Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer: Who Sets the Standards In Tennis?

Mahesh S BharadvajContributor ISeptember 16, 2010

Roger after semis in New York
Roger after semis in New YorkChris McGrath/Getty Images

Now that the slams are behind us, the year 2010 has clearly been the year of Rafael Nadal. Not only Nadal  dominated the Grand Slam landscape, but he has also collected several titles especially in clay season and raised the bars higher for everyone.

In my eyes, Rafa is precisely in the position that Federer was enjoying starting five years back. Rafa has earned where he is by his dedication to the game, attitude towards life and hard-work.

Like nearby objects loom large as compared those behind, human mind tends to magnify and place more weight on recent incidents. Nadal has won three slams in a calendar year for first time in his career.  Nadal did something unique for the first time during ‘our time’. He won on all three surfaces in the same year.

Tennis writers and so-called experts seem to believe that three slams won in a year is pro-ratable to nine slams in three years. Unfortunately, ratios and proportions let us completely down in the world of sports.

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In my mind, Federer does not have anything to prove. He has won on all surfaces, played more slam finals than anyone in history of tennis, been most consistent in the history of the game. He also won three slams in a year in three calendar years (2004, 2006, 2007). By far Federer has been the most complete player on court and off-court. Sure, Nadal is nearly there and his claims will have to be accepted once he wins some more non-clay slams.

In the Open era, Federer came to define the boundaries of the game and went thrashing down every single record in male tennis. What is Nadal’s gain is not Federer’s loss, because the duo did not meet once in slams during 2010. For the first time in his non-clay Grand Slam career, Nadal had to remember the name of the guy on the other side in a slam Final as it was anything sounding like Roger Federer.

It was Roger Federer who set the standards for Tennis and continued to inspire youngsters. The winner of US Open 2010 Del Potro said after winning that his ambition is to be able to play like Federer.

Nadal has proved that he is the worthy successor. He would most possibly push the bar some notches higher.