Google Down the Line!: A DtL reader argues the importance of being Federer - do you get it?

Friday, July 25, 2008

A DtL reader argues the importance of being Federer - do you get it?

Hey y'all,

Avid DtL! reader Jessica Diamond sent me this impassioned letter about Roger Federer and her feelings about his influence and place in the game in light of his continuing on-court struggles. She gave me the go ahead to post it so I did!

Check it out:

Any avid tennis fan knows that lately, something stirs in your stomach when you see Roger play a loose couple of points. Last year, you would have thought, "Nah, it's okay. Roger's got him. He'll rally back." And then he always did. [Wednesday night], as the forehands were dropping farther and farther into the doubles alley, and less on target, you thought, "He could really lose this" and he did.

Watching Roger lose to Simon was especially uncomfortable and I'm not a fanatical Federer fan either. I have always loved his elegance and mastery, especially amongst so many robotic, muscular players who come to the net only 3x times per match. However, in years past, I've rooted for the underdog (not Nadal) because Semi-Finals and Finals were becoming downright boring. Now realizing that the #1 spot may be someone's new crown, I'm nervous. Simply put, Roger's the best guy for the job and maybe the only guy.

Has anyone considered what the #1 of tennis might look if it's not Federer? Nadal, who can't get through one simple sentence without butchering it, no? Djokovic, who will weave that undeniable arrogance into his courtside presence, not to mention his post-match interviews?
Anyone for that matter, besides Roger, in comparison, is nothing more than sloppy seconds. Tennis has been preserved by Federer's dominance.

This beautiful sport full of old traditions and sophisticated appeal is always in danger of becoming too edgy, too modern. While the level of play must progress and become more contemporary, there's something beautiful about the way tennis has hung onto it's roots. I like to think that Roger has had a big hand in that in the past 5 years. After all, Roger is Tennis reincarnate, their personalities and their aura are almost interchangeable.

Old fashioned, refined, traditional, affluent, articulate, and well-bred. I just don't see these traits in the boys that are salivating for the #1 spot.

Roger, too often in the past, we've been quick to obsess and praise you for your style of play. Now, with your #1 ranking slipping slowly through your fingers, we need to remind of you of your other job off the court. You are the Ambassador of Tennis, and the only one who can lead this sport with authenticity.

Good Luck and no pressure.

-Jessica Diamond

Alright, I'm sure you guys have thoughts on this letter - I most certainly do - and I'd love to hear them. And no worries, I made sure to let Jessica know to wear her best and thickest skin...

(image via Getty)


  1. Can't speak for anyone else, but Jessica put my feelings perfectly. (Although I do have a lot of respect for how hard Nadal has worked in the last year or so to improve his English, and you can't read his Times blog and not think he's a sweetie.) But Roger is the quintessential tennis champion. On all levels, I feel like he makes the game look good. So pull yourself together, Roger, because we need you.

  2. Jessica - I loved the commentary. As a traditionalist myself, the #1 spot in the men's tour belongs to Federer. I don't follow the men's game that often, but Federer's class and athleticism epitomizes tennis. I agree with you 100%.

  3. Nice post!

    I'd argure that Roger can still be the Ambassador of Tennis, even without being No. 1. Being No. 1 doesn't automatically mean that you're No. 1 in the hearts and minds of the media and the fans - just think of Agassi's final years on the tour. Being No. 1 is obviously a huge part of Roger's identity (for him as well as his fans), but I'd argue that he's now at a similar point in his career where he doesn't need the No. 1 to validate his greatness. He can win more Majors without being No. 1.

    I'd argue that the biggest thing he needs now is to stop worrying about losing the top spot and take a little pressure off.

    Nadal deserves it - just think of the year he's had versus Fed's. And even as a Fed fanatic, I admire the Spaniard and think he's a great ambassador for tennis. And he speaks much better English than I speak Spanish!

  4. While I too respect Roger's game and his class; I do not see the need for the comment on Nadal's English skills. I think his game, while different from Federer's, is what should be a basis for comparison. Not his vocabulary or his language skills.
    It's bad enough that the centre and dominant paradigm have remained firmly in the English-speaking world, without having to drag sport into too. It is unfair and frankly, smacks of a sense of superiority- marking English as some sort of prerequisite. Dissect his game, not his language skills. Either way, Nadal has been nothing but courteous and has attempted to learn a foreign language, and I think it smacks of sheer partiality to bring up his language skills as a way to show him up against Federer. Let's talk lefty forehand to righty backhand instead? While you mention Djokovic's arrogance, what of Federer's? Is his arrogance more acceptable because he has a 'right' to it and Djokovic is all talk and no show at the moment?

    Otherwise, I must say that I see Federer as important to the game and I do agree with you on other points, just don't see the validity of bringing up Nadal's language skills. All I can see it affecting are his marketability, which I don't think he's too fussed about.

    I don't believe that tennis requires preservation. It does not need to hold onto the 'old' and the 'traditional'. It's like the English language- if it doesn't update itself and incorporate new things and remain dynamic, it will die out. Like Latin.. or Real Tennis.

    Tennis, like the number one spot, needs change. It needs to grow.. regardless of the language it does it in.

  5. Lurker anon says....
    While I agree that Federer is an extremely classy guy, I agree 110% with nadalfan that the comment on Rafa not being able to speak in English was a bit out of place. Just because you can't speak English does not mean that you do not deserve to be the number 1 player in the world. I understand that taking on that position means, whether the future #1 player likes it or not, that they will have to be ambassadors for the sport, but actions speak louder than words, and Rafa's athleticism and on court intensity and dedication should count more than what he can say in the press room.
    As for Nole, while I can't stand his guts, I have no right to say that he doesn't deserve to be number 1 as well. All of them have worked hard and at the end of the day, that is all that counts in the #1 race.
    As for Roger, he's slowly revealing his true self with how he's handling these recent losses. I remember very well how Roger would give underhanded comments on Rafa's game when the Spaniard started going up the rankings and beating him regularly, saying that he was one-dimensional and that he's a grinder. He's learned to accept, though, that Rafa is his main challenger and even said last year that if there's anyone else who he thinks deserves to be #1, then that would be Rafa. But that was last year, when Roger was a ton of points ahead of Rafa. Now that they're within a few hundred points apart, Roger seems to feel that he still deserves to be #1 and Rafa doesn't.
    Roger's articulate and chooses his words wisely, but if you simplify what he's saying, seems to me that behind his perfect english, there's only bitterness and denial.
    I'm sure he'll bounce back (and I would love to see him bounce back) but I would also want him to really be more sincere when he says that he's enjoying his rivalry with Rafa. Seems to me that he's only enjoying it when he's on top, not when he's the one chasing.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. And, just in a follow up to people saying that the Nadal not being to speak English are out of place, he's 22. Djokovic is a year younger than him and fluent in Italian, German, Serbian and English. And I'm pretty sure Federer was fluent when he was that age too. With all the travelling that the man does, you would expect Rafa to have improved more than he has. If everyone else can do it, so can he.

  8. Lurker Anon says....
    Sarah, but why does rafa have to learn English? Do you know how to speak Spanish? Porque? Do you need that to play tennis?

  9. I think it's offensive for people to continue to bash Rafa's speaking skills. And while I have a respect for Federer's skills, he's not the classiest guy on the planet. There are many times he can't keep his ego in check (confidence is one thing, ego is another) and many times where he hasn't been all that cool to fans. Just because he has a fancy logo on his hat doesn't mean he's all golden.

  10. I agree 200% with Nadalfan. Really! Some people act as though Nadal has taken a gun to Fed's head and said your ranking or your life. I have nothing but immense respect for all of Roger's wonderful achievements but open your eyes people. There is no way possible that he can win EVERY MATCH AND EVERY TOURNAMENT. It has to come to an end at some time. ACCEPT IT! Roger isn't going to live to be 200 and he's not going to win everything.

    And last I checked, not knowing how to speak proper english wasn't a requirement for winning slams. Rafael Nadal is and will continue to be a wonderful representative for the game throughout the world. As you might know, there are languages on this planet besides english. You're unhappy/jealous/angry that Rafa's game is currently better than Roger's so you have to pick on his english and his press conference skills? Bit petty, don't you think? Well, who's still in this tournament in Toronto? Who held up the trophies in Paris and London? All that and and the poor kid can barely put a whole sentence together in english.

  11. While I agree with nadalfan that Rafa's english skills should not be a factor over here, i'd also like to say that inspite of the recent losses, federer is one class guy and one of the best in the game. And he's only human, this was eventually gonna happen one way or the other. The point is, even if federer did criticize nadal's game one time or the other, I think we can cut him some slack there because as far as I can remember it, he praised his good points too and nenevr rubs it in, like djokovich, who simply gets in your face with his attitude.

    Also, the press have made the whole thing into a circus. I mean, cut the guy some slack, even the best can sometimes not deliver. Apart from being a huge federer fan, i'd also like too look at rafa with resect for all that he has achieved and not letting it all get to him. He stayed true to his roots, which many people don't. If everyone would just for moment stop crying about federer losing his spot, they might actually see that maybe, he needs time to regroup without the whole world hounding him about it. His responsibility's greater than ours, we don't have the whole world screaming at us if we make mistakes.

    I really find it amusing that the media deems that the men's tennig game had gotten too 'boring' with federer dominatins, whereas at the very same time they wish they had a more 'federer-ish' player in the female tennis players who'd want to rule it like him....well, I guess their wishes did come true for the men's tennis..

  12. Hi. I just wanted to throw my support behind the "Nadal's English doesn't matter" crew. It doesn't have anything to do with how hard he's worked on the court to get to where he's at now.

    I agree that Roger's a great ambassador for the sport. The bigger question, I feel, is what does that mean? He may be articulate, but is he really bringing more people to the sport? The people that play tennis and follow it aren't going anywhere, but no one's picking up tennis racquets because of Federer—at least here in the U.S.—like they're picking up golf clubs because of Tiger.

    Until either Federer or Nadal reaches Tiger level, then what difference does it make?

    I hope Federer keeps it going, just because I like the idea of him achieving historical things. But I wouldn't lament it if he fell out of the top spot. I personally think, though, that he's going to be OK.

  13. Um, is anyone else disgusted by the classist strains running through Jessica's remarks? How is affluence a virtue? Who uses "well-bred" to describe people anymore? And then the whole English thing... Where are these Victorian sentiments coming from?
    Also, in what universe is Nadal inauthentic? In what ways is Nadal's "breeding" deficient? I can't think of a single player on tour who's more honest, humble, and mentally tough... all qualities no doubt cultivated by his uncommonly close and loving upbringing.

    For the record, I adore Federer and what he brings to tennis. I also happen to adore Nadal and what ^he^ brings to tennis. I don't see the race for No. 1 as an allegory for Gilded-Age refinement fighting off the onslaught of modern-day boorishness. Of course it's natural and fun to attach abstract meanings to sporting contests, but to say that tennis ^needs^ a certain kind of No. 1 exaggerates the extent to which the image of tennis is affected by who happens to have the most ranking points. F and N are already equally important ambassadors for the sport, and their relative exposure is not likely going to change drastically if their rankings should flip. The urgency and earnestness with which Jessica argues shows how much she cares about the moral victory of her favorite competitor being No. 1… (I felt similarly impassioned for Agassi, say, when Hewitt was No. 1 in the world). I just don’t share her opinion of what makes Federer root-worthy, nor do I suffer well her garishly misguided characterization of Nadal.

  14. Ditto for me, Dane.
    I don't think elitist is an attribute that serves tennis well. Frankly it's just ugly and betrays a certain narrowness of thought. The remark about his English was just completely our of place. English proficiency does not elevate people's game. However Jessica clearly believes English is a prerequisite for being a champion. I think that speaks volumes about her.

    Rafa is charismatic presence on and off the court. He respects the game and his fellow players. His commitment and work ethic are beyond doubt. He is generous in victory and gracious in defeat. That is what makes a great champion to me.

    I am a long time fan of Roger Federer. He has been and will continue to be an ambassador for the game and true champion. Facing a true rival, like Nadal, will be a true test of his fortitude and determination. At last the men's game has a classic (in terms of quality not tradition) rivalry again.

    BTW. I cant help but feel that Rich at DTL was seeding some controversy here.

  15. "Old fashioned, refined, traditional, affluent, articulate, and well-bred. I just don't see these traits in the boys that are salivating for the #1 spot."

    This particular passage so annoys me that I must comment again. In fact I would like to know something Jessica. Would you prefer those who are non-English proficient, unrefined, not from affluent, or "well bred" families be relegated to chasing down the ball for their "superiors" rather than actually playing and winning?

    Truly an unfortunate state of mind.

  16. as most other people have said, the comment about rafa's english is totally irrelevant and an unnecessary stab at him. so what?

    and you talk about "robotic" tennis players...if anyone is robotic it's federer - he is the one who has managed to sustain an impeccable level over the past 4 or 5 years. he's the inhuman one!

    and nadal completely deserves the #1 spot. to say that federer is "the best guy for the job" is not exactly what that spot represents, the #1 spot is who has played the best, not as a job for an "ambassador of tennis!"

    and tennis would not be preserved without competition. the sport needs other players that can challenge him, otherwise it's the same old same old.

    umm, and i don't know how you can call djokovic "arrogant" and talk about his "post-match interviews" when federer goes and belittles his opponent when he loses, e.g. "that match was insignificant" (after losing to djokovic, montreal 07)

    "Old fashioned, refined, traditional, affluent, articulate, and well-bred. I just don't see these traits in the boys that are salivating for the #1 spot."
    ok so now to be a good player they have to be clones of federer? do they all need to wear crested cardigans as well?

    haha agree that you want are definatley rooting for some controversy here!

  17. i'm sorry, but i can't express my rage quite as tastefully as neruda and co...


    if your 'not a fanatical fan' of roger, why stoop so low?

  18. I can't help but find big parts of Jessica's letter, as well as a few posts here, VERY IMMATURE.

    As many others here have already well put, bashing Rafa's language skills is getting really old. Not that I would have to defend him, but for the record: His English has improved a lot, and not everyone learns foreign languages easily. I also don't think that he owes anyone perfect English. He could very well get a translator and speak Spanish alone, period. But he's doing his best to be polite and all. By the way, it's very unprofessional insulting his personality by putting it in quotation marks.
    I also can't really agree on Nole being arrogant.

    Do want to discuss the sport of tennis and what people bring to it? Then grow up and respect every sportsman out there. They all have worked very hard to get there and I'm sure they are all special people, everyone in their own way - because, duh, people are different. That's also what makes this sport interesting.

    The only thing I agree with is that Federer is a great ambassador for the sport and always will be - no matter what his ranking is. He's already a legend, and he's only human. The day will come when he will lose the No. 1 spot (probably to Rafa), but that doesn't mean forever anyway. And nobody can take away from him what he has already achieved. What a great sports personality.

    And all childish comments can't change the fact that Rafa is one, too. I like that he brings this modern, powerful, stylish side to tennis - and even though he is a totally different type than Roger is, he is this wonderful, humble person and a great champion.

    As about Nole - I can only give him credit, too. He's made such a great development during the last year, he's funny and outgoing - just what the sport needs, too. He will achieve so much more in the future, I'm sure.

    OK, that was my rant about this whole sad and, frankly, very frustrated sounding letter. Cheers to all of you out there who love tennis and ALL their great ambassadors.

  19. A poorly researched rant. You fell for the outward appearances, not to mention your own fandom.

    I fail to see how affluence is relevant to anyone's tennis, but FYI Rafa comes from a more affluent family than Federer. Rafa's father has been an extremely well-off owner of several businesses, while Federer Sr. is a paid employee.

    As for being old fashioned, traditional, well-bred etc. etc. (again, irrelevant for tennis), you obviously know nothing of Nadals, who are a true epitome of all that. Just because their son wears long hair and sleeveless vest (as opposed to crested cardigan), you seem to assume he's an inner city street thug.

    Try and google early photos and videos of Federer: when he was Rafa's age, there were no crested cardigans and perceived classiness, but plenty of vulgar bleach blonde hair, tacky necklaces and foul-mouthed raging on court.

  20. I think you are all wasting your time crying over who deserves or should be number 1. whoever earns it should be number 1. whoever works on his game, strengthens his weaknesses, figures out how to consistently beat those ahead of him until he can claw his way to the top is number 1. whether or not their english is understandable or they represent "refinement" or "tradition" is a bunch of baloney. and tennis is about more than who is number one. everyone playing at the top levels of the game represents what the sport is and where it is going. not just the number 1. but i do have to say, these people that get to number one and have the arrogance to come up with their own logos (the "RF") and who have their own custom made slam outfits (roger's cardigan, or his blazer last year, maria's tuxedo outfit, serena's trench coat) not to mention their own special handbags that they carry on court - that to me is insulting to the game. Play the game! All the top players wear the newest lines from adidas, nike, fila, whatever. They don't have custom outfits to debut for each slam. THAT's what bugs me the most about Federer and Sharapova and others - they feel they are at such a level that they need to have their own custom outfits that no one else can have.

  21. "Has anyone considered what the #1 of tennis might look if it's not Federer? Nadal, who can't get through one simple sentence without butchering it, no? Djokovic, who will weave that undeniable arrogance into his courtside presence, not to mention his post-match interviews?
    Anyone for that matter, besides Roger, in comparison, is nothing more than sloppy seconds. Tennis has been preserved by Federer's dominance."

    It is sad to see such love go hand in hand with h***.

  22. "Old fashioned, refined, traditional, affluent, articulate, and well-bred."

    Wow. What an absolutely disgusting comment. In fact, the entire write up made me sad that someone actually thinks this way.

    Let me ask you this then, Ms. Diamond:

    Which tradition was Billie Jean King following when she helped tear down barriers for women in the sport?

    What about Arthur Ashe? If he followed tradition, he would never have picked up a racquet.

    Are they beneath your definition of what makes a good tennis player?

    Do their achievements count any less because they don't fit into your category of the sport?

    They were and will continue to be two of the the biggest ambassadors the sport has ever seen.

    I would also like to ask you this Ms. Diamond, are you some sort of an insider into the lives of Nadal and Djokovic that qualifies you to make them out to be so lowly and unworthy of their hard earned achievements? I doubt either was raised by wolves.

    When you make such bigoted, antiquated comments, you aren't doing anything to promote the game of tennis and you're certainly not doing anything to promote Roger Federer. I highly doubt he has such thoughts and I'm ashamed that you, someone I don't know from a hole in the wall, have these thoughts.

    And for the record, please don't try and place your backward thinking opinion on all tennis fans. Nothing stirs up in my stomach when I see Federer play a loose couple of points. I call it good tennis when people play up to their potential (or beyond it) and make a match challenging rather than getting steam-rolled against a higher ranked player.

  23. P.S. I was in a rush when I first posted, and missed the "well-bred" comment. That is COMPLETELY offensive. And I would go on and on but I see that twenty other people said about everything I was about to.

    well-bred. You should be ashamed of yourself for writing that.

  24. I think there's a big difference between being an amazing tennis player and being an amazing ambassador for tennis. I'm not being elitest when I say that I believe being fluent in English is pretty important to being an ambassador for tennis. After all, three of the four grand slams are held in English-speaking countries. I realise that Rafa's on-court behaviour and his tennis skills may speak for themselves to true tennis fans, but being an ambassador also means promoting the sport to a wider audience. And the reality is, the English-speaking world makes up a good portion of tennis fans around the world.

    Also I'd like to point out that you can achieve amazing results on court and still be generally disliked by the public. Anyone remember the days when Lleyton Hewitt was suing the ATP?

  25. Rich nust be enjoying this like crazy! hahahaha

  26. "I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china."

    Roger Federer

  27. Ambassadors can, and often do, use translators. All these guys are fantastic ambassadors for tennis and deserve our R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Not to mention the ladies.

  28. Good article. Thank you.

    The sentence above was by Oscar Wilde actually.

    Yes, we need Roger Federer.

  29. Re-reading this doesn't make me look at this in another perspective.

    Some of this, in my opinion, is absolute hyperbole, waxing lyrical upon the great attributes of Federer.

    Ms Diamond, you make a few comments I hope you'd clarify. 'Anyone for that matter, besides Roger, in comparison, is nothing more than sloppy seconds. Tennis has been preserved by Federer's dominance', what exactly do you mean by 'sloppy seconds'?

    I don't want to jump to conclusions and be offended for (at least) the top 10 players, so I figure I should ask.

    As for the preservation, it reminds me of pickles in a bottle. Tennis is not a pickle, it does not need to 'preserve'. It is a competition, it needs to be all fire and fury, it needs a challenge. What it does not need, is complacency. You remarked earlier that watching the finals and the semi finals had gotten boring, Federer had gotten comfortable in his perch. And now, the siege begins. This is what tennis needs: a real competition. It pushes the best to prove themselves, over and over again. It has no space for a 'comfortable' lead. It is only when the kingdom is threatened that a champion shows his mettle, his strength and his greatness. This is the first time in a very, very long time that Federer's throne has really been under siege and now he's feeling it. A champion comes out to defend his own, tennis racquet blazing... we are yet to see the end of the battle. And in a way that is what matters: the battle. The throne is secondary.

    This is, I suppose, even more relevant in light of the 'Roger is Tennis reincarnate' statement. No, he isn't. Nobody is. Supreme tennis is the ideal, it's something you work towards... and once you achieve that ideal, the ideal is no longer an ideal. It is thus, destroyed. It is the working towards it that matters. You can't achieve it, that's sort of the point. Roger will never be it, he might be close, but never quite there. Especially with Nadal around, exploiting Fed's weaknesses and Fed crumbling under the pressure in his own mind, to spray unforced errors and plummet his serve stats. That, is not tennis reincarnate.

    'Old fashioned, refined, traditional, affluent, articulate, and well-bred. I just don't see these traits in the boys that are salivating for the #1 spot' ...Oh. I think everyone else has covered this much better than I can. I'm afraid I will spew fire and brine in my disgust.

    And, to address a few comments made in response to everyone else:

    Sarah: you speak of Djokovic and his language abilities. Of course he speaks Serbian, so that's a given. The English is easily explained. With a NATO presence in his country while he was growing up, do you not think the schools would be teaching English? As for the Italian and German, didn't he train in a country outside of his own? Plus of course, there is the point that someone else made about different learning abilities?

    And to anonymous who posted on the 26th at 12:42 am (I don't know if blogger changes time to fit my time zone.. ): I don't mean to be judgemental or anything, I assure you. I apologise if I come across that way.

    English is the current dominant paradigm. Everything works in English. But that doesn't mean everyone who is not at the centre of this paradigm must speak English, or is somehow less relevant. We can't just say, 'oh too bad; English is tops because everyone speaks English'. It is, if I were to push it, another form of imperialism. It is forcing a foreign language onto someone else and saying, 'Sorry; your language isn't enough if you want to communicate with me'. And that is frankly, crap.

    And just because 3 of the 4 Grand Slams are held in English speaking countries, it is no reason to require players to speak fluent English.

    Once again, I don't mean to come off sounding like I'm targeting you or attacking you.. I'm just trying to make my point about the English language being given more importance than any other.

    I like that you differentiated between a 'player' and an 'ambassador'. It cleared up a lot of things for me. I'd like to add another bit there, 'player', 'ambassador' and 'marketability'.

    I think Federer could pull off all three with aplomb. Yet, Nadal and Djokovic can as well.. in their own distinct and inimitable styles.

    I don't see how Rafa's skills hold him back on the marketability- sure, there's no cardigan and I reckon he's too 'no-nonsense' to ever submit to that- his piratas are as much a statement. Rafa's press conferences are interesting (and not just because I am a fan) because he unfailingly polite, gracious and always courteous. He is, undoubtedly, shy and uncomfortable in the language, but he tries and has remarkably improved. He is doing, at such a young age, a lot for the world. Isn't that something an ambassador does? He's set up his foundation, he's donated to charities,made time for other obligations and he's done it all with boyish charm and so, guilelessly. I think that's just as valid as Federer's ambassador-dom.

    As for most of the tennis fans being from the 'English-speaking' world- I don't quite know how you define that, but in any case, it doesn't mean the other fans are any less important or wield any less power. The players though, the numbers show that most of them are not from the English-speaking part of the world, so what does that say for tennis and holding onto English?

  30. "Lurker Anon says....
    Sarah, but why does rafa have to learn English? Do you know how to speak Spanish? Porque? Do you need that to play tennis?"

    Yes, in fact. I struggle with languages and I can speak Spanish with never having been to the country. I do, however, travel a lot. And I know that if someone takes time they can pick up a language easily as I have with French. No, Rafa doesn't need to play tennis. Yes, he deserves the top spot. I'm just saying that I've always taken Roger Federer for granted for being charismatic and speaking English. It was only when I saw him on French and German TV that I thought what an achievement it was. I'm not saying that because Rafa can't speak English as well he doesn't deserve to be in the top spot, that's ridiculous. I'm only saying that more of his personality would come through if he improved, and he has been on the tour for some time so you would have expected him too. Yes it is out of line to have cheap digs if you are a huge Federer fan, but the truth is, many casual fans won't be as interested in Nadal if they can't understand him as well. I'm all for a new face of tennis, and I'm happy for Rafa. I can also see where Jessica is coming from in saying a lot of traditionalist fans of the sport will be sad to see Roger lose the top spot. I did miss "well-bred" the first time I read it, and that was out of line.

  31. My point was simply:

    Someone who is fluent in French, English, Swiss German, and German can reach a broader audience than someone who is fluent only in Spanish.

    I have the utmost respect for Rafa and he deserves to reach no.1. But I will miss having Federer at the top.

  32. I think most of us agree on

    1)There is no relevance of Rafa's skills to him attaining th number 1 point

    2)Federer, regardless of his slide, is truly an ambassador for the sport

    Truly people, regardless of Federer being a class player and all, i think all of us fans agree that if Rafa attains the no 1 spot, he'd truly deserve it, REGARDLESS of his personal style or eloquence. And arrogance in the number one player can be forgiven, as long as he doesn't go shooting his mouth off like Djokovic. Because i've seen him appreciate other players more than he berates them. And I think Federer knows, that Rafa will be the deserving no. 1 if he gets that position.

    Also, I think this might be a n opportunity for Federer to actually get out of that pressure and complex of those 'records' that he has to accomplish, and see that he has to play good and win, rather than looking at some stupic statistics to make himself feel good. And he should take this opportunity to assess his game, look at his weaknesses.

  33. I have to post again... This whole language debate really annoys me.

    I 100% agree with nadalfan's post and many others: Who said that English is the most important language of all? In my opinion the only thing English can claim regarding worldwide importance is that it's become sort of a universal form of communication between people with different first languages. And Rafa (or many others not perfectly fluent in English) do communicate, don't they? I really can't say I don't understand him.

    Someone also said that sort of the main part of the world speaks English. True, but last time I checked also a large part of the world has Spanish as a first language.

    And about Roger's language skills: he comes from Switzerland. German, French and Italian are official languages. I'm sure he had better opportunities learning them than Rafa.

    But anyway, since when is tennis (or being an ambassador for it) all about how many languages you speak? I beg to differ that it matters in order to reach audiences. Again, this is what translators are for! I personally don't care what languages tennis players speak or don't speak. Actually I never would've thought such a thing could matter until I read all those comments bashing Rafa's English. I was like: Duh, how mean and out of place is that?!

    But a little note to those who think Rafa is unworthy of anything because of his English: Apparently he doesn't have any problems with it, he's very respected and popular in the whole tennis machinery and he doesn't need your approval of his skills.

  34. Nadalfan, I think you should have written a letter for this blog. Very well written, absolutely correct, post.

  35. Nadal kills competition in almost the same way as Roger Federer did for many years.

    Just that I like Rogers beautiful tennis and dislike Nadals grinding style.

    But hey, it's sport and sport isn't about beauty or speaking english, it's about winning.

  36. "I'm not a fanatical Federer fan either." Oooo. Kay. Scary thought.

    This letter does nothing to break down the stereotype of Federer's fans as prissy elitists. Schade.

  37. Aesthete vs Holzhacker

    Just kidding.

  38. Jessica, are you part of the extended Gimelstob clan?

  39. I love Federer, and I am a fanatic, but don't tell me Nadal doesn't hold a candle to him. That's nonsense. Nadal just beat him on clay and grass, and Fed is still in his prime. I'd say that's a big candle. No one stays on top forever, and it's time for an exciting rivalry. I think you're losing the forest through the trees. As much as I love him, the game is bigger than Federer, and it always will be.

  40. Jessica,

    You are not an "avid tennis fan" and you sure as hell are a "fanatical Federer fan". Stop living in denial - you'll be happier. Probably the best thing for you to do if Federer does slip down the rankings is to stop watching tennis (or "Tennis" as you like to call it) as you obviously derive no pleasure from watching any other player and are not interested in the sport itself.

    By the way, "it's" means "it is" and tennis, being a sport (yes, really, it's a sport and not a "who's the fellow with the best English and the loveliest hair?" competition) can have neither a personality, nor an aura. Furthermore I can imagine the *style* of play becoming more contemporary, but the *level*? "Old traditions"? "Old" is redundant there, no? I could go on. If you are a native English speaker (or the child of one, like Roger Federer), you should be embarrassed by your sloppy use of the English language. I'm sure your Spanish is impeccable though.

  41. LMAO @ the Gimelstob clan comment! :-)))

  42. No one can do it like Roger - but to be fair, he's had YEARS of practice. Novak's arrogance has been bruised by his bad streak and really, you can't hate Rafa no matter how much you love Roger. Although I DO agree that Roger only seems to "enjoy the rivalry" with Rafa when he can handle it. He should retire while he's ahead, he's completely lost it anyway and should go down with some dignity -- and the top seeding, if he's smart.

  43. Sarah,

    Take time to learn a language? I'd rather Rafa spent his time working on his serve than on his language skills.

    The life of a professional player is much different to us mere mortals, I'd wager.

    Kudos on picking up a new language. I, having lived all 21 years of my life in various countries (most of which are not traditionally part of the 'english-speaking' world), my foreign-language skills are pitiful. That's not because I haven't tried, it's because I'm useless at them and butcher them. Of course, I can handle the 'Wie Gehts' 'Danke, Gut' pleasantries, but ask me a complex question and I'm back to floundering and butchering a simple sentence. Rafa doesn't exactly get asked the 'Wie Gehts' questions.

    But perhaps he hasn't had the time to work on it.

  44. @ roger4ever - If Roger loves his game, he won't retire simply for the reason he no longer has the number one spot...And he's not a kid just to throw a fit because he no longer rules the tennis world. He'll want to improve and come back, stronger than ever to regain his rankings...Bjorn Borg, I believe, would've done better if he had done the same thing too...nothing better than rising from the ashes

  45. All of you people are crazy! This girl isn't running for President, she's just stating her belief about who should represent tennis right now. I have read and re-read this article and can't see how her comments are Gimselstob-esque. Roger is from Switzerland, not an English speaking country, but he mastered the language. What's the big deal? If Nadal wanted to learn the language better, he could. If you go anywhere in this world, and you don't speak the native language, you can default to English worse case scenario. You don't default to German or Spanish do you? The interviews are always in English because that way all countries can watch and understand for the most part. Also, these comments about elitism are out of nowhere. Well-bred doesn't mean white, or english speaking. Here is the definition: 1. well brought up; properly trained and educated. I don't see where in her article she says that Nadal ISNT well-bred, but maybe she feels that Roger is the total package. It's amazing how quick everyone is to assume negativity and infer racism and other social injustices. All that aside, Nadal is quite the athlete and he deserves to fight for #1.

  46. "Old fashioned, refined, traditional, affluent, articulate, and well-bred. I just don't see these traits in the boys that are salivating for the #1 spot."

    It is impossible to read this sentence as not suggesting that Nadal, Djokovic and others are not "well-bred" etc etc. And that affluence should be taken as a pre-requisite for success in the tennis world. Sorry Anon, you seem like an intelligent, fair minded person but you are wasting your time trying to defend this snobbish nincompoop.

    Incidentally Jessica, Rafael Nadal does come from an "affluent" family, and can trace his ancestry on Mallorca back to the 14th century. Is he allowed to play tennis now?

  47. "well-bred" (Merriam Webster)

    1 : having or displaying good breeding
    2 : having a good pedigree


    1: a register recording a line of ancestors
    2 a: an ancestral line : lineage b: the origin and the history of something; broadly : background, history
    3 a: a distinguished ancestry b: the recorded purity of breed of an individual or strain

    Not elitist at all, right?

  48. "Roger is from Switzerland, not an English speaking country, but he mastered the language".

    His mother is an English speaking South African. Mastering the language was not exactly a big stretch for him.

  49. I'm going to ignore the language question, because it's just plain silly. Bjorn Borg's English when he was number one was sketchy and he was a fair tennis ambassador. A great tennis ambassador.

    I'm an old enough tennis fan to accept that things change. You young 'uns have probably not lived through a thirty year tennis cycle, but you will.

    As to Roger being GOAT, Freaky Frites (a Fedophile)at GOTOTENNIS has an amusing scientific take on it today.

    -Alice Marble


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