Let’s talk about consistency. Do you remember the last time either of them failed to make a quarterfinal at a slam? I do. It was at the US Open in 2007. Rafael Nadal lost to David Ferrer in the round of 16, so hobbled with pain that he literally fell to his knees. And he STILL took a set. The last time Federer failed to make a semifinal at a slam was in 2004 (he lost at Roland Garros to Gustavo Kuerten). Think about how insane that statistic is. That’s more than 5 years!
I will occasionally hear tennis fans complain about the amount of attention Nadal and Federer get. Tennis, they claim, is about more than just two guys. I’m finding it difficult to agree today. I admit it. I’ve seen Nadal take some pretty nasty beatdowns. The final of Chennai comes to mind…but never ONCE did I consider that he just wasn’t trying. I’ve seen Federer have his fair share of poorly played matches as well, but I’ve never thought of one of his performances as gutless.
I’d like to take the opportunity to say thank you to both men. They are rivals, but respectful of each other. They are gentlemen yet fierce competitors. They are superb athletes and flawless ambassadors. And let’s not forget that they’ve given us what might be the greatest tennis match of all time. In short, they are the backbone of the sport. Precisely what will happen to tennis when we lose our backbone, I shudder to think.