June 05, 2005

Rafael Nadal the new tennis king?: Nineteen-year-old Spaniard Rafael Nadal won the French Open today, on his first try. He beat No. 1 Federer in the semis. He's on a 24-win streak, which includes four championships. He also plays left-handed even though he's a natural right-hander. And, btw, nice green sleeveless shirt and knee-length pipe shorts (from Nike). I might actually start paying attention to tennis again (just to see what he wears at Wimbledon).

posted by worldcup2002 to tennis at 09:23 PM - 16 comments

Is Nadal the new Sharapova? Well, he's male and not female...and he's 19 (barely) and not 18...and he won at Roland Garros, not Wimbledon...but yeah, what the hell, we love new child prodigies who are gonna rip the sport a new one, until the next major comes up and then, gosh, they don't. I have a lot of respect for Nadal -- I thought he'd win this one -- but SI is calling him "the new king of clay", and that says it all. Added to all Nadal's basic ability is the fact that he's a clay guy, and F-man most decidedly is not. So my prediction is that everyone will go ga-ga over the new tennis king, and the new tennis king will get inundated with all sorts of attention that he doesn't have the first idea of how to handle, and Federer will shrug and quietly get ready for the next one, which starts in exactly two weeks and one day, and that'll be the end of the new tennis king's reign.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:52 PM on June 05, 2005

Sure enough to say,young Nadal is the new beast of men's tennis,and now it's a good time to congratulate him,but now to define him as a tennis king is still early cause he has just overcome the clay court,and Winbledon Open will come up soon. He might be luckier than Pete Sampras and Roger Federer for they two have never touched the Grand Slam of clay court,the championship of Frendh Open.Federder still has lots of chances,but Pete will never achieve this.At this point,this sharply 19-year-old guy has accomplished that which the former and present No.1 didn't,it may be a great courage to his incipient tennis career.

posted by luckygirl9 at 12:33 AM on June 06, 2005

He might also be the new Michael Chang.

posted by gyc at 01:31 AM on June 06, 2005

I think Miz Bat has it exactly right. I mean, good for him -- he seems like a decent and gracious guy, and men's tennis needs fresh blood (not to mention poster-boy looks, which let's face it he's got plenty of) more than the women's game right now, and Nadal brings it. The fact that he's, y'know, good, is a real bonus. And if he can win on any other surface, then #3 through 10 are going to have to pick it up or risk falling off the radar completely. Also, I'd be pleasantly shocked. Andy Roddick, the Next Level called. It's wondering if it should wait up for you at all.

posted by chicobangs at 11:42 AM on June 06, 2005

Andy Roddick, the Next Level called. It's wondering if it should wait up for you at all. I've been dreading the day someone said this. Jeez, I like the guy. I want him to win. I guess I'm just a sucker for a fastball (I like Mariano Rivera, too, despite, well...everything). But he's got to get some giddy-up and fast, I'm thinking. This year's US Open or never, is my bet. So, how 'bout Wimbledon, then? Any thoughts about who's likely to do what? God, I love tennis.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 12:13 PM on June 06, 2005

I like Roddick too. I really do. Nice guy, good ambassador, gracious and funny, the total package. A top-5 talent, even. Just not a top-2 talent, which he really should be. I keep wishing he would be just this much better than he is, is all.

posted by chicobangs at 12:31 PM on June 06, 2005

Tennis is full of players who seem talented enough to dominate but don't--men, especially, who have either a) very short turns at or near the top or b) some kind of limitation, like success on one surface only, that keeps them from being real killers. Safin and Rios are often-cited examples of players who are amazingly talented--when they're focused, you can't wait for their next shot--but whose careers seem disappointing. I really don't want Roddick to fall into that category, but he might. Anyway, I expect Federer to beat the snot out of everyone at Wimbledon. What Nadal will do is anyone's guess, but the French isn't a very reliable predictor of grasscourt success (with the exception of Borg). Connors (2), McEnroe (3), Becker (3), Sampras (7!), and now Federer (2) all won multiple Wimbledons without a single French to their name, while Lendl (3), Wilander (2), Courier (2), Brugera (2), and Kuerten (3) won at the French but never at Wimbledon. Only Agassi of recent players won at both, but only once at each.

posted by Uncle Toby at 04:46 PM on June 06, 2005

At least Nadal's surprise victory and horrible yet delightful wardrobe make me want to watch _somebody_ progress at Wimbledon. I hope he wears all whites: headband, wristbands, a sleeveless top with a giant (but white) logo, and long corduroy pants.

posted by worldcup2002 at 05:22 PM on June 06, 2005

Nadal -- good looking? Eewww. Maybe his Gold's-Gym biceps, yes, but his face droops a little, like it's melting. And no wonder -- who wouldn't melt, playing four or five sets while wearing capri pants? Also, since when has being good-looking meant much in MEN's tennis? Hasn't gotten Marat Safin very far. As for Nadal's steller year, that's no surprise. Last season it was Guillermo Coria, especially on clay. Before that Guga Kuerten stunned the field, again on clay. Not long before that, Lleyton Hewitt was shocking everyone. On the men's side, the days of a Bjorn Borg or a Johnny Mac or a Pete Sampras winning multiple majors year after year is over -- at least for now. Too much power in too many players. At Roland Garros, though, where power doesn't count for much, it's always someone new. And NEW in tennis is disconcerting, not exciting. Mostly because no one's dominant, meaning that everyone's got a shot. Sports pundits like to praise "parity" these days, but the truth is that we like "parity" much better when we recognize and come to know at least a handful of the most dominant players -- players we can count on seeing on Sundays. Nadal, like Sharapova, should keep working, and not let a major win go to his head. After a few consistently amazing seasons, then it might be time to believe.

posted by teeberg at 05:33 PM on June 06, 2005

Not a huge tennis fan here, but doesn't winning the French just mean he's good on clay? Don't the clay players usually get eaten up on the faster surfaces? Doesn't the French Open winner often disappear until the next French Open? Just wondering.

posted by pivo at 07:51 PM on June 06, 2005

Rafael Nadal is no Michael Chang. When Chang won in 1989 he was a big surprise. One could hardly say that Nadal winning the French is a surprise. He came in as co-favorite with Federer and has been overwhelming dominant on clay this year with his winning streak. Nadal on grass? He doesn't have the game yet but besides him being able to chase the ball down and reliable groundstroke, he is also fearless at the net, a trademark of a Wimbledon champion. As he develops his game more, I could see him winning on grass eventually. Nadal is here to stay.

posted by ny knicks at 09:45 PM on June 06, 2005

Well let's see, he won the Davis Cup (against the US) at 17 and now the French Open at 19. I know that he won at least one major tournament (for younger players) on hard court. Nadal should improve, he's known as a very disciplined player in training. Apparently he has a burning desire to achieve and the smarts to know that he has to work on his game to do so. Personally I don't think he's that good looking, and I hate the way his capri pants ride up his ass every point so that he is constantly picking his underwear out of his crack as he waits to return serve. Very distracting. Of course when Kornikouva or Sharapova do the same thing it is quite fetching. So perhaps female tennis fans dig that whole hey-everybody-look-at-my-ass-between-points angle? Only time will tell.

posted by sic at 08:56 AM on June 07, 2005

PUERTA ... almost as good as Nadal, doesn't wear capri pants or pick at his underwear! He is MY king of clay! check out all the matches here: www.tennisDVDwarehouse.com

posted by safina at 10:03 AM on June 07, 2005

I have to admit that Puerta has one of the heaviest ground strokes I have ever seen. Really impressive. But he tires out rather quickly (probably because he uses every ounce of energy to hit the ball so hard). It was kind of funny to see 19 year old Nadal practically skipping to his chair in between games in the 4th set, while Puerta was too tired to even wipe that damn tuft of white towel that was hanging from his chin from about the second set. Puerta is impressive, but Nadal is better. Oh and Puerta is far too short ;)

posted by sic at 01:01 PM on June 07, 2005

What's wrong with capri pants? (And safina, don't sell stuff in here. Okay?)

posted by chicobangs at 01:22 PM on June 07, 2005

I have to admit that Puerta has one of the heaviest ground strokes I have ever seen. Really impressive. But he tires out rather quickly (probably because he uses every ounce of energy to hit the ball so hard). Result of a really hard-hitter refusing to compromise on clay, maybe? Where has Puerta had most of his wins?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:01 AM on June 08, 2005

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.