Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are big rivals on the tennis court, but usually seem like pretty good friends off of it. Well, it seems not all is perfect between them, as Nadal criticized Federer for not being vocal enough about the players’ battle to change the ATP tour schedule, preferring to keep a clean image.
There have been calls for a change in Tennis for quite some time now, becoming more and more vocal last year, especially after the US Open had plenty of delays due to rain. In the following months Nadal made his opinion heard about the matter and the need for a longer break and more rest for the players in a growing demand of physical strength and endurance to remain at the top level.
Andy Roddick and Andy Murray have made accusations against the ATP themselves, with talks about forming a players’ union coming up here and there and the even more severe talk of a strike, like the big players not taking part of a Masters or even a Grand Slam at some point to prove they’re serious. Roger Federer usually remains silent on the matter, or at least hides his criticism between the lines.
Federer is usually very critical of players who drop out of tournaments or in the middle of matches, always speaking with some notion that not everything is as it appears, taking shots at their commitments and fighting spirits. Both Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, for different reasons, are not among his favorites.
In the Pre-Australian Open news conference Nadal spoke about not planning on being the front-man for players’ grievances because it has hurt him in the past. He later moved to take a couple of shots at Federer in a Spanish language interview. One of the reporters suggested that Federer doesn’t like players complaining openly about the sports’ problems because it hurts the image of tennis, Nadal thought something else.
No, I totally disagree. For him it’s good to say nothing. Everything is positive. ‘It’s all well and good for me, I look like a gentleman’ and the rest can burn themselves. Everyone is entitled to have their own opinions.
He likes the circuit, I like the circuit. It’s much better than many other sports but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be better. It doesn’t mean there aren’t some things about the tour that could change. The tour is fine, but there are some things that are bad. That’s all we’re saying.
And the vast majority of players have this same opinion. He’s got a different opinion… if the vast majority have one opinion, and a small minority think differently, maybe it’s them who are wrong. I love the game and there’s a lot of things I’m grateful for. The game has allowed me to lead a fantastic lifestyle. But to finish your career with pain all over your body, is that a positive? No.
Maybe Federer has got a super body and he’ll finish his career like a rose. Neither myself, nor Murray, nor Djokovic are going to finish our careers like a rose. Tennis is an important part of my life, but it’s a tough sport. We’re not like him where it’s effortless to play. All of us, it’s a battle.
As the interview went on and on, you could feel Nadal’s frustration starting to vent. For how long has he kept these things inside? I also wonder if the two have actually argued about this matter in the past.
The two players are set for a Semi Final clash at Melbourne, being seeded on the same side of the draw for the first time since 2005, kicking off their 2012 Australian Open on Monday. Federer actually withdrew in the midst of the Qatar Open before his Semi Final against Tsonga, leaving a tournament for only the second time in his career.