Speaking during a press conference last week promoting his champions tour, former No. 1 Jim Courier compared the career arcs of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
“The amount of energy that he expends per shot, if you could compare that to Rafa, I think would be substantially less,” Courier said of Federer. “I think we can all see that and hear that. I think because he’s not exerting himself as much, because it looks like he’s in a ballet performance out there instead of sort of combat the way Rafa looks like, I think it’s easy to guess that Rafa is not going to have the type of longevity that Roger is enjoying right now, as much as we’d all love to see Rafa have that length of career.
“It’s just a credit to Roger’s grace and athleticism and coaches who taught him to play that way when he was a kid that he’s able to do that, and we’re all better for it as tennis fans, to be able to watch him do what he’s doing, trying to defeat Father Time, which is undefeated as far as I can see. Roger is putting up a pretty good fight so far.”
Roddick, who is also part of the tour, added his thoughts on Federer. “If he’s healthy, he’s going to continue to do what he’s doing. He has the benefit of being so athletic and graceful that he doesn’t have maybe the wear and tear that Jim and I would have basically because we’re not as talented and we can’t do the things as effortlessly as Roger can do.
“But at a certain point you run out of superlatives to describe how great he’s been over such a long period of time. From hearing him talk, he just really enjoys it still. It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of stress involved. If he wins, it’s awesome. If he loses, on to the next one. That’s a pretty great place to be. He’s not trying to prove anything to anyone anymore. He hasn’t had to do that for a long time. It’s certainly been fun to watch and he deserves all the adoration that he’s getting.”
The 33-year-old Federer turned pro in 1998. Nadal, now 28, turned pro in 2001.
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