Peter Bodo's greatest article.... [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

Peter Bodo's greatest article....

marcRD
06-13-2009, 02:48 AM
I am not easily impressed by these so called "tennis writters" who live by writting tennis once every week and making bold predictions which often go terribly wrong. I think however Peter Bodo nailed this one about the Federer-Nadal yin-yang relationship and the future of the relation after Roland Garros:

http://tennisworld.typepad.com/tennisworld/2009/06/rafda.html

by Pete Bodo
Mornin'. It looks like that Sprezzatura post (second one down) got a bunch of you animated, and while the celebrations of Roger Federer's historic win at Roland Garros continue on, as well they might, it's time to move along here to the yin to Federer's yang: Rafael Nadal.

Now, I understand the tensions and passions at play, and they sometimes lead fans of one or the other player to have a go at his or her counterpart across the Iberio-Swiss divide, but I really think that denigrating either Nadal or Federer by necessity diminishes the other man. We've seen over the past two years how each of these men is directly responsible for making the other a better, tougher, more dedicated competitor. To some degree, I agree with the "weak era" argument, although you can't hold that against Federer in any significant way. Any era dominated by a single player is, by definition, weak. Duh!

And while you there's a lot of fat to chew on in that issue, this much is undeniable: the emergence of Nadal in the last few years, and the rivalry he's established with Federer, really overshadows any depth-of-field discussion. How weak an era can it be if it boasts both the Grand Slam singles title record co-holder and the greatest of all clay-court players?

In any event, this idea that in Federer and Nadal we have this yin-and-yang thing ought to be taken seriously, and if it isn't it may be because that label gets thoughtlessly slapped onto too many relationships where it doesn't fit nearly as comprehensively. Honestly, can you think of two players more different, in every respect, than Federer and Nadal - but by the same token, two players so intimately bound in destiny?

I must say, we all should have been more receptive to what happened in Paris as soon as Nadal snatched the Wimbledon crown off Federer's head last July. If it was (and frankly, it still remains) a bit of a stretch to expect Federer to beat Nadal on the Parisian clay, but we should have been more prepared to see Federer swarm the ramparts of Court Philippe Chatrier the moment Nadal unexpectedly lost there. I'm not one of those people who thinks that the quality of Federer's victory would have been appreciably greater had he beaten Nadal in the French final; guys like Federer and Nadal understand that measuring themselves against another man, rather than against a task, is essentially to be subservient to that man.

For that same reason, I don't think Nadal gives a hoot about who he beats for the Wimbledon title - although gaining a big title at the expense of a top rival sweetens any player's sense of accomplishment. It's a pleasant aftertaste to savor. So while Federer won Paris without beating Nadal, I still get the feeling that the French Open final was a game-changer in exactly the same way as the Wimbledon final was last July.

It's hard to say when any boy becomes a man, but if we restrict our considerations to tennis, it seems to me that the day Federer won Roland Garros is the day Nadal became a man. For now he's encumbered by the same burden that distinguishes all men from children: responsibility. For the first time in his career, young Rafa has given significant ground, instead of gaining it and that calls for a response. Another way to put this is that up to this point, it's all been net plus for Nadal, and it's a credit to Federer that he's never made a point of this (if he has, I'm sure you'll let me know, and we can forget this clause). But Paris was a net loss - a painful blow suffered right in the heart of his comfort zone, on his own turf.

The rumors that Nadal's parents are about to divorce keep popping up in the gutter press and in my inbox via emails from acquaintances and sources, and I bring it up for this reason only: there's a parallel to be drawn between how domestic turmoil might affect an obedient son who's never questioned the impermeability of the familial cocoon, and how losing dominion over a patch of earth where he has known only spectacular success might affect a young and still not fully formed tennis player.

And before I go on or forget - isn't it just another bewitching aspect of this rivalry that the families of both men seem so level-headed and down-to-earth?

At any rate, any great player will tell you that in some ways it's far less stressful to be the hunter than the hunted. It takes a particular sort of person to comfortably put on that shirt that Pete Sampras says has a "great big target on its back." We don't really know how Nadal will take to that role after he's really been tested a few times, not by new challenges but by losses. By surprises. By setbacks in areas where he expected none. This is all new territory to him, because he's been living an uninterrupted dream since he won Wimbledon, and even his mildly disappointing result at the U.S. Open was moved from the "net loss" to the "net gain" column retroactively, on the grounds that it was good experience that enabled him to win his first major hard court title just a few months later, at the Australian Open.

In one of those art imitates life developments, it seems that Nadal is changing and maturing - and probably facing new and in some ways unanticipated challenges - as a person at the same time that he's morphing into a tennis player with a revised mandate. Don't take this wrong, because I respect Nadal's fighting spirit and his game as much as I ever did, but I no longer feel the same degree of affection I once had for him.

Rafa This is germane for one reason only - it's a measure of how much Rafa has changed, and grown. As little as a year ago, Nadal still was very much like the world's eager, happy-go-lucky, ever so slightly out-to-lunch kid brother. If he resembled a cartoon superhero ("Jet Boy", as you may remember) he transcended the two-dimensional nature of his fictitious brethren because he seemed as personally soft as he was professionally vitrified. You couldn't walk by him in a hallway without wanted to reach out and tousle his hair.

That youthfulness is in ebb now. He is, after all, 23 - and having the body of a sculpture by Michelangelo imposes certain obligations on the subject. The world around Rafa is changing, but the eyes through which he perceives it may be changing at an even more rapid pace. It may seem to him that suddenly he has an awful lot on his plate, and those unaccustomed to operating that way often rebel against having to do so, or feel they can't handle it. I think Rafa is determined, aware and brave enough not to be laid low by that psychological pitfall, but he'll have to prove it.

Here's another yin-and-yang element: Federer often seems like he's made to rule. He doesn't do losing well. This isn't a matter of arrogance and conceit; it's a manifestation of how he perceives the natural order of things, and to him winning is the default state of existence, in much the same way that being doted up and deferred to is a natural state of being for a prince. This helps explain why he's so effective and so seemingly comfortable when he's in complete and utter control. It isn't that he takes particular joy in humiliating Andy Roddick or thumping Nikolay Davydenko. It's just that he innately seems to feel that all is right in the world, and the food chain is most stable, when he's perched on top of it. There's no point holding this against Federer - it's the way of genius.

In that same way, one thing that we can say with confidence about Nadal is that, so far, he's shown that he's made to challenge. The real question is whether he's also made to rule. Up until last July, his greatest asset in macrocosmic terms was the fidelity with which he pursued a seemingly impossible dream - his aim to unseat Federer. Now that he's accomplished that, does he really have the drive, and does he really feel the need, consciously or otherwise, to take on a trickier and more multi-dimensional role? Federer is good at being The Man, and he clearly enjoys being the paragon of tennis. He's at once the conscience and the king of the game, and those two do not, by any means, always go hand-in-hand.

I'm not at all certain that Rafa has a urge to play such roles. What ambition he's had thus far seems completely focused on the tennis court and the result tables. You can see how Federer has more or less groomed himself, to good extent consciously, for his present identity. Whereas Rafa is perfectly content to crush some poor bugger, than play video games until it's time to go decapitate some other journeyman.

There's something very appropriate about Roger Federer serving as the icon of a sport that has always had an up-market, bourgeoisie identity, and it's exactly that smooth and almost slick combination of man and image and game that leaves some people cold, or leads those who are antagonistic to the values implied therein to discredit Federer or his accomplishments. He's like the son every mother would love to have, which means a large number other sons and daughters, especially imperfect ones, would love to stick pins in his eyeballs.

The only thing that Rafa seems to symbolize, beyond the insouciance of youth, is the orgiastic abandon of the athlete-warrior. His sleeveless shirts, bulging biceps, guttural grunts and even that ham-fisted game (for if Federer is Muhammad Ali, Nadal is his Joe Frazier) serve as rebukes to the customary class and style associations of tennis. In the long run, that may be the strongest and deepest source of Nadal's popularity, and the one that will serve him long after his vanishing youth no longer sparks automatic affection or sympathy. And that youth disappearing quickly, as it always does for the gifted and talented. Nadal will always seem a man of the earth and a man of the people; it's as much part of his nature as civilized superiority is of Federer's.

But that still leaves the question hanging: Will Nadal be as great a player when it's not longer about fulfilling a seemingly impossible dream, or scaling an unimaginable heights? For many people, the test is more interesting than the reward you earn for passing it, and accomplishing a particularly demanding task is an end in and of itself. We know why that is: once you've really fought hard for and earned something, the next thing is taking care of it - the next thing is responsibility. Federer is in many ways a very responsible man - you can see it in, among other things, his relationship with his wife, Mirka. Nadal hasn't had to be responsible until now, and over the next few months we'll see how he likes it.

We're very luck that there's an age difference of about four years between Federer and Nadal; in tennis, that's half-a-lifetime. That difference keeps their trajectories from becoming intertwined to the point of confusion. Like candles in a dark gallery, the light they shed also serves to heighten the contrast between them, and it dramatizes each man's signature qualities. For some years now, Federer has been the bar by which Nadal has measured himself. But the events of the last 12 months have taken away that handy yardstick.

In the coming months, Nadal will have to find a new yardstick, or risk returning to the played-out game we might as well call Catching Roger. It will be very, very hard to beat Federer at Wimbledon, which is his Roland Garros, terra sacre. This year, though, Federer will have nothing to prove and nobody to impress. With a win at Wimbledon, Federer will surpass Pete Sampras's all-time Grand Slam singles title record. But more than being a test for that reason, Wimbledon will be Federer's victory lap following the completion of his career Grand Slam. Given that he'll be under no pressure whatsoever, and still basking in the afterglow of his win in Paris, you have to reckon that he's going to be one free-swinging, dangerous hombre.

I suppose those who would like to see Rafa win (or Federer lose) could always hope that Federer gets a dangerous journeyman,. a Robin Soderling or someone like that, in the fourth round at Wimbledon.

It's been known to happen you know, and it can change the tennis landscape.

GlennMirnyi
06-13-2009, 02:52 AM
If you meant longest article, it would be more accurate.

What a repetitive, boring drivel.

marcRD
06-13-2009, 02:58 AM
If you meant longest article, it would be more accurate.

What a repetitive, boring drivel.

Well, I guess you cant please everybody. I would think you could agree that Nadal doesnt seem to be the man to carry the burden of beeing the target and nr1?

GlennMirnyi
06-13-2009, 03:03 AM
Well, I guess you cant please everybody. I would think you could agree that Nadal doesnt seem to be the man to carry the burden of beeing the target and nr1?

I'd say I agree Nadull should've never been in that position to start with.

finishingmove
06-13-2009, 03:05 AM
don't post these articles unless there's something funny or stupid in them...

if there is, bold it out.

thanks..

Johnny Groove
06-13-2009, 03:06 AM
Well, I guess you cant please everybody. I would think you could agree that Nadal doesnt seem to be the man to carry the burden of beeing the target and nr1?

I saw this article yesterday and actually agreed with you that it is the diamond in the rough of Bodo's articles.

I think he's spot on about this. Ever since Nadal took #1, he hasn't looked satisfied playing. Even when he wins, it seems more a burden to bear than when he was #2 and it was all for fun.

Maybe him losing the #1 ranking back to Roger (which is all but certain in the next few months) might help him out mentally.

GlennMirnyi
06-13-2009, 03:08 AM
don't post these articles unless there's something funny or stupid in them...

if there is, bold it out.

thanks..

:haha:

Agreed.

marcRD
06-13-2009, 03:08 AM
I'd say I agree Nadull should've never been in that position to start with.

Dont tell me something I already know, I mean that is your religion and everyone in the world knows that you dont belive in moonballing tennis. It is not only the style of game Nadal plays but also his personality which doesnt fit the role of dominating the world and beeing the favourite.

jmf07
06-13-2009, 03:09 AM
Well, I guess you cant please everybody. I would think you could agree that Nadal doesnt seem to be the man to carry the burden of beeing the target and nr1?

:lol: So according to this it took him 4 French Open titles to finally be the target. He was the target on clay after his first French Open victory and it didn’t stop him from winning three more.

RonE
06-13-2009, 03:14 AM
Bodo has been articulating what I have been feeling for years. All seemed fine with the world while Rafa dear was the underdog but now that he has suffered his first major setback when he was considered favourite will be interesting.

I think, however, that Bodo slightly overexaggerates this point. I believe Rafa will bounce back and perhaps even be more motivated to prove it at Wimbledon after a set back like this.

The only other point is that the article could have been shortened by about two thirds.

Johnny Groove
06-13-2009, 03:14 AM
:lol: So according to this it took him 4 French Open titles to finally be the target. He was the target on clay after his first French Open victory and it didn’t stop him from winning three more.

Its different though.

When he was #2, the mindset he had was of the ever-constant challenger. The one to deter the Great Federer's achievements. He was always in Roger's shadow, and the only question during the clay season was if Nadal could continue to deny Federer the French. The other 75% of the year, he was not the man to beat.

Now, though, he has the burden of being the man to beat on all surfaces, every match, 24/7. Bottom line, Nadal much prefers to be the hunter than the hunted. He can handle being king for 3 months of the year, but being the favorite to win every tournament he enters regardless of surface takes a mental toll that Nadal just isn't ready to burden.

Federer, on the other hand, thrives on this kind of pressure. He loves being #1.

marcRD
06-13-2009, 03:15 AM
:lol: So according to this it took him 4 French Open titles to finally be the target. He was the target on clay after his first French Open victory and it didn’t stop him from winning three more.

I dont know, but for some odd reason I think Nadal really belived Federer was the favourite and all he could do on clay was make things uncomfortable for Federer. I dont think the whole deal with "he is nr1 and is the favourite, no?" quote we heard every year was accidental, there is something in Rafa's head which feels comfortable beeing the challenger and the underdog and even when he wasnt the underdog he could still belive that was the case. I think this year he got to have understood he is the greatest tennis player in the world and while he still is playing great tennis as someone mentioned he doesnt look to be enjoying tennis as much as before.

RonE
06-13-2009, 03:17 AM
I saw this article yesterday and actually agreed with you that it is the diamond in the rough of Bodo's articles.

I think he's spot on about this. Ever since Nadal took #1, he hasn't looked satisfied playing. Even when he wins, it seems more a burden to bear than when he was #2 and it was all for fun.

Maybe him losing the #1 ranking back to Roger (which is all but certain in the next few months) might help him out mentally.

It seems Rafa is at his best when he feels he needs to prove himself. When people start to doubt him and his abilities is when he is most dangerous and is out on a mission to prove them wrong. I agree he doesn't handle the burden of expectation of being favourite nearly as well. Which is why I think Roger coming outright and claiming himself as the favourite for Wmbledon will actually work in Rafa's favour there assuming he is healthy.

GlennMirnyi
06-13-2009, 03:17 AM
Dont tell me something I already know, I mean that is your religion and everyone in the world knows that you dont belive in moonballing tennis. It is not only the style of game Nadal plays but also his personality which doesnt fit the role of dominating the world and beeing the favourite.

Of course it doesn't. Nadull's mental advantage is that he puts himself as if he were always the underdog, luring the opponent into a sense of false security and then hitting a impossible passing shot on the run or something like that. This kind of shot is a huge coup on the morale of mentally weaker opponents.

Johnny Groove
06-13-2009, 03:22 AM
It seems Rafa is at his best when he feels he needs to prove himself. When people start to doubt him and his abilities is when he is most dangerous and is out on a mission to prove them wrong. I agree he doesn't handle the burden of expectation of being favourite nearly as well. Which is why I think Roger coming outright and claiming himself as the favourite for Wmbledon will actually work in Rafa's favour there assuming he is healthy.

Agreed. Since he won the AO, Nadal's looked pissy and grumpy on court for months. Whether it has to do with the mentality of being #1, the rumors of his parents splitting, the new wardrobe, his injury, Xisca not getting it done in the bed, whatever it may be, he just hasn't looked like the same Rafa.

I expect Nadal to play Wimbledon, and the injury cloud to hang over the fortnight. How he performs there will be huge. Defending this title will be the biggest hurdle he's ever had to overcome in his career. We'll see how he handles it.

marcRD
06-13-2009, 03:27 AM
Agreed. Since he won the AO, Nadal's looked pissy and grumpy on court for months. Whether it has to do with the mentality of being #1, the rumors of his parents splitting, the new wardrobe, his injury, Xisca not getting it done in the bed, whatever it may be, he just hasn't looked like the same Rafa.

I expect Nadal to play Wimbledon, and the injury cloud to hang over the fortnight. How he performs there will be huge. Defending this title will be the biggest hurdle he's ever had to overcome in his career. We'll see how he handles it.

Agreed, I will be very impressed if he just gets to the final and gives Federer a good match in the final. I have a feeling Nadal might be taken out by some hardhitter before semifinal, I think Nadal missing Queens matters alot more to him than Federer missing Halle.

Johnny Groove
06-13-2009, 03:30 AM
Agreed, I will be very impressed if he just gets to the final and gives Federer a good match in the final. I have a feeling Nadal might be taken out by some hardhitter before semifinal, I think Nadal missing Queens matters alot more to him than Federer missing Halle.

Oh yeah, without a doubt.

I'm hoping Nadal gets a minefield of a draw with big hitters left, right, and center, so he can really prove himself. If he gets through a rough draw and takes out Federer in the final, I wouldn't even know how to describe it. It'd be even more insane than his SF and F in Australia.

marcRD
06-13-2009, 03:34 AM
Oh yeah, without a doubt.

I'm hoping Nadal gets a minefield of a draw with big hitters left, right, and center, so he can really prove himself. If he gets through a rough draw and takes out Federer in the final, I wouldn't even know how to describe it. It'd be even more insane than his SF and F in Australia.

That would be kind of turning the tables. "So, you finaly won French Open? I just defeated Berdych, Söderling, Tsonga and Murray back to back to get to this final. Also impressive, no?"

He would definetly be on a roll then and his chanses against Federer would be greatly increased.

prima donna
06-13-2009, 03:38 AM
Why is it that so-called tennis pundits feel the need to perpetuate the myth that the names Federer and Nadal are interchangable ? Roger just won his 14th slam, why is Nadal even being mentioned as part of the equation ? How nauseating.

Johnny Groove
06-13-2009, 03:41 AM
That would be kind of turning the tables. "So, you finaly won French Open? I just defeated Berdych, Söderling, Tsonga and Murray back to back to get to this final. Also impressive, no?"

He would definetly be on a roll then and his chanses against Federer would be greatly increased.

Those 4 seem like a pretty solid draw for him to have after a pair of easy wins in the opening two rounds before a clash with Federer.

I really hope Soderling and Nadal play, more than anything.

RagingLamb
06-13-2009, 03:42 AM
by Pete Bodo

We've seen over the past two years how each of these men is directly responsible for making the other a better, tougher, more dedicated competitor.

Sorry, what?

gjr
06-13-2009, 03:43 AM
Stopped reading after about a 3rd way in. Too difficult for me to understand what he's trying to say.

optimism
06-13-2009, 03:45 AM
Imaginary article.;) "The hunter and the hunted" sounds fitting but it doesn't really apply well to the federer-nadal story. I would never underestimate Nadal's determination to pursue his own greatness regardless how Roger does (or anyone else). What I admire about Nadal the most is his mental toughness and I don't for a second believe that Nadal would surrender to the pressure of being at the very top.

And yes Roger likes to be in control, not because it comes natural to him to "rule" according to the author. Roger is not one of those born with loads of self-belief like Djokovic. He needs success to boost his confidence. That's why he "likes" to proclaim himself to be the favorite everytime. He needs it. Everybody knows how fragile he was before his dominating days. And that kinda of vulnerability of a person will never change, but it could be overcome to some degree that's why success did wonder for Roger and kept him on top for so long.

optimism
06-13-2009, 03:50 AM
What I am trying to say is, tennis is a game and tennis players have ups and downs. Bodo is just trying too hard to make too much out of it. :)

CyBorg
06-13-2009, 04:38 AM
If you meant longest article, it would be more accurate.

What a repetitive, boring drivel.

My thoughts exactly.

I hate sports writers who psychoanalyze for a living. It's easy to do and a good way of churning out long articles.

fast_clay
06-13-2009, 05:01 AM
it was a good thread... it helped me with my constipation... great loosener...

Har-Tru
06-13-2009, 05:08 AM
Sorry, what?

What's wrong with that? I think he's right there.

Bargearse
06-13-2009, 05:17 AM
Federer is a great leader no doubt and considered an excellent ambassador for the game because he embodies the qualities expected of a world number one tennis player. He's well presented, articulate, bilingual, proper on the court and basically inoffensive.

Nadal I think is also a great leader, but doesn't necessarily play by the rules expected of the world number one. That's not to say he doesn't like being number one, or isn't happy there. I'm sure he's loving it. It's just that he's not as pretty on the court, grunts a bit, picks his wedgie, wears ugly colors, speaks in broken english and doesn't seem interested in being bilingual. He'd rather play his video games than tow the line. If that's what works for him, so be it. Doesn't make him any less worthy of number one.

And I'm not a fan.

Har-Tru
06-13-2009, 05:52 AM
Federer is a great leader no doubt and considered an excellent ambassador for the game because he embodies the qualities expected of a world number one tennis player. He's well presented, articulate, bilingual, proper on the court and basically inoffensive.

Nadal I think is also a great leader, but doesn't necessarily play by the rules expected of the world number one. That's not to say he doesn't like being number one, or isn't happy there. I'm sure he's loving it. It's just that he's not as pretty on the court, grunts a bit, picks his wedgie, wears ugly colors, speaks in broken english and doesn't seem interested in being bilingual. He'd rather play his video games than tow the line. If that's what works for him, so be it. Doesn't make him any less worthy of number one.

And I'm not a fan.

He was born a bilingual person (Catalan and Spanish).

I get you.

vamosinator
06-13-2009, 06:06 AM
For that same reason, I don't think Nadal gives a hoot about who he beats for the Wimbledon title - although gaining a big title at the expense of a top rival sweetens any player's sense of accomplishment. It's a pleasant aftertaste to savor. So while Federer won Paris without beating Nadal, I still get the feeling that the French Open final was a game-changer in exactly the same way as the Wimbledon final was last July.


Delusional:o

prima donna
06-13-2009, 06:09 AM
Federer is a great leader no doubt and considered an excellent ambassador for the game because he embodies the qualities expected of a world number one tennis player. He's well presented, articulate, bilingual, proper on the court and basically inoffensive.

Trilingual, actually. Roger speaks Swiss-German, French and English.

Har-Tru
06-13-2009, 06:13 AM
Trilingual, actually. Roger speaks Swiss-German, French and English.

And Standard German.

FedFan_2007
06-13-2009, 07:30 AM
Bottom line is Nadal is more comfortable being the chaser, the hunter. Federer, meanwhile loves being #1 and setting the standard, fending off the chasers. I almost think that Nadal will feel relieved when he loses the #1 ranking.

Swiss Mountain
06-13-2009, 08:47 AM
I am not easily impressed by these so called "tennis writters" who live by writting tennis once every week and making bold predictions which often go terribly wrong. I think however Peter Bodo nailed this one about the Federer-Nadal yin-yang relationship and the future of the relation after Roland Garros:

http://tennisworld.typepad.com/tennisworld/2009/06/rafda.html

by Pete Bodo
Mornin'. It looks like that Sprezzatura post (second one down) got a bunch of you animated, and while the celebrations of Roger Federer's historic win at Roland Garros continue on, as well they might, it's time to move along here to the yin to Federer's yang: Rafael Nadal.

Now, I understand the tensions and passions at play, and they sometimes lead fans of one or the other player to have a go at his or her counterpart across the Iberio-Swiss divide, but I really think that denigrating either Nadal or Federer by necessity diminishes the other man. We've seen over the past two years how each of these men is directly responsible for making the other a better, tougher, more dedicated competitor. To some degree, I agree with the "weak era" argument, although you can't hold that against Federer in any significant way. Any era dominated by a single player is, by definition, weak. Duh!

And while you there's a lot of fat to chew on in that issue, this much is undeniable: the emergence of Nadal in the last few years, and the rivalry he's established with Federer, really overshadows any depth-of-field discussion. How weak an era can it be if it boasts both the Grand Slam singles title record co-holder and the greatest of all clay-court players?

In any event, this idea that in Federer and Nadal we have this yin-and-yang thing ought to be taken seriously, and if it isn't it may be because that label gets thoughtlessly slapped onto too many relationships where it doesn't fit nearly as comprehensively. Honestly, can you think of two players more different, in every respect, than Federer and Nadal - but by the same token, two players so intimately bound in destiny?

I must say, we all should have been more receptive to what happened in Paris as soon as Nadal snatched the Wimbledon crown off Federer's head last July. If it was (and frankly, it still remains) a bit of a stretch to expect Federer to beat Nadal on the Parisian clay, but we should have been more prepared to see Federer swarm the ramparts of Court Philippe Chatrier the moment Nadal unexpectedly lost there. I'm not one of those people who thinks that the quality of Federer's victory would have been appreciably greater had he beaten Nadal in the French final; guys like Federer and Nadal understand that measuring themselves against another man, rather than against a task, is essentially to be subservient to that man.

For that same reason, I don't think Nadal gives a hoot about who he beats for the Wimbledon title - although gaining a big title at the expense of a top rival sweetens any player's sense of accomplishment. It's a pleasant aftertaste to savor. So while Federer won Paris without beating Nadal, I still get the feeling that the French Open final was a game-changer in exactly the same way as the Wimbledon final was last July.

It's hard to say when any boy becomes a man, but if we restrict our considerations to tennis, it seems to me that the day Federer won Roland Garros is the day Nadal became a man. For now he's encumbered by the same burden that distinguishes all men from children: responsibility. For the first time in his career, young Rafa has given significant ground, instead of gaining it and that calls for a response. Another way to put this is that up to this point, it's all been net plus for Nadal, and it's a credit to Federer that he's never made a point of this (if he has, I'm sure you'll let me know, and we can forget this clause). But Paris was a net loss - a painful blow suffered right in the heart of his comfort zone, on his own turf.

The rumors that Nadal's parents are about to divorce keep popping up in the gutter press and in my inbox via emails from acquaintances and sources, and I bring it up for this reason only: there's a parallel to be drawn between how domestic turmoil might affect an obedient son who's never questioned the impermeability of the familial cocoon, and how losing dominion over a patch of earth where he has known only spectacular success might affect a young and still not fully formed tennis player.

And before I go on or forget - isn't it just another bewitching aspect of this rivalry that the families of both men seem so level-headed and down-to-earth?

At any rate, any great player will tell you that in some ways it's far less stressful to be the hunter than the hunted. It takes a particular sort of person to comfortably put on that shirt that Pete Sampras says has a "great big target on its back." We don't really know how Nadal will take to that role after he's really been tested a few times, not by new challenges but by losses. By surprises. By setbacks in areas where he expected none. This is all new territory to him, because he's been living an uninterrupted dream since he won Wimbledon, and even his mildly disappointing result at the U.S. Open was moved from the "net loss" to the "net gain" column retroactively, on the grounds that it was good experience that enabled him to win his first major hard court title just a few months later, at the Australian Open.

In one of those art imitates life developments, it seems that Nadal is changing and maturing - and probably facing new and in some ways unanticipated challenges - as a person at the same time that he's morphing into a tennis player with a revised mandate. Don't take this wrong, because I respect Nadal's fighting spirit and his game as much as I ever did, but I no longer feel the same degree of affection I once had for him.

Rafa This is germane for one reason only - it's a measure of how much Rafa has changed, and grown. As little as a year ago, Nadal still was very much like the world's eager, happy-go-lucky, ever so slightly out-to-lunch kid brother. If he resembled a cartoon superhero ("Jet Boy", as you may remember) he transcended the two-dimensional nature of his fictitious brethren because he seemed as personally soft as he was professionally vitrified. You couldn't walk by him in a hallway without wanted to reach out and tousle his hair.

That youthfulness is in ebb now. He is, after all, 23 - and having the body of a sculpture by Michelangelo imposes certain obligations on the subject. The world around Rafa is changing, but the eyes through which he perceives it may be changing at an even more rapid pace. It may seem to him that suddenly he has an awful lot on his plate, and those unaccustomed to operating that way often rebel against having to do so, or feel they can't handle it. I think Rafa is determined, aware and brave enough not to be laid low by that psychological pitfall, but he'll have to prove it.

Here's another yin-and-yang element: Federer often seems like he's made to rule. He doesn't do losing well. This isn't a matter of arrogance and conceit; it's a manifestation of how he perceives the natural order of things, and to him winning is the default state of existence, in much the same way that being doted up and deferred to is a natural state of being for a prince. This helps explain why he's so effective and so seemingly comfortable when he's in complete and utter control. It isn't that he takes particular joy in humiliating Andy Roddick or thumping Nikolay Davydenko. It's just that he innately seems to feel that all is right in the world, and the food chain is most stable, when he's perched on top of it. There's no point holding this against Federer - it's the way of genius.

In that same way, one thing that we can say with confidence about Nadal is that, so far, he's shown that he's made to challenge. The real question is whether he's also made to rule. Up until last July, his greatest asset in macrocosmic terms was the fidelity with which he pursued a seemingly impossible dream - his aim to unseat Federer. Now that he's accomplished that, does he really have the drive, and does he really feel the need, consciously or otherwise, to take on a trickier and more multi-dimensional role? Federer is good at being The Man, and he clearly enjoys being the paragon of tennis. He's at once the conscience and the king of the game, and those two do not, by any means, always go hand-in-hand.

I'm not at all certain that Rafa has a urge to play such roles. What ambition he's had thus far seems completely focused on the tennis court and the result tables. You can see how Federer has more or less groomed himself, to good extent consciously, for his present identity. Whereas Rafa is perfectly content to crush some poor bugger, than play video games until it's time to go decapitate some other journeyman.

There's something very appropriate about Roger Federer serving as the icon of a sport that has always had an up-market, bourgeoisie identity, and it's exactly that smooth and almost slick combination of man and image and game that leaves some people cold, or leads those who are antagonistic to the values implied therein to discredit Federer or his accomplishments. He's like the son every mother would love to have, which means a large number other sons and daughters, especially imperfect ones, would love to stick pins in his eyeballs.

The only thing that Rafa seems to symbolize, beyond the insouciance of youth, is the orgiastic abandon of the athlete-warrior. His sleeveless shirts, bulging biceps, guttural grunts and even that ham-fisted game (for if Federer is Muhammad Ali, Nadal is his Joe Frazier) serve as rebukes to the customary class and style associations of tennis. In the long run, that may be the strongest and deepest source of Nadal's popularity, and the one that will serve him long after his vanishing youth no longer sparks automatic affection or sympathy. And that youth disappearing quickly, as it always does for the gifted and talented. Nadal will always seem a man of the earth and a man of the people; it's as much part of his nature as civilized superiority is of Federer's.

But that still leaves the question hanging: Will Nadal be as great a player when it's not longer about fulfilling a seemingly impossible dream, or scaling an unimaginable heights? For many people, the test is more interesting than the reward you earn for passing it, and accomplishing a particularly demanding task is an end in and of itself. We know why that is: once you've really fought hard for and earned something, the next thing is taking care of it - the next thing is responsibility. Federer is in many ways a very responsible man - you can see it in, among other things, his relationship with his wife, Mirka. Nadal hasn't had to be responsible until now, and over the next few months we'll see how he likes it.

We're very luck that there's an age difference of about four years between Federer and Nadal; in tennis, that's half-a-lifetime. That difference keeps their trajectories from becoming intertwined to the point of confusion. Like candles in a dark gallery, the light they shed also serves to heighten the contrast between them, and it dramatizes each man's signature qualities. For some years now, Federer has been the bar by which Nadal has measured himself. But the events of the last 12 months have taken away that handy yardstick.

In the coming months, Nadal will have to find a new yardstick, or risk returning to the played-out game we might as well call Catching Roger. It will be very, very hard to beat Federer at Wimbledon, which is his Roland Garros, terra sacre. This year, though, Federer will have nothing to prove and nobody to impress. With a win at Wimbledon, Federer will surpass Pete Sampras's all-time Grand Slam singles title record. But more than being a test for that reason, Wimbledon will be Federer's victory lap following the completion of his career Grand Slam. Given that he'll be under no pressure whatsoever, and still basking in the afterglow of his win in Paris, you have to reckon that he's going to be one free-swinging, dangerous hombre.

I suppose those who would like to see Rafa win (or Federer lose) could always hope that Federer gets a dangerous journeyman,. a Robin Soderling or someone like that, in the fourth round at Wimbledon.

It's been known to happen you know, and it can change the tennis landscape.


Just wanted to say: this writer is annoying to read for a french, I will go until the end, I swear what a bull; that is a ***** to read and translate, What a moron!!!
One hour I open this page, I am so bore; It's difficult; what an idiot!!!

feuselino
06-13-2009, 08:49 AM
If Nadal defends Wimbledon, I think it will be the first time he manages to defend a non-clay title...

as for the article: it is way too long. say the same thing in about 1/4 of words and is a nice article. Writing a blog where length doesn't matter can sometimes be a trap...

l_mac
06-13-2009, 09:28 AM
This is the usual Peter Bodo tosh. He's an awful writer.

vamosinator
06-13-2009, 10:17 AM
If Nadal defends Wimbledon, I think it will be the first time he manages to defend a non-clay title...

as for the article: it is way too long. say the same thing in about 1/4 of words and is a nice article. Writing a blog where length doesn't matter can sometimes be a trap...

There tends to be a lot of firsts when you are only 23 :rolleyes:

Bargearse
06-13-2009, 10:50 AM
He was born a bilingual person (Catalan and Spanish).

I get you.

I was actually referring to French here and should have phrased it differently. Meaning the French people are apparently offended that Nadal doesn't speak French to the crowd at the FO whereas Federer does, making him the more popular of the two.

Bargearse
06-13-2009, 10:52 AM
Trilingual, actually. Roger speaks Swiss-German, French and English.

Five or six languages, of course so multilingual (I was zeroing in on French and English only because of the recent French Open and reading posts from people speculating that Nadal was getting booed because he wouldn't speak French to the crowd.

Dini
06-13-2009, 11:02 AM
I think it's exagerrated slightly. :shrug:

Who has he lost to this year? Monfils, Del Potro, Soderling, Fed and Muzz. Whilst the first 3 can be seen as "bad" losses, I think that those players on any given day can be dangerous and if you're not on your game then you'll be punished by the heavy hitters especially on HC. Fed and Murray if I'm honest did beat an out of sorts Nadal. Not taking anything away from their respective victories though, as a win is a win.

5 titles and the best win-loss ratio. Not bad. :shrug:

bokehlicious
06-13-2009, 11:03 AM
"Federer's like the son every mother would love to have, which means a large number other sons and daughters, especially imperfect ones, would love to stick pins in his eyeballs."

Way to describe the haters Pete :yeah: :lol:

vamosinator
06-13-2009, 12:09 PM
Looks like Nadal will just have to go win Wimbledon again to shut these freaks up. When he does win it you shouldn't be surprised if Nadal fans treat yall like dirt:o

Dini
06-13-2009, 12:14 PM
"Federer's like the son every mother would love to have, which means a large number other sons and daughters, especially imperfect ones, would love to stick pins in his eyeballs."

Way to describe the haters Pete :yeah: :lol:

:lol: :haha: I might have to quote that in my sig.

andylovesaustin
06-13-2009, 01:17 PM
I think this is a very interesting and insightful article, particularly about the psychology of both players.

Thanks for posting.:)

denibas77
06-13-2009, 02:14 PM
And Standard German.What it is difference between Swiss German and Standard German can we compare to difference between english and american english

RagingLamb
06-13-2009, 02:20 PM
What's wrong with that? I think he's right there.

How is nadal "directly responsible for making the Federer a better, tougher, more dedicated competitor" over the past two years?

vamosinator
06-13-2009, 02:22 PM
How is nadal "directly responsible for making the Federer a better, tougher, more dedicated competitor" over the past two years?

Exactly, the journalist is delusional extraordinaire....

Nadal was responsible for giving Federer a free path at RG, nothing more nothing less. The silly journo is trying to make this RG victory something more than it is, he's just another Federer fan obsessed with Fed-praise:o

pica_pica
06-13-2009, 02:32 PM
I use to read every article by Bodo, but no longer so because they're too long and I'm too lazy to read them :p
I'd devote most of my energy to live matches instead

habibko
06-13-2009, 03:20 PM
Here's another yin-and-yang element: Federer often seems like he's made to rule. He doesn't do losing well. This isn't a matter of arrogance and conceit; it's a manifestation of how he perceives the natural order of things, and to him winning is the default state of existence, in much the same way that being doted up and deferred to is a natural state of being for a prince. This helps explain why he's so effective and so seemingly comfortable when he's in complete and utter control. It isn't that he takes particular joy in humiliating Andy Roddick or thumping Nikolay Davydenko. It's just that he innately seems to feel that all is right in the world, and the food chain is most stable, when he's perched on top of it. There's no point holding this against Federer - it's the way of genius.

I liked this part, well said.

RonE
06-13-2009, 03:42 PM
What it is difference between Swiss German and Standard German can we compare to difference between english and american english

Germans often refer to Swiss German as a "throat disease". Having spent a long time in Germany, the first time I went to Zurich I thought I might have accidently taken a wrong turn and ended up in Amsterdam instead. To the untrained ear, they sound like two completely different languages.

sawan66278
06-13-2009, 04:05 PM
Delusional:o

I think it's exagerrated slightly. :shrug:

Who has he lost to this year? Monfils, Del Potro, Soderling, Fed and Muzz. Whilst the first 3 can be seen as "bad" losses, I think that those players on any given day can be dangerous and if you're not on your game then you'll be punished by the heavy hitters especially on HC. Fed and Murray if I'm honest did beat an out of sorts Nadal. Not taking anything away from their respective victories though, as a win is a win.

5 titles and the best win-loss ratio. Not bad. :shrug:

Exactly, the journalist is delusional extraordinaire....

Nadal was responsible for giving Federer a free path at RG, nothing more nothing less. The silly journo is trying to make this RG victory something more than it is, he's just another Federer fan obsessed with Fed-praise:o

Bodo may very well be the biggest Fedtard on the planet. Almost everyone of his articles related to men's tennis is akin to a personal "letter" to Federer...much like a parent trying to send a card to one's child who's going through some trouble. "It'll be fine, son...this is a turning point for Rafa...and he will fall into his proper place behind you":rolleyes:

He makes a point to state that Federer is not "arrogant"...just that he is like a prince who believes that the proper order of things is him being at the top.:rolleyes: Such apologist pieces and explanations for Federer's behavior are endemic of his lack of objectivity.

AND, the man is borderline racist. Two weeks ago, about the psycho who accosted Federer in the RG final:

What might it have been like to have that maniac prancing before him, like something out of a nightmare, a grotesque spook coming back from a terrifying dream Federer once had about Rafael Nadal, and what that dark young Spanish nemesis had done to interrupt the arc of his career at Roland Garros.

Federer is Bodo's king...and he uses his columns to downplay the achievements of those "usurpers" to the throne he feels Federer is "entitled" too (as evidenced by this very article)...his assessments about Rafa? Wishful thinking and revisionist history on how Rafa has handled the past.

Bodo's writing needs to go the way of the dodo...extinction.

Bascule
06-13-2009, 04:11 PM
Calling anyone a racist by someone who has deleted threads lately because of the racist statements (and been banned before for the same) is ridiculous.

Anyway, article is full of BS.

marcRD
06-13-2009, 04:19 PM
I thought the article was great fun and not as bad as stuff I usually read from Bodo but I guess that was just my perception of things. I have felt that something looks different in Nadal after AO this year but I havent found the words to describe what the problem is, I think Bodo is right about the whole deal with Nadal beeing lost out there as the nr1 ranked player-

andylovesaustin
06-13-2009, 04:44 PM
I thought the article was great fun and not as bad as stuff I usually read from Bodo but I guess that was just my perception of things. I have felt that something looks different in Nadal after AO this year but I havent found the words to describe what the problem is, I think Bodo is right about the whole deal with Nadal beeing lost out there as the nr1 ranked player-


I agree. I thought his points about Nadal were well-made. I think it's an excellent observation about Nadal's personality. To me...I'm not sure if Rafa's personality is the type to be at #1. As great of an competitor as he is, he seems to be very easy-going off-court. And he seems to want to be friends with people. In one sense he lacks a certain amount of "killer instinct" even though he's a great competitor as a sort of underdog if that makes any sense.

Also, I have to say, I sometimes think it's dangerous when a family takes that much interest in a tennis player's career. It's like it's all to intertwined--that his family isn't separate from tennis, ya know? I just think it's a very precarious dynamic if one looks at similar scenarios in sports as well as entertainment in general.

I also think the point was well-made about Federer's attitude. I really think it's like Roger believes he's on a mission--that he has a destiny to fulfill more than actually arrogance or even self-indulgence.

I liked the article. It really made me think about some things a little differently.

prima donna
06-13-2009, 04:53 PM
In one sense he lacks a certain amount of "killer instinct" .
Give me a break.

andylovesaustin
06-13-2009, 05:01 PM
Give me a break.

I know.... it sounded weird.

But it's like to be #1 in the world it just seems a player has to have a sort of killer instinct--and I don't mean that in a bad way. I can't really explain it. Roger just has the personality--or maybe it's the experience(??) of being a frontrunner. He likes it. He just seems to like everything about it. Roger has no problem calling himself, "the favorite," for example, when the situation warrants it.

Rafa, on the other hand, doesn't appear to like being the frontrunner. In fact, he's often reluctant to call himself "the favorite" of anything even though he might be. From my observation, it's like in his mind, he's always the guy chasing rather than guy being chased.

prima donna
06-13-2009, 05:09 PM
I know.... it sounded weird.

But it's like to be #1 in the world it just seems a player has to have a sort of killer instinct--and I don't mean that in a bad way. I can't really explain it. Roger just has the personality--or maybe it's the experience(??) of being a frontrunner. He likes it. He just seems to like everything about it. Roger has no problem calling himself, "the favorite," for example, when the situation warrants it.

Rafa, on the other hand, doesn't appear to like being the frontrunner. In fact, he's often reluctant to call himself "the favorite" of anything even though he might be. From my observation, it's like in his mind, he's always the guy chasing rather than guy being chased.
So, even if we follow your supposition that Nadal has some sort of an aversion to pressure, how does that abase his competitive instinct ? He's the most opportunistic player on tour. One need only juxtapose Nadal's break point conversion percentage to that of Federer -- particularly in their '06 match in Paris -- to understand the extent of Nadal's "killer instinct."

andylovesaustin
06-13-2009, 05:15 PM
So, even if we follow your supposition that Nadal has some sort of an aversion to pressure, how does that abase his competitive instinct ? He's the most opportunistic player on tour. One need only juxtapose Nadal's break point conversion percentage to that of Federer -- particularly in their '06 match in Paris -- to understand the extent of Nadal's "killer instinct."

Well.. I'm talking more about overall. Yeah.. within a match.. yes.. I definitely agree with you.

I'm talking more about his approach in general. Maybe killer instinct wasn't the correct phrase? It's more that Rafa doesn't seem to be as....on the "offensive" as Roger. Obviously, this mentality is reflected in their styles of play. But I also think it's reflected in how they view their role in tennis, if that makes any sense?

I'm not criticizing Roger... let me make that clear. I think he has a champion's mentality. Pete Sampras had it, and Roger has it. Rafa.... his approach is a bit unusual to me. :shrug: He's sure easy to like.. but it's just I can't explain it. :lol:

ballbasher101
06-13-2009, 05:19 PM
I like the article. I agree with his assessment that Federer likes being the top dog whereas Nadal is not entirely comfortable being the king. Nadal does not like being the favorite for every match. It used to piss me of whenever Nadal used to say that Federer is number 1 so he is the favorite even on clay.

andylovesaustin
06-13-2009, 05:32 PM
I like the article. I agree with his assessment that Federer likes being the top dog whereas Nadal is not entirely comfortable being the king. Nadal does not like being the favorite for every match. It used to piss me of whenever Nadal used to say that Federer is number 1 so he is the favorite even on clay.

Yeah... I really like Rafa's personality. He seems like such a nice guy. But he's very reluctant to say, "Yeah, I'm the favorite, so beat me if you can." I mean even Guga--as nice as he appeared to be--he seems to have no problem calling himself a "favorite" if feels like he deserves to be. That's just a champion's mentality. Agassi had it, too.. .

I'm not saying Rafa's isn't a champion or doesn't have a champion's mentality.. but it's more of a different approach. That's all I'm saying.

vamosinator
06-14-2009, 02:58 AM
So according to this clown, Nadal doesn't feel comfortable being number one? So why is he leading the tour in tournament wins and won a slam since being number one? Whether he was number one or number 2 he was still going to lose at Roland Garros, and to invent a lie just to help your point is journalism at its lowest (and most typical):o

lessthanjake
06-14-2009, 07:11 AM
This makes perfect sense. It sucks being the person who is SUPPOSED to win. It's fun to be the challenger.

I did a lot of debate in high school. My freshman and sophomore years were lots of fun because I was a challenger; I wasn't supposed to be good at that point, and so anything I won or did well at was a big deal and made me happy. If I didn't win, I didn't mind; I wasn't supposed to.

However, my junior and senior year, I was the favorite to win every tournament I was in. If I didn't win, I was really upset with myself, and if I did win, I was merely relieved that I didn't end up upset with the result. I dreaded debate; and even though I ended up state champion both years, it was NEVER fun.

I think this is rather normal with competitive events, and seems to be true of Nadal. Reining in Federer's parade was fun. Being the favorite is not fun. It DOES affect your performance, but it will be interesting to see how he responds now that he has finally had a major result that he should be upset with himself over.

vamosinator
06-14-2009, 07:17 AM
LOL just because its easier being number 2 it doesn't mean it effects winning and losing:o

Anyhow, the point is meaningless because this is Nadal's best year ever so far:o

lessthanjake
06-14-2009, 07:39 AM
The point is that it DOES affect winning and losing. Obviously the number 1 player will win a lot still. After all, they are number 1 for a reason. But it starts to get not fun, especially after suffering a major setback. When the competitive event is no longer fun, that affects ones performance in it negatively. You can say Rafa is having his best year, but we have yet to see how he will respond to finally losing a major even that he was the favorite for. Thats the point of the article.

vamosinator
06-14-2009, 08:26 AM
There is no proof that Nadal being ranked number one hurts his winning/makes tennis less fun for him. 2009 is his best year to date and he's been ranked number one for all of it:o

RonE
06-14-2009, 08:41 AM
What happened to the '.' ?

I guess it takes less effort to type in :o only two key strokes instead of three.
:o :o :o :o :o :o :o :o