Sunday, July 13, 2008

Champions Roundtable at Tennis Week

Reaction to The Match continues to pour in.  Tennis Week has a spirited discussion with Fred Stolle, Alex Olmedo, Tony Trabert and Jim Courier, with all agreeing this was the greatest match. Trabert points out that Nadal-Federer have played more grand slam finals against each other, 6, than any of the other major rivalries in the men's game.  Fred Stolle had some interesting things to say about Federer:
The other thing we (John Newcombe, Fred’s broadcast partner) noticed was when Federer came to the net he almost never came in a hurry. He has got to learn when he comes in to come in with urgency! You come in against Nadal you better come in fast and close that net hard and get two meters closer. Contrary to what most people think, we don’t think Federer is a great volleyer. Now when I saw that this is nit picky a little bit: he’s a good volleyer, but he’s not a great volleyer because he doesn’t consistently get behind the flight of the ball. He tends to bring the racquet face down and sometimes looks to where he’s hitting and when you’re volleying against someone who can dip the ball with that much spin as Nadal you must get that racquet behind the flight of the ball. He’s got to practice that volley and approach more.
Fred gave both high praise for their sportsmanship and character:
Stop and think about what Nadal did this past month: he gave Federer one of his worst losses in the French Open final, he got on the train and came over to London with just a couple of days to practice on grass and then he played Queen’s Club and beat Karlovic, Roddick and Djokovic to win his first grass-court title. Then he plays phenomenal tennis to beat the five-time defending champion in the greatest match I’ve seen there and you have to think the guy must be completely buggered after all that, but he gets on the plane and flies to Stuttgart so he can personally tell the tournament organizers and press that he needs to withdraw. Now how many guys in the world do you think would do what Nadal did? For Federer it was a heart-breaking loss and he handled himself so well and showed his character. I don’t know if you picked this up on TV back in the States, but Nadal went outside and signed autographs for 15 minutes after that match. You could say the rain saved Federer a bit in that Nadal might have won in straight sets, but you saw the character of Federer that when he came back he fought with everything he had and in fact when he got it into a fifth many former players I spoke to there to a man thought Federer would win. These two guys are just a level above in what they bring to the sport.

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