Saucy Sardonix makes a guest appearance here apres longtemps....here we go :
Its cruel but it’s the truth. Federer’s win at Rolland Garros 2009 speaks volumes about Rafael Nadal.
Federer is no doubt a genius, god’s gift to tennis. His forehands are like laser guided missiles, his backhand is poetry, his groundstrokes are simultaneously the examples of brutal strength and soft touches. Federer was a natural serve and volley player who chose to massacre opponents from the baseline, used his ace hitting ability to pull out of the woods and changed the paradigms of placement angles. The form of Federer post Wimbledon 2003 made the Sampras summit of 14 slams look more like a mere road hump rather than the monumental achievement it is in reality.
Fate, however it seems, is not without a touch, an equilibrium. The 2005 French open announced a teenage sensation, 2006 confirmed it, 2007 labelled him a clay court wonder and 2008 revealed the truth- Rafael Nadal was the one man who stopped Federer from dominating world tennis. The following year he discovered his confidence on grass, toppled the champion’s unbeaten 5 year run at Wimbledon and then reduced him to tears in Australia. Suddenly, the transit from 13 to 14 slams looked impossible, French open seemed out of reach forever and a career grand slam was fast looking to be a chapter in Roger Federer’s dream.
What was most surprising was that the champion who had decimated rivals on all surfaces, made tennis seem the easiest sport in the world, added a new dimension to the word grace was made to look fragile and vulnerable. Rafa’s wins combined with health and injury problems for Federer gave new life to other players. Murray, Djokovic and many others derived inspiration from the Spaniard’s conquests. Federer was having a run of being beaten rather being unbeaten.
At Roland Garros 2009, Federer was reportedly practicing return of heavy topspin (Nadal’s most potent weapon) and strategies to counteract other known Nadal arsenal when news of Soderling’s conquest broke through. The champ promptly packed his bags and retired to his hotel. Such was the mental impact of Nadal’s exit on the swiss ace. It became obvious that Federer was confident against everyone except Rafael Nadal. The win at Roland Garros 2009 may be a backhanded compliment to Roger Federer as the phrase ‘in the absence of Rafa in the finals’ would eternally linger as a punctuation mark.
Perhaps in 2010 Federer may exorcise his demons once and for all by beating Rafa in Roland Garros, an encore to his triumph over the Majorcan in a clay court final this year. Then the world will undoubtedly be united in their ode to this genius from Oberwii as the greatest ever. Till then Rafael Nadal can be thanked for restoring interest and parity to the sport that was fast becoming Federer’s professional pastime.