A world without Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal
What would you get? You would get 28 new Grand Slam winners, 404 weeks, that is almost 8 years of the World No.1 spot occupied by others, another 98 ATP titles won by different players and a decade of pure domination, vanished.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have done great service to the sport of tennis. They have taken the sport to another level. They have made it popular without the hooliganism and the usual flamboyance which was earlier visible in the game and they have showed immaculate elegance while doing the same.
But what would have happened if these two weren’t there?
Federer burst onto the scene at the 2003 Wimbledon Championships. At that time, the defending champion and World No.1 Lleyton Hewitt was ousted in the very first round. Andy Roddick was looking good before he was defeated by Federer in the semi-final, who then went on to defeat Mark Philippoussis in the final. From that very moment, for the rest of his career, Roddick would play second fiddle to Federer. Philippoussis on the other hand, never did anything substantial after that to make his mark in the world of tennis.
Without Federer, Roddick could have won his first Wimbledon at the tender age of 22. And maybe, yes maybe, Mark Philippoussis could have had the honour of being a Wimbledon Champion. But neither of these happened.
Then began the domination. Nadal came onto the scene only during the later part of 2005. Between 2003 and 2005, Federer played spoilsport to many players’ dreams.
I have never been a fan of Lleyton Hewitt or his pointless cap wearing style, but the Aussie was one of the earliest victims of Federer’s domination. Both players are 31 now but Hewitt was an early bloomer. He is still the youngest World No.1 and dominated Federer during the early years of his career, but then, Federer has a 9-0 record against Hewitt in Grand Slams; 9 defeats at Majors, including one final defeat. What would have happened to Hewitt’s career if not for Federer? One can only speculate.
Then there was Andy Roddick. Federer took the World No.1 spot from Roddick in 2004 and has a 21 – 3 record against him. He has defeated Roddick in four Grand Slam finals, including that gut wrenching loss for Roddick at 2009 Wimbledon. Roddick eventually retired as a one Slam wonder. Andy Roddick would have, without a shred of doubt, dominated the world of Tennis without Federer.
Then came Rafael Nadal.
One can say that these players were the only obstacles in each other’s path of becoming ‘immortal’. Nadal has defeated Federer in 8 Grand Slam finals and without those defeats, Federer’s tally would have stood at 25 Grand Slams, an immortal stat. Federer had a 65 game defeat-less streak on grass, only to be stopped by Nadal and similarly, Nadal had an 81 match undefeated streak on clay which was stopped by Federer. One after the other, the statistics that the Federer-Nadal rivalry gave us, has been quite amazing.
So, what if these two were not there? Marat Safin could have had a longer and a more successful career. Andre Agassi would have had a fairy tale ending to his career in a successful manner, winning at least a few more Majors. Novak Djokovic would have dominated the world, probably not in a Federer-ish way, but would have had a longer successful run. Andy Murray would have finished Britian’s search for a Major champion much before 76 years and we would have had a host of one Slam wonders including Marcos Baghdatis, David Nalbandian, Fernando Gonzalez, Robin Soderling, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and David Ferrer. All these players were deprived of an opportunity to win a Major because of the genius of these two players.
Both Federer and Nadal are not their old selves any more. Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have better odds of winning but the two Great Elders of the last decade of ATP Tennis have spoilt enough parties to sit back and enjoy the show.
It is easier to imagine a world without Federer and Nadal but there is a reason why what you can see is far more important than what you can imagine!