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the great fedal narrative

September 15, 2010

2008: Rafa wins Hamburg (3rd Clay MS back then) in a Fedal final. Wins RG. Wins Wimbledon. (Wins Olympic Gold. Federer wins gold in doubles with Wawrinka.)

2009: Rafa wins AO. Roger wins Madrid in a Fedal final. Wins RG, completing Career Slam by bt Soderling (who bt Rafa) in the final. Wins Wimbledon.

2010: Roger wins AO. Rafa wins Madrid in a Fedal final. Wins RG by bt Soderling (who bt Roger) in the final. Wins Wimbledon. Wins USO, completing Career Slam by bt Djokovic (who bt Roger) in the final.

If I were the writer, I’d have the USO final be Fedal, but readers would see that coming from a mile away. This is still real life, after all, right?

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I don’t remember where I saw it (LiveJournal, I think), but in a comment about Rafa’s USO victory Sunday someone classified it as something that “(It) was a long time coming.”

But it didn’t feel like a long time to me at all. It felt like 2 years, actually. One of the reasons why his story isn’t quite as emotionally charged as Federer’s for those looking from the outside/following through media reports.

Roger’s Achieving the Career Slam story spanned 6 years, with a nemesis being introduced in year II, an All Hope Is Lost chapter in year V (’08/early ’09), culminating in Resurrection and Glory: GOAT at last. That chapter was packed. Career Slam, breaking Pete’s record and to top it off, father of twins. (Roll credits, cue soundtrack.)

Rafa started out as a character in someone else’s story. Had no main villain of his own (maybe his knees – that’s why that RafasKnees twitter account ran by haters is sort of perfect, btw). It’s been a Monster of the Week Season kind of deal with him – Blake, Berdych, Youzhny, Nalbandian, Soderling, JMDP.  He was also widely considered a hardcourt mug and therefore his Career Slam stakes weren’t much hyped until 2008, when he won Wimb/Olympics and (finally) rose to #1. Then it all went very fast.

Reached his first AO final in ’09. Won. Reached his first USO final a year later. Won. And that was that. Wham-bam, thank you, m’am. There wasn’t much time to build up “will he ever?” drama. The RG shock defeat and villainous knee woes in between the hc majors triumphs (the ones that at first no one thought he could win) made the story sweeter, though.

So. It’s often ruined by overwrought tv segments, stereotyping and melodramatic articles. But The Great Fedal Narrative as it is – it’s amazing, really.

Not so much as an on-court rivalry, because their matches rarely live up to the hype – I count 5 out of 21 that are true classics. But as… Idk. An entwined fates sort of thing? Three consecutive Channel Slams, Career Slams b2b and a wiping of 21 of the last 24 Majors. That’s special.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 16, 2010 12:00 am

    I agree 100%. (Apparently a rare thing for me today.) A long road for Rafa to win this? No. It’s not like he’d been in the final year after year only to fall (to the same guy). It was his first USO final for goodness sake.

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