Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Watching Federer and Nadal

There is very little joy that I derive out of watching Rafa and Federer go at each other. There is just too much stress for me to enjoy the sheer quality they bring on court when squaring off. Each point bitterly contested, full of brute force, grace, speed, turns, impossible angles and above all the possibility of something unique.

For me the real genius of Federer's game is not in its precision or aesthetics but in the fact that Federer always plays on the outer boundaries of his abilities. Its exhilirating to watch because of the extreme risk it entails. You would rarely see Federer playing a safe shot. In fanboy parlance I tend to dig Roger Federer's game. And the Aussie open final left me bereft of all adrenaline and I lay slumped on my bean bag for almost an hour after Federer started crying on court.

I have always harboured a prejudice against Nadal for no reason whatsoever. Perhaps its because he is the only player who makes Federer look human on court - irritated, hurried, pensive, resigned even. To top it all Rafa is such an amazingly gracious champion that it grates. But the man has won me over this year. For all its star power the Sampras-Agassi rivalry was nowhere near to what Federer and Nadal have. The tennis they play against each other is for most part unreal.

The great era of M/s Borg, Connors, McEnroe et al had ended by the time I developed an affinity for Tennis. And men's tennis has thrown up players of serious calibre over the last three decades - Becker, Edberg, Agassi, Chang, Lendl, Wilander, Rafter, Stich to name a few. But I cannot imagine any of them posing problems for either Federer or Nadal. Sampras though might have held his own.