Rift between Federer, Nadal?

2012-03-28 07:47

Miami - An inevitable clash of culture and personalities has led to an apparent split between longtime ATP friends and hot rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, with the Spaniard recently resigning his position at vice-president of the influential Players' Council.

The volatile Nadal who wears his heart on his sleeve on and off the court and who has for years been nothing but admiring of ice-calm Swiss Federer, seems to have finally had enough.

With issues bubbling in the men's game including the basis of the ranking system, the distribution of prize money and the length and weight of the annual schedule, cracks between the pair who ruled on court for almost a decade before the 2011 emergence of Novak Djokovic have finally hardened.

While neither man has made a public pronouncement on the issue - Federer still leads the Player Council - the rifts have been emerging for some months.

While in the past Nadal even visited Federer at the hometown Basel event, the pair are no longer presenting a solid front - with the clashes of ideas said to be most pronounced behind the closed doors of ATP meetings.

Federer was firmly against Nadal's hope of changing the ranking system from a one-year span to twice that length - which would have helped him hang onto his own standing for longer. The third-ranked Swiss said that such a change would make it harder for younger players to break through onto the ATP.

In addition, Federer's quiet authority helped to ensure that former Wimbledon winner Richard Krajicek was not selected as new boss of the ATP, with the job going to Australian executive and longtime insider Brad Drewett, a more suitable candidate in the eyes of the Swiss.

Then there was the matter of a summer exhibition which Nadal's people wanted to stage with Federer at Madrid's Bernabéu stadium. The idea died on the vine when the two sides could not agree on a July date amid the crowded tennis calendar.

While Nadal has always been more than complimentary towards Federer - and vice-versa - it appears the limits of friendship have been reached and breached.

"We have completely different characters, so from off the court I have my character. It is important to look around and learn from everybody," said Nadal. "I can't tell you something specific about what I learn about Roger because I have my character.

"I learned a lot more from the people who are close to me: my family, my friends."

While Federer personifies the smooth corporate face of the game - a sponsor's dream - Nadal is more rough-hewn, although with multi-million dollar contracts in his pocket as well.

While natural diplomat Federer counselled calm during the heat of the disfunctional US Open last autumn when rain washed away four days of play and strike talk was heavy in the air, Nadal came out with guns blazing on players' rights.

Nadal said players are being used. "We don't feel protected. Players are part of the show, and we should have a voice. We are working hard, and we want to feel good when we are at a tournament."

Nadal, a 10-time Grand Slam winner, said that players "cannot accept" such conditions.

"We have to be together - that's the only way to change things," he said. "I have a big desire to play the US Open, but I don't feel safe to play in rain."

The current sticking point for players is the size of the prize-money payout compared to total Grand Slam budgets, with players led by Nadal among other agitating for a bigger slice of the pie.

In Australia in January, reports indicated that strike action was discussed for this year, with talks obviously going nowhere among a group of more than 100 individual contractors, each with his own agenda and career to deal with.


  • FeF - 2012-03-28 09:32

    So Nadal wants more money,play when he wants,bend the rules stay no1 for longer and want to scream and shout about being used for a measly couple of (multi) million dollars...arrogant little prick.Roger is n true gentleman and has the respect of his peers on and of the court (hence his constant re-electing into office by the other players).Nadal was very happy when he was no1 and unbeatable...but since he started losing his whole demeanor on court has changed,to the effect that comemtators has likened him to a petulant schoolboy!

      Rita - 2012-03-28 16:00

      Nadal has given up bc he knows roger rules d press n commentators n d likes! He nadal cant speak good english which makes it very difficult for him to stress his points...a very misunderstood guy!!Poor chap!!! Roger is not gracious at all n everthing about him smells money n hipocrisy!!" High time he retires bc he said hes not playing for money..he has plenty!!

  • Harriet - 2012-03-28 12:16

    is it rafa alone who wanted more price money?look at other sports and you realize that what tennis players take cannot be compared at all to sports like golf n basketball.So what if he asks for more.Is he wrong to stand up and fight for his peers.Is being a gentleman only mean keeping quiet even if its killing other people?so that you just keep a fine face like roger is doing?i think rafa's resignation was hasty but then again for him to do that its more than what meets the eye.There were so many instances rafa spoke about issues that happen to be the sentiments of many or majority of the players and our dear 'mr fine face keep the gentleman look' said nothing to defend the very people who put him there.FeF,remember rafa was also re-elected to the vice president position and that means the players wanted him there as well.Sometimes,its not just keeping a fine face that makes u a gentleman,its more than that

  • Shivaskar - 2012-03-28 13:23

    Nadal should rather focus on keeping within the time limits between points. Also, it's not the point system keeping him from no.1, it is Djokovic, beating him 7 times in row in finals. Djokovic ain't complaining and look at the points he has to defend this year!

  • andre.nell - 2012-03-28 15:35

    I Like both these blokes.....People are different and even there style of play resemble their personalities , Good luck to both may the best man win on the given day !!

  • FeF - 2012-03-28 20:51

    In the last 12 months Nadals behaviour,on and of court,has changed drastically.He used to be happy go lucky and pleasant.Since his return from injury and his loss of the no1 spot he has become gloomy and moody.He has had spats with umpires and opponents(completely out of character) .U guys should read the international tennis magazines.People (read players) are getting fed up with his newfound arrogance and impatience towards the general running of the game.For 3 years,while he was on top,he did not ONCE mention a problem in the schedules,conditions etc.Its very suspicious that he just realised these problems after he started losing!

      Chiwoo - 2012-03-30 16:19

      Look, as good as your logic is, what you said is a dangerous assumption I would not look at just that. There is likely something most of are not seeing behind the scenes because Nadal does have the backing of other players. If it were really that obvious, would all these professional players want Nadal to really be at the top if he really was as "bad" a person as you say? I'm sure the ATP pros know the situation far more than we know and it's because of this that I reserve any judgments if at all, about Nadal. I refuse to believe that Roger and Nadal have some dark side being portrayed by the Media without actually seeing all the evidence laid out.

  • Chiwoo - 2012-03-30 16:13

    Media is overpowering all of you guys whether you believe in Federer or Nadal. Let's not make any assumptions of our best players in history and stop deprecating history's players. If the majority truly wants to change the system, it'll happen and we shouldn't be judging.

  • Mphuthi.T - 2012-04-07 16:48

    The scheduling of tournaments is 50\50 due to the fact that the Grand Slams and 8 of the Masters Series events are compulsory. The top players due to their multimillion dollar contracts can afford to take time out of the game to rest and recuperate. However, for lesser lights, it’s a totally different ball game, so there is merit to demanding a greater share of the spoils. Nadal however, the case is again different. There are few schedules which can accommodate his playing style. Maybe he needs to change is style – serve more aces, serve and volley, simply shorten his points.

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