Roger Federer’s Fan: The King, Rafael Nadal, has returned

A staunch Roger Federer fan, Adam Gardner writes about the undeniable greatness that is Rafael Nadal.

Even lifelong supporters of Roger Federer such as myself cannot deny that the return of Rafael Nadal to prominence on the ATP tour is two important things: highly remarkable and nothing short of spectacular.

To recap the journey, the former world number one lost in the second round at Wimbledon in 2012 (a tournament where it is undoubtedly better to get him early; he lost in the first round in 2013), then missed the rest of the season, including the Olympics, where he was the defending gold medalist, the US Open, the end-of-year Tour Finals, and the 2013 Australian Open in January.

The same knee issues that caused him to miss time in 2009 seemed to be back, and Nadal was sidelined for what seemed an eternity. Real concern followed him everywhere, as it was again discussed and speculated that his style of play, the relentless ground game, the cutting spins he puts on the ball, and most of all, the running, had finally worn him down. Then he started playing again. He made a terrific move coming back on his most natural surface, the clay where he is all but untouchable. Despite a somewhat rough start in South America, Nadal ripped off a stupendous stretch in which he claimed six titles and reached eight consecutive finals. He hasn’t looked back, claiming his eighth French Open title and adding this most recent victory at Flushing Meadows to boot.

Rafael Nadal has reaffirmed his place in history with this most recent US Open victory.

Nadal’s match against Novak Djokovic was fascinating to watch in its momentum shifts. The first set was all Nadal, the second all Djokovic. Nadal wasn’t playing badly entering the third set, but it looked as if the Serb had recovered the championship form he had in 2011, when he beat Nadal in the final. Djokovic had found consistency in his serve and was routinely using his excellent return game and sterling backhand to put pressure on Nadal and force him to come up with something special in order to hold serve, and that he did.

The match featured several rallies of 15 or more shots, including one spectacular exchange that reached more than 50.  Everything that high-quality tennis has to offer was on display that night, and each player demonstrated his tennis IQ repeatedly in the beautiful way that points were constructed, as both players had to think several shots in advance to set up a winner or force an error.

At this year’s French Open, Rafael Nadal cemented again his reputation as the best clay court player in history and returned to form at the US Open in making his case for being the best ever. There are already some who name him as the best ever, and if he claims four more Grand Slam titles, reaching the current milestone of Federer’s 17, it won’t even be a debate anymore. Sure, people will still talk about who was better to watch, and I’ll defend to the death that Federer’s game was more absorbing and beautiful, especially in person. But Nadal will have the head-to-head record over him (not to mention every other notable player of the past decade) and with the numbers to match; nobody will be able to deny it.

Rafa is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, we have ever seen.



  1. One thing I love about Rafa & Roger is that you will never see anyone of them hit the raquets even if the play badly. Characteristic of true champions that even when they are down they keep their cool.

  2. Lovely article! I’ve been a Rafa fan since before he started winning on clay, both Rafa and Roger are true champions!

  3. Rafa is such a special person. Often I think.. I want to talk to his parents, do you raise i child to become like him?
    Rafa is the perfect role model for a child!!

    In rivalies Fed-Rafa is the perfect one too! Fed fans and Rafa fans are similar types aswell. I cant really see the same thing happen in this rivaly with Djokovic.

    I miss those times when Fed was playing good!

    What will tennis be without Rafa and Fed?

  4. The wonderful and amazing thing is that Rafa’s and Roger’s fans like each other. I was a Roger fan but changed to Rafa after the AO when he embraces Roger and after beating him, he encourages him to win more GS. I thought, this guy is unbelivable, he is special. Roger’s and Rafa’s fans are good natured people, like R and R, something you cannot say about Nole’s fans. Both are unique in their own style. Both are the best players tennis ever had. I don’t want to even think when they won’t be around any more.

  5. To Adam Gardner great article finally Rafa getting the respect he deserves thank you for it, being a committed Rafa fan love this! To Rafa Nadal Fans thank you for posting and all you do for us Rafa fans means so much! Have a great week all Vamoss Rafa!!

  6. I don’t think Rafa needs to win any more grand slams to prove he is the best. To me, he already is. He brought so much to tennis. Before he showed up, tennis players used to be almost enemies. McEnroe and Connors, Sampras and Agassi…Rafa brought true sportsmanship to the game. When he beat Agassi on Agassi’s last appearance in Wimbly, Rafa just stood aside humbly while Agassi paraded himself, waving and carrying on. When he beat Federer in the AO final, he stood aside and let Federer have his cry and steal the spotlight from him. Even after beating Federer, he’d call Federer the best player of the history. He acknowledged Djokovic’s superiority of playing in 2011 without bitterness. Instead, he worked at improving and even after beating Djokovic this time around, he said Djokovic had the best forehand in tennis.
    To me, Federer is an amazing player with a effortless-looking style, but Rafa’s style is more dynamic and exciting. He really amazes me with his tenacity and cerebral game. One minute, you see the guy losing and the next, it’s like something clicks and he starts coming up with different shots and strategies. To me, Rafa is numero uno. I don’t think I’d be able to see tennis the same way after he retires.


    • When one really thinks about it, it is Rafa who really introduced humility to the current set of tennis players, I have yet to find one occasion where Rafa toots his own horn, or downplays any players game or abilties, he always shows respect for his opponent and his opponents game on and off the court…that cannot be said of many of the others. Now, if they all seem more respectfull of the others it is because Rafa has set the standard.

    • what makes it more special is that he is a humble young man, just wants to play tennis and be the best that he can. Love Rafa, he is amazing!

  8. The difference between Nadal’s greatness and Federer’s greatness is that Nadal is not overrated, unlike Federer, who heavily profited from the weakest era in the last 30 years.

  9. Love this article about Rafa and Roger.. they are both unique players in their own ways. I love Rafa’s style since his debut in 2005 French Open. His sportsmanship and respect to other players made me his number one fan. He never taunted anyone and when the game did not go his way, he will still smile and quiet about it. He knows how to accept defeat which is very manly as a player. With his early exit in this year Wimbledon, the game was not fun to watch anymore. Watching him won Montreal and Cincinnati, gave his followers hope to see him with the USOpen trophy and he delivered graciously in 4 sets, the later being the killer to Djacovic in which he worked so hard to win each points. That’s one thing that made him so unique….. his fighting spirit is always in a higher level than his opponent especially winning break points. Overall, he got a long way to go if his health will not interfere with his games … to be the best player who ever play the sport !! Magic number now is 18 to over pass Roger’s 17 grand slam winning, the way he play now, I believe it is reachable in no time.. Good luck, RAFA ….

  10. Thanks for a,very unbiased genuine article, being a diehard Rafa fan, there’s no denying the fact that Roger will go down in history as one of the best, both Rafa and Roger will be remembered as unique players who not only changed and promoted tennis to another level but also great ambassadors of the game. I wish them both more success, May their healthy rivalry continue and entrall their fans for more yrs to come.

  11. Beautiful, that is Rafa n Federe’s fans loving each other as well…Vamos Rafa n Federer more power to you both esp. your friendship keep it forever as we love you both.

Leave a Reply