Monday, November 29, 2010

Humble is Not in His Vocabulary...

There's little doubt that Roger Federer is one of the greatest tennis players and one of the greatest athletes of all time. To date he has won a record 16 Grand Slam titles, more than any other tennis player, and although he isn't as intimidating as he once was, he still proves to be a formidable opponent, and it wouldn't surprise me if he were to win a few more Grand Slam titles before he retires.

What Federer isn't, however, is humble. Not surprising, but ironic, given that many sportscasters (particularly the McEnroe brothers and Mary Carrillo) have lauded him for his graciousness. But instead, "Fed" is much like the Williams sisters in their inability to give credit to their opponents who defeat them. Usually in his post-match speeches Federer praises himself and his performance, and excuses away a loss by attributing it to an injury or, in one instance, that "he needed to remember what it's like to lose."

Following Federer's victory over world number one Rafael Nadal in yesterday's World ATP Finals, Federer explained "I was able to stay offensive. Rallies were never that long." Of the fact that Nadal took him to a third set, Federer's back-handed compliment was "I don’t want to say I gave it to him, but obviously Rafa is good enough off second serves he’s going to win at least 50 percent off them usually, unless you’re on a roll and he doesn’t kind of figure out your second serve."

Rafael Nadal, on the other hand, is immensely gracious in both victory and defeat. While he now leads Federer 14-8 in all-time matchups and 5-2 in Grand Slam finals, he still recognizes Federer's amazing talent. As he explained, "I feel I lost the match because I played against a very good Roger Federer in one of his favorite surfaces. And when he’s playing like this, it’s very difficult to stop him, no?" Nadal then concluded his remarks by telling Federer, "You played unbelievable all during the week. So well done for everything."

Isn't it nice to see a humble athlete? I wish people would laud Nadal for his off-court demeanor as well as his amazing abilities, and not keep inventing humility in Roger Federer, who only seems humble when he cries following a victory.

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