People have different ways to look at life, and it makes them difficult to understand each other.
I feel from their interviews, also Nadal's autobiography, that Federer and Nadal have two different ways of thinking what they control in a match.
In Federer's interviews there's typically "I think I played a very good match ... or I didn't play a bad match (that's the worst you will hear from him
), in the end I was lucky ... or unlucky".
In Nadal's interview what's typical is that he speaks about his own level, found it good or bad, can say it was bad when he wins, can say it was good when he loses, and also what's typical is "I'm not the favorite : he can play so great".
The common point is that both disconnect their analysis of their actual level of game and the result of the match
: I think it's interesting to note for many MTF forumers who often analyze the level of a player only by the result of the match
One first difference is that Federer will never say he played a bad match, he will keep smiling, Nadal will tend to often look unsatisfied
Tignor recently said that one is positive/optimistic, the other one (who is his favorite player) is quite negative/pessimistic.
One thing which is related imo is that Federer speaks as if his game was "stable"
, not much about improving or declining, and hasn't panicked after some tough defeats, Nadal speaks a lot about "improving"
and has looked very much upset by his defeats against Djokovic.
Another difference is that Fed speaks a lot about luck
(it upsets many people when he speaks about that when he loses but if you often read his interviews he also often says that when he wins), Nadal seems to be scared by his opponent
It's partly explained by their kind of game
: Fed plays a risky game
, which depends a lot on luck obviously, Nadal plays a less risky game
with a high clearance of the net for instance but he can be thrashed by an opponent playing great on that day (think about Flo Mayer last year in Shanghai for instance, or Tsonga in Australian Open 2008).
It's also explained by the way they built themselves mentally, I think :
- Fed's problem when he was young was that he was too easily upset when he missed, and became negative : he worked with a psychologist and it seems to me that the main thing he changed was first always relativizing, not making it too important, and secondly autosuggestion
("Coué method") "staying positive", which played a great role in his success, especially in his best period where he "felt invincible" : I would be interested but I think Björn Borg, who had the same evolution, had quite the same process ;
- as Nadal said in his autobiography, he really often feels his opponents are very good, often better than him, it's not "false modesty", it all comes from what his uncle has teached him
, he even said it created inner anxiety and it was not that good for his personal evolution. He said that he often thinks that the others play great and better than him when he watches them play, and that anyway his uncle very often tells him that. Why did his uncle tell him that so often ? I think it's also a way to forget a point you have lost : "you were too good this time, but I will try my best next point".
In the end I think it's also two different ways to deal with what you really control in a match :
- Federer feels there's a whole lot which he doesn't control in the curse of a match
, he's just there playing, and "let's see what happens" (I've read that sentence several times in his interviews) ... hence the use of the "luck" term ;
- Nadal feels he is entirely 100% responsible of his own game
(look at his face when he misses a shot : I always thought "why does a player of his level who seemingly can't accept he makes little errors sometimes, why can't he think he's the favorite because a player like him who's able never to make errors would be one hell of an invincible player ?") ... but he's not responsible for what his opponent does
: he can be "too good" for him.
About "humbleness" now
- my usual conception of humbleness is quite similar to what Federer seemingly does feel : we are a little thing in the universe, there's a whole lot we don't control in the world, and we don't always "deserve" what we get
: it depends a lot on luck (think of the "triumph" ceremony in ancient Roma and the man who was just behind Caesar and kept on telling him that he was just a man, and Gods were superior) ; that looks more like a childish way of looking at life "the world is so big" ; that's more also a French way of looking at life imo : the French are egalitarians because they don't think the inequalities which naturally happen in society were fairly deserved ;
- others' conception of humbleness is that a humble person is a person who works hard, tries his best, but in the end can accept that the other one was better ; that's more of an adult way of looking at life, you accept your own responsibility ; that's more an American way of thinking imo : "you always get what you deserve by your personal hard work"
Both are valid imo : they are just two different ways to look at life and especially at competition.
PS : I expect a lot of anger against the length of the thread and about my personal opinions, I just hope it may be an interesting point of view for a few people, I've often observed in life how different was my conception of life to some others', and how it made us difficult to understand each other.