Its that time of the year again when supremely fit athletes adorn tennis player masks and bash the tennis ball for 4 to 5 hours on the spectacular brown clay. These , mostly European, Clay court specialists have over the years been the odd men out, in the sense that they hardly used to win anything except on Clay. Their playing styles also were really more endurance based rather than artistic finesse or conventional technique.
Nadal changed that , of course. He has won on all surfaces, beaten everyone and but for some unfortunate injuries would have continued to be No. 1 for a longer time. He also brought more to the game than the ones earlier – a passion , adaptability, a range of strokes and aggression in addition to his supreme athleticism. With Carlos Moya, Thomas Muster, Kuerten and others – you wouldn’t miss much if you only read the next morning papers.( no offense to their playing skills, they were all great players)
But for me even Nadal doesn’t come near the artistic genius of a Federer. A deft touch that leaves opponents gasping, a seemingly laidback forehand which screams off the racket, an almost lazy half volley pick up winner and those perfect serves – when Roger plays it’s like flowing classical music. (Probably you canl associate Rap with Nadal :)). But this quality of Federer is also is undoing. Sometimes he plays too cute, as if it is imperative to look good and win , not just win. Its his great reluctance to get dirty and sometimes just play ugly to win points that has cost him many a game to Nadal. I feel he has a bit of an ego too, he didn’t like it one bit when Nadal got the number 1 ranking and admitted that it felt strange being called the No 2 player in the world. Gamewise , I think , Nadal is consistently better, stronger and more tactical but Federer has more of the magic and grace.
Thats why this French Open if players live upto their seedings, we could be in for a mouth watering clash. If Federer wins, it would make him an even greater player, for he would have achieved the one thing he hasn’t in 4 attempts at the French Open and lay to rest his “soft” French Open victory last year. If Nadal wins, it would undoubtedly make him the best player in the world at this moment. Looking forward to this one!!!