Turnabout is fair play in 2009 as we approach Wimbledon. Last year Nadal wrenched the number one ranking from Roger Federer by winning the French Open, and then beating Federer in an epic battle on the grass at the All England Club.
This year it is Federer that has the opportunity to return the favor. He is the favorite going into Wimbledon, especially with Nadal having problems with his knees. His body is basically reacting to the style of tennis he plays.
His grinding, sliding, and skidding style is tough on his body, especially his knees, both of which have tendinitis. As time goes on his biggest opponent may not be the guy on the other side of the net.
It may be the guy on his side of the net if his body continues to break down. Nadal needs his legs and his speed to be effective. Right now we don't know if he will be well enough to compete at Wimbledon, but we know that Federer will be there and will be itching to get his title back.
The two best tennis players in the world couldn't be more different. Federer is so smooth and graceful around the court he makes the game look too easy. We never mention that he has cat like quickness because he appears to be just gliding, not running.
His strokes are perfect form wise, and they look grace-full and elegant. Better than textbook. Even his tennis wear fits his style. Conservative, a little stylish, and unique. Just like his game.
Nadal's game on the other hand is anything but conventional. He is fast and runs down everything, but does not appear graceful. He will stop and slide on any surface to stay in the point.
His athleticism is unmatched and probably his greatest asset. Nadal puts a lot of muscle in his buggy-whip forehand that gives Federer fits when he hits it to his backhand.
His combination of strength and speed allows him to hit precision passing shots on the dead run as well as finding incredible angles on his ground-strokes. His tennis wear is no where close to being conservative.
Nadal's physicality is evident when he plays, while Feder's effortlessness and poise is evident in his game. Contrasting styles is the stuff great matches are made of, as we saw in last year's Wimbledon final.
Novak Djokovic will be anxious to go deep into the tournament this year to prove his second round exit at the hands of Marat Safin was a fluke last year. His game translates to grass well so he could be a factor.
The pressure will be on England's own Andy Murray. He is better than he was last year and the crowd will be pulling for him as they are desperate for a home grown champion.
He will definitely be a factor. My dark-horse is Andy Roddick. The grass suits his game and he is versatile enough to serve and volley if he has to. He is in much better shape than he was last year, so I look for him to be there in the second week for sure.
All eyes will be on Federer though, as he continues to make his climb back to number one. What he does at Wimbledon will be the difference.