Re: Tennis Rivarly - a must read.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
After losing 6 of 7, is Roger the true No.1?
By John Pages
He won three of the last four tennis majors. He snapped 27 straight Grand-Slam matches, a streak better than Pete Sampras’ or Jimmy Connors’. Last year, he captured 80-of-84 matches and this year, 44-of-48. Combined, that’s 124 wins out of 132 for a whopping 94 winning percentage.
Amazing! (I’m sure fellow topnotcher Tiger Woods is nowhere near that mark.) His ATP ranking points? It stands at 7,035, one of the highest any player has reached. Ever. Only 24-years-old, he’s labeled as “the player with no weaknesses,” “the most talented man ever to wield a racket” and “the best ever.”
He, of course, is Roger Federer.
Yet the question remains: After losing the French Open final, after being left puzzled and head-scratching in defeat to Rafael Nadal, after losing six of their seven matches (including all four this year), is Roger Federer still deserving of the world No.1 ranking?
My answer: No, not on clay. What is it about clay?
In tennis, there exist three surfaces: grass, hard court and clay. Two weeks from today, your eyes will once more be glued to the TV set watching Wimbledon. That’s grass. It’s green, slippery, fast. Very fast. Remember Boris Becker and Goran Ivanisevic and Sampras? Remember their serves? Bullet serves and pinpoint volleys win on grass.
Hard court? Most events year round are on this surface, including the Australian and US Opens. It’s fast, yet not as fast as grass. Call it the not-so-fast, not-so-slow neutral court.
Clay? Call it slow. Very slow. When you hit a shot, the ball doesn’t skid like grass or jump like a hard court. It slows…down. That’s why a 100-meter sprinter like Nadal can run after a shot (that would have been a winner elsewhere) and retrieve it. To win on clay, you have to be a wall. And Rafa is a very muscular wall. Consider the unforced errors: Nadal had 28, while Federer had 51, almost double the mistakes. Topspin, endurance, mental strength and a pair of cheetah’s legs win on clay, and that spells five letters: Nadal.
Back to the question: Is Roger No.1?
Nadal, when asked about it, answered, “I can’t say I’m better than him. Since I was born, I’ve never seen a more complete player. He’s the best.”
Bilib ko. Talk about humility. This is what I like about the 20-year-old from Mallorca, Spain. Though he fist-pumps like Lleyton Hewitt, he doesn’t shout “C’mon!” and stare at you with dagger eyes. After a magical shot, Nadal pumps his left arm, skips on one leg, and shouts “Vamos!” while keeping it all to himself. He’s not hambog.
That’s why I rooted for Nadal. Many of my friends did not.
Jourdan Polotan, my fellow Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP) member and an avid badminton player, sent me several text messages which read: “Roger has a lot of class. He’s good yet respectful… Rafa would be a souped-up drag racer, while Roger an exotic sports car…The only thing I don’t like about Rafa are his pants and the “ku-ot lubot” part of his routine…Roger has to hit the weights room. Or else the Kryptonite will always work against him.”
Gerry Malixi, a fellow Lasallite, said, “Normally, I like the guy playing against Federer but this time, since he’s lost three straight, I’ll root for him…What a game! Federer will hit back on grass at the end of the month.”
Macky Michael, probably the best golfer-and-tennis-player in Cebu, said, “Cheering for Roger. Going for his fourth major in a row…I hope he attacks the net, if not he will get killed. Nadal will win in four sets, I think.” Macky, as always, was correct.
Fabby Borromeo was the lone exception. “I’m for Nadal,” he said. “He is very strong mentally and physically. I love his never-say-die attitude. After Pete (Sampras) and Andre (Agassi), we now have Rafa and Roger.” Well said, Fab.
Consider this: The world’s No.1 and No.2 players won all the Grand Slam and Masters Series events this 2006. As tennis fans, what more can we ask? Perhaps, a Wimbledon final?
Will I bet on Roger? As I’d answer on a walkie-talkie – “Roger on that!”
Last edited by angiel; 06-13-2006 at 12:42 AM.