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If Nadal reaches No. 16, which argument will be more compelling?

Posted by tennisplanet on July 29, 2010

1. Federer underachieved? With the talent and a complete array of shots Federer owns he is REQUIRED to create enough separation between him and the rest of the field to transfer that perception from thinking to paper. Kind of separation that not only is unreachable but the kind that demoralizes the prospect from even ‘thinking’ about getting there.

If not, there have been many many many many talented and gifted players in practically every sport who couldn’t do justice to their talent for whatever reason leaving them far short of the mark needed to claim the top spot.

So what would be a realistic minimum Slam number that would match Federer’s skill set? 20? And 25 would be that ‘don’t even think about it’ number? Surpassing Sampras by just two knowing how limited Sampras was in comparison just doesn’t cut it.

Maybe it’s not all good to expose yourself too early in your career and build that hype. LeBron may be the next athlete discovering that cruel truth. Did Nadal camp deliberately orchestrate the ‘flying under the radar’ scenario from the get go to not just shield Nadal from that bright light but to also heighten the build up Federer had already managed about himself? Maybe. Maybe not. But it surely is showing now.

2. Nadal overachieved? With the stark contrast Nadal’s tool shed faces against Federer’s, the best most would have hoped for from Nadal – solely on grit and determination – would be about 10-12 Slams – with most of them at Roland Garros. But to reach Federer’s stratosphere with that talent – while shutting Federer out completely (H2H) – has to highlight the intensity with which Nadal has used his intangible abilities to more than compensate for lack of pure skill.

It brings up that age-old question of how much farther can you get on just ability testifying to my famous saying “It’s not how good you are, it’s how bad you want it”. Lendl fits right in with that group – maybe even Sampras. McEnroe – not.


15 Responses to “If Nadal reaches No. 16, which argument will be more compelling?”

  1. librio said

    That delusional equation, again? Nadal’s strikingly different “tool shed” equals Nadal’s “lack of pure skill”?

    How many GS would Nadal have to win in order to “earn” a glance from you on a tennis court?

  2. Blake said

    I’ll take D). Federer overachieved, thanks.

  3. Bjornino said

    Good posts above, Librio and Blake. I agree that a lot of people neglect Nadal’s amazing TALENT. And of course it makes for more compelling writing to make the case that Fed is “pure” talent and Nadal “only” grit and determination 😉

    And I think you have a point, Blake. Of course the Fedfanatics would rip you to shreds if they could for that statement, but if they looked upon Federer and Nadal objectively the fact is that Federer never had to stand up to real adversity in his career until he faced Nadal, and then always failed. Nadal had to stand up to adversity from the get go with the tennis world laughing at him when he said he wants to win Wimbledon, get better on all surfaces and so on. Add to that that he always had to face Federer, the “Mighty Federer” with the superior skills etc etc. And he always overcame that adversity, unlike Federer. So your notion is a good one indeed, Blake. Could you please add the “Federer Overachieved”-option, for the sake of fairness, TP? 🙂

    • Jill said

      What’s with the

      “Add to that that he always had to face Federer, the “Mighty Federer” with the superior skills etc etc And he always overcame that adversity”.

      The H2H isn’t 14-0 it’s 14-7 so that statement is not true. They are even on hard, Federer is ahead on grass and yes, Nadal leads big time on clay. Whilst Federer is an excellent clay court player Nadal is the best, we all know that. Had Federer not consistently made the finals of clay events the head to head would look very different as has been pointed out before.

      • Bonnie said

        Well said Jill, totally agree!

      • Ash said

        This one has been done to death – the H2H stat is what it is and Federer doesn’t come out well to put it mildly. Here’s another for the mix, of the 7 GS finals they have contested together (am I right, it’s 7?), Federer won but 2. However, Nadals domination of Federer notwithstanding, I still think Federer underachieved – he lost 6(?) GS finals in total and 3 of them should have been his (US 09, Wim 08, AO 09) IMO. Now call it whatever weakness you like (to me it’s lack of mental fortitude which was consistent throughout his career, he was never really tested before) but his own GS tally should be higher right now.

      • Andy said

        Ash – Fed doesn’t come out well because he made it to all those clay finals against perhaps the GOAT on clay. Would you consider Fed in a higher light historically had he lost earlier in those clay tourneys? There are only two answers to that question. Yes, in which case you have some serious logic issues, or no, in which case you have to acknowledge that part of the very ironic Fed legacy is that his greatness as an overall player has helped bring about the Nadal H2H.

        If Sampras would have been better on clay he probably would have had a terrible H2H against a guy like Guga.

        Having said all that, Rafa is awesome. There is no denying that, fan or no fan.

      • Sol said

        So wait, let me get this straight. When someone says Nadal doesn’t have Fed’s talent, he’s a fanatic. But you saying Fed never faced adversity in his career, that is “objective”? You really don’t see any problem with that logic?

        I agree with Ash, this subject has been over-analysed, it’s boring. But let me ask you something. If Fed didn’t face adversity in his entire career, wouldn’t you then admit Nadal is not as good a player as Fed is since in all of Fed’s dominant years, Nadal lost to all those so-called losers Fed beat on a regular basis? And if Fed’s era was “weak”, who today represents adversity for Nadal?

    • Andy said

      I think it is a LOT harder to succeed if you are a guy who everyone says should win because he is supposedly so “naturally gifted” (Fed) than it is to succeed if you are a guy who everyone says is the “less-talented hard worker” (Rafa) especially when, as you say, in fact Rafa has amazing talent.

      You have it kind of backward Bjornino-san. Fed is the one who overcame more adversity in that he won DESPITE the pressure, whereas Rafa won with the exact opposite of pressure (the perrenial role as the so-called less talented underdog).

  4. MHM said

    Where is the “Xisca didn’t achieve” option?

  5. M said

    All this based on a hypothetical.

    I’m kind of surprised people are still scrapping about the H2H. As Ash said, it is what it is.

    Since the press keeps asking him about it, Rafa has always said — and so has Roger, in a more understated way — that you wait till the *end* of a career to evaluate it.

    Frankly, I’d prefer to take their advice and concentrate on enjoying the magnificent tennis they both still have yet to offer us, thanks.

    *whining* Feeling FEDAL-final-deprived this year …

    Hoping for one at the USO! \o/

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