The hottest topic for any Tennis freak now, would be the rivalry between two of the best players of the Open Era. On one end is a guy considered to be the most gifted athlete ever to walk across the surface of the Earth. And on the other end, is the hardest working athlete the world has ever seen, probably just behind Michael Jordan himself.
They say, Tennis is a Warrior's Game. Only that person with a Winning Will, that burns like a furnace and a ruthless disrespect for the opponent can dare to compete here. They say, any sport is either won or lost in the mind. This statement holds very true for a sport like Tennis. A sport where you have to crush the opponent mentally and emotionally before defeating him.
Tennis is not new to famous rivalries between two players: Jimmy Connors & Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe & Jimmy Connors, Monica Seles & Steffi Graf and Pete Sampras & Andre Agassi to name a few. Then, what is so famous about the rivalry between the Swiss Maestro and the Spanish Workhorse? The decline of the Sampras-Agassi era and the advent of Roger Federer, as the best Tennis player the world has ever seen, co-incided.
From the moment Federer entered Professional Tennis, he's well and truly been the No. 1 in the men's draw. Its no mean feat to top the rankings list for the past three and a half-years. As he went on gathering laurels wherever he went, everyone else's records seemed too minute for him to conquer. Then came in Rafael Nadal a.k.a Rafa a.k.a The ClayMaster and with no respect for rankings or reputations, he started defeating the top players with literally no respect for them. He spoiled Roger's party for the first time by defeating him in the semi-finals of the French Open in 2005 and then consequently went on to win the championship. Federer for once, lost his chance to win a Grand Slam.
What started as a simple feud between the Best in the World and the Aspiring Best in the World soon grew out of proportions thanks to the media spotlight on it. Suddenly, those people who were bored by Roger's One man Championships felt that Rafa had poured life into the men's draw by giving hope to other contenders that the Swiss maestro was not exactly as invincible and God-like as people looked upon him to be. Though categorised as a Clay-Courter, he soon stormed into the finals of the other Opens as well.
Apart from this, what catapulted viewers' interests in the competition between these two SuperStars is their contrasting way of playing. Federer like Ronaldinho and Lara is a gifted athlete, he is more of a pleasure to watch for his beauty rather than for his Tennis. Nadal on the other hand comes from the school of athletes like Dravid and Keane, those less gifted players made with the ability to struggle and the unbending will for a fight. Watching Nadal is a revelation, beacuse he pours his heart out and gives everything for every shot he plays.
Nadal is made from the Earth, for the Earth. Anywhere else on the planet, the Swiss Maestro is the better player but not here, not on Clay. He has to play second to the Spanish Workhorse as long as he is here...here, Nadal is the king...Nadal is the master...the ClayMaster.