I read Rob's excellent article yesterday (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/119382-atp-nadal-tests-positive-for-kryptonite-spoof) and i thought i will write some good old fashioned roger vs rafa stuff. This might be the millionth piece you read about them, but since I wrote it, I might as well share it with you all.
I must admit that before yesterday I was not completely aware of how the larger majority (and particularly tennis folk) perceives Rafa. Today i have realised that a lot of people often look at him like the "bad guy in tennis"—the guy who "spoils" Roger Federer's party every single time.
They always acknowledge his talent, yes, but most of the post-match obituaries take the tone of what “Nadal took from Federer” rather than Nadal’s skill in the first place.
I can see where they are coming from. It was Nadal who stopped Rog when he wanted to win a record 6th Wimbledon. It was Nadal who has stood in Rog's way every single time he has been close to winning his dream—the French open. It was Nadal again who stopped him winning his 14th grand slam on that fateful Sunday.
And if you think about it—essentially what has Federer taken away from Nadal? Nothing. Except those two Wimbledons. I dare say the first time I don't think Rafa was ready to win it. But yes, it must've hurt him the second time. But the loss wasn't as ego-shattering as Rog's in 2008.
Lets look at the OZ final for instance. That final was our opportunity to savour the greatest rivalry in contemporary sport. And boy did it live up to its expectations. It celebrated the exquisite contrast in their styles and temperaments all over again. It raised the level of tennis so high that we were left shaking our heads in disbelief instead of merely clapping.
In fact, the Times even went on to say that "Somewhere along the way on Sunday we discovered the true meaning of this rivalry. The two men asked questions of each other that they never imagined they would have to answer on a tennis court."
However even after this spectacular display of tennis—we are still not talking about Rafa are we? More people are shedding tears over Roger than applaud rafa.
Let me get one thing straight—I have nothing against Roger Federer. I love him. In all honesty I love players who show emotion. I would rather not have this “calm and composed” veneer at all. Its their vulnerability which makes them relatable.
Him breaking down might have been heartbreaking and all but when does Nadal get the praise he deserves? When do we focus on him and his talent rather than compare him nonstop to the mighty Fed?
People constanly find his game less aesthetically pleasing. They question his respect for Federer as well as his humility. They even call him less talented. They even call him Kryptonite.
To quote Tennis.com (as I cannot find words that better describe this):
"Its high time we give Rafa the credit he is due. With wins at Wimbledon and the Olympics, Rafael Nadal has long shed his “clay-court specialist” moniker. The game that was moulded on clay is now good enough on any surface. Earthy yet cerebral. Practiced yet constantly evolving. Now, at the age of 22, Nadal completes his long journey to the top of men's professional tennis with a freshly minted Olympic gold medal hanging around his neck. After sitting behind Federer for a record 160 consecutive weeks -Nadal has been No. 2 longer than it took him to reach that spot from No. 466 - he is finally No. 1 in the ATP rankings.
"At the core of it, he has the greatest weapon in the game -- that's his heart. “His heart, dictates how good his focus is on a day-to-day, point-to-point basis."(www.atptennis.com) His success is a true testament to something beyond talent. It is the power of courage, hard work, belief, discipline and determination. It’s working against the tide and never giving up.
Nadal is a living testimony to the fact that there is nothing in the world that we cannot achieve if we put our hearts and minds to it.
Today Nadal needs to be appreciated and not just because he won Wimbledon; he deserves to be applauded as he truly derserves it, Period. He aint the kryptonite anymore. He is a superman in his own right"