AUSTRALIAN OPEN: Roger Federer Wrong, Old-Man Rafael Nadal Right

Federer, Nadal. The good old days.

 

From my column in FoxSports.com:

 

Imagine a cartoon: Roger Federer standing on top of a mountain, or maybe floating a few inches above it, saying “This is the golden era of tennis.” Meanwhile, a bunch of other players, including Rafael Nadal, hurt with crutches and bandages are in a pile at his feet.

You might have heard that Federer and Nadal — the greatest, nicest individual rivalry in sports — are having a tiff. Nadal complains that the tour has too many mandatory events, is too grueling, has almost no offseason and is beating up the players. Federer, as the president of the player council, doesn’t seem to notice.

“For him, it’s good to say nothing,” Nadal said. “Everything positive. ‘It’s all well and good for me. I look like a gentleman,’ and the rest can burn themselves.”

Nadal is right. Federer is oblivious. But this is a much bigger problem than two superstars bickering. The players are in serious need of a union. So many of them know it, but they just can’t seem to figure out how to get it done. At the US Open in September, Nadal, Andy Murray and Andy Roddick went in unity to tournament officials to complain about being forced to play on slippery, rained-on courts just to make TV networks happy.

“It’s the same old story,” Nadal said. “All you think about is money.”

That seemed to be the beginnings of a union. Now, Federer suddenly is an obstacle. And Nadal is example No. 1 of why the union is needed. So the rivalry takes on a different tone.

What makes Nadal an example? The thing is, at just 25, he is starting to get old. He can feel it. He can see it.

Please read the rest of the column at FoxSports.com

About gregcouch

I can talk tennis all day long, and often do. And yet some of the people I talk to about it might rather I talk about something else. Or with someone else. That’s how it is with tennis, right? Sort of an addiction. Sort of a high. I am a national columnist at FoxSports.com and a FoxSports1 TV insider, and have been a columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times. In 2010, I was the only American sports writer to cover the full two weeks of all four majors, and also to cover each of the U.S. Masters series events. I’ve seen a lot of tennis, talked with a lot of players, coaches, agents. I watched from a few rows behind the line judge as Serena rolled her foot onto the baseline for the footfault, a good call, at the 2009 U.S. Open. I sat forever watching a John Isner marathon, leaving for Wimbledon village to watch an England World Cup soccer game at a pub and then returning for hours of Isner, sitting a few feet from his wrecked coach. I got to see Novak Djokovic and Robin Soderling joke around on a practice court on the middle Sunday at Wimbledon, placing a small wager on a tiebreaker. Djokovic won, and Soderling pulled a bill out of his wallet, crumpled it into his fist and threw it at Djokovic, who unwadded it, kissed it, and told me, “My work is done here.’’ And when Rafael Nadal won the French Open in 2010, I finished my column, walked back out onto the court, and filled an empty tic tac container with the red clay. I’m looking at it right now. Well, I don’t always see the game the same way others do. I can be hard on tennis, particularly on the characters in suits running it. Tennis has no less scandal and dirt than any other game. Yet somehow, it seems to be covered up, usually from an incredible web of conflicts of interest. I promise to always tell the truth as I see it. Of course, I would appreciate it if you’d let me know when I’m wrong. I love sports arguments and hope to be in a few of them with you here. Personal info: One-handed backhand, serve-and-volleyer. View all posts by gregcouch

3 responses to “AUSTRALIAN OPEN: Roger Federer Wrong, Old-Man Rafael Nadal Right

  • Roman

    All would like to watch it on cable and also in my computer! When and HOW?

  • JohnJM

    I never even thought that Federer might be resisting equipment change to prevent injury to his wrist and elbow (why else not switch?). Smart of him, then. Maybe other players should take note before cheating their way up the rankings with technology.

    • JohnJM

      But yeah, I think the players need a union, and I side with Nadal here for a shorter season. The suits don’t care about the athletes, just the money they produce. JM Delpotro almost wasn’t allowed to salute his countrymen in Spanish after his US Open win because Lexus needed to plug their car. So, yeah, union time!

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