Federer needs to solve Rafa puzzle to secure legacy
Today, Rafa Nadal secured his 6th French Open title victory at Roland Garros as he beat Roger Federer to secure his standing as the greatest player ever to compete on clay and as one of the all-time greats of tennis.
Rafa’s complete dominance on the clay of Roland Garros has cast a dark shadow on the career of his vanquished opponent, who is no doubt the greatest player ever to have played the game of tennis.
Federer has won 16 Grand Slams, the most ever, and is one of a few players to have won on all surfaces – grass, clay and hard courts. His victory at Rolland Garros, however, occurred in 2009 when Nadal lost his semi-final match against Robin Soderling. In that year, Roger won his first and only French title and completed a career Grand Slam.
Federer has faced Nadal no less that 5 times at Roland Garros, which includes 4 finals, and has come up short on each occasion. On Nadal’s favourite surface, Roger has found the Nadal Puzzle hard to solve. Yet Nadal first solved the equally puzzling Federer Problem 3 years ago on Federer’s favoured Wimbledon grass and regained the title in 2010 – Nadal missed Wimbledon in 2009 due to injury/fitness issues.
Head-to-head, Nadal leads Federer 6-2 in Grand Slams and has beat Federer 13 times in 19 finals.
Their current tally of Grand Slams also paints an interesting picture. Roger has 16 titles while Nadal has 10. Even with the re-emergence of Ðoković as a top 3 player, it isn’t inconceivable that Nadal will continue to reign supreme on clay and rack up a number of French titles with a sprinkling of a few Wimbledons and US Opens in the next 4 or 5 years.
By that time, Nadal would have reached Federer’s current age of 29 and with Federer having, perhaps, only another 2-3 years left at the highest level, it’s possible that Nadal might capture an additional 8-9 titles while Federer picks up 3-4. By my reckoning, that gives Nadal approximately 18-19 Grand Slams against Federer’s 19-20. A dead heat!
With a margin of only 1 or 2 Grand Slams between them and with Nadal’s continuing dominance of Federer on all surfaces, not just clay, the title of the “World’s Greatest Player” might need to be handed over from the graceful and brilliant Roger Federer to the athletic and brilliant Rafael Nadal.
But for sure, if Federer is to secure his legacy and remain the “World’s Greatest Player”, he’ll have to win a few more titles and at least 1 or 2 will need to be on the clays of Roland Garros against the enigma that is Rafael Nadal.