Originally Posted by allanah
But there's something about watching him play that just leaves me cold and I find myself nitpicking at things like the fact that he looks like a walking Nike billboard and his shouting and fist-pumping kinda grates on my nerves. Not sure why that is.
Ha ha. I just read this...
Authorities get shirty over Nadal
Chris Bowers in Rome
Sunday May 8, 2005
Rafael Nadal might be the man to signal the dawn of a new golden era in tennis. However, it is the youngster's choice of clothing which is attracting the most attention in the Italian capital this week.
The 18-year-old Spaniard yesterday won his 16th consecutive match to take him into today's final of the Rome Masters.
The 4-6 6-4 7-5 victory over David Ferrer means Nadal has now won 21 of his past 22 matches, is second only to world number one Roger Federer on this year's results, and is likely to appear in the top five when tomorrow's ranking list comes out. Yet the Spaniard's potential to attract controversy through his on-court apparel has overshadowed his startling progress.
Nadal's clothing provider, Nike, has used him in the past week to play out one of its own battles in public. In his five matches on the Rome clay, Nadal has sported a large 'swoosh' - Nike's tick-like logo - on the front and back of his shirt, and for the first three another on the leg of the plus fours he has helped make fashionable this year.
The size of the logos is clearly illegal - the rules say a player can only wear one logo of a maximum four square inches (three at Grand Slams) or two of two square inches. Nadal's are about six inches in width, so are clearly a violation of the rules.
But not for the first time Nike has thrown down the gauntlet to tennis's authorities. The company claims the three-stripes logo patented and marketed effectively by Adidas also breaches the rules. And Nike has a point. The ATP's rulebook states: 'Clothing designs will not be interpreted as manufacturer's logos and such can be incorporated into the clothing design.'
But Adidas's stripes are a registered trademark, and if any other manufacturer designed a tennis shirt with three stripes down the shoulders and sides, they would probably find the phone ringing from Adidas's lawyers. That effectively makes it a logo, claims Nike, and it therefore wants either permission to use its large logos, or for the existing rule to be enforced for Adidas kit.
Nike's brinkmanship has thrown tennis's governing bodies into a spin. The ATP has let Nadal wear the large logos as 'a short-term interim solution'.
Bill Babcock of the International Tennis Federation said: 'The situation clearly needs addressing, and it is being addressed by us, the ATP, the WTA and the Grand Slams.' The parties normally meet during the second week of the French Open, but a decision seems likely before the championship begins a fortnight tomorrow.
All the talk of his clothing has overshadowed what a phenomenal player Nadal is. Not only does he have immense flair, but with Federer he could well provide the rivalry at the top of the game which tennis has been crying out for since Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe provided such a contrast a quarter of a century ago.
While Federer plays classic, stylish tennis, Nadal epitomises the modern baseline style of heavy topspin and a two-handed backhand. While Federer seems unrufflable on court, Nadal is wildly expressive. And while Federer is the clean-cut boy any parent would be happy for their daughter to bring home, Nadal has the shoulder-length hair and tenacious warrior look of a native American.
In fact, the only thing that is missing from a repeat of the Borg-McEnroe comparison is the edginess that forever led people to expect McEnroe to boil over.
However, the controversy being generated by Nadal's choice of clothing is causing the tennis authorities as much as a headache as McEnroe ever gave any umpire.
Meanwhile, in the semi- finals of the German Open, Justine Henin-Hardenne is one match away from a third straight title after defeating Patty Schnyder 6-0 6-1. The Belgian, who beat Maria Sharapova on Friday, stretched her winning streak on clay to 16 matches.
The 22-year-old has lost just one match since her return from a long lay-off through illness and injury. She is chasing her third title in four events after back-to-back wins at Charleston and Warsaw.
'I played a very solid match and I am very pleased,' she said after progressing in 51 minutes. 'I was going for the corners and making winners and it was very good.'
Henin-Hardenne awaits the winner of the second semi-final between Jelena Jankovic and Nadia Petrova.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005