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Wimbledon: 2008 Revisited 06/19/2010 - 8:31 AM

Cover.HardcourtConfidential On the eve of Wimbledon, I thought it might be a nice idea to re-visit the epic Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal final of 2008, just to remind us how hard to wish for a reprise of that battle. But let's look at it through the eyes of Patrick McEnroe, who shares his thoughts on the match in his new book, Hardcourt Confidential: Tales from Twenty Years in the Pro Tennis Trenches.

Stay tuned as we continue our final countdown to Wimbledon. Bobby Chintapalli will be back tomorrow, with some thoughts on the WTA action.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

-- Pete

I intently watched Nadal, and his entourage suffering in the player’s guest box, as the young Spaniard flopped into his chair on the changeover at the end of the fourth set of the Wimbledon final of 2008.

Toni Nadal, Rafa’s coach and uncle, dropped his head to the railing in the player guest box. Rafa’s father Sebastian stood up and he must have told Toni not to do that, because in a moment his brother was bolt upright again. It was a momentary lapse, a show of despair from a straightforward, even- tempered guy who’s anything but obsessed with winning and losing. What he’s obsessed with— and it shows in his nephew’s conduct and words— is character.

101980353 Toni Nadal used to make Rafa play with poor quality equipment,just to show him that he had to buck up and play with the tools at his disposal. He forbade Rafa jamming his feet into his shoes without untying the laces: “Just because you get them for free doesn’t mean you can ruin them; many people work very hard just to be able to afford the shoes you get for free.” He made Rafa sweep the court before and after practice session, even after the boy had become a

Grand Slam champion. And he made Rafa carry his own bags. In 2005, Rafa scored one of the fi rst big wins on hard courts, winning the big Masters 1000 My ESPN booth-mate Cliff Drysdale and I worked that match, and we were scheduled to call the first match of the Cincinnati Masters, fewer than Twenty- four hours after later. We groused and complained about having to be at the airport to catch a flight on a small commuter airline at six in the morning after the Montreal fi nal, and when we got to the airport we were surprised to see we weren’t the first of the tennis people to arrive.

Toni Nadal and Rafa were already standing in line, patiently waiting to check their bags. “Well,” I said to Cliff. “If Rafa can do it, I guess we can, too.” By then, Rafa’s great rival, Roger Federer, was traveling exclusively by private jet; in fact, after Novak Djokovic beat Rafa and Roger, in back- to- back matches at the same Montreal event in 2007, Roger decided to spare Rafa the indignities of the Com- Air check- in line and gave him a lift to the next event in his private jet.

But back to that fourth set changeover. If Toni had surrendered to despair at the end of that fourth set, I could only imagine what Rafa himself felt. But it was impossible to tell. Beads of perspiration dripped from his damp, dark hair as he sat. He looked curiously at peace with himself, not by any means resigned. He held his chin high and gazed off into the distance, as if
he were watching some strange object crawling across the horizon.

He was devoid of visible emotion, although he had plenty of reason to be captive to feelings, most of them bad. Nadal had won the first two sets by identical 6– 4 scores, setting the stage for the one thing no one had expected: a blowout. He came within a hair’s breadth from winning this match in straight sets, 6– 4, 6– 4, 6– 4. But he faltered, ever so slightly, and lost his momentum.

With the help of rain delays, Federer had found a way back into the hunt. He chipped away at Nadal’s huge lead, and won that third set. And not long after that he had stared down one match point and faced another in the tiebreaker.

 Everyone knows how that 2008 final turned out: Nadal finally won it, 9– 7 in the fifth, under light conditions so poor that had it not developed into the greatest tennis match of our time, it might have been called because of darkness before the last ball was hit.I was really curious to find out what Nadal had been thinking on that changeover at the start of the fifth set, and I found out soon enough. He told us in response to the very first question asked at the official post- match press conference. Did you think you’d blown it after failing to convert those two fourth- set match points?

These were his exact words: “I just reminded myself that I am still here. The match is not over, we are at two sets all. When I lost the fourth set I was sitting down, and just say [to myself], ‘Well, I am playing well, I am doing well, I am with very good positive attitude, so gonna continue like this and wait, wait what’s happening. I feeled confident with myself, so for that reason I was confident on the match . . .”

And that, right there, is one of the major keys to Nadal’s success - and a pretty good explanation of how the guy was able to complete what started out as an impossible mission— to catch and eventually eclipse Federer (albeit briefly), and to bring him down on his own turf.

Every player in a tough match, even at a small club tournament, tells himself: Hey, it’s about now. Forget what happened two moments ago, or back in the first set. Stay in the now. Love the game, indulge your passion for it. Players strive mightily to think that way, and it’s a message I’m always trying to drill into my kids. But it may be the hardest of all things to do in this game. And Nadal had the poise, mental discipline, and the deep confidence to not only think but live that mandate in what had to be the darkest hour of his career.

In the aftermath, people inevitably compared the match with its predecessor “the greatest Wimbledon battle of the Open era,” [my brother] John’s clash with Björn Borg in 1980— the five- set war that featured what is now known simply as The Tiebreaker. John won that fourth- set
tiebreaker, 18– 16, saving a handful of match points along the way.

Like everyone else, John expected that his performance in that tiebreaker might break Borg’s steely spirit, but the Swede overcame the devastating effect of that lost breaker to take the match, 8– 6 in the fifth.

The comparison is specious, and if anything it’s unfair to Nadal.In 1980, Borg was already a Wimbledon champion; he was gunning for an outrageous fifth consecutive Wimbledon title, while John had just one major title, earned at the previous year’s US Open. Borg, like Federer (who already had five Wimbledon trophies in 2008), was the more accomplished, experienced favorite.

Sure, you can appreciate the pressure Björn felt as John, an explosive upstart, set about hunting him down. Roger probably experienced the same apprehensions. But could anyone have more confidence to draw on, more reason to believe that he could, and would, win than Borg— or Federer?  John, also the hunter, did not win his ultimate Wimbledon showdown. Rafael Nadal did.

It’s funny, but there’s nothing earth shattering or especially insightful in Nadal’s explanation of what he was thinking. If you’re unfamiliar with tennis, you might even shrug and say it amounted to a string of typical jock clichés.

Some players say something like that, and you think, The guy is full of crap. He’s just talking. . .

But when Nadal says such obvious, simple things, you really believe him. When he says he feels content, even though he lost in the semifi nals of the US Open because “being one of the last four is good, no?,” you believe him because— because you just know it’s coming from his heart, and because he’s right. He makes his point in a way both innocent and preemptive, like a wise child pointing out the obvious to a confused and overly analytical adult.

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Posted by Pspace 06/19/2010 at 07:27 PM

ladyjulia, since when is traveling by private jet a bad thing? Hehe...let ze plebes wait to check their bags, I say. If I have a choice, I'm traveling with they have a mute button for the twins?

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/19/2010 at 07:35 PM

Tari, if I had anything to do with rafa's professional life (if only!), I would have pushed for the private jet thing ages ago. These guys fly WAY more nowadays than even a decade ago and it is enormously tiring and time consuming. I kinda feel for the journeymen and women who have to fly the same amount with a fraction of the income of the top guys. There is too much comparing of these two great guys, that's true. But there are some genuine differences too. Just an example would be rafa staying in the Olympic village with all the other althletes while Roger preferred a fancy hotel. But rafa's younger and loves to hang out with lots of people and wasn't travelling with his gf either. I really think rafa is just a big kid. He still defers to his uncle and parents. I get the feeling Roger grew up a long time ago. If that makes any sense.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/19/2010 at 07:42 PM

Pspace, those twins are so precious I can't even imagine them fussing.

Highpockets: thanks for your interpretation of rafa's saying "I must be humble." I wasn't reading it right. Now I get it. He's actually saying "I don't want to get arrogant."

Posted by rudy3 (proud Rafaelite since 2005) 06/19/2010 at 07:43 PM

i so hate to jump on this horse, as it is dead, rotting, and certainly not going anywhere. bit i can't seem to help myself.

Rafa has been photographed with 2 cars, that he says he owns. He drives a Kia Sorento, a sponsor, and an Astin Martin, which he bought for himself after he won Wimbledon.
He does normally fly commercial, but last year, during the height of the knee and parent issues, he did opt for private a couple times.
In the early days, when the phemonenon began to grow, it was reported that he was offered a private jet from a tournament director, which his father told him no, he was not going to be like that. Sounds like a parent's way of keeping his child's feet on the ground.

the press hung this humble boy next door label on Rafa and the Nadals, as this plays up the contrast between him and Roger. All part of the rivalry package.

The Nadals are wealthy. they were before Rafa became a rockstar. Rafa has real estate investments all over the world. And it is also true that they are very family centric, Rafa's friends and girlfriend are the same forever.

Posted by ladyjulia 06/19/2010 at 07:44 PM

"Just an example would be rafa staying in the Olympic village with all the other althletes while Roger preferred a fancy hotel."

Annie...Roger stayed in the olympic village when he was No.1, and was a multi-slam winner (2004).

Posted by observer (Go Roger, Maria and the USA) 06/19/2010 at 07:45 PM

Annie, I agree with everything you wrote, but re: the Olympic village, it's not really that big of a difference. Roger stayed in the village in 2004, where he met Mirka... but he said that he felt a little bad/guilty staying there because people recognized him and treated him like a famous athlete and he didn't like taking the spotlight off the other athletes to be the center of attention.

However, that only reinforces your point that Roger grew up a long time ago, and Nadal hasn't fully. I don't know if I buy that, since he is 24 and I think a lot of the view of Nadal as child comes from a. The fact that he started playing (and winning) so young, and b. the fact that the majority of his fans are ... the maternal, protective type when it comes to him. I wouldn't be surprised if Nadal (and 85% of the other major tennis players) stay in hotels outside of the Olympic village in London 2012.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 07:46 PM

Hell has people noticed the way Rafa drives?

I would get off the road if he was coming my way

When he got the Aston Martin one of my fav cars ever

I just shuddered at the thought of him behind the wheel

Rafa won a Benz in a tournament and he said he would give it to Uncle Toni

Smart thinking Rafa

Posted by Tari 06/19/2010 at 07:47 PM

Annie, what is forgotten over and over is that Roger had already stayed, just like Rafa, in the Olympic village during his first Olympic games. So Roger's second Olympics is compared to Rafa's first. Maybe Rafa will stay there again, who knows? I don't think it says anything about whether they enjoy hanging out with lots of people. I think it's more likely that Roger decided "been there, done that" and opted in favor of some rest. You couch it in terms of "luxury". Well, yes, if you mean he could afford it, of course.

They are different. I'm not saying they aren't.

Posted by mad about fed 06/19/2010 at 07:50 PM

has anyone else had trouble getting on i had to come through the backdoor. the front door said there is a virus threat on this site.

Posted by Tari 06/19/2010 at 07:50 PM

Oops, I forgot he stayed in the village in his second Olympics too.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/19/2010 at 07:51 PM

Ooh I go away and come back to find folks discussing flying private as against commercial. Well, I have only flown private once in my entire life and let me tell you, best thing ever. No waiting in line, fast check outs, everything. Fantastic way to travel. Granted it was between Jamaica and Cayman, but hey it was a once in a life time opportunity.

As to cars, I currently own a Hyundai Tucson. Nice car, gives good mileage in these hard times. I worked for almost 20 years before I was finally able to afford a car. First one I bought was a little Honda Civic. Ran so well, and I installed a nice stereo system and taught my son how to drive with it. It got swept away in 2004 by Hurricane Ivan. Went without a car for about 5 months and then bought a Rav4. Worst car ever. Then I bought this Tucson and it has been a dream.

So what else does everyone else drive around here? I hope I did not get the conversation wrong as I saw that Rafa drove a Kia. I like those.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 07:52 PM

Does it matter who stayed where? lol!

Dosent take away from Roger or Rafa

Also it dosent make Rafa more humble or grounded either

I agree with Tari Roger had stayed in the village before,been there done that

Good for Rafa to expierence it also.

Regarding Gilbus gee if I had a dad who owned a Jet I would be rapt.I think people are nick picking.

Regardless of money at the end of the day that dosent help a player,even if you can afford the best coaches etc it comes to you.

Posted by rudy3 (proud Rafaelite since 2005) 06/19/2010 at 07:52 PM

Rafa with the Astin Martin cracks me up. I wonder if he drives with the flashers on. I don't think he is exactly a Jamse Bond kind of driver.

I saw a video once of some charity go cart race he was in. He started the race in the poll position, but by the first turn he was in dead last :)

Posted by ladyjulia 06/19/2010 at 07:52 PM

Regarding the family differences,

How much of Roger's family are really into sports??? We know Rafa is deferential to his Uncle...but what do we really know about Roger's family? They do not interfere with his professional life because his parents are not athletes.

His dad worked in the paper industry..and his sister is a nurse. I don't think she has really attended even one of his GS matches...maybe she isn't into sports at all. So, Roger is his own person in tennis.

So, why do we bring up family differences between teh two players at all? One comes from a sports-oriented family...the other? Who knows? I have not read one relative of Roger in the media who has had anything to do with sports. They do not figure in the conversation at all. So, why compare the two families???

Roger also clearly says he played for money in the beginning..he used to think of the prize money for every forehand that he hit. I don't think his family supported him financially during his early years.

That too, he didn't win a title for first three years he was pro.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 07:53 PM

Rudy 3 I agree with you? shudders lol!

Posted by ladyjulia 06/19/2010 at 07:56 PM

AM, dosen't affect one player or the other. Just keep wondering why the media brings it up.

I mean as long as Ernie is not flying the private jet to park it at Wimbledon center court, its a moot point.

Also, yes..I forgot Roger stayed in the olympic village in 2000 and 2004.

Posted by rudy3 (proud Rafaelite since 2005) 06/19/2010 at 07:56 PM

"So what else does everyone else drive around here?"

Oh man, this is going to have fangirl written all over it, but i, um, drive a, um Kia Sorento. Its black and gets terrible gas mileage.

Posted by wilson75 06/19/2010 at 07:56 PM

Actually, for Roger's first 2 Olympics 2000 (where he met Mirka) and 2004 he stayed in the Olympic village, 2008 was the first time he stayed in a hotel. Considering the that the 2012 tennis tournament is being held in Wimbledon, I very much doubt any of the players will stay in the Olympic Village but rather stay in wimbledon itself.

Posted by BC 06/19/2010 at 07:59 PM

JK: thanks for the string info. But aren't there many more knee injuries on the tours than shoulder? Other than sharapova and Randy, who else is having shoulder issues?
Justine has long had a shoulder injury that can only be fixed by surgery, which she chose not to undergo. Her eyesight operation wasn't successful either and she's still wearing contact during matches-----probably why she couldn't see the ball well in that second set against Sharapova at RG.

Posted by ladyjulia 06/19/2010 at 08:00 PM

"He does normally fly commercial, but last year, during the height of the knee and parent issues, he did opt for private a couple times."

I also have knee problems (runner's knee)...but I cannot afford private jets.

So much for Rafa being like the common people ;-)

Posted by CL 06/19/2010 at 08:01 PM

ah, Andrew - but forget the crucial fact that when PMac wrote this Rafa was only 23 and therefore an ACTUAL manchild in the promised land. Pointing his elders to the font of all things simple and humble. Let us pray.

Tari - I FLOVE that picture of Fed all "scarffed up' at Wimby. There IS such a chill in the English summer ya know. Can't be too careful if you are someone with a compromised immune system.

And yes, Fed indeed has 'slept around' at various Olympic villages. lol.

Posted by Nella 06/19/2010 at 08:01 PM

Annie, you said "I get the feeling Roger grew up a long time ago."

From his book- "After his exhausting 2000 season, Federer vacationed in South Africa, where he went on a safari with his godfather, they experienced a rare sight for tourists-a group of leopards killing and eating a gazelle."

Maybe that did it. I dont know. lol

Posted by wilson75 06/19/2010 at 08:02 PM

Re: Private jet, as some have already said Roger is being sponsored by Netjets so natually he'll use them but he only uses them for short haul flights. For long haul he flies commercial.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/19/2010 at 08:04 PM

BC, thanks for that information on Justine. I had no idea that she is experiencing shoulder problems as well.

Program Note: For anyone who is interested the 2004 Wimbledon final between Sharapova and Serena is now on TC. I, of course, will not be watching LOL. Not because I was not happy for Sharapova, 6 years later I am now happy for her, but I doubt that I could stand to listen to Tracy Austin's nauseating commentary during the match. That being said, how about commentators, anyone here has any favourites that you like to listen to during Wimbledon. I love listening to Virginia Wade during Wimbledon and horror of horrors, Jason Goodall.

Posted by ladyjulia 06/19/2010 at 08:05 PM

Well, with the death of Peter Carter and two years of visiting psychiatrists and sitting on a couch...Roger better have grown up.

He tells Peter Carter to take a vacation in SA...and then the guy dies in car accident over there...that;s quite some guilt baggage Roger must have had as a teenager.

Posted by Pspace 06/19/2010 at 08:05 PM

""And yes, Fed indeed has 'slept around' at various Olympic villages. lol.""

Didn't he meet Mirka at the Olympics? There was an article during Beijing about how all the swimmers spend half the Olympics getting laid...since they finish their events early. Nole was getting adept with the javelin, right? Wonder what Rafael was up to ;-).

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 08:06 PM

CL Roger slept around? good for him lol! I mean to expierence the different beds

My husband is a car "fan boy" we have 3 cars.Though I only drive his while he is away for month working to keep the engine going "rolls eye" he would kill me if there was a scratch,dent on his beloved cars.Dont worry he checks them when he comes home.

He has a Benz and a ute chalk and cheese I know.

I drive a Honda which I love.

Posted by Tari 06/19/2010 at 08:08 PM

Did you like this guy too, CL?:

Hee hee. ;-)

And lol, rudy3. So cute. I don't want to talk about what I drive though. It's falling apart, and I've given up having Roger's folks adopt me!

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/19/2010 at 08:08 PM

For Amelie fans: "Working with Amelie for two weeks has been nice, we discuss my game a lot and outside the court I feel more comfortable. I know the job I have to do, I feel very relaxed, so I have to say thank you to Amelie". the words of Michael Llodra after winning the Eastbourne title with a little assistance from his 'coach' Amelie Mauresmo. She should consider it full time.

Posted by ladyjulia 06/19/2010 at 08:08 PM


I don't know how much the twins cry for a transcontinental flight...but a private jet maybe good for the passengers of the commercial flight that Roger travels in.

Best would have been if Roger and Muzz got seats next to each other post AO on the way back from Australia.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/19/2010 at 08:10 PM

LOL, so funny to see the responses to the car questions.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/19/2010 at 08:12 PM

Well, there you go. Roger stayed in the Olympic village twice. And I doubt very much if rafa will ever do the olympic village thing again at this point in his career. So, point taken on the olympic village thing. shitty example on my part.

Observer: honestly I promise, I don't fall into the "maternal" catagory although I am one of the Mama Lions around here. When I say he's still a big kid I'm thinking about his living with Mom, his having an allowance, watching video games, and sleeping with the lights on. Don't get me wrong. I think the guy is a peach. He's also seen the world and handled crowds and pressure and situations better than people well beyond his years. In some ways he's an old soul too. See, that's why I find him so fascinating tbh.

Posted by thebigapple 06/19/2010 at 08:18 PM

Do you really belive Rafa gets an allowance from his parents or uncle? Really now.

Most 24 years (that are not in college) have jobs and their own money, bank account etc even if they live at home. If you think this young millionaire has an allownace from his parents then he must be past humble he must be mentally incapacitated in some way.

Posted by Nella 06/19/2010 at 08:19 PM

A 33 shot rally on Grass at 6:24

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/19/2010 at 08:22 PM

I was just about to post that I doubt if Nadal still gets an allowance and if he does then he needs to stop getting an allowance immediately. I saw somewhere a few years ago, maybe 2 really where he was buying a house in this exclusive development that was being built. I wonder if he ever went ahead with it.

Posted by thebigapple 06/19/2010 at 08:22 PM

Young athletes are physically active in more ways than one. Most have oodles of tetesterone, even the women, makes them frisky. Let's say it is a very loving environment at the Olympics.

Robson was being a little naive but likely truthfull.

Posted by ActionFlunky 06/19/2010 at 08:23 PM

Andrew@6:12 -- true. I've also long-believed (well, relatively speaking) that it's one the reasons why Nadal's personality appeals more to female fans than male fans.

But yeah, hard to think of another male athlete who's had such "boyish" appeal, especially given the length of time Nadal's had it.

Posted by CWATC 06/19/2010 at 08:24 PM

Roger's family when he was growing up were middle class; comfortable, but not wealthy like the Nadals. He got alot of financial help from the Swiss federation to enable him to travel to tournaments, etc.

When Roger quit school at 16 to concentrate on his tennis, his dad told him they'd have to see how things went for the next year or two. If his results weren't that great, he'd have to go back to school so he could later support himself, as his parents didn't intend to "support him for 10 years" while he travelled the world playing challengers, lol.

It was a very big deal for him to finish 1998 as junior #1, as he thought that would enable him to get wild cards and ease his entry into the main tour.

(BTW, the person who introduced Roger to jet travel was Tim Henman; gave him a ride from Indian Wells to Miami one year to show him what he had been missing out on. :))

Posted by wilson75 06/19/2010 at 08:25 PM

Ladyjulia: Roger travelled commercial from Australia. As he's Europe now he would fly by private jet so they don't have to worry about the babies crying. Although he has said that they travel very well so they probably don't cry that much when flying.

Posted by observer (Go Roger, Maria and the USA) 06/19/2010 at 08:27 PM

Annie, those contrasts are interesting. The more you learn about a player (I knew practically none of which you listed about him), the more interesting they'll be. That probably applies to almost all players... but there has to be the initial fanhood attraction to get you reading and learning about them to begin with.

According to JK, the women's final of the tournament (Wimbledon 2004) that officially sparked my fandom in my two favorites is on right now... but alas I don't get tennis channel here at the beach in the summer. :(

If nothing else works out for me in life I'm just going to try to work as a flight attendant for Netjets and hope I get on Roger's flight once. Please!

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/19/2010 at 08:28 PM

For my fellow Venus fans

Posted by Joe (Rafa's fifth RG crown in 10) 06/19/2010 at 08:30 PM

Why Nadal has so difficult draw???????
I need a good answer!

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/19/2010 at 08:31 PM

@observer, try and see if TC is broadcasting online now. Usually they are as that is what I used to do before my cable company caved in to my demands.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/19/2010 at 08:32 PM

@observer, I just checked and TC is indeed broadcasting on veetle so you can check it out. It is under tennistv

Posted by Tari 06/19/2010 at 08:35 PM

That's very interesting, CWATC. I'd always assumed Roger's parents were well off because he'd left home much earlier - 12 was it? - to train in another part of Switzerland. But it makes sense that the Swiss federation would help.

I keep hoping some new player is going to capture my interest in the same way that Roger did in 2001. It hasn't happened yet, but I really am wishing for it. I'd never before experienced that transition of watching and rooting for a "hopeful" who then grows into a superstar. It's just been such a fantastic ride. Maybe once in a lifetime, as far as tennis goes.

Posted by wilson75 06/19/2010 at 08:37 PM

Joe: Rafa's draw got a lot easier with Gulbis withdrawing.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 08:38 PM

Karen Thanks for that link to Venus

Joe Luck of the draw I suppose.I dont think its that hard really

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 08:40 PM

Wilson 75 Does Earnie still have that leg,groin problem?

Posted by wilson75 06/19/2010 at 08:40 PM

Tari: Roger left home at 14 to go the Swiss National Academy but his parents didn't pay for him to go. It was basically a scholarship.

Posted by CPM 06/19/2010 at 08:41 PM

Looks like Agassi was right: image really is everything.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and suggest that if RF lacks an everyman appeal, that's because that's how RF bloody likes it. You don't chum around w/Anna Wintour if you want everyman appeal; you don't invite famous musicians, even B-listers like that Bush guy and the talentless Gwen Stefani, to sit in your box at the W final if you want everyman appeal; and you certainly don't strut around in suit coats and cardigans and whatnot if you want everyman appeal. (I'm thinking this year Fed's gonna come out with a top hat, tails and monocle -- and maybe proceed onto court by walking on the backs of soot-dusted street urchins.) Regardless of upbringing -- and my impression is that Nadal's background is a bit more monied -- both of these guys have deliberately and assiduously cultivated the images they have, and one can hardly blame the press & fans for responding accordingly.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 06/19/2010 at 08:41 PM

I always have to laugh when I hear the word "humble" - it always reminds me of Uriah Heep from the David Copperfield novel !

Posted by Tari 06/19/2010 at 08:42 PM

Ahh. Thanks, wilson. So, much more humble beginnings than I'd thought. Nice to know! :)

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 08:43 PM

Hmmmm to think Roger and his family were thinking of settling in Australia at one time too.

Posted by wilson75 06/19/2010 at 08:44 PM

Aussiemarg: It's the hamstring problem he picked up at RG. He felt he needed to take more time to heal so that he would be ready for the HC season.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 08:44 PM

Lynne LOL!

Posted by Joe (Rafa's fifth RG crown in 10) 06/19/2010 at 08:45 PM

Sorry wilson75 but I don't think Gulbis was the only one and the most dangerous player, there are more.........not too much easier

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 08:45 PM

Wilson 75 Thanks.Shame though.Good idea to let it heal then pushing it.He should do well I feel in the h/court season

Posted by Tari 06/19/2010 at 08:47 PM

Oh, what rubbish, CPM. Gloriously biased.

Posted by Tari 06/19/2010 at 08:48 PM

'Night, all. It's been fun. :)

Posted by CWATC 06/19/2010 at 08:49 PM

Thanks, Tari.
Roger left home at 14. He stayed with a host family in the town where the tennis center was and took the train home on weekends. So I doubt it cost his parents much if anything.

A couple years later the tennis center moved, and Roger's parents did pay for him to share a small apartment there with Yves Allegro.

I know how you feel as I also am kinda looking for the "next" player to spark my interest like Roger did. But no luck so far. (And maybe that's just as well for my nerves!)

Posted by wilson75 06/19/2010 at 08:50 PM

Joe: Who Soderling? Murray? Last time Soderling played Nadal...well we know what happened and Murray's form these days makes me feel that he's not going to reach the SF.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 08:51 PM

Good Night Miss Tari always great to have you here

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/19/2010 at 08:51 PM

Tari, I am faced with a similar problem to yours on both the men's and women's side. Rosangel introduced me to Grigor Dimitrov last year and I did see him play and he does have a nice game but I am not sure whether I am ready to ride the train of what ifs for the next few years in the same way that I have with Federer and Venus. These 2 have spiked my interest for years and just never let go.

On the women's side it has become increasingly easier for me to look at new players and add them to my list of favourites or those whose matches I have to get out of bed to see but none inspires me like Venus and her sister Serena. They have held me for going on over 10 years now and never let me go. I have no idea what I will do when they are no longer in the game, or indeed when all 3, have left the game. Tennis will just not be the same for me.

Posted by Tari 06/19/2010 at 08:51 PM

Ha, CWATC. :) 'Night!

Posted by ladyjulia 06/19/2010 at 08:52 PM


Thanks for that info about the Netjets sponsership.


Henman wasn't really that good a salesman,was he? If Roger still travels commercial when not sponsered for transcontinental flights inspite of having 50 mil dollars...

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 08:53 PM

Joe Gotta keep the faith with Rafa

The most important thing is the 1st week,well thats with all players.If he can win say in striaghts sets that gives him a better chance for the 2nd week.Fingers crossed of course lol!

Posted by wilson75 06/19/2010 at 08:53 PM

CPM: I guess you didn't read Agassi's book. He never believed in that tag line, in fact the first time he heard it he thought it was load of rubbish.

Posted by Joe (Rafa's fifth RG crown in 10) 06/19/2010 at 08:53 PM

Anyway, I like most of these picks

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 08:55 PM

Karen Great minds.I was saying only yesterday to my freind who by the way is a big Venus fan,we both want her to reclaim the Wimby title,that tennis in some parts wont be the same when both Serena and Venus retire.

Posted by ladyjulia 06/19/2010 at 08:56 PM

I think Soderling is still dangerous for Rafa...

I didn't expect much from Ernie..since he was going to be rusty...but his withdrawing leaves the draw more manageable.

Joe..all players have tough draws at different times. Its the luck of the draw. At the FO, Ernie and Soderling were in Fed's half. As it turns out, Fed couldn't get past them. Remains to be seen if Rafa gets past Soderling. I would think he will...but its not going to be a three setter if Soderling serves well. I'd bet on Rafa getting through in four tough sets...with one TB among them.

Posted by CL 06/19/2010 at 08:57 PM

"slept around" yes indeed, irony is wasted on the very young, :-)

Posted by ladyjulia 06/19/2010 at 08:57 PM

I think Soderling is still dangerous for Rafa...

I didn't expect much from Ernie..since he was going to be rusty...but his withdrawing leaves the draw more manageable.

Joe..all players have tough draws at different times. Its the luck of the draw. At the FO, Ernie and Soderling were in Fed's half. As it turns out, Fed couldn't get past them. Remains to be seen if Rafa gets past Soderling. I would think he will...but its not going to be a three setter if Soderling serves well. I'd bet on Rafa getting through in four tough sets...with one TB among them.

Posted by wilson75 06/19/2010 at 08:57 PM

Joe: Since everybody's picking Rafa to win, you shouldn't worry.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 06/19/2010 at 08:57 PM

It's always hard to say what sparks our interest in a player, isn't it ? I remember when I first saw Rafa, I thought 'why is he wearing those silly pants' - then I noticed his footwork and that really sparked my interest. No, it definitely wasn't love at first sight for me.

Posted by Cupcake lurker- On a new chapter 06/19/2010 at 08:58 PM

JK, I don't know if is the same but he bought a villa on the beach in the Dominican Republic, and let me tell you real state is not cheap back home, and for beach properties we are talking in the hundreds/thousands of dollars for square meter, depending on where it is you know location, location, location..., so since is in a luxury complex you can start thinking of a price maybe starting in the 2-5 million neighborhood to infinity.

Posted by CPM 06/19/2010 at 08:59 PM

Throw down like that, then make off? Poor form, Tari. Poor form.

Nothing biased--or false--about it. RF & RN are both sports celebrities (the latter not on the level of the former, of course), and they cultivate and maintain public images accordingly. This is no slight against them in general, and certainly no slight against Federer in particular. The man, or the man in conjunction with his "people," are savvy about the business they're in, and they've been very adept at making the man a very saleable commodity indeed. And bully for him! But should we, out of facile even-handedness, fail to take notice that Federer's image is one of classic, not to say idealized, tennis aristocracy?

Look, it's all well & good to root for whomever you like. But when we start talking about what's beyond the tennis court, we're in the realm of PR fantasy -- and whether you're a Fedophile or NadalKAD, at that point you're just another customer.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 09:00 PM

Lynne I got into Rafa first cause he sparked something in me,gee that seems like a 100 years ago now.Then I got into his game.

Posted by CPM 06/19/2010 at 09:00 PM


No, I didn't read it, but yeah, I knew that.

Posted by wilson75 06/19/2010 at 09:00 PM

Lynne: Are you one of those fans who wishes he goes back to piratas and sleeveless tops or do you prefer how he looks now?

Posted by Deuce 06/19/2010 at 09:04 PM

Zengii - Thanks for the Justine update. I saw the scoreline and thought tp myself "if she wants to beat a Williams at Wimby she's going to have to do better than that" This Justine fan is hoping she gets to the semis!

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 06/19/2010 at 09:04 PM

wilson75, definitely not, I prefer his look right now.

Aussiemarg, Yes, after I was fascinated by the footwork I then got into his game.

Posted by Tari 06/19/2010 at 09:05 PM

You made an assumption CPM, that I said was rubbish. My opinion, and I don't run away from it. I stand by it. Think what you will, but you are only assuming, as you aren't in the minds and hearts of these players, that's all. Nothing really more to say beyond that.

I will take back the "biased" part, because I did assume that. Good night.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/19/2010 at 09:06 PM

Folks, I think we need to take a moment for a group hug. This post has been up all day and we have discussed both Roger and Rafa without any fighting. I'm so proud of us. *sniff*

JK: I just now saw your post about dreadlocks. Very interesting. Ruth said last night that they are not called "dreads" but "locks." That I didn't know. So I'll call them locks from now on.

People here do tend to take things very literally. When I said rafa got an allowance I did not mean the weekly hand out from Mom or Dad. There was a lengthy article last year in either the WSJ or SBJ about rafa's finances. In it, they said that his father has set up a trust that will pay him $180,000 a year for the next 20 years. Obviously he's a very wealthy man and has a very cushy life.

rudy3: the image of rafa driving his astin martin with the flashers on had me LOL!! thanks for that one.

ladyjulia: I think we sometimes forget how traumatic the circumstances of Peter Carter's death must have been for Roger. I can't imagine the pain that must have caused. gives one pause.

It's also nice to know that the Nadal's and Federer's are very gracious and friendly with each other after all these years sharing the players box. It's a classy bunch all the way around. Mr. Federer's lovely smile and patting Rafa on the shoulder (I think he did that) when he climbed into the box in 1980 was truly a lovely moment. Last year he was very much on the scene at the USO so he was walking by me several times a day. One evening I spotted him before Roger night match - he was over at one of the site's bars sharing a beer with someone amongst all the other fans. The other parent that was around alot going to and fro with Richard Williams. Also very nice and friendly. Proud papas both. As a parent, can you imagine how FUN it would be to have your child be an athletic champion? oh it would be heaven!!!

Posted by rudy3 (proud Rafaelite since 2005) 06/19/2010 at 09:06 PM

Rog's Wimbledon entrance is either going to be full on production from "A Chorus Line"...dancers singing as he enters "One, singular sensation, every little step he takes. One, thrilling combination, every move that he makes"...and so on. He does like gold, no?

or, he is going the understated direction, simple shorts, shirt, warm-up, and shoes that have turned the nike swoosh into a 6.

Whatever it is, its only 3 days away!

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/19/2010 at 09:08 PM

uh-oh what happened? Did I go for the hug prematurely? Even so, 12 hours discussing R&R without a fight is a record.

Posted by Pspace 06/19/2010 at 09:08 PM

Very nice interview with Muzz:

The dude really opens up to the press. Talks about the loss to Roddick last year, and to Fed at Oz. Sounds like they really hurt him.

Posted by CPM 06/19/2010 at 09:08 PM


What assumption? I drew some inferences, based on available evidence, but I can't quite pick out where I made an assumption.


Posted by Joe (Rafa's fifth RG crown in 10) 06/19/2010 at 09:11 PM

Then according to the *picks* Murray and Soderling don't have easy draw because they have to play to Nadal, isn't it? hummmmmm

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/19/2010 at 09:13 PM

I got into Roger games when he beat Sampras at Wimbledon.Gee that also seems many years ago.My husband a one eyed Pete Sampras fan has never forgiven me that I was cheering Roger on.

He was under the couch sreaming at Pete and could not believe what was happening lol!

Posted by Joe (Rafa's fifth RG crown in 10) 06/19/2010 at 09:14 PM

Then according to the *picks* Murray and Soderling don't have very easy draw because they have to play to Nadal, isn't it, hummmmm

Posted by ladyjulia 06/19/2010 at 09:15 PM


ACtually...I would agree with half of what you are saying about Federer. All these images are cucltivated carefully...since the players have to attract sponsers.

Federer didn't have an agent for 2-3 years when he was No.1..he negotiated the contracts with sponsers on his own..but i also read an article where it says that this actually hurt him in getting sponsers.

Also, Federer has said Anna Wintour actually attends matches played by other players also since she is a tennis fan...but we never hear about it. I am curious to hear about which other players she attends.

About Gwen Stefani...the link is her husband...he's the one who drags her to matches i suppose.

So, I disagree with the part where Federer actually calculating out to get them in his box..but I agree with you about the part where the image is cultivated..esp. at Wimbledon. The outfits, gear..all that is managed.

Roger also dosen't allow his team members to speak to the press...and even fired coaches never say anything about him that is Federer has put some thinking into how he manages the media.

But i think his personality is there for all to see...he isn't putting on a show there. Roddick once lost to him in 2004 and said "you are a f----- --------" at the net and Roger just smiled and laughed it off. He also went to Roddick's coach and told him that he was sorry about what happneed in the Wimby that's not done in front of the media.

Also, if he was so concerned about his image...he would have actually taken care not to laugh when he was told by journos that he was chosen as one of the sexiest men in the world by some magazine in 2005...he actually couldn't stop laughing. Its great that he could see the hilarity in those things i think he dosen't care too much about how he is perceived in public.

Posted by Pspace 06/19/2010 at 09:15 PM

IIRC, there was a picture of Roger's Wimby outfit on some blog ('s that for a trustworthy citation). Anyhoo, it looked fairly tame...just a jacket. The gold swooshes were intact though. Frankly, I hope he doesn't do anything...we'll have hours of mindnumbing discussion about the message he's trying to send with his clothes, instead of about the tennis.

Posted by Joe (Rafa's fifth RG crown in 10) 06/19/2010 at 09:15 PM

Sorry for the double post, hehe

Posted by wilson75 06/19/2010 at 09:16 PM

CPM: I don't believe that neither Roger nor Rafa cultivated an image but rather Nike saw them a certain why and designed clothes that they felt would attract fans. Roger is as the throw back, old time player and Rafa as the younger brash player. The media just perpetuated those images. For years JMac told a story everytime Rafa played, of him wearing size 10 shoes. (I always thought that story didn't ring true because wearing shoes that too small can do alot of damage to his feet) Only to read on one of Rafa's blogs that that was untrue. Remember, the media needs a narrative when broadcasting a match and so they protray Roger as this smooth sauve person and Rafa as a brut. As for famous friends both players have celebrity friends that show up at their matches.

Posted by CPM 06/19/2010 at 09:17 PM


Sorry to spoil the atmosphere. Apparently it's a no-no to point out that RF & RN are, in addition to very talented athletes, very, very, very highly-valued commodities in the world of sport celebrity, and that the kinds of narratives fans and journos weave around them are largely responses to public images the two (along with agents, PR firms, etc., etc.) craft with great deliberation and care.

I think it didn't help that I used Roger and his rather-obviously upper-crust image as my lead-off example.

Thousand pardons, TW.

Posted by Pspace 06/19/2010 at 09:19 PM

LOL, CPM. I forgive you.

Posted by Jamaica Karen (WTA Rules) 06/19/2010 at 09:22 PM

Annie, I second your thoughts on the whole discussion without getting into each other's faces. I had a similar thought and was saying to myself I remember the days during Crisis Centre times when man people were frazzling so much over their fans. There were lots of congratulations and hugs after a match and usually whomever lost, the TWibe bar was immediately opened and the winner would "buy out the bar". Now, we get rock stones being thrown at the winners (I am guilty of it) and people leaving and slamming the doors on their way out.

I wish we could get back to those days. The days when folks would be offered a cup of tea or a glass of wine upon their entrance to the Crisis Centre. We can do it again folks, we just have to remember to be respectful of each other and try not to take it too personally.

AM, Venus does look lovely doesn't she and I love that colour on her. She looks absolutely fantastic. The thing I have noticed with Venus is that she looks elegant without even looking as if she tried very hard. I saw pictures of the players after the player party and everyone looked as if it took them hours to get their look. Venus looks like she just woke up, had a shower, plugged in her flat iron, did her hair, slapped on some Cover Girl and just picked the first dress that came to hand. She looked beautiful. I wish I had Venus' body.

Posted by wilson75 06/19/2010 at 09:23 PM

Lynne: I prefer what Rafa wears now too. I remember in an interview on the BBC after he won Wimbledon they asked him about the piratas and he said it's what Nike gives him to wear. I don't know, but it gave me the impression that he wasn't really fond of wearing the piratas and sleeveless.

Posted by CPM 06/19/2010 at 09:24 PM

I mean, I don't want to overstate the point here: I'm sure Rafa and Roger are both genuinely decent guys. I don't think they're putting on this act out in public, then slipping into private clubs & snorting lines off hooker's chests while laughing at poor people. (I think Marat had that covered.)

But they're also commodities. That's my point. And at a certain point, the way some fans talk about them and their virtues &c. &c. starts to sound like a slightly less grounded version of PC-vs-Mac flamewars.

I'm sure Nike has a *ton* to do with the images these guys present. And it's a relationship of great mutual benefit, with all parties concerned.

I don't think we substantively disagree about a thing. Maybe some differences of focus, is all.

Posted by ladyjulia 06/19/2010 at 09:25 PM

Its sad that Muzz was so hurt...i mean if he cried..(and he isn't even a weeper like Roger claims he is) must have been pretty hard to take.

Still..Muzz can copy his favorite player (like he copies him for davis cup etc)...that one has lost 14 matches and 6 GS titles to the same player year after year..and still gets up and faces him over and over again knowing that he has no tactical advantage in the match. Its one thing to lose one final...its another thing to lose three finals at the same court for three years running. You still show up and play like you mean to win..even if you don't.

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