Tennis rivalries create interest and excitement and they capture the imagination of all who follow the sport. In the past in men’s tennis, like in the ‘80’s the rivalries were bitter. The players really did not...
Tennis rivalries create interest and excitement and they capture the imagination of all who follow the sport. In the past in men’s tennis, like in the ‘80’s the rivalries were bitter. The players really did not like one another; they bordered on detesting one another. The first match between John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors was at Wimbledon and McEnroe was starting his protestations, at a change of ends Connors pointed his finger at McEnroe and told him to behave. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. However, JPM and JSC did not like one another but they had one thing in common, neither liked Ivan Lendl when he came on the scene. That added another dimension to the rivalry. In the ‘90’s Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras were friendly but they weren’t sending one another Christmas cards. After they stopped playing Agassi fuelled things with comments he made about Sampras in his autobiography. In the last decade tennis has continued to witness some amazing rivalries and the most coveted in the one between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. The difference between now and then is that these guys genuinely like one another. They praise one another; they help each other out and so much more. I’m reminded of a video on You Tube with the two of them and it highlights their friendship. Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94xyOpETYYs&NR=1 and then you can also throw in Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Andy Roddick etc into the mix and tennis is very healthy with rivalries. “I think we play with a lot of respect for the game, which is important,” Federer said. “To be quite honest, we respect what has been done before, like, for instance, from players like Connors and McEnroe, Laver, back to when it all started really. I think its very important we don't forget the roots of the game. Every generation is different. Our rivalries are different. They might be different in five to ten years. You have to enjoy the ones that are happening at the moment.” The niceness hasn’t gelled with a couple of past champions, namely Connors and McEnroe who have said the present rivalries are too soft. It would be interesting to know what you think, if you’d like to see the opponents at each other’s throats or being gentlemen. I think it’s one or the other, you can’t have a mix. “Honestly, if we behaved and talked to each other the way they did, we would get thrown out of tournaments,” Roddick said. “We're not allowed to grab ourselves and talk to the umpire. We're not allowed to do that. So if it means trying to prove how much I hate someone by doing something like that, I'd rather play in a tournament. “The fact that we have the hierarchy of our game now being probably the most committed to things outside of tennis, whether it be media, whether it be charitable responsibilities, you don't see Roger and Rafa have a bad day as far as that stuff goes. So if that's soft, I hope we're all soft.” Nadal believes it is much better the way it is now and says that the players have to be an example for the kids. The way he and his peers act is an education for the young ones and something special. “What happen outside of the court doesn't affect what's going to happen inside the court, so we can be talking in the locker room before the match,” Rafa said. “Probably the opinion of the past champions, they have more troubles between each other. Is different. But for me the rivalry is only inside the court and doesn't affect the rest.”