Originally Posted by nadal_slam_king
I'm asking in 'hindsight' so its a reflective thought after the event. So winning the final isn't an option.
But sometimes even before the event I hear fans of Federer regretting that Federer had made the Final because a loss to Rafa was seen as inevitable, especially on clay.
In that case, the answer is still second in my view. Losing a final hurts and is hard, but there is plenty to be learned in the long run from such an experience. You showed an image of Dirk/LeBron, 5 years ago it was Dirk's Mavs who lost in the finals to Miami. This time around he was clearly better for that harsh experience.
Wishing you'd rather lost in the semis than the final is exactly the kind of negative thinking that would hinder you from ever making a final or winning one, to begin with.
Re: Federer fans example. That just comes down to fandom and not wanting Nadal to further put a dent in their H2H finals record with respect to how others then judge Federer's legacy.
I'm sure if you asked Federer if he'd rather lose a semi-final to someone who isn't the best clay courter in the world, rather than to the best clay courter in the world in the final - his answer would be the latter.
Some of his fans might wish differently, but that's irrelevant, as Federer is surely far more resilient than that.
On personal experiences, I fucking hated losing in semis (I played mostly team sports rather than individual). There is a sense of completion if you reach the final, even if you end up losing. Being so close to where you wanted to be - as in the final - and not getting there, as far as I'm concerned, is a very bitter pill to swallow.