The Federer-Nadal rivalry has been the focal point of tennis over the past years, but with Federer’s breakthrough at the French Open and Nadal’s bad knees, is this rivalry fading?
Roger Federer finally captured the elusive career Grand Slam with a straight sets victory over Robin Soderling and looks to take back his Wimbledon Crown in a couple weeks. Federer’s streak of five consecutive Wimbledon titles was broken by Rafael Nadal last year. Possibly the high point of the rivalry, Nadal conquered Federer in a five-set thriller that gave Nadal his number one ranking.
The tables are turning though as Nadal lost to Soderling at Roland Garros, his first ever loss at the French Open. Now, Rafa has bigger problems though as his knees may force him to withdraw from Wimbledon. Nadal has not played in that many tournaments this year so if he has to pull himself out The All England Club, it means he has serious issues with his knees. Tennis requires such intense torque from a player’s knees that any issue is extremely serious. If Rafa does permanent damage to his knees, then his career could be over very quickly.
Maybe the damage is already done. No one knows the extent of Nadal’s injuries and rumors are that Nadal may miss Wimbledon. If so, Federer should win easily and regain his spot as the number on player in the world. If Nadal’s knees continue to prevent him from playing, tennis could get very dull very quickly.
I don’t want to watch Federer running through tournaments without losing a set. That’s not competition. That’s a blowout. That’s boring. The greatest part of tennis is the five-set, drama-filled matches. Nadal and Federer have given us these matches over the last years. Agassi and Sampras used to give us these matches. If tennis is to stay popular, it needs Nadal to play and play well. It needs Rafa to challenge Federer and push both of them to the limit to deliver exceptional tennis and intense matches. Right now though, Nadal’s injured knees spell big problems for the ATP. The sport of tennis is walking a tight line between huge popularity andcrisis mode. A debilitating injury for Nadal will send the sport spiraling backwards into the land of low ratings and empty stands.