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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-24-2007, 03:55 AM Thread Starter
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Courtly Rivals: By Jon Wertheim

Here we have not so werthless wertheim writing a good, well thought out article, i believe. I read this in SI today, and thought I'd let everyone know. And if I didnt know better, (Along with J'torian's Safin poem a few months back that he referenced) I'd have to say that Jonny reads MTF

Courtly Rivals

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are as different as two fierce foes could be, but in one thing they're identical: Neither man will take a verbal shot at the other


The kid assumed he was being punk'd. After a fine freshman season as Florida's No. 1 singles player, Jesse Levine was luxuriating at home in Boca Ratonlast month when his cellphone chirped. An IMG agent was calling in search of a practice partner for Roger Federer, a few days removed from winning Wimbledon for the fifth straight time. Would Levine meet Federer at his training base in the United Arab Emirates? "When I realized it wasn't a joke," says Levine, "I was like, 'Yup. That works for me.'"

Levine spent 10 days in Dubai hitting tennis balls with the greatest player on Earth and eating lavish meals and relaxing in a swank hotel. "It was pretty sweet," he says.

Why would Federer fly a college kid halfway around the world to train with him? While it was never explicitly stated, Levine knew damn well why. He's a lefthander and thus could simulate the play of No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal.

So it goes when you're embroiled in a rivalry. At the U.S. Open, which begins in New York City on Monday, Federer and Nadal will be on opposite poles of the draw. Yet if form holds -- as it has at the last two Grand Slam championships -- the two men will be drawn to each other like magnets and will come together on the final Sunday. Serbia's Novak Djokovic has made inroads recently, beating both Nadal and Federer at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, but otherwise the world's top two players have simply hijacked the men's game. One or the other has won the last 10 Grand Slam titles and 21 of the last 28 Masters Series tournaments. In the process they have fashioned what may well be the most gripping rivalry in all of sports.

Federer-Nadal (Roger-Rafa to everyone in the Kingdom of Tennis) meets all the prerequisites we usually set for a rivalry. There are clashing games, divergent personalities, swings in momentum. In tennis as in boxing, styles make fights. Federer, a righty, is an artist, capable of executing any shot in the book -- and many that aren't. He's so smooth that he sometimes seems too proud to use mere power to win a point. Nadal, a lefty, plays violent tennis, pounding the ball and at the same time lacing it with so much spin that his ground strokes tend to bounce like kick serves. Other players uniformly refer to him as "a beast," but they mean it as a compliment.

By virtue of their consistent winning, Federer and Nadal meet often -- another requirement of a thriving rivalry. Since 2004 they've faced off 13 times, only one fewer than Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe, the men's tennis rivals against which all others are measured. What's more, the Roger-Rafa dividing lines have recently blurred. At first the duo seemed to have reached a détente in which Nadal ruled the clay and Federer lorded over every other surface. But in May, Federer snapped Nadal's streak of 81 straight clay-court wins and then made him sweat in the French Open final. Returning the favor, Nadal pushed Federer to a fifth set on the latter's choice surface, grass, in a spellbinding Wimbledon final. "He puts me under immense pressure whenever and wherever we play," says Federer. "But I do the same for him."

The contrast in their personalities isn't quite as stark as the fire of McEnroe versus the ice of Borg, but Federer and Nadal do have disparate personas. Federer, 26, is a worldly polyglot who just filmed a segment with the PBS talk-show host Charlie Rose. Nadal, 21, is a quintessential jock whose idea of formality is removing his sweat-saturated bandanna. At the Wimbledon final, after they met at the net for the coin toss, Nadal sprinted to the baseline, recalling Pete Rose dashing to first base after drawing a walk, while Federer went over to his chair and meticulously removed the cream-colored blazer he had worn onto Centre Court.

Further amplifying their rivalry: You can pull up a stool and stay past last call debating their respective merits. The Swiss Mister has won 11 majors to Nadal's three. He's the more complete player. He has held the ATP's No. 1 ranking since early 2004 and next week will eclipse Steffi Graf's record of 186 straight weeks in the rankings penthouse. Yet the Rafaelites will counter that the Spaniard leads Federer in head-to-head meetings 8--5 and has amassed more rankings points than Federer in '07. Nadal's winning percentage in tournament finals, 82.1, is the best in the Open Era, suggesting unparalleled mental toughness. (Federer's is 75.4.) And though Nadal has fewer major titles, he has more than Federer had at age 21.

Don't, however, expect Federer or Nadal to join the discussion. And here's where their rivalry is different from most: There's not a trace of animosity in it. Each man is relentlessly deferential toward the other, dispensing more props than a Broadway stagehand. Says Nadal, "To me he is the best player." Says Federer, "Trust me. I know how good Rafa is."

Hear them gush like this and it becomes apparent that they're not so opposite after all. They were both raised in traditional European families that regard ego as a major character defect. Federer's modesty is as characteristic as his silken backhand. (He spent part of his last Christmas break visiting an orphanage in India.) But Nadal's no prima donna either. At the French Open the two-time defending champ was spotted sweeping the clay courts when he was done practicing. "We're no better than anyone else," says his uncle and coach, Toni Nadal.

Classic rivals Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova became fast friends. Once, before they met in a Grand Slam final, one of them had her period, and together they scoured the locker room for a tampon. While Federer and Nadal aren't quite at that point yet (and not simply because neither menstruates), unmistakable warmth passes between them. When they crossed paths last week in the locker room of the Cincinnati event, they casually slapped five. It might as well have been a secret handshake. They are acutely aware that they're members of an exclusive club, that each benefits from having the other around. "He pushes me to be better," says Nadal. "I think every [athlete] needs that."

In May, Federer ventured to Nadal's home island of Mallorca to play an exhibition on a court that was half grass and half clay. Federer noted that Nadal had played in his hometown, Basel, before. "Now," he said, "I have the opportunity to play at his place." Earlier this month, after the Rogers Cup, Nadal was unable to get a flight out to the next tour stop, in Cincinnati, so Federer invited him to ride in his private plane.

It all makes for strange times for tennis fans. Rivalries tend to cleave public opinion. Who in his right mind roots for North Carolina and Duke, for the Yankees and the Red Sox, for Hillary and Rudy? These deep divisions give the matchups emotional texture. Yet in the case of Federer-Nadal, it seems entirely reasonable to cheer for both. In fact, for most of us, it feels forced to summon dislike for either.

Though recent history suggests that Federer-Nadal XIV will take place at the U.S. Open final on Sept. 9, it's no sure thing. Federer is the three-time defending Open champ, but Nadal has never been beyond the tournament's quarterfinals and is susceptible to being outhit on hard courts -- all the more so given his recent wrist and knee injuries. Their hegemony is also being challenged by the third-ranked Djokovic. In fact, if the 20-year-old Serb keeps improving at his recent pace, we'll have this to ponder: Is there such a thing as a tri-valry?

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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-24-2007, 04:40 AM
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Re: Courtly Rivals: By Jon Wertheim

Bottom line, Rafa has to prove he can make a US Open semifinal. Roger has NOTHING to prove on this surface with 3 US Opens, 4 MS shields.
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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-24-2007, 05:12 AM
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Re: Courtly Rivals: By Jon Wertheim

^Where do you get 4? CincinnatiX2, Indian WellsX3, MiamiX2, TorontoX2.

That Graf/Navratilova story made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-24-2007, 05:12 AM
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Re: Courtly Rivals: By Jon Wertheim

oh i never realised because i'm left handed i could simulate Nadal's game i'm sure an American college player hits like Rafa Federer has taken care of every other left hander on tour - it's the way Nadal plays (espeicially on clay) that's the problem because he's kicks it up to the Federer back hand and opens up the court.
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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-24-2007, 05:19 AM
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Re: Courtly Rivals: By Jon Wertheim

The constant bitching between the two camps on this board is another sure fire sign of a great rivalry.
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-24-2007, 05:34 AM
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Re: Courtly Rivals: By Jon Wertheim

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blaze-2004 View Post
Hear them gush like this and it becomes apparent that they're not so opposite after all. They were both raised in traditional European families that regard ego as a major character defect. Federer's modesty is as characteristic as his silken backhand. (He spent part of his last Christmas break visiting an orphanage in India.) But Nadal's no prima donna either. At the French Open the two-time defending champ was spotted sweeping the clay courts when he was done practicing. "We're no better than anyone else," says his uncle and coach, Toni Nadal.
Wow, I finally see this written down. I'm not saying which is better, but there is certainly a difference. Since I came to the US I keep hearing normal people talking casually about their egos, and how some things feel good because of them. The same way of talking would surely be frowned upon in Spain.

Possibly, Americans' naturalness towards this matter might be one of the reasons they are successful in so many fields.

Anyway, go the tri-valry, and let the fellows play beatiful and competitive tennis.
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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-24-2007, 05:49 AM
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Re: Courtly Rivals: By Jon Wertheim

I don't get why you think ths guy reads this forum.
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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-24-2007, 05:57 AM
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Re: Courtly Rivals: By Jon Wertheim

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neumann View Post
Wow, I finally see this written down. I'm not saying which is better, but there is certainly a difference. Since I came to the US I keep hearing normal people talking casually about their egos, and how some things feel good because of them. The same way of talking would surely be frowned upon in Spain.

Possibly, Americans' naturalness towards this matter might be one of the reasons they are successful in so many fields.

Anyway, go the tri-valry, and let the fellows play beatiful and competitive tennis.
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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-24-2007, 06:33 AM
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Re: Courtly Rivals: By Jon Wertheim

Djoko doesn't belong in the tri-valry until he wins a slam.
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-24-2007, 06:42 AM
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Re: Courtly Rivals: By Jon Wertheim

Dead at Rafa and Roger not being at the point of looking for a tampon together and not only because they don't menstruate.

All in all cool read.

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post #11 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-24-2007, 07:14 AM
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Re: Courtly Rivals: By Jon Wertheim

Quote:
Don't, however, expect Federer or Nadal to join the discussion. And here's where their rivalry is different from most: There's not a trace of animosity in it. Each man is relentlessly deferential toward the other, dispensing more props than a Broadway stagehand. Says Nadal, "To me he is the best player." Says Federer, "Trust me. I know how good Rafa is."



Quote:
Classic rivals Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova became fast friends. Once, before they met in a Grand Slam final, one of them had her period, and together they scoured the locker room for a tampon. While Federer and Nadal aren't quite at that point yet (and not simply because neither menstruates), unmistakable warmth passes between them. When they crossed paths last week in the locker room of the Cincinnati event, they casually slapped five. It might as well have beena secret handshake. They are acutely aware that they're members of an exclusive club, that each benefits from having the other around. "He pushes me to be better," says Nadal. "I think every [athlete] needs that."
we are all looking forward to the day they reach that point...

Secret handshake... Hmmm... Is that what they call it these days?


Quote:
In May, Federer ventured to Nadal's home island of Mallorca to play an exhibition on a court that was half grass and half clay. Federer noted that Nadal had played in his hometown, Basel, before. "Now," he said, "I have the opportunity to play at his place." Earlier this month, after the Rogers Cup, Nadal was unable to get a flight out to the next tour stop, in Cincinnati, so Federer invited him to ride in his private plane.


Such sweethearts!


Quote:
It all makes for strange times for tennis fans. Rivalries tend to cleave public opinion. Who in his right mind roots for North Carolina and Duke, for the Yankees and the Red Sox, for Hillary and Rudy? These deep divisions give the matchups emotional texture. Yet in the case of Federer-Nadal, it seems entirely reasonable to cheer for both. In fact, for most of us, it feels forced to summon dislike for either.


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post #12 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-24-2007, 08:26 AM
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Re: Courtly Rivals: By Jon Wertheim

Actually I like Rafa quite a bit. Detest Rafatards, RFK in particular. Blaze, you are ok sometimes.
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post #13 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-24-2007, 09:31 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Courtly Rivals: By Jon Wertheim

Quote:
Originally Posted by FedFan_2007 View Post
Bottom line, Rafa has to prove he can make a US Open semifinal. Roger has NOTHING to prove on this surface with 3 US Opens, 4 MS shields.


This has nothing to do with that, you fucking moron :retard: Try to read something for once before shooting off your Fed stats. No one was dissing Roger's HC skillz

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post #14 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-24-2007, 12:24 PM
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Re: Courtly Rivals: By Jon Wertheim

Road Trip!!!!
On the court im all over the place... just like parrrking!
hehe
gotta luv Rafa.. did I hear Andy ask "what are you wearing"?
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post #15 of 29 (permalink) Old 08-24-2007, 12:41 PM
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Re: Courtly Rivals: By Jon Wertheim

And that's why ATP tends to be boring Too much respect kills competition! When you see how they all lick every inch of Rogi's hairy ass, yikes!

OK, Roger is a fantastic player, and even the GOAT (to me at least), players shouldn't admit it publically IMHO!
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