Roger Federer by Chris Bowers

Roger Federer by Chris Bowers

Author:Chris Bowers
Language: eng
Format: mobi, epub
ISBN: 9781843585923
Publisher: John Blake Publishing
Published: 2011-04-27T23:00:00+00:00




IT WOULD BE EASY to see Rafael Nadal as bad news for Federer. After all, the Spaniard was a threat, and ultimately it was he who, in August 2008, finally ousted the Swiss from the top of the rankings after more than three years spent as world number two. But Nadal was actually very good news for Federer, and this period in tennis history could well become known as the Federer-Nadal era – or alliteratively, the ‘Roger-Rafa’ era – rather than the Federer era.

Much as people admire a master craftsman, what gets the pulses racing in sport is a rivalry. People never sickened of the Borg-McEnroe and Evert-Navratilova rivalries of the 1980s, and the ATP and the media tried their best to build up clashes between Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi into a rivalry in the 1990s (which it was for short periods). The exuberant and ebullient topspin-heavy Nadal – with his pirate-like appearance in sleeveless shirt, plus-four-length shorts and shoulder-length hair – provided a wonderful counterfoil to the calm, flat-hitting, neat Federer. The rivalry Nadal generated with Federer played a vital role, not just in lifting Federer’s level of play, but in bolstering Federer’s standing when the historians come to debate his place in tennis history long after his career is over.

Statistically, it is the greatest rivalry in the history of men’s tennis. Nadal ascended to the number two ranking on 25 July 2005 and, with the exception of four weeks in August 2009 when Andy Murray briefly broke the duopoly as Nadal recovered from tendinitis in his knees, the pair occupied the top two positions uninterrupted for more than four-and-a half-years until 1 February 2010 and ended 2010 in the top two slots for the sixth successive year. Federer held the top spot for most of that time, Nadal taking over for just under a year from the 2008 Olympics to the 2009 Wimbledon, and then again after the 2010 French Open. No other pair of players has ever dominated the rankings to such an extent, not even Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova who had the greatest rivalry in the women’s game. The computer rankings have only existed since 1973, but it is hard to think of anyone who had such an enduring rivalry before then. One thinks of Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall, who played countless times on the professional circuit after Laver turned professional in 1963, and then in the early 1970s, culminating in a superb WCT final in Dallas in 1972 in which Rosewall won the fifth set tiebreak 7–5. Or of Bill Tilden, whose battles with Henri Cochet and René Lacoste in the late 1920s caught the imagination of the tennis world. But the tennis world was much smaller then, and Federer and Nadal have surely eclipsed them.

Rafael Nadal Parera (in Spain the mother’s maiden name is often used as a second surname) was born into a sporting family based in Manacor, the second city in Spain’s Balearic island of Mallorca. He is the elder of two children, but has a large extended family.


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