Rafael Nadal's mane used to perfectly mirror the way he played.
It flew around like Nadal flew around the court. It was just a little wild and a lot untamed. Not since Andre Agassi still had that ponytail has a tennis player's hair so greatly defined who he was.
Then you turn on the US Open and see that Nadal is playing, but the person on the court doesn't look like we're used to him looking. On closer inspection, it is Nadal, but his hair is shorter, styled, and looks oddly familiar.
Then it hits you: He looks like Roger Federer.
Honestly, another man's haircut hasn't affected me this much since Johnny Damon signed with the evil empire and went from caveman to accountant.
Was this on purpose? Did Nadal go to the barber and say, "Give me the Federer?" Or did he just feel it was time for a shorter cut, and it was just a coincidence that he ended up resembling his greatest rival?
If it was on purpose, then why? It's not like Nadal's look was holding him back from being respected or from endorsement opportunities. In all actuality, his look was what made him different and interesting. People knock Federer for being boring and rave about how exciting Nadal is. Imitating Federer, at least off the court, would be a step backwards.
I'm not sure I like this new, corporate-looking Nadal. The look just doesn't fit him. While his hair and his game could both have been described as ordered chaos, now he just seems like another tennis player.
Or am I making too much of a snap judgment? Does it really matter? Is it really a reflection on Nadal's personality, or was he just looking to lighten the load on his head?
I don't know for sure, but I hope the old Nadal is still in there somewhere.