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Friday, May 7, 2010

Let The Match Begin ....

Roger vs Nadal :::: Rafael Vs Federer
Match Point no 4 ...Lights fading….flashes of the cameras blinding the eyes..
A fan shouting here and there ...umpire saying "quite please"...a forehand kisses the net and another body kisses the ground at virtually the same moment in time. This was the time 2 years back at Wimbledon when Rafael Nadal kissed or rather Bit the Gentlemen's Singles Trophy at the all England lawn tennis club. When the champion shook hands with the new incumbent, all eyes were on the future of tennis. This was because nadal had proved he was no flash in the pan, he was not only the red clay cladded warrior but is  also a grasshopper that is equally adept at predating the mighty of the greens.
                        Nadal is a fantastic athlete. There are no two ways about it. The way he has pushed federer out  of his comfort zone over the years is amazing ,coz we are talking about a player that has a over 230 weeks at the top of the pile of men’s tennis. Everything you notice about nadal leaves you imagining a ambitious, inspired and a ferocious competitor. The very fact that roger was doing so superlative stuff in mens tennis once thought to be the bastion of power servers inspired the Spaniard from Mallorca to become the player that he has become.
                         When you draw a mindmap of Nadal aka 'Rafa', the very peculiar routine that he goes through before the start of the match like keeping the water bottles stacked, and while he serves like that picking of his shorts, or the guttural "VAMOS", his flexing biceps, his accoutre, his superstitions between points ,all of these are acts that release a unique energy on the court which is unmistakably contagious. His venomous forehand ,lethal slice ,baseline deep passes all coupled  with blistering speed across the court, uncanny anticipation with the sprinkles of indefatigable energy and that vicious high bouncing top spin makes for the complete treat for any tennis lover.
                       At the  completely opposite pole of the sphere of tennis artistry sits the champion. FedEx as he is called, delivers all the dreams of a fan who appreciated aesthetic beauty. He is all about grace, flow, sleekness, technique. He doesn’t has a "trying too hard" bone in his body. A complete natural, federer has over the years through his unfathomable and now fabled talent made complete no work of some of the most illustrious players of the years. The aggassies ,the peters, the hewitts all were humbled. And when i say humbled they were outclassed! Some of the patent and fearsome traits of federers game like his perfect and stinging forehand, his amazingly accurate crosscourt and down the line passes, his flick of the wrist backhand, if are on display at the start of the match ,then the opposite players know it is nothing but sound of the death knell for them. The sight of federer in full flight is like watching a pelican gracefully caressing the ocean waters while 2 inches above or like an unputdownable book that doesn’t cease to amaze. The most difficult task for fedex is to be a better player.. as there’s not much scope for it.

                                        But one thing that stands out of these two tremendous athletes is the way they carry themselves. They display all the traits of a sportsman viz  humility ,grace and respect for each other as players secondly but human beings first. They both truly represent the union of two great players by chance thrown in the same era to entertain, inspire and enthral the audience the world over. Their duel is like watching the constant human conundrum of picking one between brain and heart, neither can live while the other dies, both are perfect complement of each other and are also good friends.          

Before the advent of rafa, federer was "the federer".Unstoppable like an raging bull, he was billed to be the "untouchable" player of his era. But Rafa changed  the game and how !! He challenged the champion with skills that were at best complement to those of his foeman. Flummoxed ,vexed, outplayed ,federer seemingly wasn’t able to solve the puzzle ,he looked completely off colour; he was completely at a loss. Match after match he seemed to abdicate his ability and will to win ,giving points and  thus matches easily to even unheard of players was nothing but the stranglehold rafa had on him ,mentally and emotionally. A volcano was bubbling inside federer`s calm exteriors. He was traumatized!!, being forced to take the lower podium was never a choice for him. 
                Meanwhile rafa raged on,trampling player after player, with his seemingly inexhaustible bout of energy ,he looked like a giant the mere look and presence of whom was good enough for a talented player to throw in the towel. Winning  all that came his way, he started replicating the dominance federer displayed just 2 years ago. People hailed the new king and rightly so ..They wrote off the old veteran and very wrongly so.

                    The tears were not of joy!! They were painful!! They were of extreme disappointment!! they came from the painful experience of being second best when your are so close to being touted the all time best. But they washed away the fear, the tears at the Australian open no matter how much ridiculed by his critics world over, served him a great  purpose. They made him believe himself to be vulnerable.
                 The tide had turned, the fortunes changed, federer was back!!                                   
The great story at Roland Garros the very same year made for a romantic comeback that for a change had all fans of fedex in joy-tears. And the win at Wimbledon stamped him the greatest tag ,rounding off what was an heroic riposte and one which only he could have pulled off.                 
In no way all this time was rafa was on a slide, he was unfortunate being injured. But having watched, admired and crooned for both of them i feel the joy of watching both play to their full potential is an experience beyond thoughts. Its no use having a pressurised Roger playing against a rampaging "VAMOSed" Nadal. Neither it is any fun watching an injury hindered rafa struggling against a "Resurrected" Federer.
I want to see Roger Federer Vs Rafael Nadal!! 

Random Musings...