Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Rafa Ruffed Up!

Hi, firstly allow me to introduce myself. I am an old friend and sometime tennis partner of Topspin.
I call myself 2Hander because of my double-handed backhand.

Top and I both follow tennis quite avidly and we tend to discuss it at great length no matter where in the world we may be. I love tennis A LOT, which is quite rare for Brits - in fact a lot of my friends can't understand it. I am delighted to be given the chance to rant and ramble on Top's blog. This is my first ever posting on a blog so please excuse it if it seems like a hotchpotch of odd thoughts here and there! Anyway, here goes...

Now, the latest is that Rafa Nadal has pulled out of the season-ending Masters Cup in Shanghai due to fatigue. Although he has had one heck of a season, it certainly seems as though what people were saying about him 2-3 years ago is starting to come true: that Rafa will surely be unable to sustain the amount he exerts himself for the long haul. It looks as though things are starting to take their toll on his body (and that's for someone with a physique like his!!). Just to get an idea of how much spin he puts on the ball, I think they measured it on average to be around 4000 rpm, whereas Federer was next with around 2500 rpm!

In terms of his style of play compared to Federer, there is definitely a 'Beauty and the Beast' comparison to be made. I must say that Federer's exquisite, yet aggressive game endears my heart more than Rafa's tenacity, hustle and grit. Don't get me wrong, I am a great admirer of Nadal not only as a player, but as a professional sportsman and an ambassador for the (in MY opinion, anyway) 'beautiful game'. He won Roland Garros the first time he entered it and has never lost there since. I respect Roland Garros as a Slam for it is one that escaped so many tennis greats - Becker, Sampras, McEnroe, Edberg et al.

Rafa has shown incredible maturity and skill by adapting to and improving on grass (particularly his net game), so much so that he reached the final of Wimbledon on only his third attempt. Though in their match this year, I
personally think Federer was significantly off his game, especially mentally and more so against Nadal. Still, not to take anything away from Rafa, as he can only play whoever is in front of him at the time!

As Top mentioned on here previously, Rafa has relatively underachieved on hard. In order to really be a legend, in my mind he will have to win either the Aussie or the US, since they make up half the number of Slams in the year. He has complained about the scheduling in the hard court and clay court season this year in having to make allowances for the Beijing Olympics. Though I don't seem to remember anyone else making such complaints, I may be wrong.

Another thing I couldn't help noticing was Rafa's knees - quite often one or both are taped up! I know there is some research going into surfaces that won't impact so much on players' joints yet maintaining their high bounce and quick speed. I remember Boris Becker adapting his service so as to not impact his shoulder so much. Although it was with a lot more spin and less power, it was still a very potent weapon of his. Maybe both Nadal and Roddick can take a leaf out of his book...

I hope Rafa can find a way to stay in the game for a long while yet. For I, like many others, wish to see more emerging from the Roger-Rafa rivalry in the coming years.

Nadal image courtesy of franz88 distributed under licence
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