TENNIS mag's head honcho James Martin thinks the term "clay-court specialist" has become an insult more than a compliment for a baller, and they deserve more respect in the sport.
Martin argues in his "Viewpoint" column that Rafael Nadal is a dirtballer's baller, irregardless of his record on other surfaces, because the Spaniard's
"a tenacious baseline warrior who grinds out his victories on the most physically grueling surface in tennis. But therein lies the rub. Although Nadal has a strong record on hard and grass courts, he is a clay-court specialist. The stats prove it. No other player comes close to equaling his record on the dirt. And as hard as he tries to do well on other surfaces, Rafa is the quintessential dirtballer."Not that there's anything wrong with that according to Martin:
"It’s no knock on his accomplishments. Yet, you can’t help but think how the term “clay-court specialist” has become a sort of backhanded compliment in the sport."But if Rafa never adds to his three French Opens, Martin believes his legacy won't be as impressive:
"Do people look at Gustavo Kuerten, who’s retiring after this year’s Roland Garros, as anything but a clay-court specialist?So if clay-court prominence and success holds less weight than success on other surfaces, why is Pete Sampras' legacy or Roger Federer's career thus far negatively impacted by the fact that neither great owns a French Open crown?
Unfortunately, history doesn’t always look kindly on players of his ilk (Bruguera, for one, got snubbed by the Hall of Fame this year) and are rarely considered among the pantheon of all-timers."
Seems like hypocrisy to me.
(image via tennis.com)