Sunday, 13 December 2015

Roger Wins Everything But Rivalry With Rafa

Seventeen Majors and counting, that is Roger Federer, the Swiss ace, who has rewritten textbooks and record books. And yet, he may feel like a mortal, at least every time he faces Rafa.

He has at least 23 times been on the other side of the net against the Spaniard when he hasn’t felt so good.
Roger wins everything but rivalry with Rafa
Roger wins everything but rivalry with Rafa
Or let’s put it this way, that is the number of times he has tasted defeat against Rafael Nadal.

It hasn’t been all gloom and doom for Federer though. He has also triumphed 11 times against his old rival.

Let us break the stats looking at the surface. On clay, Nadal reigns supreme, leading 13-2. On hard courts, Nadal again, he leads 9-7. Federer has the slight edge on grass, he leads 2-1

So when on Saturday, the two gladiators collided in the International Premier Tennis League, one of the most enthralling rivalries in world sport was reignited. Nadal again winning, although by just. He won 6-5 in the only set played in the exhibition-like match in New Delhi. There was a shootout required in the end.

Nadal is five years younger than Federer and is chasing the Swiss. The Spaniard has won 14 Majors and in the times ahead, is looking for the same old magic, which has worked so many times against his arch-rival. What was interesting to note in Delhi though was the passion of the fans. Their regular cheers and loud applauses gave an otherwise sober tennis court the feel of a bustling football field. The players must have been lifted as well.

Amid Roger versus Rafa, another decent man has written his own legend. Step forward Novak Djokovic, a ten-time Major winner. He has also declared that he wants to chase Federer’s record of Majors. He is miles ahead of other players as far as recent form is concerned. Modern-day tennis is synonymous with the Serb.

And yet, the romance of the Roger-Rafa rivalry cannot be eclipsed. It has a ring of the old-world charm that takes us back to the day when Rod Laver played Ken Rosewall. It is artistic, well-mannered and sophisticated. And it must continue, but wonder what Federer is thinking. Is he going to close the gap on Nadal? We will be watching.

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