Sunday, December 12, 2010


See who is opposite the opponent...

You cannot take your eyes off this.The battle royale gets everybody`s heart to throb.The aura of the confrontation begins as soon as the umpire calls on the two players for the opening toss.One of them in his ususal bustling style,hopping on his side legs while the other just calmly swinging his racket as the umpire tosses the coin and make them shake their hands.

Then after the warmup the action begins...

Let...first serve...

I have watched many rivalries in the past.Becker-Edberg,Agassi-Sampras et al but none matches the energy and tension of this one.Federer-Nadal!!!.The one match that the world watches..the match that the world awaits for.I personally get the fever of expectations one day before.Primarily owing to the playing style of the two players,watching the contrasting style of play resulting in a dazzling strokeplay is a delight.Secondly due to the battle of the two personalities,rafa emerging as a great of the game,and federer a proven bot in the gentlemen`s tennis.And most importantly for the head to head record.Many people take the record of 14-8 in favour of nadal as something that dilutes this rivalry.But to me that is the most important ingredient of it all.The history!!the difference in numbers aren`t reflected in the play on court,its just an indication to the federer fans that rafael has the edge and in equal measure a silent memo to the rafa fans that roger is keen to erase the equation.
We all take sides,and almost all of us are biased in watching there matches.All of us root for either federer of nadal.Its like the voldemort-harry potter prophecy.None can live while the other survives.I haven`t met anyone who supports both.In short this rivalry is far from being neutral.So when you are in front of a TV( or in stadium if you are a lucky soul) you are either in the fedex corner giving him the gracious applause or in the rafa corner shouting vamos!vamos! in sync with the AV with rafa himself.
I have stopped analysing the graph of the two players purely because they are sitting at the pinnacle.They are at the summit in terms of the game that they possess.Numbers no longer matter.whether federer ends up with 20-22 grand slams or nadal eclispsing the grand slam record is meaningless,maybe to historians this number would matter.But just imagine!after one of them retires,what can you deduct out of it?Just the fact that who is the GOAT?Well I say bigger things are on line.The sweet taste of that victory over your prime opponent when you have given your heart,body and soul to every serve,every volley,every retreive,every forehand/backhand and every tweener.No one of the two will cry when the GOAT results are finally out,but they certainly shed a tear or two when they prevail a tough match in which if one was david then the other was certainly not goliath.

Let.... second serve...

The battles these two have had over the years are something to be cherished,the rivalry far from over is already ensured a golden mention in the great annuls of historian`s work.Somehow when these two enter the stage the court looks a tad short,the linesmen are under pressure(as both take the paint of the sidelines so very often),and the crowd numb and expectant.when I look at the sets these men play,I somehow get the wiff of the way a game is going.It is very difficult to discern who is the heavier of the two opponents but,just that extra,just that magic defines that differnce on the day.Indeed!!! both of them are magical to the core.Both of them make the arena unnecessary,the game is played invariably between the two only,in their minds,in their instincts and in their disposition,the few thousands in the stadium and the millions watching need not be for the occassion.
Many people have said it and I concur that both roger and rafa are completely different players when they play against each other.Rafael might bamboozle many with his top spin but he cannot outfox federer with that.Also roger might run away with the game against others if he is a break up,but certainly you cannot take it easy against the spanish matador himself.
But if you see through many things are common in their lives.I am not a paparazzi that I will peep into their personal life,but except their playing style both don`t say much expect when on court and those are the 3-5 hours I love to sit and stare.The balance of their rivalry is hanging on the very thread of how many times in near future will they meet.Last year of 2010 saw them meet 2 times only.So lets hope we see a dash of federer going against the spice of rafa more often in the season of 2011.


"The past"

Lucky me,I was born when pete sampras and roger federer played that wimbledon match.In more ways than one,it was the passing of the baton that took place that day.Federer tapped the ball once-twice and lo!there he was,in two-three years from his first GrandSlam win ,he was already threatening pistol pete`s record.Everyone was going Ga-Ga about his talent and his future.Those who were born in a time after pete left,it was a delight to watch another champion exhibit the game that made the legends.Of all I watched of federer,the thing that I look for most are the unbelievable shots or the 'aliens' as I prefer to call them.The supple movement that this 'once a ponytail boy' has makes it so much delightful to look at the ball just caressing the net of the racquet and bouncing on the other end of the net just to find nobody home.Just as the game of tennis has been elevated by this man,in equal measure with each success of his,he continued to widen the gap between him and other players to a yawning and inevitable level.
But as I got lucky the second time that nadal came around and brought that very much required spice in men`s tennis,we got to see
what lamborghinni had to offer while ferrari was running amok.The bull rafa very much brought out the human in roger as roger`s already dominant strature brought out the god in rafa.Past between them has been very famous if in any means less entertaining.Though federer and rafa were both categorised as surface players initially,they were quick to adapt.Federer winning the French open 09 and nadal winning the US open 10 meant that now both are above that par line.And in the past as their meetings have been majorly in semis or finals of events,they traded titles between them with exceptions like nole in aus open and del potro in us open.Though sports pundits like to call the past between them as tilted in favour of nadal,the really competitive matches have never been a watershed.But one can`t discount the bruises nadal has inflicted on the psyche of federer.So all in all,the past has been a lopsided bagel with more duff on the nadal side of pie.
"The present"

The present times are the most interesting ones in their rivalry(atleast I think so!).Not only they have to face each other eventually,but also have to go past the "already arrived and emerging" lot of murray,nole and soderling.Roger is according to many has past his prime,but to me he has been in his prime since his first wimbledon win in 03.The present form of roger can be best described as exploratory.He is exploring the possibility of improving his skills,many a matches I have watched him that he has tried different things and lost,even genius can be boring sometimes.As for rafael,his serve has really taken a big kick and his hard court play also has come leaps and bounds(literally!).There aren`t many players who can threaten the pedigree of nadal at this point of time.Federer and murray come close to eclipsing his ongoing rampage.
So at present sits a genius at number 2 spot,now above the numbers trying to immortalise himself with every game he plays and every shot that he makes,and at the other end is the numero uno who is making short work of historian`s ink and work.

"The records"

Nadal at 9 slams and fed at 16,a difference of 7.Throw in a olympic singles gold and the balance is almost on the keel.I am sure records matter to these guys but afterall its the years you have played tennis at the top level is what matters,longevity matters.
The day murray stops thinking about winning his maiden GrandSlam,he would win one.Sure,nadal has a decent chance of surpassing federer`s almost all records(23 straight SF is bit too much to repeat!),but then again federer would leave him a legacy that is marked by his almost amaranthine longevity,his almost divine fitness and his angelic demeanour.Its interesting to watch nadal behave in a federer match,he is all pumped up and fiery.He ought to be,there is cold ice at the other end,those players who just play without aggression(remember Del potro in US open?) tend to sink that much faster as they cut thru the ice of this fedex icerberg.
Maybe we can give rest to the record writing for few years and watch the action as when these two meet again.

"The game"

I feel that the game has been inordinately benifited from the presence of these two deities,well all of us know that.But imagine a game of tennis after sampras and agassi and no federer and no nadal.Woof!So much talent is there in these two that even the game looks smaller to them.I pity those federer fans who implicate and villify nadal and also I detest those nadal fans who pray for roger`s downfall.But that doesn`t mean I don`t take sides.I have my favourite and I root for him.But I love the game.And I positively feel like a child who is given his favourite toy when this mouthwatering clash takes place.

"The others"

Murray: I feel his time will come,he needs that luck in form of an injury to either nadal/federer or a easy draw or early exit of the two.But he is surely the star of the future.I can envision him taking the place of nadal in the current nadal-federer match and challenging nadal as nadal challenges federer.
Djokovic:The laugh riot serbian is a cool customer and a good shotmaker but needs to get his confidence back by winning another GS,best chances at the Aus open.
Soderling:The swede after running both federer and nadal close at french open in successive years needs to make it big now.He is the eternal dark horse and can take out any player on any day.
Del potro:To me the future champion of the others lot.The very young argentine is immensly talented and has the credentials and the hunger to make it big.He can very well end being the best of his era.
Roddick:Can spring few surprises in th years to come.I personally back him to win a wimbledon and another US open before he hangs up the racquet.

"the future"

I think we all have about 5-6 years of federer-nadal rivalry to savour.With about 20-24 potential GS Finals/Semis to go in this duration,I wish that we have these two making to the top two positions in every tournament(with due respect to the others contingent)
 Its early to call who will take home the GOAT crown,and its still undecided who is better of the two..Lets leave that discussion open and lets revel in their galaxy of strokeplay and root for these two geniuses.



Random Musings...