Of all the things I wrote about in my own Change One Thing piece, my idea about Rafael Nadal improving his marketing by speaking better English seemed to provoke the greatest amount of response.
Some contributors agree a little, some to a point, and some not at all. Let me clarify one thing right away, though: It was not a criticism of Nadal. In all the years I’ve been watching this game I’ve never encountered any player I respect more than Rafa; my desire for him to speak English fluently (he can keep his accent, maybe just straighten out the grammar) was no more a dig at him than a 7-year-old’s Christmas list is a criticism of his parents.
A couple of today’s contributors riffed on the idea, though, and I encourage that. Special thanks, though, to Rock and Rohini for discussing players that no one else mentioned.
Let's begin with today's contributors. (By the way, click on their names if you want to view their Bleacher Report accounts.)
If I could change one thing about Andre Agassi's career it would have to be that I would have loved to see the passion and hunger for the game he showed in the later part of his career to be as evident in his early 20's.
He had the game and the ability to win, but his head and heart were not in alignment with his abilities. I think he might have taken more from Pete Sampras than he did if only he had realized earlier that HE LOVED TENNIS and TENNIS LOVED HIM!
If I could change one thing for Andy Roddick it would be to have him watch his U.S. Open victory again and again, emulate that version of himself and become the American tennis player we came to love. He had his mind, heart, and game in the right places and it was a joy to see him reach his full potential. He needs to find that fire in himself again and go for broke!
If I could change one thing for Rafael Nadal it would be his lack of marketing in the U.S. It is unbelievable to me that so many opportunities to have his gorgeous game plastered all over tennis advertisements here in the U.S. are all but ignored!
He may not speak English as well as some of the others players (but here in the U.S., Spanish IS NOT a foreign language) but his body, game, and sex appeal should more than take care of that!
I would love to see Babolat sell more 'youth' oriented rackets at the local department stores, Nike gear for young players, anything that would help get other great young Spanish-speaking American kids involved in our sport.
If I could change one thing for Roger Federer I wouldn't. I think he has had one of the most amazing careers in the open era. His set backs made him more human and dare I say it, more likable. I love knowing that underneath all his easy going graceful game, lies a hungry champion who still wants those wins today as much as he did all those years ago when he was still climbing to the top.
If I could change one thing about Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Rod Laver, Pete Sampras (and any other former world No. 1's), I wish I could change time. I wish by some magical time travel, we could all enjoy a Grand Slam event that would allow all those players to be young, in their prime and to play each other and current players to see who really does have the best game ever! (I know it's not realistic but a fan can dream!)
First Rafa and his English – I agree with Rob at a point that he needs to speak fluent English to market himself, but to be completely honest I do hope that he never does. I think his accent and his "lost in translation sentences" add to his charm and character, and he should retain it. Although his English certainly has improved a lot, I don’t want him to speak like, let’s say, Anna Kournikova who sounds completely Californian now … anyway that's just a musing.
One thing I could change:
Rafa - I would change his troublesome knees, he is such a force to reckon with on dodgy knees, imagine if he didn't have that problem at all. And of course I would ask him to revert back to his old gear.
Federer - I would change his "I don't need a coach" belief.
Murray - I would like to see him impose his own game a little bit more.
Tsonga - His tendency to get injured frequently.
Djoker - I would love for him to be in the news for the right reasons other than his injuries, time outs, retirements and impressions.
Gael - I would love it if he starts actually using his new "ripped out muscular body". He has the power but he doesn't know how to use it.
I would love to see Goran Ivanisevic winning his first Wimbledon title which was a tough five-setter against Agassi. Had he won that he would have not longed so desperately for the Wimbledon title. Also, winning a title so early in his career would not mean so much to him.
It would have taken few years for him to think that he is a Wimbledon champ and by the time he realized totally and wondered when his next GS would arrive, the clock moved from 1992-2001. A Wimbledon title in the beginning and the end would have been a good start and great finish to his entertaining career.
I would like to change Marat Safin's decision to hang up his boots after this season. His presence is always felt in the community, in spite of his wins and his losses.
According to him, he says he has lost the touch but I feel far from it; even now he has a magical quality, not ethereal but definitely magical.
If I could, I would want him to hang on there, create a few surprises like he did in Wimbledon 2008 or Australian Open 2005. I have a feeling he is being too harsh on himself. And personally, I still am not ready to say "dasvidaniya" to Marat Safin.
Look for Pt. 4 tomorrow, with contributions from Conor McMullin, Siang Tay, Peter Childs and our fearless leader himself, Long John Silver.
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