to that. Nadal has to win six slams just to equal Roger from next year on, and logically that just wouldn’t make sense. If Nadal keeps winning slams after he turns 26 then something is very weird. I mean you just can’t keep defying logic without creating suspicion, especially in a sport where the doping regulations leaves a lot to be desired. Logic tells me that next year will be the year where Nadal starts declining. he hasn’t shown any signs of decline this year yet, only losing to Djokovic when it mattered. I know it is not wise to count Nadal out, but if he reinvents himself somehow again next year and wins 2-3 slams I’m going to start getting suspicious.

I think he could still win the French next year and possibly one more slam. But he needs more than that to stay on course for Roger’s slam record. And if he wins three slams next year I’m gonna start getting very suspicious. Here is an interesting piece of information for you: In 1981 Borg lost to Mcenroe in four sets in the Wimbledon final as well as in four sets in the US Open final, after which he retired at the age of 26. You can see the similarities between his 1981 season and Nadal’s 2011 season. They both play a similar game style as well. I don’t see Nadal retiring next year though. I think he will give it one more big push, and 2012 will be a crucial season for him. To remain in the hunt for GOAT status he must win at least two slams. If he wins only the French it won’t be enough. He will start declining after 26 and he may not win another slam, which would leave him on 11 slams.

If he wins two slams next year he could still reach something like 14 slams and tie Sampras. If he wins three slams then he would still be in the hunt to become the GOAT, but something would be rotten in the state of Denmark. And if he wins four slams then he will be the GOAT, but then we can pretty much assume that he is doping. So in the end I predict that Nadal will win 1-2 slams next year. If he win two slams however it means Djokovic could win a maximum of two as well, and that would mean we would have no new slam winners next year. That is possible, but I feel like Roger, Del Potro, Tsonga, and Murray will all be pushing hard for a slam too. I feel it is more likely that one of those players will win a slam, that Djokovic will win two slams, and that Nadal will win one slam. I also feel like it is more like that Djokovic will win three slams and Nadal one, rather than them splitting slams.

So I think it is more likely that Nadal will win one slam rather than two. And in the long run I think he will not be able to challenge Roger’s record. All logic points to that, but then again Nadal’s career has never made much logical sense….

How many slams will Nadal win in 2012?

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Roger Federer


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63 Comments

  1. Well put ruan…enjoyed this detailed analysis and specially the last line of the post :-P
    Keep it coming as we have to wait for one month to see roger back in action…

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  2. You might not realize it but you sound scared. You’re afraid that Nadal is going to catch Federer.
    I don’t see how Nadal winning Slams is a proof of doping. I don’t know why Borg retired but according to his Wiki page his body was fine. It wasn’t a case of burnout. Maybe he lacked motivation, maybe he couldn’t accept losing to McEnroe. Different times…
    If Nadal meets Federer in Slam finals it’s only natural that he will win. If Djokovic gets off of this ridiculous level, who’s going to beat Nadal? I could even see him winning all 4 Grand Slams next year.
    Jimmy Connors played at a high level until almost 40. He even played a Slam semifinal at 39 and many people compare him to Nadal when it comes to motivation and will power. Do you think anyone will be surprised if Nadal wins Slams at 26? LOL.
    I think he’s going to play until 30.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    In a sense I am scared that Nadal will overtake Roger. But I also realize that it is not JUST about slams. Laver only won 11 slams but he is the GOAT in many people’s eyes. It is also about the completeness of a player. Roger is the most complete player in the history of the game, while Nadal has certain limitations. He is ultimately one dimensional as I explained in my post. He is more of a defensive player than an attacking one, while Roger can do both attack and defense very well. He would not have had the same success in the 90’s while Roger would have, if not more. You are right that Borg didn’t burn out physically, but did he burn out mentally? If that is the case then it is still burnout. Connors is a different case because he wasn’t nearly as physical as Nadal and played in a much different era. Since when does players play until 39 these days? Agassi came the closest in recent times when he could hardly walk at age 36. He was an exception though because he didn’t have the same mileage Nadal had on his body, having had long periods in his career when he didn’t give a crap about tennis. Also he had a much less taxing game style than Nadal.
    Now lets look at recent players who had taxing game styles. Courier, Hewitt, and Chang was all way past their best at 26. They just couldn’t keep up that weekly grind of a counter puncher. The game is now even more brutal than it ever was. So logically and historically Nadal should start decline soon. It is just that simple. If he does not then something is weird, especially with all the doping suspicions surrounding him. He cannot keep defying logic forever. He is not superman after all. You can see Nadal winning all 4 slams next year? Well I guess that says it all…

    Ps.If Djokovic gets off of this ridiculous level,’ Are you at least on your knees when you pray this hard?

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    TENNISLOV3R Reply:

    Nadal isn’t as fast as he was in 2007-2008 (if you watch some old videos and see how he used to move the difference is pretty obvious) nor he can defend as well as he used to do back then. I don’t see him winning Slams playing like that, which is why he tried to improve other aspects of his game (like the serve). Maybe those players started losing because other better players came along, players who had more weapons. I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Dimitrov, Young, Tomic… they are good young players but the difference between the 3-4 players from the top and the rest has become huge. I’ve watched the Davis Cup match between Nadal and Tsonga and it was pretty telling. Nadal didn’t even have to sweat. Federer can reach the final stages of all the Slams and he doesn’t even have to play his best. The same can be said for Nadal. What does that say about the rest of the players? You can decline and you can still win Slams. I think we can all agree that Federer has started to decline in 2008 yet that didn’t stop him from winning some more Slams. This year at RG he played as well as ever and if he would have met someone else in the final he probably would have won. He was so close of reaching another GS final at the US Open. Nadal losing 6 finals to Djokovic is a sign of decline. Just not a radical one.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I don’t think the losses to Djokovic was a sign of decline. Djokovic was just too good. Is is that simple. And Djokovic is not going anywhere anytime soon. He has just reached his peak and is looking to carve out his own place in history as an all time great. Nadal fans keep praying that Djokovic can’t keep up his level for a while now, but it never happened. This is just peak Djokovic and he is here to stay. You can’t use Roger as an example either as his peak started later than Nadal and he has a much less taxing game style.

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    TENNISLOV3R Reply:

    Not necessarily the fact that he lost but the way he played. For the first time in his career he was taken to 5 sets at RG. Lorenzi pushed him to 3 sets in Rome. That shows a decline and I think the clay will be the surface where he’s going to feel it the most. If he can serve better he will have better chances at the other Slams. That’s my opinion. I think Federer’s game declined the most on grass even though people consider that grass is much better suited for him compared to clay. I don’t know what’s going to happen to Djokovic but I do know that he can’t win all the Slams. I also know that Nadal isn’t obsessed with results and even if he loses 10 straight times to Djokovic, I still expect him to be there fighting. I’ve read his book and he said 2 things:
    1. that he will consider himself very lucky if he can play until 30.
    2. that he will be terribly sad when he will have to stop playing tennis.
    This shows he’s got great motivation and he enjoys what he’s doing.

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    steve Reply:

    Nadal is not in decline. So far this year he’s reached the final of every tournament he won in 2010. Between AO and Queens, he didn’t lose to anyone but Djokovic. He’s won every final he played except when he ran into Djokovic.

    If not for Djokovic he’d have defended all his Grand Slam titles and swept the clay season, just as he did last year. Plus he would have won IW/Miami, making his 2011 a better season than his 2010.

    No, there’s no decline. Djokovic has just leapfrogged him. As I said, Djokovic has relegated Nadal to the same position he occupied in 2006-07: a clay-court specialist, playing second fiddle to a more dominant #1 who won on all surfaces.

    It took much longer for Nadal to pass Federer; nearly three years. Djokovic has zoomed past Nadal in eight months.

    As for Nadal’s supposed weakness in the early rounds of tournaments, it’s happened many times in past years and never meant much of anything.

    After having such a tough time against Isner, Nadal became a beast by the quarterfinals, and dismantled Soderling and Murray–both top ten players–without the loss of a set. Federer did exceptionally well to get a set off him.

    This is a pattern that happens over and over again: Nadal comes into a tournament looking ragged and slow in the early rounds. He can’t get to as many balls, and his shots fall short and are easily attacked.

    Then within days he suddenly gains speed and strength, until by the quarters he’s once again a beast, able to cover every inch of court and pummel forehands from ten feet behind the baseline, and he destroys the top players after having nearly been blown off the court against journeymen.

    This happened in 2010, notably at Wimbledon when he looked very beatable against Hasse and Petzchner, when he was twice forced to five sets. He claimed it was a flareup of the same knee tendinitis that had struck him in 2009.

    After a week of strenuous running on said crocked knees, facing tougher and tougher opponents, he suddenly became invincible and destroyed three top opponents–Soderling, Murray, and Berdych–with the loss of only one set. Amazing how he can heal so quickly while aggravating his injury by doing so much running!

    Every time Nadal looks shaky in the early rounds, his fans all get very upset and concerned that he’s gravely injured, that his career is nearly over, that he’ll lose early. Of course, none of this happens.

    Then in the later rounds, when he suddenly becomes Superman and annihilates the top players, they collectively forget about his “injury” and never say another word about it. It’s like instant amnesia.

    Nadal’s game depends almost exclusively on his inhuman stamina, strength, and footspeed. If he lacked even a little in those departments, he would not be top ten. He would not be winning titles on all surfaces, and his career would be over by this point because he wouldn’t physically be able to keep up.

    Djokovic was always more skilled than Nadal; he was a better shotmaker and had cleaner groundstrokes. Djokovic 1.0 was able to win a Grand Slam and be at #3 in the world. His base level was much higher than Nadal’s.

    But he never had enough stamina to outlast Nadal in the best of five, so Nadal always ground him down.

    Now that he can last as long as Nadal in the rallies, he is beating Nadal consistently because he can hit more winners. That’s all there is to it.

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    Manu Reply:

    Nadal is not at all declining. But Djoker 2.0 has proved that when you don’t have weaknesses, Nadal simply can’t win. He is not the player who channels his strengths. Nadal always depends on weaknesses from the opponents. This works most of the time, but not when a player is in the zone.
    To beat Djokovic 2.0, you have to have the talent in varying things. Roger did this in the French and you could see Djoker’s body language- he just didn’t look as if HE could beat Federer.
    Nadal may probably come back again. If he doesn’t, Roger may have a revival, as he is the only one who can beat Novak.
    Ps. Murray said he’s gunning for Roger. I expect him to faint out of pressure the day before he comes to succeeding :-)

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    steve Reply:

    LOLs. Murray always talks a lot about his ambitions. But the truth is on the court.

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    David C. Reply:

    I agree that Nadal can still win slams, but there is a difference between keep playing and winning majors. While it is possible for Rafa to play until he is 30, I don’t see him playing at the level a la Connors at that age. As for your statement “If Nadal meets Federer in Slam finals it’s only natural that he will win”, I must say I disagree. Outside of Roland Garros, Roger’s chance is still pretty good. Even at FO, Roger has a fighting chance, as seen by this year’s result.

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  3. Great analysis, 2012 is indeed key for Nadal. It seems that Djoker will continue to take 3 GS and Nadal taking the balance. Where does that leave Roger, will he ever win agian at Wimbledon again after 2 straight quarters showing. I still want to believe he can win at 1 GS next year.

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  4. Good post man, I’m going to be bold and say 2012 will be Slamless for Nadal. I predict an injury on the US hard court swing after Aus, followed by a loss to Belluci at the French. You heard it here first!

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    Manu Reply:

    Good prediction, but you forgot to mention that in his presser Nadal will say he was injured and couldn’t play his best games. And then all his fans, the media and fools will fall for his trick again, no?

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  5. Great post, Ru-an, you’re on a roll.

    You’re spot-on in pointing out Federer’s versatility.

    Federer has spoken of how he idolized Becker, Edberg, and Sampras growing up, and as a young man imitated their net-rushing, attacking style; as a serve and volleyer, he was good enough to topple the great Sampras on the Wimbledon grass. So why did he abandon this style which he enjoyed so much, and which he was very good at?

    The answer is almost surely this: as surfaces became slower, the serve-and-volley style became less and less effective. Rallies became longer, and with modern rackets, it became easier to stay back and pass opponents at the net. Serve and volleyers became nearly extinct, aside from a few exceptions such as Llodra and Stepanek. Sampras was the last great serve-and-volley player, and I suspect the biggest reason he lasted as long as he did was his powerful serve, which is still unequaled.

    So Federer adapted to the trend, put away his net-rushing skills, and concentrated on his baseline game. Although this ran counter to his natural instincts, he nonetheless became good enough as a baseliner to dominate tennis in a way unimaginable before him.

    For a long time in his early career he lost to players like Hewitt and Nalbandian: baseliners with phenomenal consistency and court coverage. He was trying to rush the net against them and they passed him constantly. Only when he had become more capable from the back court could he reverse the trend and beat them. This process took a couple of years: it was the period between 2001 and 2003.

    It’s truly remarkable that he could accomplish so much playing in a fashion which repressed his natural tendencies. Most players have trouble enough winning even after they develop the style that’s most natural for them; Federer is so good that he could take up a style that was not his natural preference and raise it to a level of mastery that could only be surpassed by the rise of super-athletes with unlimited stamina and power who can run down every ball and hammer heavy groundstrokes for hours.

    Because he came of age in the baseline era, he became known as a baseliner, but had the courts stayed as fast as they were in the 90s, Federer might well be known today as one of the all-time great serve and volley players, carrying on in the tradition of Becker, Edberg, and Sampras. He would have adapted his game to those circumstances. If he’d played in the era of Laver and Rosewall, he’d have adapted to those circumstances too.

    Nadal was a baseliner yesterday, he’s a baseliner today, and he’ll be a baseliner tomorrow; same goes for Djokovic or Murray or Del Potro. I can’t imagine any of them ever having tried to seriously develop a serve and volley game in their youth. Let alone being good enough at it to beat Sampras on his beloved Wimbledon grass.

    But only Federer is so phenomenally versatile that he could start his career as a very good serve and volleyer, and then become a great baseliner when circumstances demanded it. I think this incredible variety will allow him to go where no man has gone before and have a dominant later career.

    It will be harder than before because for the first time, he is having to buck the trend rather than swim with the tide. He must devise ways of shortening points and coming forward in an game that now favors long rallies and passing shots. And he is getting older and has a family now.

    But I think we will see a Second Age of Federer, probably not as overwhelmingly dominant as the first, but still he will be able to win majors and go deep enough in enough tournaments to take the #1 spot.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Steve, quality comment as usual.

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  6. I just want to say one thing about Federer that will always be true:

    “Often imitated, but never duplicated.”

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    veronica Reply:

    So true, Manu, love the phrase. Love your comments too, Steve. And Ru-an, yeah, you are on a roll, man (is this the Fed 2003-2007 equivalent for you as a writer? – rolling out winning posts?! Agree on your analysis and particularly agree on your last comment; after everything is said and done, you just can’t tell about Nadal. He might be another freak like Roger but in a physical way. I wouldn’t be surprised now if he plays until he’s 28-30. But I think after the end of next year will tell a lot what the future will be like for the top 3. I predict Nole will continue to dominate, Nadal will come back stronger and even more determined although he may not be able to find the answer to the Djoker puzzle (but he might be bogged down with injuries half the year) and Roger would be more and more picky on what tournaments he wants to play. And Murray, I believe he will finally break through next year. But what’s most important now for Roger is to defend his WTF title. If he can do that, it would give him and us fans a lot of confidence going into next year. Looking forward to other posts you have for us, Ru-an!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Haha thanks Veronica. I attribute my new inspiration in writing to you guys. Your comments inspire me to write more quality and quantity ;-) I must say I am also very impressed with you. I am impressed with your tennis knowledge, as well as you as a human being. You don’t comment often but when you do it’s an inspiration to read and you seem to know exactly what is going on around here. I agree pretty much with everything you say. You could be right about Nadal as well. He could be a physical and mental freak like Roger is a talent freak. Do you think I should not speculate about the doping at all? It’s just hard not to, given that the doping regulations are so crap and the fact that Nadal seems to be superman. But I guess like you say, he could just be a natural freak.

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  7. I’ve read your blog before and enjoy it! I’ve been reading a lot on the web about doping and tennis. I’m sad because I think it is quite widespread I think without a doubt that nadal has been doping for a long time. He sees the same Doc that Spanish cyclists and Contredor have seen. His continuous horrific injuries give him time to get an exemption for specific “medical” treatments which oxygenate his blood and can cover his PED’s I have zero doubt that Djokovic is doping– it’s simply impossible to be unable to make it thru tough three setters and. MAGICALLY come out this year beating everyone and having no fatigue asthma and all his other injuries etc
    I am a big tennis fan but with a lot of very specific research it is clear to me that they are doping along with many others.
    Players who’ve retired have spoken of it in European newspapers and much has been written.
    I don’t yet believe Fed is — I really really hope not! At this time I hope some players like Roger can play in slams without facing dopers.
    Thanks for your blog. People might want to check out the blog TENNIS HAS A STEROID PROBLEM Again thanks for your blog and your thoughtful insights!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Amanda ;-)

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  8. Nice one deleting my posts ruan. Sorry if you can’t handle the heat. I was just stating my opinions on Roger and tennis and nothing else. Anyway Amanda why wouldn’t Roger be on steroids then, how are rafa and nole different.Personally, I don’t believe Roger or nole, rafa are on roids. Silly talk no doubt and That site says stosurs on roids, pfft give me a break.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Saying Nadal has better volleys than Roger and Nadal has more class than Roger is patently false and therefor your comments didn’t deserve to be approved. I will give you one more chance to redeem yourself.

    Ps. Sampras with his cold handshakes didn’t have much class either, not to mention losing to Rafter and acting like a spoiled brat.

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  9. Fine. But, I disagree with you about The Pete and Pat handshakes, but your entitled to your opinion. Just like I think I am when I honestly say nadal has better volleys than Roger. Sampras obviously had better volleys than RN and RF, but I have to admit that rafter probably had better volleys than Pete and a better technique. I’m not blind and can even admit if someone is better at this or that. Rafa has better feel at the net and anticapation than rog, but anyway rafa is known to be a very good doubles player so it’s no suprise he’s a good volleyer. But don’t think I’m trying to say he’s the best ever or some bull crap like that. All I’m saying is that comparing both players rafa has the better volleys but the guys no jmac, roche or edberg. I look forward to hearing your response.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Ok first of all I know Sampras very well cos I used to be a fan. He always gave cold handshakes, and couldn’t stand losing to Rafter, who was one of the nicest guys in the sport. Like I said, the statement that Nadal has better volleys than Roger is patently false. I mean it’s not even close. Mcenroe is the ultimate bandwangoner and is known for making clownish statements, so I’m not surprised at all that he said that. Better feel and anticipation at the net? Gimme a break. Nadal is not a natural volleyer while Roger is. Can you imagine Nadal s and v like Roger did when he beat Sampras at Wimby? Lmao!

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  10. S and V isn’t as natural to Roger as you think. Fred stolle has said even when he was younger when working with Peter Carter and when he was winning slams Roger has always been afraid to come to the net, because he lacks the confidence in his volleys. He has doubts about his volleys. So what sometimes you get lucky and that’s what happened against Pete that day. Of course nadal could serve and volley. He wouldn’t beat Pete at Wimbledon doing that unless he got lucky like rog did. But in nadals first Wimbledon in 03 he served and volleyed a little. Back then his volleys weren’t that gr8, but over the years they’ve improved out of sight. Hell I remember in 04 Miami when rafa beat roger and he out volleyed him and as you would know hit Roger off the court. On to Pat, who doesn’t like him, I do and think he was a gr8 player and Pete did say they resolved their differences and phoned each other to sort any bad blood out.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Sorry but you are clueless. It’s just that simple.

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    Pete Reply:

    Agree with Ru-an,you don’t know what you talking about,Roger is in another level S and V wise,big time

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    David C. Reply:

    While it is true that Roger himself has said in the past that he wished he could have improved his volleys more (see his Charlie Rose interview in 2007), we must not forget that he did win his first Wimbledon playing the serve and volley style by coming to the net a great majority of times, if not all the time. Nadal has improved his overall volleying skills, but I am not sure if he could win a major playing the way Roger did back in 03 Wimbeldon.

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    David C. Reply:

    I meant to say Roger coming to the net a great majority of times, if not all the time on his first serve. If I remember correctly, he stayed back more on his second serve back in 03 Wimbledon.

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  11. Good post Ruan. Enjoy reading comments from Steve.Ruan! You seem to be too much obsessed by Nadal and the possibility of his winning GS totals that equal or better Federer.I think you have put nicely why Federer is an overall better player than Nadal and why worry whether Nadal wins 6 or more GS titles in his remaining years. Even now we know that he has resorted to all kinds of on-court coaching, gamesmanship, all kinds of tricks to change the momentum of matches and what not to get the win. Federer has never done that and still has the best records. He is by far a better player than Nadal as far as I am concerned.Only the number of GS titles is not the criteria of GOAT. If GOAT would be decided by GS alone why would we be talking so much of Laver? How can Nadal be GOAT when he has not yet won a single title among the best of 8 players. Is an Olympic Gold able to cover all the shortcomings Nadal has? Nadal may surpass the GS titles of Federer but he can never be thought of as a better player than Federer.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Good comment mridul. You are right that I should not fuss so much about whether Nadal will catch Roger. But I guess I want to ‘win’ at the end of the day, which is kinda childish. You are right that Roger has many more records than Nadal and a much more balanced resume. The fact that Nadal has never win the MC is a big hole in his resume and the Olympic gold doesn’t offset it, as it has little historical significance. Same goes for DC, it should not contribute much to an individual player’s GOAT status as it is a team event. Roger has been #1 for much longer than Nadal and his SF streak at slams is another thing that Nadal isn’t close to. He has also won 5 slams at 2 different slams, and made all slam finals at least 5 times. The list goes on. Nadal hasn’t even defended any title off of clay, and his resume is very unbalanced towards clay. Then you mention his on court antics. I just hate the tennis player that he is an actually couldn’t care less how many slams he wins. I just couldn’t ever respect him the way I respect Roger.

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    marron Reply:

    Yes. It is a bit childish, Ru-an.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Says a Nadal fan haha.

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  12. Ru-an said: ‘… I should not fuss so much about whether Nadal will catch Roger. But I guess I want to ‘win’ at the end of the day, which is kinda childish.’

    Just agreeing with your own comment, Ru-an. Glad you see it as childish. It is. You shouldn’t need to keep offering Fed’s impressive resume over and over to make your point. You know what’s true and what isn’t.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    It’s not for you to say what I should or should not do. You’re just a Nadal fan.

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    marron Reply:

    Well, I’m not *telling* you what to do. Bit of a difference, imho.
    By all means, keep bringing up the fabulous records of Fed if you feel the need to. That way, I won’t forget what he’s accomplished.

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  13. I just read online that Roger is planning to play several exos in South America in December. Huge appearance money. I don’t get it. Why is he missing the Asian swing and losing all those points and then playing exhibitions?
    Is this true?

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  14. Just thinking about those exos in South America, Dec 2012. Is he cutting way back on his 2013 schedule or planning on retirement at the end of 2012. Dec would be a time to take a break and then get ready for the next season. Hmmmm…

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  15. Ruan, I agree with you that Roger is the most versatile player we have ever seen but I might take issue with you over your comments that Sampras was a “one-dimensional player”. You don’t win 14 slams on 3 different surfaces without having quite a few tools to your game. So he didn’t win the French (although he did make it to the semis in ’96) but then neither did a number of other great players – Connors, MacEnroe, Becker included. Borg never won the USO (or the AO.) All “one-dimensional” players, because there is a hole in their resume? Pete wasn’t a great dirt-baller (now there’s a fairly one-dimensional game – Nadal is your proof today – and how many winners of the French went on to win on other surfaces? Chang, Bruguera, Muster anyone? Not too many, I suggest.) Pete was a a great fast-court and all-court attacking player – like Roger – but Roger still has won only one French title amongst his swag of 16 slams, and it might be unkind but true to suggest that he only won in ’09 because Nadal didn’t make it to the final that year.

    Pete was more than a great serve – it takes much more than one killing shot to win multiple slams the way he did. For my money, he was the best player I ever saw – until Roger came along. But Roger is unique. But then I also never saw Pete choke his way out of matches in the way that I have seen with Roger in the last couple of years. Mentally tougher without a doubt.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well of course I was holding Nadal and Sampras to the highest of standards, which is Roger. Compared to Roger they lack something, but compared to others they are quite complete. Sampras is mostly an offensive player, with a big serve and good volleys. His defense and base like game wasn’t as good as Roger. Nadal on the other hand is mostly a defensive player, although he is a pretty competent volleyer and has improved his serve and attacking game. But again, he can’t play as attacking as Roger does. So yes, compared to Roger both Sampras and Nadal are one dimensional. And therefor I believe Roger should be the GOAT. I think the fact that Nadal lacks certain attacking abilities has cost him against Djokovic and will keep costing him, and he won’t be able to catch up with Roger because of it.

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    neil Reply:

    Nadal is a technically limited player; it is his extraordinary physical skills combined with his left-handedness that have ensured his success. But as you have pointed out, there is not enough variety in his game now to deal with the new Djokovic. For Nadal to regain his ascendancy he has to acquire even greater physical prowess than he has ever possessed. Now, how will he do that, I wonder?

    As for the comparison between Pete and Roger, I don’t think the differences are that great, stroke for stroke, except perhaps on the backhand, where Roger has a marked superiority. But Pete was better in other departments – the serve (first and second), the volley, and the running forehand. Both are terrific athletes. MacEnroe has said that on a fast court, it doesn’t matter who was playing, on his day Pete was capable of closing anyone down. I think he is right. But, yes, ultimately, Roger (in his prime)is the better player.

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  16. I see Nadal retiring after next year if he goes slamless because he does not play tennis for the love of the game. He plays to win and win at all costs. If he’s not winning, all indications point to that he won’t continue to play tennis anymore.

    It’s true that Nadal is beating the rest of the field but if he’s not winning his finals, then this is a huge black eye for Nadal. In terms of titles this is Nadal’s worst year with only 3 titles and none off clay. I don’t think Nadal will continue on as a number 2 who is losing so often in finals. When Nadal was number 2 behind Roger for so many years, Nadal still won the overwhelming majority of the finals he reached. This year I think he has a 3-6 record in finals which for Nadal is a complete disaster and something we have never witnessed before.

    Before 2011 Nadal has always had a winning record in his finals and has not lost more than 3 finals in one season. He will definitely finish 2011 with a losing record in finals for the first time.

    Nadal said his goal is now clear – find a way to beat Djokovic. But if that doesn’t happen and if he doesn’t win at least one slam in 2012, then it doesn’t make sense for Nadal to continue playing tennis because he only cares about winning and soccer is his true passion. He seems determined to try again next year but if Nadal has not beaten Djokovic again by the end of 2012 and/or he goes slamless in 2012, I see him retiring and taking up soccer after the end of 2012.

    Unless he suddenly has a change of heart and decides to continue with tennis but it’s unlikely. But if he wins and somehow finds a way to beat Djokovic again then he will keep playing for as long as he wins something.

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    marron Reply:

    Ahhhh… what a post this is, booya719 :)) )

    He’ll never win Wimbledon.

    He’ll never win a hardcourt slam.

    He’ll never win Wimbledon again.

    He’ll never win the US Open.

    He does not play for the love of the game.

    Anything else?

    (chuckling….)

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    neil Reply:

    Yep. He indulges in transparent gamesmanship and delaying tactics and has been criticised by other players and coaches for this, receives repeated time-code violations and is fined for on-court coaching, uses medical timeouts at key moments in matches to then stage miraculous recoveries, is the player most widely believed to be a doper – he was accused by a French newspaper in 2006 of being on Dr Fuentes list of Spanish sports men and women being “treated” through blood-doping, threatened to sue but didn’t. One could easily go on. What a guy (chuckling.) And you say you admire Roger? Yeah, right.

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    booya719 Reply:

    I’m not sure what you are even implying? Your statements don’t really have any relation to what’s being discussed. I have never once said Nadal will never win Wimbledon or any of your absurd remarks.

    I don’t remember anyone past or present saying he wouldn’t win any of those tournaments either. As I recall Nadal was the overwhelming favorite to win going into the 2008 Wimbledon. He was at his peak fitness, younger, faster, and hungrier than a tired Federer who was recovering from mono. For how close it was the result of that final may as well have been decided by a coin toss but the end result was as expected. Nadal was expected to win all that he has won and more.

    And if you’re such a Nadal fan you would know his true passion is soccer not tennis. He does not hold the same love for tennis as he holds for soccer. This is a fact that Nadal himself has stated many times. He does not want to play tennis forever – he intends to play soccer at some point because that is where his true passion is.

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    marron Reply:

    booya, these statements are examples of things people have said about Nadal, just like your statement ‘he does not play for the love of the game’. I’d love to know how you KNOW this. It just makes me laugh, all these things people say over the years about Nadal, like ‘he’ll never win the USO’, etc etc. I’m sure you’re the only person inside of Nadal’s head, picking out this idea that ‘he doesn’t play for the love of tennis’. Did the man come up to you and express this sentiment? No. Perhaps YOU see no love for tennis when you watch him, yet I think he does love tennis, a great deal. He talks about it in his recent book. He mentioned how devastated he was when it was found he had a congenital bone deformation in his foot, inoperable, which was finally helped with an orthotic. He was depressed for months while waiting to see if something could be done to help his foot. But one only sees what one wants to. Or perhaps thinks in certain ways only. I just find bald statements, like yours, amusing, like some of those other ‘truths’ I listed above.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I think Nadal just missed the winning and the ego boost that comes with it. He didn’t miss the tennis itself.

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  17. I dont know how people can just decide that someone doesnt play for “the love of the game” while giving no reason to back it up. Obviously he cares about the game, otherwise he wouldnt have been so upset as losing wimbledon back in 07.

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    booya719 Reply:

    Nadal cried that day because he was angry about losing. It was not because “he cares about the game.” He cares about winning for himself. Tennis happens to be something he is very good at. Some people are very good singers – does it mean they love singing? No. Many people perform their tasks in life with or without love for what they are doing.

    Nadal cried because he was dissatisfied about his own personal failure that day. Federer on the other hand cried because he knew he should have never lost that AO final – and he was upset that he let down so many people and let down his fans, and did not tie Sampras’ slam record that day. There was a lot of pressure for him to perform and deliver a result that so many people wished for. Federer felt terrible that he let everyone down in a match that he really should have won. Their reasons for crying were totally different.

    Nadal on the other hand is a man who curses himself after every point he loses. No reason to back it up? Have you ever watched Nadal play? There is a robotic rage in his eyes that has nothing to do with love of anything whatsoever. This is a man hellbent on winning at all costs and his style of play and the way he conducts himself with gamesmanship is proof enough. This is not a man who is playing tennis out of love for the game. I’m not even criticizing him for that as others do – I accept Nadal for who is and what he brings to tennis. That’s simply Nadal. That’s Nadal’s way and if you’re his fan, following him, and watching him you would know this. Personally I’m not a Nadal fan and never will be. But if you are, then embrace your man and support him for what he is – not for what he isn’t. His losses to Djokovic could end up saving Nadal from himself in the end if he still intends to keep his body in order and fulfill his dream of playing soccer someday.

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  18. I consider myself to be pretty neutral towards Nadal actually. I have never once said I hated Nadal or anything of the sort. It’s the nature of Nadal fans to take offense to everything and anything related to their guy without any basis whatsoever.

    If they take our analysis as hate then so be it. It’s merely the view from the other side of the spectrum. It makes sense that a lot of Nadal fans are that way by nature – as they relate to Nadal’s way and Nadal’s style of play.

    It’s common to see Nadal fans showing up and quoting things that were never said, and finding ways to strike up arguments over issues that weren’t even being discussed in the first place.

    And unlike other Federer fans I don’t really take pleasure in Nadal’s losses to Djokovic. No doubt some Federer fans hate Nadal but I hold no hate for Nadal whatsoever. His tennis game and the way he conducts himself on the court has never been attractive to me. Just because I don’t enjoy his tennis doesn’t mean I personally hate the man.

    This topic for discussion was “what’s next for Nadal?” Why doesn’t a Nadal fan give their opinion about his future instead of striking up baseless arguments against every comment? So far all the comments from Nadal fans have been pointless. Is Nadal going to win slams again? Can he beat Djokovic again? If so, how will he do it? Or will his losses to Djokovic effect his confidence that he could start losing more frequently to the rest of the field? These are questions asked by Ruan and others. What can Nadal do to overcome the Djokovic challenge? Will he retire if he can’t win and never again beats Djokovic? Do you have any useful opinion to state or discuss about your guy?

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  19. I think Pete has a point.
    We can’t say that Rafael doesn’t love the game.
    There is just different ways of expressing our love, and sometimes our love is influenced by inspirations that are of another order.
    Love is all about respect, tolerance, patience, endurance, etc…
    Rafael I believe has the love for the game, but he sometimes is overwhelmed by his ambition to win and his hate of losing.
    And if Roger Federer might inspire us so much, his respect for Rafael should inspire us too. I don’t recall Roger ever disrespecting Rafael Nadal, on the contrary.

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  20. Ahem, Laver “missed 5 years of slams in his prime” because he was a professional and the slams at that time were open only to amateurs. Know your history.

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  21. These Nadal-Federer wars do sometimes become tiresome. Wondering about which player “loves” the game more is absurd, for the simple reason that none of us can ever experience the feeling of actually being someone else. That said, we can definitely judge how we ourselves feel about a player’s tennis style and on-court behavior. Nadal’s fans love his amazing defensive skills and never-say-die fighting spirit. Federer fans love his superb shot-making skills, the sheer beauty and grace of his movement on the court—the way he seems to literally float above the surface, defying gravity. And of course, there are the unmistakable personality differences between the two, which also greatly effect our judgements of each player. This is where the arguments become especially heated, for now we are in the psychological realm—a minefield of projections and counter-projections. Not surprisingly, Nadal’s fans will dislike some of Federer’s traits, and vice-versa for a Roger admirer like me. Who is right in the end? Probably no one. Yet it is highly entertaining to read everyone’s opinions, even when we strongly disagree or become annoyed by certain trains of thought.

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  22. Ru-an, you asked us for our conjectures on Nadal’s future. Here are my thoughts.

    Nadal’s recent “autobiography” (which I suspect to be almost completely ghostwritten) goes some way towards confirming what I’ve conjectured: that he is little more than a puppet doing the bidding of his tyrannical uncle (source: Tennisblog)

    <blockquote."Toni never let up. Once I started playing competitive games, aged seven, it got tougher. One very hot day I went to a match without my bottle of water. I’d left it at home.

    He could have gone and bought me one, but he didn’t. So that I’d learn to take responsibility, he said. Why didn’t I rebel? Because I enjoyed tennis, and enjoyed it all the more once I started winning, and because I was an obedient and docile child. My mother says I was too easy to manipulate."

    “While Toni’s refusal to let me off the hook has its value, in that he pushes me always to improve and do better, it can also be bad because he creates insecurity.”

    “What I am trying to teach myself now is . . .to exercise more autonomy over my life and disagree more openly with him [Toni].”

    I’m more than a little shocked by how blatantly they admit that Toni Nadal used fear and force to turn Nadal into a winning machine. Then again, he and his team didn’t get where they are by being shy about what they do.

    Nadal’s glittering career is built on a foundation of sand; and once that foundation crumbles and the secrets behind his accomplishments are exposed, as I believe will eventually happen, a lot of people, including the fans, the media, and the ATP, will have egg on their faces and angrily start demanding answers.

    I think his ultimate fate may be harsher than anyone would wish upon him. I doubt Nadal will be content to walk away now that Djokovic has surpassed him. He lacks the natural gifts needed to play attacking tennis against Djokovic. That leaves only one way out: to get yet stronger and faster.

    Any method able to provide that extra boost is likely to have extremely severe physical and psychological consequences, consequences that will ultimately become apparent to even the most oblivious fans. It may seriously and permanently damage his health.

    However, I don’t think he and his team have thought that far ahead; they’ll do whatever it takes to win. It’s the pattern of an addict who has developed a tolerance and has to take larger doses to get the same effect, increasing the risk of dangerous side effects. He and his team are literally addicted to winning.

    Nadal may well doom himself in a misguided quest to return to the top and break Federer’s Grand Slam record–a record that was never meant to be broken, except perhaps by some unimaginable future champion with greater natural talent and greater ability to make use of that talent. Brute force simply isn’t enough to get that job done. But that’s precisely the thing that he and his team have never understood.

    Federer’s sixteen majors stand as a testament not merely to his talent but to his commitment and dedication to his vocation. So much effort went into the winning of them: constant practice to maintain his fitness and shotmaking skills in top form; knowing when to peak at the right times; never overplaying and exhausting himself; finding a way to fight through matches when he had bad days. He sacrificed much, labored mightily, to earn those titles.

    If you don’t have Federer’s gifts, and the will and work ethic to maximize those gifts, then you won’t be able to get as far as he has, no matter how hard you try or how much you want it. It’s that simple. If you blindly attempt to go that far without the same gifts, as Nadal is, there will be a far heavier price to pay. It may end up being much, much more than Nadal is prepared to pay.

    The Nadal fan chorus will say that I’m looking down on their man, that I underestimate his will to win, that he thrives on proving obnoxious prognosticators like myself wrong–the usual Nadal fan chorus party line.

    If anything they’re the ones looking down on Federer. Because they’re saying that Federer is nothing special and that he didn’t have to work or sacrifice to achieve what he did. They seem to feel it a profound injustice that one man could be so supremely gifted, as if Federer had somehow injured them personally by playing such beautiful tennis. So they want to see him and his career eclipsed and reduced to nothing.

    You can respond to Federer as Salieri supposedly did to Mozart: gnash your teeth in envy and resentment, cry to the heavens to know why the fates gave him so much talent, and cherish the hope of his destruction. But that’s a horrible way to live. So why is it that so many Nadal fans seem to do exactly that?

    They say that Nadal should be able to have what Federer’s got because he really, really wants it and tries really really hard. And because he wants it soooooo very much, he deserves it, and anyone who doesn’t agree is an awful, terrible person.

    But that’s distorted thinking. Life doesn’t work like that at all. I could want it as much as I want, I could try as hard as I want, I’ll never be able to paint like Michaelangelo, or write a symphony like Mozart’s, or play tennis like Roger Federer. Do I deserve to be able to do so? Does it somehow make me a lesser human being if I can’t? Am I being wronged by the world if I can’t? No, of course not.

    You can’t always get what you want; not even Roger Federer can. That’s simply a fact of life, and Nadal isn’t exempt.

    It’s no shame if Nadal doesn’t break Federer’s records. It’s no shame if he never wins another major or retires early. There’s no shame in any of that (though there certainly is in many other things Nadal does). He’s had a wonderful career. Even if he were to end his career now, his legacy would be secure. But if he chooses to heedlessly pursue the great white whale, it won’t end well for him.

    Ultimately I think Nadal’s greatest legacy will be as a cautionary tale about the dangers of blind ambition. Tennis will be sadder but wiser after his drama is done; perhaps a little of the joy will have permanently gone from the sport. It’s not a legacy anyone would wish for him, not even his harshest detractors. But it seems this is the path he’s chosen to walk.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Brilliant comment Steve, I may ask you if i can use this in a post.

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  23. Steve, I like what you wrote, though your underlying tone seems to accuse Nadal of doping. I too have my suspicions in this regard, but I try to refrain from mentioning them since they can’t be proved. I pine for the day when the sorry state of drug testing in pro tennis dramatically improves.

    [Reply]

    neil Reply:

    Balthazar, all professional sports have serious doping issues. Most don’t acknowledge it. I suggest the following article from Richard Pound, who is a member of the IOC and founding president of WADA, is well worth a read.
    it.http://www.playthegame.org/fileadmin/image/PTG2011/Presentation/Richard_Pound_2011.pdf
    .
    He discusses corruption in sport generally, and makes clear reference to doping. These are his concluding remarks:
    .
    “Something which all sport organizations should understand is that if public confidence in the integrity of competition is lost, the public will look elsewhere for its entertainment and will no longer support manipulated competitions. This happened in ancient Greece, in the Roman era, in the 19th century and even today.”
    .
    “If we want sport to go the way of the World Wrestling Federation, which could no longer even pretend that what it delivered was sport, and changed its name to World Wrestling Entertainment, which delivers programming ranking somewhere between a circus and a farce, all we have to do is keep going in the direction in which we have allowed sport to drift over the past decades.
    It is later that many connected with sport seem to think.”

    [Reply]

  24. Hei Ruan

    This is my first comment here,I`ve been following this blog for quite a while now.Actually I`m pretty hooked on it,as I think many are ;-) I`ve been a tennisfan since the mid 90s,and Federer is my favourite player.Your posts about Federer and various subjects in the tennis world are quite interesting,and looking forward to the future and what 2012 will bring.With the arrival of the new Djokovic,things have really changed in the tennis world.His upper hand on Nadal is really refreshing,because nobody has really been able to dominate him like has been the case this season.Looking forward to the draws for the upcoming slams and it would be really interesting if Nadal and Federer could meet in the SF for once,especially on hard court as it would be less pressure than a final.Federers accomplishments speak for themselves,but hoping some of his bad luck will turn next season,as he has been extremly close this year :-)

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  25. nadal loses in the final again, in tokyo, fails to defend a title off clay again :D federer may end at #4 but it is set off by another loss of nadal in a final tht too eatina bagel from “murray” lol. WOW. wt timing ruan of ur post, ‘wt the future holds for nadal?’ apt :-)

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