Which was better/worse: Nadal's 2011 or Novak's 2012?
Nadal followed up a 3 slam year in 2010 by reaching 3 slam finals in 2011. He only won 1 though and the year was deemed a bit of a failure by some. He made 10 finals however - 6 of them against Novak, who was clearly playing at his highest ever level. Made finals of 5 Masters, won 1.
Novak followed up a 3 slam year in 2011 by reaching 3 slam finals too. He also only won 1 - in hindsight he could have lost that too - went 5 against Murray and was down a break vs Nadal in final set. Novak has won 2 Masters so far so surpasses that count but has overall made less finals.
The difference to me is who their opponents were and what their attitude was. Nadal game-wise was clearly below Novak last year yet he kept on fighting, kept on coming back again and again and gave it his all. Novak today faced a mediocre at best Murray against whom HE was the favourite - for some reason though he was streaky throughout. Same in Monte Carlo, Rome, Cincy finals - the real Novak just didn't turn up for half the match. Whereas Nadal's 2011 was partly less successful due to an insane Novak in his way, Novak has been the master of his own destruction.
Which is worse? And why did Nadal's season feel worse even though objectively it really wasn't - he was the only one even vaguely keeping up with Novak... Maybe because he kept losing to the same guy whilst Novak has lost to all of the rest of the big 4 in slam matches this year? (Fed in Wimbledon, Nadal at RG, Murray at US Open.)