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My Federer Obsession: Nadal Was Necessary

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  • My Federer Obsession: Nadal Was Necessary

    Let's get your thoughts on William Skidelsky's latest installment, "Nadal Was Necessary"

  • #2
    Originally posted by johnyandell View Post
    Let's get your thoughts on William Skidelsky's latest installment, "Nadal Was Necessary"
    "All great rivalries are founded on contrast. Federer and Nadal's is no exception. One's a rightie, the other's a leftie. One has a single-handed backhand, the other a two-fister. When the two play, attack meets defense. In any earlier epoch of the game, Federer would almost certainly have been a serve and volleyer. Playing in the power baseline era has forced him mainly to stay back, but he's a forward-pressing baseliner who takes the ball early and often comes to the net."

    Roger Federer's biggest mistake was one that virtually encompassed his entire career while he was in his prime. He played with a racquet that was fully 12% smaller than his rivals. Since switching to the bigger racquet what is his record against his biggest nemesis? Answer: Federer seven wins and Nadal only one. Nadal wants no part of playing Federer now that things are even in the racquet department.

    One of the dumbest things that I have ever seen a champion of the caliber of Roger Federer ever do. I was writing for years that he should switch equipment. Tennis matches are decided often times by the narrowest of margins. Hawkeye calls the lines now wishing a fraction of a millimetre. You don't give that much away in terms of equipment and realistically think that things are going to work out differently if you don't equal things up. We'll never know. One of the cringe worthy aspects of the modern game of tennis. Rafael is another cringe worthy aspect in his own right and Roger could have conceivably had a much bigger impact on him if he had only switched earlier. Much, much earlier.

    The difference in the Federer game since he changed equipment is undeniable. Not one word about it that I read in this story. Talk about taking your eye off of the ball. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how he has virtually saved some of his best performances for when he is well past his prime. It is testimony to the lack of depth in the modern game as well as a number of other things.

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    • #3
      Hello don budge,

      Remember Jimmy Conners and his Wilson T2000 racket. He kept playing with that tiny racket up into his thirties. Some champions become so attached to their equipment that they find it very difficult to change. However, I know you are right, the larger rackets are better in every way. I started playing with a wooden Jack Kramer Autograph in the 60's, and now I play with a Gamma Bubba that is 137 square inches! The racket looks like a snowshoe and is almost obscene. Anyway, I must say I enjoyed Skidelsky's book. I am a tremendous fan of Roger Federer not just because of his brilliant tennis, but more importantly for his outstanding sportsmanship and his undying love for the game.

      Norman Ashbrooke

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      • #4
        Originally posted by ten1050 View Post
        Hello don budge,

        Remember Jimmy Conners and his Wilson T2000 racket. He kept playing with that tiny racket up into his thirties. Some champions become so attached to their equipment that they find it very difficult to change. However, I know you are right, the larger rackets are better in every way. I started playing with a wooden Jack Kramer Autograph in the 60's, and now I play with a Gamma Bubba that is 137 square inches! The racket looks like a snowshoe and is almost obscene. Anyway, I must say I enjoyed Skidelsky's book. I am a tremendous fan of Roger Federer not just because of his brilliant tennis, but more importantly for his outstanding sportsmanship and his undying love for the game.

        Norman Ashbrooke
        If I am not mistaken I believe that you were at DBTC in 1972. I was a camper the first session and Mr. Budge invited me to come back to the camp as a CIT...councillor in training. Yeah...you and another Californian were the top players among the Councillors as I remember. Your partner was also a very classy player. Authentic Jack Kramer sorts. You play with a what? 137 square? That is a monster. How times have changed. Not for the better in a lot of ways either. Not that your racquet has anything to do with anything. I am just of the opinion that the equipment in the professional game should have been protected by rules and specifications. I was livid when I faced players with Prince racquets in those overlapping years. But all of that changed in 1984 at the U. S. Open. All four men semi-finalists used oversized graphite racquets. Pat Cash, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe. I was there that day at the Open for the semis plus the Ladies final. The 35 and over veterans too.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oku5YzjPZ1o

        Björn Borg wasn't present in 1984. He had retired from the game at the ripe old age of 26 or so. He "retired" still using his beloved wooden racquets. His Donnay's. He thought that they were his Excalibur and such was their allegiance to their wood racquets the top players were the last to switch. Ironically Jimmy Connors maybe struggled the most with the switch after Borg. But he got such a brutal ass kicking from McEnroe at Wimbledon in July in the finals that by the time the U. S. Open rolled around he was all in with an oversized Wilson Pro Staff I believe. It was an interesting time to observe human nature in those days. The players at the bottom were the first to switch and it worked its way up the ladder until it came to those four...The Big Four of their day. Lendl, Borg, Connors and McEnroe. Borg quit. Lendl was a real hanger on too. He would switch to larger equipment later in his career. As you noted Connors really had a hard time letting go as well. Even McEnroe's equipment probably wasn't big enough to battle with the howitzers that were making their way into the game.

        But Federer should have known better. Certainly his handlers should have. If I knew the score why didn't he switch? Why didn't his handlers convince him? Why didn't Wilson? He certainly has confirmed everything that I feel about the modern game of tennis. My experience and the great honour of knowing Don Budge really had an influence on me and my devotion to the Classic Game. In 1972 I was a rather rebellious fellow in the wake of the Vietnam War era and all of the associated culture and societal upheaval. But one thing sure stuck in my heart was Don Budge showing up every day in his long white pants and his immaculate white tennis shirt that was always tucked in. You know what I am talking about Norman...you were there. All decked out in white as well. Jack Kramer Autograph racquets. Gut strings sprayed with gut life...what a scent.

        Ironically it was Don Budge himself who was one of the first to be sponsored by Prince. One of the first endorsers. I will never forget to listening to him talk about one of the things that he regretted deeply was not making the kind of money that the players were beginning to make once the game went open. I am certain that he felt that he was entitled to cash in on his legacy. He had a gig in Acapulco at the Princess Hotel that he did in the winter while he had the camp in the summer. A comfortable living but certainly not the extravagant life style that was being ushered in. I will never forget those white pants. A real icon that man was. He walked the walk too. Real old school gentlemen. Roger Federer is sort of a derivative of Don Budge. Even in my tennis teaching paradigm.

        Thank you Norman.

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        • #5
          I think this was the best piece I have ever read regarding the Nadal Fed rivalry, the rivalry I consider the most compelling ever. The best technically ever and a day, the easiest on the eye ever, vs the ultimate bull, the guy who will not ever break, and his one of a kind excalibur, that forehand. So true to me, without Nadal, Fed would not even be anywhere close to as beloved as he is. His winning of GS's would have been totally out of hand. And that brings me to Novak. The fact that he was able to crash this party to me is beyond belief impressive. That is why I have him as the 3rd best player ever. To address what DB brought up about the equipment. I certainly agree that Fed should have switched equipment much earlier and I as DB had felt that way for some time. I still do not think any equipment change at any point in his career would have made any impact on Nadal's beyond belief clay court resume, but as DB says, this is just all complete opinions, which are worth what they are worth. Regarding Borg, certainly a great rivalry vs McEnroe, I kind of hate to say this but to me he kind of did not have the stomach for the fight that was at hand vs Mac. He left the game at his prime. The only player I can think of that is anywhere close to doing what he did was Wilander. I like Wilander but I am also slightly amused when occasionally pipes up with some kind of quote about some player not "having the balls" or some nonsense to do whatever.
          Last edited by stroke; 12-16-2019, 04:28 AM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by stroke View Post
            To address what DB brought up about the equipment. I certainly agree that Fed should have switched equipment much earlier and I as DB I had felt that way for some time. I still do not think any equipment change at any point in his career would have made any impact on Nadal's beyond belief clay court resume, but as DB says, this is just all complete opinions, which are worth what they are worth.
            Not just opinions. Valid if expressed clearly. Your point is an interesting one and it is just another reason that the equipment deal in tennis has been a fiasco through the years. There should have been some very specific specifications for the professional game from day one. Particularly when the game went open and lot of money was on the line. AS it is we will never have any idea to some very important questions regarding the sport of tennis and yours is a very, very good one. Would the equipment have made an impact on the Federer/Nadal rivalry on clay. Seeing as so many of Nadal's wins over Federer were on clay it is a very important question. Nadal is 14 and 2 against Roger on clay and the overall head to head is 24 to 16 for Nadal it is a very significant question. It is one thing to say that it wouldn't have any effect but another to actually know it wouldn't.

            It was a big mistake to not standardise the equipment. One of the most romantic aspects of the game in history is the wooden racquet. The living wood strung with gut. McEnroe called them magic wands in his book..."You Cannot Be Serious".

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