"All this hatred of Nadal reminds me of Agassi when he first came to play at Wimbledon," [says] Richard Rouse. "He was brash, flash and wore daft clothes and everybody wanted him to lose. When Nadal's hair falls out and he doesn't seem so enviably young and exuberant, we'll all be big fans." The man's got a point.
More on the great Rafa debate: "I've been musing over Senor Garcia's question" says Nick Westacott, "and I've decided that while I find Nadal a perfectly amiable bloke, I just can't trust a man in three-quarter-length trousers."Enjoyed this game-by-game commentary on the Nadal-Baghdatis match from the Guardian website. It's smartly written, very tongue-in-cheek but it's also insightful about how we form perceptions about sportspersons - often after watching them in just a couple of games. Oh, Baghdatis seems so friendly, likeable, puppy-doggish. This Nadal chap is so clinical, cocky, there's something just not-very-nice about him. Of such vague impressions (many of which, needless to say, have nothing to do with what the player might really be like) are our sporting loyalties formed – and except in a few rare cases, these loyalties change constantly depending on the situation, the context, even our frame of mind at any given time. One might find a player intensely annoying because he keeps winning all his matches without giving any opponent a chance; but then, when he unexpectedly loses a really important tie, one suddenly feels sorry for him. (I briefly felt this way about Federer when he missed the chance to complete his "Roger Slam" at the French Open last month.) It's a fascinating process because it says much more about us, the spectators, than it does about the players we are constantly watching and judging.
(And what about blogging, where some people carefully analyse every little thing you say, sometimes extrapolate it into something else, and then use it to decide what sort of a person you are. But we won't get into that now.)
Also, see this entertaining piece which likens Nadal to Marlon Brando and Federer to Fred Astaire, and also throws in some bizarre quotes by Mats Wilander:
"Rafael has the one thing that Roger doesn't: balls," Wilander told Sports Illustrated in Paris. "I don't even think Rafael has two; I think he has three."Trivia: this is the first year since 1952 that the French Open and Wimbledon men's finals are being contested by the same two players. It's never happened before in the Open era. That gives you some idea of how difficult it is to do well on both surfaces.
Wilander backed off a bit for L'Equipe: "[Federer] might have them, but against Nadal they shrink to a very small size."