Another Roland Garros and another win for Nadal. Nothing unusual about that. During the course of the match, my daughter asked me who I was rooting for.  Having figured me out for a Federer fan, I guess she was curious to know who I was rooting for in this particular match. I answered “Djokovic” and then she stumped me by asking why. Almost ashamed to admit that I did not want Nadal to win, I said “because I like Djokovic”.  This was a half truth or more truthfully a half lie. Yes, between the two, I like Djokovic, but my overriding reason was I did not want Nadal to win. Which brings me to the fundamental question as to why I do not like Nadal or more accurately why don’t I want Nadal to win tennis matches.

I do not claim to be a big tennis buff. I have never played the sport and all that I know about tennis is by watching it on television. I think the first match that I saw was Wimbledon 1980 0r 81 (I think it was 81) when Borg beat McEnroe in the final. I absolutely loved McEnroe and was terribly disappointed when he lost. McEnroe had a lot going for him, especially from a 10 year old’s perspective. He was aggressive, rebellious, manic, served and volleyed compulsively and looked adorable. In contrast, Borg was an automaton. Completely devoid of character, at least the kind of character a 10 year old can identify with. With tennis, my idolatry affections continued along similar lines. I abhorred Lendl, Wilander, and all the clay court specialists. Paradoxically, some of the players who, it could be said, matched McEnroe’s on-court personality like Connors and subsequently Becker, left me cold as well. Possibly, their style did not equal the grace and obvious genius of John. I did have a brief, short lived flirtation with Edberg. Moving on, I rooted for Agassi against Sampras. But till Federer came along, I was more or less a tennis widower, without no one in particular to shower my affection on. And how handsomely did Roger make up for my period of widowerhood. More so than even McEnroe, he was winning and winning all the time. I could hold my head high and proudly proclaim that I was a Federer fan. In fact, there was a time when I pitied Rafa and even commiserated his fate for being a contemporary of Federer. Possibly, the seeds of my not liking Rafa were sown when he started overseeing the demise of Roger, especially when it came to Grand Slam matches. And then there was obtuse joy when Djokovic threatened to do a Rafa on Nadal. Alas, that is also proving to be a false dawn. Rafa is continuing on his merry winning ways, while the wannabes are falling by the way side. I am slipping into a period of mourning awaiting the arrival of the next Rafa slayer. I am reliably told that there is no one in sight other than a career threatening injury.

After careful and deep introspection, completely out of place and uncalled for in terms of this issue’s priority relative to other pressing issues in my humdrum life, I have come to the conclusion that I do not like Nadal, only and only because of his style of play. He is the ugliest player I have seen on court. He makes tennis look like an effort which will scare away a lot of kids from taking up the sport. He is singularly responsible for making extinct serve and volley tennis and the sport is lesser off because of this. Take away his racquet and he cannot beat Leander Paes. Contrast that with what Lendl had to say, more or less, after receiving a thrashing from McEnroe in, if my memory serves me right, a Masters Final. He could have beaten me even if his racquet was strung with noodles. I rest my case.