Sunday, June 8, 2008

Vamos, Rafa!

I love Raphael Nadal's tennis. I think he's an amazingly entertaining and talented player. It does seem like he will be forever stuck behind Roger Federer as the #2 player in the rankings, which is sad. But don't get me wrong, I love Federer too. It's just that in terms of who i prefer watching, it's always Rafa. Federer is effing amazing, but he can totally decimate an opponent and make it look so easy. What I love about Rafa is that he makes it look difficult. His arms are huge and he just rips the ball all over the court. With Federer, you see him make an unbelievable shot and you think "how did he DO that?" But with Nadal, you know exactly how he did it. He powered it there. And it's awesome. He also is a bit OCD, with long amusing routines for having things just so before each point. Both he and Roger are amazing competitors and treat each other with a tremendous amount of respect. They are both amazing athletes and are equally impressive ambassadors for their sport. They approach what they do with intensity and hunger, but seem to be very humble gentlemen off-court. They are the best of adversaries.

This morning was the French Open Men's Final at Roland Garros. Nowhere is Rafa more dominant than on the clay at Roland Garros. He has won every match he's ever played there. He has won it the past three years, beating Federer in the Final the past two years. Federer's missing French Open trophy is all that's keeping him from a Career Grand Slam and the title of the Greatest Tennis Player in History. So it's always high drama around whether Roger will come up with a plan to get past Nadal.

Today, Rafa totally crushed Roger. It was not even close. Ever. It was competitive for about 15 minutes in the second set, but the eventual score was 6-1, 6-3, 6-0. 6-0!! Against Federer in a Final. It's not even like Federer is bad playing on clay. He's just second best after Nadal, but the distance between them sometimes is so great. At this point in his career, Nadal cannot be touched on clay. The thought of someone taking 3 sets from him in a clay court match seems unbelievable. So now Rafa has 4 consecutive Roland Garros titles, tying the record with Bjorn Borg.

The thing is I LOVE that Federer can't beat Nadal at Roland Garros. I love that Nadal is undefeated there. If he wasn't then I wouldn't care, and would be thrilled to see Roger win. but why should Nadal have to suffer his first loss and mar his record just so Federer can be the King of Tennis for All-Time? When the commentators are pulling for Federer, I want to remind them that Nadal is trying to make history too with the most consecutive wins ever at the French Open, plus this kid wants to be number one and he's never gonna get there by losing a tournament he won the year before.

In two weeks, Wimbledon starts, where the situation for Roger and Rafa is flipped. Roger's not undefeated there, but he's dominated it for the past 5 years. Rafa has been getting closer and closer to winning it himself, taking Roger to a 5th set last year before ultimately losing. It remains to be seen if they can get through the field and meet again in yet another Final. But if they do get there, you'll know which one I will be rooting for. Vamos, Rafa!!

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