Sunday, June 10, 2007

Nadal to Federer: I Own You. (On clay)

Ok, imagine that every year The Masters was played on concrete instead of grass. (I know what you're thinking, aren't the greens concrete already?) Now imagine that Phil Mickelson beats Tiger woods there, while Tiger goes on to win all of the other majors... for three years straight. Then my friends, you would have an idea of what happened today at the French Open in Roland-Garros.

This year marks the third straight year that Roger Federer has been in the Championship match at the French Open-- the one major that he has yet to capture for the career grand slam-- only to get straight up worked by Rafael Nadal. This is one of the best sports rivalries you know nothing about, probably because it is men's tennis. Consider this: Roger Federer has been the World's number one since February 2, of 2004. That's a total of 175 consecutive weeks. He's won Wimbledon 4 times, the US and Australian Open 3 times each. He just cannot win the French, and it is because of Rafael Nadal.

Nadal has been the world's number two for a record 98 consecutive weeks, and owns a 7-4 record against Federer since 2005. Decent record you say? Even more so when you consider that Federer since 2005 is 199-7 versus opponents other than Nadal. Absolutely incredible, just astounding that the number one player in the world just can't seem to shake this number two guy.

So why should you care? Well, for one is because I said so. For two is that there is nothing like it in sports, absolutely nothing. You can't compare it to team sports, becuase these are just two individuals going at it. And it is nothing like what is going on in golf, because Roger Federer is not the Tiger Woods of golf, he's better. He doesn't lose to anyone except Nadal, and has won every major since 2005 except the French Opens. Can you imagine if Federer was an American, or did anything at all to promote himself here? He would be bigger than U.S. Steel. Yet, when he lines up across from Nadal, he quivers, especially on clay. Federer's one win against Nadal on clay ended Nadal's three-year, 81 consecutive match winning streak. When these guys square off, it's always for something, and it is always interesting.

As sports fans, we should all enjoy things that are unique to the sporting landscape. There simply is nothing like what we are seeing right now in men's tennis, something previously the sport has never seen before in it's long history. Watching these two men play is outstanding: two men on top of thier games that are always playing with a chip on thier shoulder. Federer wants to beat the one man that is keeping him from being the best of all time, Nadal wants to prove that he can be the number one player in men's tennis now, not just when Federer calls it quits. I for one cannot wait for Wimbledon in three weeks.

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