Rafael Nadal: Aggressive Style of Play Will Jeopardize Run at Roger Federer
Well, Nadal has won two more Grand Slam singles titles since then, including this year's French Open, but he's further away from Federer than it seems.
Nadal hasn't played since his second-round loss to Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon on June 28. He pulled out of the U.S. Open last Wednesday because of tendinitis in his left knee. This is the same tendinitis that forced him to miss the 2012 London Olympics. Nadal may be six major championships away from tying Federer's all-time record, but the 31-year-old Swiss looks more nimble than Nadal these days.
Nadal said on Friday, per the Washington Post:
I have to listen (to the doctors) and be patient, and I will come back when my knee is well. The best thing I can do now is to stop, get fully well, accept the situation and work hard to come back better.
Return time for Nadal? Indefinite.
So why has Nadal sputtered physically while Federer continues to roll along?
It all has to do with style of play.
We probably should have seen this coming all along. Nadal may be 26 years old, but he plays a furious game and he's known for flying around the court. His aggressiveness on the court, combined with his body type (6'1", 190 pounds), had people concerned about his longevity long before the tendinitis this year.
Will Nadal match or surpass Federer's all-time record?
Federer, on the other hand, has practically glided across the court throughout his career, using his exceptional footwork to efficiently get to where he wants to go. His serve has also allowed him to steal points in matches without exerting a great amount of energy. His matches against Nadal have always resembled grace versus relentless fury.
Tennis is a brutal sport, not only mentally, but physically. You could say Nadal had the mental edge following 2010, when he won four of his next five matches against Federer through this year's Australian Open. But physically, Federer may actually be in better shape now, and it could leave Nadal short of Fed-Ex's historic mark.
When all is said and done, Nadal may end up being tennis' version of Tiger Woods, while Federer remains alone in the record books like Jack Nicklaus.
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