Fed/Nadal: The New Tennis Rivalry [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

Fed/Nadal: The New Tennis Rivalry

Tennis Fool
06-05-2005, 06:27 PM
Fed/Rafa Rivalry Watch

Roger Federer, 23
Rank# 1, 71 weeks
Titles: 28
2005 Titles: 6
Slams: 4 (2003, 2004 Wimbledon, 2004 Australian, 2004 US Open)
Masters: 9

Rafael Nadal, 19
Rank #4
Titles: 7
2005 Titles: 6
Slams: 1 (2005 French Open)
Masters: 2


H2H, Rafa leads Fed 2-1

2005 Roland Garros SF Nadal 6 3 4 6 6 4 6 3
2005 ATP Masters Series Hard F Federer 6 2 7 6 6 7 3 6 1 6
2004 Miami AMS, Hard R32 Nadal 6 3 6 3

Clay, Rafa leads 1-0
Hard, tied 1-1
Grass, 0-0
Indoor, 0-0
Slams: Rafa leads 1-0

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

June 4, 2005
On Nadal's Birthday, a Rivalry Is Born, Too
By WILLIAM C. RHODEN
PARIS

ONE hour after he had earned his way into the French Open final, Rafael Nadal was wrapping up a news conference. He had beaten top-seeded Roger Federer with relative ease, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. As the news conference ended, one of the moderators advised the members of the news media to stay put for a surprise celebration. The doors to the interview room flew open and in came Pau Gasol, the 7-foot power forward for the Memphis Grizzlies and a friend of Nadal's, pushing a cart with a cake, orange juice and Champagne. The journalists broke out in an impromptu Spanish rendition of "Happy Birthday."

Rafael Nadal was 19.

The birthday celebration was a fitting metaphor for yesterday and for the entire men's tournament, which has seen the arrival of a rising star - Nadal - and the birth of a rivalry with Federer, widely regarded, at least before yesterday, as the world's best tennis player.

Federer and Nadal played in Miami in April, and Federer came from behind to win. But yesterday's match was the one Federer really wanted, so he could reach the French Open final for the first time.

"It's a pity he beat me here in semis of a Slam," Federer said. "I know I can beat him on any surface, which is good to know, because he's going to be a threat in the future."

This was the blossoming of a rivalry.

Tennis has what it needs: Nadal, a young, energetic star with charisma, and Federer, an established star commonly regarded, at one point, as nearly invincible.

On Thursday, Francesco Ricci Bitti, the president of the International Tennis Federation, called this a potential golden age of tennis. There was certainly a bold contrast between the semifinalists. Nadal is youthful and vibrant, while the 23-year-old Federer, who has won every Grand Slam event except the French, is reserved and low-key.

Federer was asked if the fans at Roland Garros had watched the world's two best players yesterday. He shook his head and spoke about the depth of the field. "Once I play this guy, he's the best with me," Federer said. "The next time I play Andy," he said, referring to the No. 2-ranked Andy Roddick, "and he's the best again."

This is a great time for the sport of tennis. The men's and women's fields are deep, a mix of young players, from 15-year-olds all the way up to thirtysomethings like Mary Pierce and Andre Agassi. Bitti said this was what tennis needed: contrasts.

"Roger Federer is a wonderful person and he's very important for our sport because he is a great person - available, humble, well-educated; in his own way, he's a character," Bitti said. "But I think we also need Nadal, the people coming up. He's a great sports guy, obviously, but he's much more flamboyant, fiery, and the people like this."

Nadal will play Mariano Puerta tomorrow for the championship. This is where the happy story of tennis turns serious. For the second consecutive year, the men's championship features a player who was suspended for a violation of the sport's drug policy.

This is Puerta's first Grand Slam event since being suspended for nine months beginning in October 2003 after testing positive for clenbuterol, a drug whose effects resemble those of anabolic steroids by promoting muscle growth. Under the rules established and adopted by the three leading professional tennis organizations, a first offense carries a two-year ban, but Puerta appealed. A tribunal ruled that a doctor prescribed the drug to Puerta to treat an acute asthma attack.

Puerta had to endure the strain of a layoff and the stigma, fair or not, of being labeled a "drug cheat." After his five-set victory over Nikolay Davydenko yesterday, Puerta was asked if he thought he was still credible.

"Yes, of course," he said. "I have credibility. If there was difficulty, they would not let me play."

But once a sport loses credibility, getting it back is an arduous process. Ask track and field; ask baseball.

"Anyone would be naÔve to think any sport is completely clean when so much is at stake, because we test out of competition year-round," said David Higdon, a spokesman for the ATP.

The testing occurs not only at the top levels of the sport, but also at challenger tournaments. "We're catching them," Higdon said in a telephone interview from Florida. "We caught four or five players who never made the news.

Higdon said the ATP made a commitment two years ago to extend its testing. "This is being driven by the players," he said. "They are the ones pushing for a level playing field."

Guillermo Coria, who lost in the final at Roland Garros last year, is suing the maker of the dietary supplement he was taking that resulted in a seven-month suspension in 2002 because it contained the steroid nandrolone.

"Compared to the other sports, where leagues seem to be loosening up," Higdon said, "our players are pushing for stricter guidelines."

Puerta has a story that is in many ways more compelling and sobering than Nadal's. This is also a cautionary story for tennis, a sport whose reach extends worldwide.

This is a great day and a great time for tennis, with a mix of young stars, rising stars and established veterans. There is also a lesson to be learned from other sports: do not be lulled into complacency.

Even in a golden age, the sport is a positive test away from a devastating scandal.

E-mail: wcr@nytimes.com



Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company Home Privacy Policy Search Corrections RSS Help Contact Us Back to Top

Seleshfan
06-05-2005, 11:14 PM
"Federer, widely regarded, at least before yesterday, as the world's best tennis player"

I don't think anyone is questioning Federer's status as the world's best player. One hot clay court season doesn't make a player the best in the world. Let's see how he does on other surfaces.

nkhera1
06-05-2005, 11:17 PM
Fed needs to prove he can beat Nadal on clay and Nadal needs to prove he can beat Fed on grass before this becomes a rivalry.

robinhood
06-05-2005, 11:19 PM
"Federer, widely regarded, at least before yesterday, as the world's best tennis player"

I don't think anyone is questioning Federer's status as the world's best player. One hot clay court season doesn't make a player the best in the world. Let's see how he does on other surfaces.

Ditto.

Puschkin
06-05-2005, 11:21 PM
I expected this thread much earlier :haha: OMG, how many rivalries have come and gone? After the AO, there was the great Roger/Marat rivalry, does anyone remember? :p

rofe
06-05-2005, 11:23 PM
"Federer, widely regarded, at least before yesterday, as the world's best tennis player"

I don't think anyone is questioning Federer's status as the world's best player. One hot clay court season doesn't make a player the best in the world. Let's see how he does on other surfaces.

Ditto. Lets not get ahead of ourselves. :(

The same thing happened after Safin won the AO this year. That didn't go very far did it?

Federer has proven himself as the best all court player. Nadal still needs to.

On the other hand, if this perceived rivalry makes more people watch tennis, I am all for journalists touting this "rivalry".

robinhood
06-05-2005, 11:25 PM
I expected this thread much earlier :haha: OMG, how many rivalries have come and gone? After the AO, there was the great Roger/Marat rivalry, does anyone remember? :p

I know. That's very sad, too. Where is Marat?
Having him in the mix all the time would be great, but personally I've given up on that idea.
If he does well and occasionally wins big matches against top players, great!
But if he doesn't, I'll look forward to Fed and Nadal matchups or whoever becomes Fed's next rival.

NATAS81
06-05-2005, 11:25 PM
It's impossible for Safin to have a true rivalry because he's so inconsistant.

Puschkin
06-05-2005, 11:26 PM
It's impossible for Safin to have a true rivalry because he's so inconsistant.
My point was not to criticise Marat, but the creators of a new rivalry every 4 months ;)

NATAS81
06-05-2005, 11:28 PM
I'm not saying you were, but the facts are facts.

But, I agree on this one. Federer/Nadal, Coria/Nadal, Gasquet/Nadal all have the potential to become fierce clay rivalries.

Lady Natalia
06-05-2005, 11:28 PM
I expected this thread much earlier :haha: OMG, how many rivalries have come and gone? After the AO, there was the great Roger/Marat rivalry, does anyone remember? :p

I thought the same. Tennis is somewhat of a whore in putting anyone together with Roger as a rival. They tried Agassi, Roddick, Hewitt, Safin and now Nadal. If two people meet 5, 6 or 7 times that does not make it a rivarly(especially if it's one-sided). Real rivarlies are Evert/Navratilova, Graf/Seles, Borg/MacEnroe and even Sampras/Agassi(towards the end). Federer/Nadal being at 1-2, is not a rivarly, not even close (not saying it cant become one in a few YEARS, not matches). The real rivarly is between Roger and his place in HISTORY!

Jennay
06-05-2005, 11:28 PM
Andy will be back. :p

robinhood
06-05-2005, 11:46 PM
Andy will be back. :p

What for???

:) Just kidding. I want Andy, Lleyton, and Marat back on court ASAP.

Tennis Fool
06-06-2005, 12:05 AM
I've updated my first post with the current H2H . This does have the makings of a rivalry. Rafa is now just one of the few to lead Fed in a h2h. Let's see where this all leads...

El Legenda
06-06-2005, 12:09 AM
Andy will be back. :p

for more spanking from Roger. Yes he will.

star
06-06-2005, 12:26 AM
I think this talk of rivalrys bothers Fed more than anything else the reporters bring up. In his mind, he has no rival. :)

Peter Bodo had something interesting on Federer and his semi-final performance.

Greatness of the kind with which Nadal appears to be blessed is a simple thing, and itís something that can be apprehended. That may explain why the semifinal between Federer and Nadal was somewhat puzzling. Federer saw what he was up against, and it scared him. He was sullen on that damp Thursday evening, out-of-sorts and tetchy, like a racehorse sometimes gets when it doesnít want to run. Only the Mighty Fed couldnít whinny and rear and barge backwards out of the starting gate. He had to play.

Expressing that opinion had one drawbackóit seemed to make Nadalís victory over Federer too much about what Federer didnít do (come to play) than what Nadal did do, which was give himself totally to the task at hand, with obvious relish and courage.

Thus it was interesting to get this e-mail Saturday morning from Michael Steinberger, who sometimes writes about tennis for the Financial Times:

Iíd love to get a bit more of your take on Federer-Nadal. From the comfort of my couch, I came away with two, seemingly contradictory thoughts: Nadal is indeed the real deal, and Federer blew a hell of an opportunity. It was my impression that, while Nadal was obviously a handful for Federer, Federerís biggest problem was himself. It seemed to me that Federer had the clear upper hand after the second set and just blew itóand my sense, from Federerís comments, is that he pretty much felt the same way. Or am I simply failing to appreciate the extent to which Nadal put Federer on his heels and got into his head? At any rate, it was certainly one of the most thought-provoking matches I have seen in quite some time . . .

The key element in Mikeís analysis (which is identical to my own) is that Nadal is the real deal. Now that he sealed it with his win over Puerta, itís safe to say that Federer knew it before we did.

sigmagirl91
06-06-2005, 12:27 AM
You know....
Although Federer is the man to beat still, thinking that you have no rivals is dangerous. Rafa showed him why.

rofe
06-06-2005, 12:39 AM
You know....
Although Federer is the man to beat still, thinking that you have no rivals is dangerous. Rafa showed him why.

I don't know that Fed himself thinks that he has no rival. It is simply your opinion that he thinks that way.

NATAS81
06-06-2005, 12:40 AM
Federer respects Nadal, IMO.

He knows he has the upper-hand on grass and probably wishes he drew him instead of some no-name @ Halle.

star
06-06-2005, 12:42 AM
I understand why it bothered Federer when Andy was talked of as a rival because Federer has contempt for Andy's game, but I don't understand why he would have the same reaction to Marat or Nadal being touted as rivals.

Anyway, Federer must be thinking it would have been great if he could have had Nadal's confidence at age 19. I remember article after article in Blick where Federer was talking about his confidence (selbstvertrauen) and how that was all that was lacking in his arsenal. I think Roger didn't really find that confidence til he was nearly 22.

NATAS81
06-06-2005, 12:44 AM
Once you beat world #1, no higher confidence can amount.

That happened when Roger beat Roddick, now it's working for Rafa.

robinhood
06-06-2005, 12:49 AM
Once you beat world #1, no higher confidence can amount.

That happened when Roger beat Roddick, now it's working for Rafa.

Roger beat Roddick where?
You mean, that Wimbledon semi match when Roger was actually ranked higher than Roddick?
Or are you talking about the 03 Houston Masters semi when Roddick was the #1 ranked player?

Either way, I don't think Roger gained the highest confidence by beating Andy Roddick of all players.

NATAS81
06-06-2005, 12:50 AM
Of course it was at Houston.

Federer had varified that Roddick (#1) had been owned at that point, and simply dominated from there.

Lady Natalia
06-06-2005, 12:54 AM
Once you beat world #1, no higher confidence can amount.

That happened when Roger beat Roddick, now it's working for Rafa.

Gasquet and Safin beat Federer (#1) and since their seasons have NOT been blockbuster.

Shy
06-06-2005, 12:55 AM
Of course it was at Houston.

Federer had varified that Roddick (#1) had been owned at that point, and simply dominated from there.
I think that it was more beating old nemesis like Agassi, Nalbandian and Ferrero that had help him more. From that time, he knew that he can pretty much beat everyone.

Tennis Fool
06-06-2005, 01:03 AM
Thanks, Star. Who's Peter Bodo btw :confused: Anyway, I agree with him that Fed was scared. Of course the great ones never see any rivals to themselves. I can't even imagine Mac, Evert or Nav even saying "so-and-so is my rival". They probably agree (if asked in their heydey), their only rival is their self.

Tennis Fool
06-06-2005, 01:05 AM
I don't know that Fed himself thinks that he has no rival. It is simply your opinion that he thinks that way.
No, Fed has flatly stated he has no rivals. (In a non-pompous way, of course).

star
06-06-2005, 01:49 AM
Thanks, Star. Who's Peter Bodo btw :confused:

He has a tennis blog and is the editor/writer of some tennis magazine. Maybe Tennis Magazine. I can't remember. You should read his blog. It has a lot of little nuggets in it. Some are more intresting than others. :)

deliveryman
06-06-2005, 04:19 AM
Let's see if this 'great rivalry' live up to exptectations when Federer embarrasses Nadal on grass (If Nadal can even get that far).

NATAS81
06-06-2005, 04:30 AM
No, Fed has flatly stated he has no rivals. (In a non-pompous way, of course).
I refuse to believe he will want nothing less than an easy victory and a perfect game plan panning out against his losses thus far.

Skyward
06-06-2005, 04:38 AM
Gasquet and Safin beat Federer (#1) and since their seasons have been blockbuster.

Where is Berdych now?

Lady Natalia
06-06-2005, 04:41 AM
Where is Berdych now?
You're right. My post should have said "have NOT been..."