Novak Djokovic’s recent victory over Rafael Nadal at the Sony Open, their 40th meeting, sparked the latest round of columns and posts that asked the title question.
Squarely in the Fedal camp is Douglas Perry. His basic thesis is that Rafanole is too much of a good thing, too much of the same thing from the baseline. Whereas Fedal came first, Fedal offers more of a contrast, Feddy Bear’s game is beautiful, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Still, Perry implies, Rafanole may one day rise to the occasion, because – get this – while Rafa’s and Nole’s groundstrokes are predictable, their minds are fragile, particularly Nole’s, and thus unpredictable.
Talk about a backhanded compliment.
In the Rafanole corner is Steve Tignor:
“Rafa-Nole, in its eternal back and forth, is a rivalry in the truest sense of the word. Since they first played, in ’06, only twice has either man put together a winning streak that lasted longer than three matches.”
Precisely. It’s like a high-states poker game. Or, as Nole’s coach Marian Vajda said, Formula One Racing. Whereas once Rafa started beating Roger, that was all she wrote.
Still Fedal does have one thing going for it that Rafanole doesn’t – nostalgia. Fedal is the first marriage; Rafanole, the second. And some people just never get over the first marriage.
But I say it’s time to move on. Rafa has.