We have had plenty of matches, even ones that benefited their respective charities but recently the once close relationship between Rafa & Roger has shown signs of wear and tear.
We have had Rafa quitting his position on the Players Council due to lack of support from Roger on his stand regarding changes to the ranking system. There was also disagreement between the two over the recent appointment of Brad Drewitt to the post of ATP President.
One topic they can agree on is the blue clay of the upcoming Madrid Masters.
“I have no idea how this will go. We were against it, Nadal even vehemently and I support him. He fears that a tradition is getting broken and that one tournament director wants to have blue clay, the other one grey, green or red one.
“I’m also for traditions but I can understand it that new things have to get tested. The clay in Madrid has to be perfect though otherwise it will be a debacle for the tournament.”
Roger went on to explain that over the past 6 months he has not spent much time with Rafa due to each missing tournaments.
“We have seen each other not that often. He wasn’t in Rotterdam and Dubai, I wasn’t in Shanghai and he wasn’t in Bercy. We only saw each other in London, Melbourne and briefly in Indian Wells. We have a bit more distance at the moment compared to times when we saw each other for weeks nearly daily.”
I have always found it difficult to understand how players can have a close relationship with someone who is a professional rival. A tennis player is a lone wolf, there is no one to help him when he is playing on court, bar a glance at his box. When pride, points, money and more importantly titles are on the line it is hard to understand how you can be buddies. Mental toughness is a vital part of a players make-up in todays game, maybe they find a way, who knows.