Sunday, June 5, 2011

Nadel, Nadal, whatever ... it's all in the family!

All those hours I spent teaching my nephew how to play tennis -- not to mention, how to grow hair -- are paying off big time.

Another major for Rafael Nadel!

("Nadal," as everybody knows, is merely the Spanish translation.)

Has there ever been a better clay-court player or a better defensive master? Freakishly athletic and ridiculously talented, Rafa was unbeatable again at Roland Garros. So the better question might be: Has there ever been a better tennis player ... period?

I thoroughly enjoy listening to John McEnroe analyze tennis. There are few better commentators in any sport. It's especially rare to hear one so accomplished as an athlete articulate the nuances of his sport in plain English for the masses to comprehend.

Yet it was the almost-as-good Mary Carillo who made the single best point as Rafa was steamrolling Roger Federer in Sunday's French Open final:

Yes, Federer has won a record 16 majors to 10 by Nadel/Nadal. But Roger is almost 5 years older than Rafa, meaning the gap likely will close quickly. More significantly, Rafa is 17-8 against Roger in majors. So how can Federer be the greatest player ever, as many observers claim, if he hasn't even been able to win half of his big-tournament matches against his generation's other great player?

I like to think of it this way: While Roger didn't have to contend with a mature Rafa to build his record, Rafa had to go through perhaps the greatest player ever -- when said player was in his prime -- to succeed on a major scale.

And Rafa has done just that. Over and over and over again.

Makes me proud to be a fellow Nadel/Nadal!

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