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Federer vs Nadal – the Greatest vs the Not So Great

Federer vs Nadal
 

The game of tennis probably lends itself to rivalry between two contesting individuals more than any other type of sport. With Roger Federer having been replaced as the world's number one tennis player by Rafael Nadal, it is perhaps an appropriate time to take a look at the character of both players. Federer is viewed by many as possibly the greatest tennis player so far, whereas Nadal certainly holds the promise of surpassing even Federer's achievements. It is not only Federer's accomplishments on the tennis court that have earned him respect, but also his on- and off-court behaviour. He is very popular among his fellow players and the public alike, having won the Laureus World Sportsman Award for the past four years consecutively in competition with all other sportsmen across the globe. Nadal's career has virtually just started, but he has already been around long enough to allow a judgement to be made of his character as a tennis player.

There is no question that Nadal has thoroughly earned his position as the number one tennis player in the world, although Federer's illness at the beginning of this year certainly contributed significantly to his lack of form throughout most of the year and therefore Nadal's success. Unlike Federer though, Nadal's image is not completely untarnished. Among my friends I have long contended that, in addition to being on top of the game in many respects, Nadal is also a master of gamesmanship. This is of course a contentious statement and very difficult to prove. We all know that Nadal takes his time to prepare for serving, but how bad is it really? Did he feign injury against Federer in Monte Carlo, or did he genuinely require medical attention? What is his on-court behaviour like in general?

In this article, written for the fun of it, I endeavour to prove that Nadal is indeed guilty of gamesmanship of significant proportions. The first to be addressed will be his timely medical time-out called for during the Monte Carlo final on clay this year, followed by a point-by-point analysis of his delaying tactics as witnessed during the epic Wimbledon 2008 final. Nadal is of course not the only tennis player to be guilty of these forms of gamesmanship and in order to put a stop to it, I propose methods and regulations that I have no doubt will succeed in doing so.

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