Rattled Nadal is acting like a petulant child over Federer’s playing schedule. Nadal’s people have been briefing out to the press that Nadal won’t miss big events like Federer. Nadal has said things like “There (are) tournaments that I can’t imagine missing on purpose. I don’t see myself missing Monte Carlo on purpose. I don’t see myself missing Wimbledon purpose, or the US Open, Australian or Rome.” Nadal is upset because right now Federer has Nadal right where he wants him rattled and under pressure both on the court and off it.
Nadal is under current pressure because he currently has about 4,000 points he has to defend on clay while Federer has nothing to defend as he rightly skipped the clay court season last year which proved to be a masterstroke. Federer also has the edge in the wider bigger picture as Federer has a lead on the Grand slam titles which has extended to 4 with 20 titles for Roger to 16 titles for Rafa. In titles, overall Federer leads 97 to 77 and world titles fed leads 6 to 0.
I think the fact that Nadal is complaining about Federer’s playing schedule shows that Nadal is feeling the pressure and is rattled. Nadal is losing the battle to Federer on the court and off it which is why he is lashing out with these childish digs at Roger. Right now Federer owns Rafa on the tennis court having beaten him in the last 5 matches. Nadal had a very simple but effective strategy against Federer in the past play to Roger’s weaker backhand and he wins but the problem now is over the last 3 years Federer has massively improved his backhand and Rafa has no answer to it. It’s a sign of frustration on Rafa’s part that he knows he can’t beat Roger on hard-court, indoors and grass with the improved backhand. But Nadal is also frustrated because with Federer rightly skipping the clay court season Nadal has no opportunity to play Roger on his best surface clay.
Federer is following the right strategy to give himself the best chance of getting the best results where he plays his best tennis. Fed is doing the right thing by missing the clay court season he is preserving his body, resting for the better chances which are grass, hard-court and indoors also it avoids long gruelling matches, possible injuries and hopefully will extend his stellar playing career even more. By doing this fed is fresh and ready to give him the best chances to win on his better surfaces. Fed is smart he doesn’t need to play the clay for every one French open Nadal can win fed can win one or multiple of the Australian Open, Wimbledon or the US open. Federer is right to engage Nadal on his terms on hard-court, grass and indoors when Nadal doesn’t get knocked out early of course.
Nadal knows if Federer extends his career and extends his leads there is no way Nadal can surpass Federer as the greatest tennis player of all time. Rafa can’t catch Federer he knows and it’s eating him alive.
Nadal will have 6 good weeks in the clay court season but the rest of his season is usually disappointing, patchy, sporadic and unconvincing. That’s Nadal’s problem he is great on clay but average on the other surfaces that is why Federer ultimately will go down as the goat of tennis the greatest of all time and Nadal won’t.