I had high hopes for the Rome final. Federer had looked good all tournament and not dropped a set and was about to commence batte for his first Rome title ever and Nadal had had some problems, especially with Gulbis. It should be a pretty even match, I thought.
In my stupidity.
In a one-sided affair similar of the Roland Garros final in 2008, Nadal washed over Federer’s backhand like hail and poor Fed rushed the net like a Llodra after an intoxicated night in Paris and far from the Greatest Player of All Time.
Nadal on the other hand, thrived on the change of beating up his slightly more pompous rival and his forehand with one billion top spin rotations per minute, upset Federer almost every time. Fed’s shots often landed short and he tried attacking the net as often as he could, sadly unsuccessfully.
Federer only had a lacklustre and rather hopeless quote afterwards: “It didn’t go how I hoped and I was missing too many easy forehands and crucial points,” said Federer. “He does an incredible job returning form the back of the court and it is hard because he covers the court so well. You need to serve accurately. When Rafa is at his best he creates opportunities in rallies and dictates. It was difficult to change.”
One problem, Federer noted, was that all his opponents prior to Rafa had far less top spin on their shots and he wasn’t really ready for the challenge that Nadal provides on clay, every single time.
Nadal on the other hand was typical in his post-match comments, he never seems to expect anything from himself, not even on clay: “If you told me four or five months ago that after eight tournaments I would have won six titles from eight finals, I would say you are crazy.”
Oh no, not crazy. Nadal is that good on clay.
The problem I find, and I like both Federer and Nadal and many other players too, is that Rafa is simply too good on clay. He’s so damn good it’s boring. Federer have only beaten him twice and the rest of the world? Well, playing Nadal is like trying to read a book in a sandstorm.
Looking forward to French Open/Roland Garros there’s really only one challenger and that’s Novak Djokovic. But Djokovic hasn’t looked his best either and with Nadal being so spectacular lately – it’s hard to see how even the world number one is going to challenge him in Paris.
I like champions, but I don’t like when sport is too predictable. You want even the slightest chance of an upset to remain excited. Sadly, I’m not as excited by Roland Garros as I should be and it’s all your fault, Rafa.
You’re too damn good. You’re so good, it’s boring.
UPDATE: I read the following on Sports Illustrated:
Why can’t Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams play against each other? Both are so BORING! Clay season is “Rafatigue” and now “Serena-fatigue,” too.
— SRao, India
And I really liked Jon Wertheim’s reply:
Congrats to whomever coined “Rafatigue.” That’s caught on. Me? Person X is clearly the best in the world in a particular milieu. How can watching that person go about his or her business be boring? If the suspense isn’t in the scoreline, it is in the ways in which they’ll express their genius.
Nadal is beating everyone in his path — it’s a dirt path — for the ninth straight spring. How is this triggering fatigue? As for Serena, let’s just say this: She is never boring. Never.
Well said, Jon. Well said. /TN.