Roger Federer

The Fedal Question

The recent victory at the US Open by Rafael Nadal threw up contradictory posts on my Twitter timeline. On the one hand, there were users whom I follow as Fedfans, who posted effusive congratulations to Nadal on gaining his 16th major. On the other hand, there were posts which reflected the renewed battle between fans of Federer and of Nadal, now that the peaceful co-existence, which developed during the years when neither player won a slam, has been replaced by intense rivalry and questions of legacy (i.e. of GOATness).

I posted a tweet claiming that a Fedal (a supporter of both Federer and Nadal) cannot support Federer to the same degree as a singularly-devoted Fedfan. I should have added ‘ceteris paribus’, but the 140 character limit forbade me, and, in any case, nobody picked me up on the refinements of argument. Instead, my claim was contested with raw grievance.

As such, in this short essay, I want to examine the Fedal phenomenon, its intellectual underpinnings and what it entails, and how it is different from the Fedfan idea.

The Fedal Question and the Idea of Truth

There is an important sense in which Fedals can exist with their coherence intact in a way in which, say, someone who believes in natural selection and takes the Creation story in the Bible as literally true cannot. For whereas the theory of evolution and the Book of Genesis cannot both be true, entailing that to hold both sets of belief is to fall into contradiction and inconsistency, the standard which guides a tennis fan’s choice of favourite player is not truth. Certainly, factual claims can be made about players, and these can be independently assessed and evaluated as true or false. But the realms of fact and of value are essentially distinct, and it is on the basis of a value judgement that we make the ultimate choice about which player(s) to support, where this choice lies outside the domain of truth and falsehood. In short, no amount of hard facts can ultimately determine our preference for our sporting idols. (As an aside, there are many examples on social media of people attempting to manipulate facts to prove that their preferred player is the GOAT. This attempt is, in principle, flawed because values cannot be derived from facts. Similarly, many tennis players and fans use the grand slam tally as the standard of greatness, but this is a convention rather than a proof, even though some correlation would be expected).

The fact that fans choose their favourite players on the basis of a judgement which cannot, in principle, be true or false (or cannot, to put it more broadly, be subject to the standards of reason) entails that there is nothing necessarily incoherent or contradictory about being a Fedal. Indeed, there are a number of reasons that a fan might provide for supporting both players. She might, for example, appreciate the two very different styles of tennis and the exceptional level at which both have been played. Related, she might value the clashing rivalry that has existed between the two players, which has impelled both to improve their games over time. Furthermore, she may be of the broadminded view that the sport of tennis is more important than any individual player, and that, in so far as this rivalry has taken the sport to new heights and is, therefore, an important means to an even more important end, the support of both players is warranted. There are, no doubt, many other such reasons that could be added, but the point is that the Fedal occupies, in theory, an intellectually valid standpoint.

Fedal and Fanaticism’s Bourgeoisification

fed-fans-dedication

There is, then, nothing necessarily contradictory about being a Fedal. No worrying self-divisions are required for that kind of fan to be able to watch Federer play Nadal in a grand slam final and to cheer on both players, eventually celebrating the victory of one and commiserating the defeat of the other. However, the ability to support with equanimity two fierce on-court rivals does reflect a certain type of psychology. I will now explore this in the context of the narrative of bourgeoisification.

The idea of a sports ‘fan’ is very much mainstream in modern society in a way in which the idea of a fanatic is not. One only needs to add the words ‘political’ or ‘religious’ to the term ‘fanaticism’, and the point becomes clear. A sports fanatic has less alarming connotations, but even this term points to obsessive behaviours and a lack of balance in life. A fanatical life is not deemed to be a particularly healthy life; it certainly would not meet Aristotle’s test of the “golden mean”.

The phenomenon of fanaticism is, historically, rooted in religion. The Puritans represent a good example of the phenomenon. If accounts are to be believed, their overriding obsession focused on the question of their own individual salvation. Ascetically performing good deeds in their vocation through rational (means-end) action derived, first and foremost, not from their desire to rid the world of evil and make it a better place, but from a psychological compulsion to publicly demonstrate their own individual state of grace – a disposition which required iron control of their natural self, which was made up, in part, of their passions, desires and emotions – aspects of the self that were seen as destructive, ‘fallen’, and bad. However, from the 17th century onwards, a fundamental change occurred in our understandings of the world, and as the religious worldview receded from the mainstream, a new picture of man began to emerge. Amongst many other things, man’s natural self was no longer seen as in need of repression. Rather, certain desires and emotions (the ‘interests’) were viewed instead as the engines of civilisation – as predictable, orderly and calm, and as the basis of a life and society organised by reason.

The kind of society that emerged has traits which are unmistakably bourgeois. But whereas the Puritans have been credited with unintentionally bringing about the bourgeois way of life, the differences between the two forms of identity are vast. The Puritan’s psychology consisted of a relentless “God versus the Devil” struggle, which manifested itself in obsessive devotion to a singular, transcendent cause. By contrast, the bourgeois mind is, first and foremost, rational and practical, and operates with a certain detached reflection in order to determine and help realise its interests. In other words, it is more worldly and prudent than metaphysical in bent. Secondly, it is not governed by intense, obsessive passions. Calm reflection oversees and keeps in check any potentially wayward and disruptive desires and drives, which exist alongside those that have been successfully cultivated and refined to meet the demands of civilised society. This does not mean that the bourgeois life is devoid of excitement or risk, but all such thrills occur within a context that is, as far as possible, secure, having been controlled and moderated by reason. Thirdly, the bourgeois mind does not bestow an absolute status on its choice of values and ends. It tends to pursue values which its society permits and upholds, and whereas some of these might be subject to moral criticism and, ultimately, rejection, those that are accepted are viewed as having a rightful space within a pluralist framework which, itself, is viewed as intrinsically legitimate. Put differently, the bourgeois mind believes that socially-accepted values ought to peacefully co-exist, and it eschews worldviews that order and interpret values in essentially antagonistic terms.

The significance of this potted story of bourgeoisification and the rise of the bourgeois mind, on the one hand, and the Fedal, on the other, should, I hope, be clear. The Fedal’s behaviour is eminently civilised, her loyalties essentially pluralist, and the obsessive devotion to a cause exhibited by the fanatic has given way to a worldly and rationally tempered passion for two sporting idols. In the Fedal, there is no “God versus the Devil” struggle but, rather (and to speak figuratively), an orderly pantheon in which each “deity” is given its due.

 “No Man Can Serve Two Masters” – Matthew 6:24

fedal-fans

Whereas bourgeoisification represents a dominant narrative from the age of religious fanaticism into the modern, secular world, this does not mean that fanaticism has been entirely replaced by more civilised variants. Examples of (sporting) fanaticism are legion, including, in particular, the number of devotees to Federer whose successes and failures are intrinsically tied to their well-being and happiness (or lack thereof). And whilst the age of Puritanism is over, there are similarities with our Puritan forebears that the Fedfan, generally speaking, displays. I will mention some now in order to highlight the differences between the Fedfan and the Fedal.

Firstly, in line with the quote from St Matthew’s Gospel which heads this section, the Fedfan is devoted only to one player. She might appreciate others, but Federer’s success is the most important thing to her (whether this is the most important thing in her life or just in terms of her sporting allegiances will vary between Fedfans).

Secondly, and related, the Fedfan’s identity is pinned on metaphysical principles. Federer’s victories provide her life with meaning, whereas his failures threaten to throw her into despair. This potentially turbulent instability is unknown to the civilised bourgeois (i.e. the Fedal) whose passions are relatively orderly and contained.

Thirdly, the Fedfan’s commitment to Federer is obsessive. It is driven by a burning passion which is essentially uncivilised. It is this passion which causes her to prioritise Federer’s tennis above the everyday world that society has constructed around her, with its timetables, routines, norms and obligations.

Finally, serious rivals to Federer are the Fedfan’s nemeses. They are equivalent to the Puritan’s Devil in that they threaten to extinguish all that is holy and good in her tennis world. Their destruction (i.e. sporting failure) is, therefore, one of her aims, which she tries to bring about by supporting any player that comes up against them.

Conclusion

As I mentioned in the introduction, the motivation for this essay stemmed from seeing on Twitter some Federer fans effusively congratulate Nadal on his recent grand slam victory, and my making the claim in response that a Fedal cannot support Federer to the same degree as a Fedfan, all other things being equal. To support my claim in more than 140 characters, I have examined the idea of bourgeoisification, and have claimed that this has been an important factor in creating individuals with ‘interests’ rather than existential obsessions and passions. I have associated the former kind of individual with the Fedal, and have contrasted this with the fanatical mind, setting out some similarities between the Fedfan and our Puritan forebears. All this said, I would be very happy to learn from a Fedal as to whether I have got any of this right, as it is a standpoint entirely alien to me!

Rhodri

Massive Fedfan – definitely obsessive and probably verging on the neurotic (according to my shrink). Prolific swearer on Twitter, mainly when Fed appears to be losing or when Djokovic looks like a threat to Fed’s records. Studied political philosophy for ages, but my tutors were unanimous that my greatest skill lay in drinking beer. They weren’t wrong.

Related Articles

86 thoughts on “The Fedal Question”

  1. Federer himself said, after taking his 19th at the Aussie Open, that he wished for Nadal to hang around a little while longer because “tennis needs you”. He, of course, beat him soundly twice more after that, before going into another long break and leaving the clay season for Nadal’s taking all the way to Roland Garros. He then takes Wimbledon. The younger healthier Nadal takes USO.
    Federer knows, and we know, that, at this point, while he is capable of a few more surprises and cannot be taken for granted, he would no longer be able to compete to expectations at each and every Grand Slam.
    Right now, Federer is, in fact, the Best of All Time. He has been for the last 14 years. Nadal is trying his darnedest to catch up and wrest that crown from him; he is yet to succeed. And by playing at his most awesome at age 36, Roger has just raised the bar even higher on the X Factor level. To top that, Rafa will have to be around way longer and still smashing it at grandslams in 2022.

    There is another way to differentiate a Fedfan from other mortals: by the faith and conviction through which they see how nothing that happens in the future will detract from how indelibly Roger has impacted the game, in the legendary way that he has, and in a way that no one else ever will.

    1. I so agree, especially on the last bit. Federer doesn’t need to prove anything ever again. He has already achieved so much, we can, almost, be happy just reviewing all of that. Even if he never plays again he is the greatest ever. And maybe sometime in the future someone will smash all his records. But that is going to take some doing, and even if it is Nadal who will accomplish this, or the Djoker, Federer will still be the GOAT.

    2. > “There is another way to differentiate a Fedfan from other mortals: by the faith and conviction through which they see how nothing that happens in the future will detract from how indelibly Roger has impacted the game”

      I kind of agree although you could say the same about Nadal, Djokovic, Borg, Laver too as they’ve all left big markers in the sport.

      But what happens if it’s Lance Armstrong V2?

      I obviously don’t think that happens, but Armstrong had a very religious following and the Livestrong brand. Perhaps not comparable to RF in terms of fantaticism of fans but other than that quite similar.

    3. Totally at one with yr last paragraph. Bottom line for me is that whilst I can respect Nadals achievements, I simply loath his style of tennis, his demeanour on court, his time wasting. It’s all so deliberate. Zero flow to it all.

  2. @Jonathan,
    This was indeed a peRFect idea how to maintain peace among FedFans 😉 We need first at least 10x the time you needed to write the essay, to be able to reply with something more sensible, than “hmmm…”.
    My first observation is, you can impossibly be a FedFan according to your given definition, if you are able to create such a scientific argument about superiority of FedFan over Fedal and the roots of it. If it should be all explained in terms of God vs. Devil, you would not need any argument. Simply your decision, whatever your reasons (maybe no any).
    And now another question, because in terms of your analysis I’m neither Fedfan nor Fedal. So who am I`?

    1. I didn’t write the piece. It was written by Rhodri, his author bio under the article. Amazing how many people miss that 🙂

      No matter how different the writing style I somehow always get credited for work by Murli, Rhodri, Gaurav et al 😆

      1. It’s maybe because you are (atz least from my experience) the author of articles here. Well, different wriring style was obvious, but why should he think, you would use the same style for an essay like this as for thoughts on a match or so 😉 So my question about who I am, must be redirected to Thodri 🙂

    2. The piece doesn’t argue for the superiority of one over the other. It seeks to explain Fedal, and to articulate the nature of Fedfan.

      Secondly, the reference to God v. the Devil is an analogy, not a literal explanation.

      Finally, I can’t see why a Fedfan can’t provide such an explanation / analysis. Being a fanatic doesn’t mean being permanently consumed by intense passion. This state is temporary, and allows space for rational reflection and deliberation.

      I hope this clarifies any misleading points in the piece.

      1. PS the piece is not meant to provide an exhaustive taxonomy of the types of Federer fan. Someone might dislike Nadal and merely be vaguely interested in Federer. As such, you’re the best person to know where you stand on such things!

  3. I cringe sometime when I read how nasty any fan can be, I am definitely a fan of Federer because I enjoy his brand of tennis, although I don’t enjoy watching Nadal I recognise that he is a great player. I think it’s insulting when the players seem to get on yet the followers are squabbling. Another good topic Jonathan I just don’t think there is an answer. My take on it is that even if Nadal surpasses Fed in numbers Federer will always be remembered for his sheer brilliance x

    1. Fans are always at war. Died down with Djokovic somewhat as he’s not been playing but it’ll start back up the next time they’re in the same draw.

      For me it doesn’t really make such sense to be a big fan of Nadal and Federer as they are polar opposites in game style so not sure how you appreciate them both from the fan / follower side of things. It’d be like someone supporting Leeds and Man Utd equally.

      However, if you’re just a lover of tennis who enjoys virtually all players equally and the fun comes from sitting courtside like a nodding dog lapping it all up whoever’s on court then yeah no reason why you can’t be a ‘fan’ of both.

      PS post written by Rhodri 🙂

      1. I feel the same. How can Fedal exist when they are two extremes of an equation. More or less in their personalities as well. One is all class on and off court, the other a drama queen. Beaty and beast, ballet dancer and bull, how can you love both??

      2. Another idea. Maybe Fedal are neither Fedfans nor Nadal’s fans? But fans of tennis and big rivalries? Could you have been fan of Sampras, and Agassi, or McEnroe and Connors at the same time? I remember well I was. Maybe time s have changed. Everything more media-oriented. 20-30 years ago arenas were not so big, media not that interested. So there was less histery and more knowledge of tennis.. Today lots of fans don’t understand much of tennis. Simply like the show . And if you don’t understand much of tennis, you look more for other things´(let’s call it “personaloty”. And media don’t understand too much of tennis as well or even knowing much (no way to think Mats Wilander or Bortis Becker or John McEnroe or other media commentators/experts have no knowledge about tennis) offer just what “masses” expect, not connoisseurs. So maybe Fedal are a kind of followers of old-school fans. For such fans it may all the story about styles, poersonalities, personal appearance and charisma be not important at all,. This would explain, how to love Federer, Nadal, Djokovic at the same tome. Because they all deliver cosmic and perfect tennis. And think about Federer playing all the way journeymen like symbolic “Seppi” or the like, freely showing his artistry and winning everything, but where would be the tennis today? “Fedals” are maybe not Fedals at all, but tennis fans with wider perspective. Watching Djokovic or Thiem or Delpo or Feli or Haas and and to have the same fun of watching entertaining tennis on excellent level. If this is true, “true” Fedfans are maybe simply Fed lovers, for any reason, not necessarily of his tennis and thus more religious, fundamentalistic and fanatic and not seldom haters of everyone who is not Fed? And the lover can be (or maybe miust be) blind, as we all know from our private life 😉

  4. Nice piece Rhodri. You can tell by the vocab that Jonathan didn’t write it! Just joking!! All good stuff. I am a huge huge tennis fan but dislike Nadals style, hv never taken to it, came to Rog very early and hv stayed ever since! Pure tennis!

    The intensity of the Fedal/Fedfan thing this season is partly down to lack of panto villain Novak. Dare I say it, he has been missed. The rest of the field hv been so poor that the Fedal spotlight has been almost blinding. Balance will hopefully be restored in 2018 but only after RF has reached 20! ?

    1. Thanks, Susie. Given that he pretends to throw boobs into the crowd, panto villain Djokovic is clearly the traditional drag act!

      My preferred balance for 2018 is Fed winning all of the slams he enters with Thiem taking the French. Not too unrealistic, I hope… 😉

    2. Yeah the tour is falling to bits this year.

      Seems the ATP are very much aware of this so have cooked up the idea to extend Rome etc to become ‘mini slams’. Great thinking.

  5. Hi Rhodri, very interesting read, and I also feel it is impossible to support one player very passionately and ALSO support his rival and contemporary equally strongly. I have supported more than one player sometimes, but either they belonged to different generations (like say Murray and Kyrgios), or I was not really that deeply invested in either of them (for me, that would be Sampras and Agassi: I enjoyed their opposite playing and personal style, but did not support either very strongly). With Roger, I am pretty much of a fanatic than a fan, which is why I will never be able to support Nadal or Djokovic, although I enjoy watching them play against each other quite a lot.
    BTW, maybe you need to update your bio that appears with this post: as of now, Nadal is a much more imminent threat to Roger’s record than Djokovic is. 🙂

    1. Exactly! I noticed that and saw that it was slightly out of date. I will ask Jonathan to update it IF Dull gets another slam (I think he’s being overhyped at the moment, and think he’ll struggle next year. Certainly hoping that, anyway!).

    1. That’s the clue 🙂 We are not speaking about fan attitude but about love. So we should maybe differentiate between FedFans and FedLovers?

      1. But isn’t you strength as philosophy student to drink beer (as for most philosophy students and teachers worldwide)? 😉 Well, maybe your post has more to do with beer than with philosophy? For me it was inspiring, but … I’m not a philosophy teacher and no beer drinker, so maybe a more objective perspective? And why the hell can an article here (this is not the European Journal of Philosophy, but still Jonathan’s blog, or I’m wrong?)
        Hmmm … may I ask, what kind of beer and what quantity yoiu usually drink before (and after) writing an essay like this? 😉

      2. My philosophy student days ended about 20 years ago, and my philosophy teaching days about 10 years ago. The one thing that remains, however, is the beer drinking, and that is far more important. For me, it’s up there with Fed’s tennis and, in terms of what I drink, I’m the equivalent of a Fedal 🙂

      3. @RHODRI
        Nice 🙂 Well, if philosophy (and being FedFan) is your destiny, what really matters is you get inspired by your life to maybe share your thoughts from time to time. Must think about lounching and branding FEDAL beer :for philosophers ) Then maybe call choose Fed as brand ambassador and ask him to perform in a nice philosophic commercial 😉
        BTW – my philosophy teacher (40+ ago) during my university story in economics, used to say, he only can invent something, when drinking beer on a drifting boot not doing anything else 🙂

      1. This makes me think about my professor and master, who, when asked why he does read so little what his fellow professors did write, was used to answer “Well, if their views are the same as mine, it’s boring and unproductive to read. If they don’t, why the hell should I read what fools are writing” 😉 But you are joking of course 🙂

  6. We are all so lucky to have those two guys and Djokovic. There’s no sport in the world at the peak in terms of history making suck as tennis. It’s an amazing generation of players.

  7. Not a big thing, but meanwhile Thiem playing (on clay) in DC for Austria. I’m following his match posting from time to time screenshots. If you like, please visit my Thiem blog (thank SUE, once more)
    http://prf-mypassions-tennisandmore.com/
    Sorry, Jonathan, may I promote this way my new blog a bit?
    For Fed-related matters my blog points to the right place, which is here 🙂

      1. Thank you. Only when there is something new about Thiem and of course not when there is something just going on about Fed 🙂 I don’t want to abuse your hospitality 🙂

      2. Yes, Su, I’m. But while I’m building-up the blog and posting there, I cannot comment my own posts 😉 So I’m posting there and commenting here. Not a good idea? And I thought, you would be daily visitor on my blog, being a kind godmather of it 😉

      3. OK, Sue, I understand . I was not expecting you (or any Fedfan) to share their love for Fed 🙂 But I’m posting not only (and maybe not primarily) about Thiem, but about many other subjects, including general tennis matters. It’s all right – you was kidding about me opening a Thiem blog and … i liked the idea. And I know some here like Thiem too. Well, it’s enough told. But you are of course welcome on my blog, if you find there something interesting 🙂

  8. I tend to agree that it is probably not possible to support 2 players with the same passion specially if they are facing each other but for me you can be fan of both and having one as your favourite player. In my case my favourite player is Nadal but how could I not admire Federer’s game and class on and off the court?
    And that’s what make me wonder how somebody can not admire Nadal or discredit his achievements? There are only two possible answers: they either are completely blind due to their Fed’s fanatism and/or they don’t know anything about tennis.

    1. [to support 2 players with the same passion]
      I assume, with “the same” you mean the same intensity or the like. This is maybe not possible, because there are very few “pure” player-independent tennis fans (mostly those, who play tennis themselves at any level). So you always expect one of the two to win. But you can support both to the limit of turning neutral about the outcome, only enjoying excellent shots, movement a.s.o., whoever has just performed in outstanding way. This is not the “same” passion ,for both players, but yes, it’s the same passion for excellence. I’m a kind of a perfect complement of you as fan – My favourite is Federer, but I admire also Rafa for his excellence. Both excellencies are not easily comparable. Completely different styles of the game. Maybe one important thing common for both: point building. And this is one of the most delighting aspects of tennis. And both Roger and Rafa possess this aspect in a highest possible extent. No matter, they use so different means, skills and tactics. Should we not see them as comparable masters, how would we (say as Fedfans) enjoy his game, but losing so much to Rafa? From you two proposed answers I choose both. This does not apply to all but to many. With ,millions of fans you cannot expect big percentage to understand tennis. In this meaning they are laymen and fanatic fans in one person. Most of those, not being fanatic and at the same time understanding tennis, would share your mind as I do. This applies to some others, first of all Djokovic. It is of course different if we think about love. Love does not need knowledge and does not exclude fanatism. The opposite is true. So “true” Fedfans are those, who love Fed. I’m sure, Rafa has his lovers too 🙂 Good for both and for everyone 🙂

      1. Paul would sound better???!!!
        Alison???!!!
        And don’t you think, it’s fine and nice, if some Pablo (=probably a Spaniard but maybe Argentine or American?) visits this site to tell us, he loves Rafa but also admires Fed? Do you imagine “a Rafa fan” as Fed’s hater per definition but cheating (like his hero???) with some bad intention?
        This is not love, this is hatred and no love is genuine if not able to exist without hatred.

      2. Well, PRF, there you go blathering about. You have no idea of Pablo and his history on this blog (if that’s the same Pablo Alison thinks he is). And now you’re going about questioning why she said, “Pablo” and giving her a lesson in political correctness? The thing is, Pablo knows what “Pablo?” meant. If it is indeed that Pablo, he has “returned” to comment on the blog because his favorite player has won 2 more slams.

        [And that’s what make me wonder how somebody can not admire Nadal or discredit his achievements?]

        Because, time after time he has exhibited gamesmanship to win key match. Medical timeouts and time between serves for example. The list is long. I can recall at least 6 instances. And, at Wimbledon 2008 (final) Nadal consistently went over the time limit (average was 30 seconds between points). You dare question him and he will threaten to boycott your tournament. Nadal’s achievements are based off intimidation, thuggery, and doping. There is nothing there to admire other than for those who are thugs themselves. No wonder some thugs look up to Federer in who they find something they miss in themselves.

        Anyone who is a Rafael Nadal fan is a thug.

      3. @Sid,
        Thank you for making me learn a bit of urban slang 😉 I’m trying to improve my English all the time, so this is just right for me.
        You cannot blame me for missing knowledge about your “Pablo” story and yes, maybe I have misunderstood, what Alison meant. Somehow it was not positive and you just gave me a deeper insight in this negativity.
        It’s OK if you call me (indirectly) a thug. It’s once more your way of thinking. 2*2 … a.s.o. Where you set the rules according to your needs. Why not? I can too. Want to play “chruszczowka” with me? OK, you start and I expect from you only writing any number. Deal?
        But let’s take your weapons against Nadal under a microscope. I must assume, you think, Nadal would not win 16 slams if not using methods you hate. He also would never have such a big record in H2H vs. Roger, right? Most vital aspects of Nadal’s games, allowing him to have so close rivalry with Fed, are doping, medical timeouts and breaking time limits on serve. While I’m not aware of Fed breaking this limit one single time, there are still a lot of players, who do the same, but different way (Delpo walking over hot desert, Murray starting and stopping his serve routine, but Murray belongs to those, speaking a lot about Nadal’s time violations). At least with Nadal you can rely on what to expect and most players are managing this without a problem and a kind of respecting his long preparation routine, because everyone has some ritual on serve and Nadal’s is so long only because it is as is. Not because he tries to get the opponent out of balance. Too much told about alleged doping, so I will let this aside. What’s more there? Hitting with too much spin? First it’s allowed, second – Roger can hit with much spin too, but does not make it regularly. There are others playing with very high spin. An example is Thiem, Who is rather tolerated or better here.
        BTW – you should blkame umopires not Nadal. They are who decides about timeouts and consequences. We have spoken before about “golden cows”. Both Roger and Rafa are. Everyone has some privileges and don’t ask me, why just this one is tolerated with Nadal (with others too). Maybe umpires understand more of tennis than you and know, if somebody have developed some routines over years (and he’s one golden cows), you will not punish him everytime it’s some seconds more. It’s for sure not a deciding factor of Nadal’s wins.
        I don’t think, political correctness to be that important. I thought this was an expression of hatred against Nadal and thus my reaction. If misunderstood, my apologies 🙂

  9. I’ll try not to criticize this post. There is no such thing as Fedal. If someone is a fan of both Federer and Nadal, they are purely glory hunters. The same is true for Fedena, if such a thing exists, thought I feel terrible combining Roger’s name with a world class, entitled bitch. This group of fans is purely in it for accumulating slams and are a disgrace.

    Why? It’s not just about the different playing styles. While Roger has the most beautiful tennis game ever, the other two have a game that can be considered not even remotely close to being decent looking. And what about gamesmanship? Insulting and bumping opponents? Whining how bad the ATP is? Threatening to boycott tournaments if the surface is not to their liking? The list is endless. There is no way you can like both Roger and Nadal, or Roger and Serena. It’s like saying I like a cop, but I like a criminal too. I like a saint, but I love a sinner too. I like someone who has won about 10 Sportsmanship awards, but I love someone who has established unsporting behavior. How can you like both of them?

    To be continued…

    1. This is all dialectics of life. We sit all in lots of contradictions. Not very inspiring to look for clean”, unique and unilateral thins. If you want to ignore the devil, you must ignore the god too. I can understand your point only if you are only using “heart” (whatever it is), thus making yourself blind to anything else but the thing you love. Your specific arguments about …dal and …ena prove, you are not only blind (by love) but you want to be it. And because love is only possible if fully irrational (which of course does not mean negative, the opposite is true, love is one of most important thing in our life), you should avoid to look for argument and to say like “I love Fed and there is no more place in my heart to love others)”. Point. I could not discuss about your arguments, because the are in fact irrational, thus not discutable. De gustibus non est disputandum.
      Of course you can like cops and criminals. They all being humans. And you knowing nothing about why one is a cop and the other criminal. (it’s only an example, why it makes zero sense to discuss about such convictions – your way of thinking is apologetic and the logic is like 2+2 =4, so 4-2=2. That’s right, if you assume your first assumption to be true.

      1. Ah well…I guess you can be a fan of someone who respects opponents on the court and also someone who can bump them, or call them bitch, or threaten to shove a ball down the throat of someone, only because they have 16 and 23 slams each, right? Ok…then! 🙂

      2. @Sid,
        I’m not a fan of Serena, neither her tennis nor her behavior. So we are still speaking about Rafa. I have added …ena only because I thought you are going too far in hating. Maybe I have not expressed this correctly.

      3. @Sid
        BTW – certain Mats Wilander (who could it be? for sure a thug ;)) told lately in an interview, quoted by Swiss BLICK, thathe admires Nadal more than Federer. Of course admiring both. Is he Fedal or what? What are his achievements to tell such stupids things and await applause? Only 7 singles slams. And what’s his H2H with Federer? 0:0. Not that bad. At least not a direkt danger for Federer. And no Spanish name., thanks God.

      4. And don’t forget – all those Fedals, Fedfans, Santinas, Fedrinkas a.s.o. are medial creations and the only reason for that is to make movement in the business. Divide et impera. Tennisfan – how boring …

      5. And all those pathetic people, wearing flags, waving with something and screaming something have only one reason and one dream. To be shon once on the telebeam and thus on all TV’s and PC’s worldwide. This is their 5 minutes and dream-come-true. Mostly behaving like apes (sorry apes), when just noticed, they are on the telebeam. Is this great!!! Dream-come-true. Whatever. This is how crowds and fans are looking like there. Others are trying the same in smaller scale, on blogs, fanpages a.s.o. Not many interested in discussing about tennis. Not many knowing how to hit a backhand or forehand. Not many knowing, how it’s a problem to have 200cm+ players on tour. A.s.o. Boring, right? And where is the passion? And for what? Why must those with passion lose the common sense and sense for humor? Boring!

  10. I don’t put a “Fedal” in the same category as a fan of one or the other, or of any other player for that matter. There is very little in common between those two, game style, attitude, etc. A “Fedal” might as well be called a “Borgenroe”, ie, someone who “supports” a player (or a set of players) only for the sake of quantifiable achievements, not caring or even knowing about all the other aspects of the sport.

    1. Yes, but there is something big just in common between the two – one of hottest and best rivalries in tennis ever. Imagine Fed playing Seppi or Agut every final of every tournament. Feppi or Fedgut … very epic and memorable finals. H2H records, 50:0 and 49:0. Even with all Fed’s artistry and brilliance in everything you would maybe rather follow chess or cricket or sometthing 😉

      1. I meant that they have very little in common about the way they play. Not in tactics, not in technique and certainly not in on-court behaviour. Let’s hypothesise that they were both incredible volleyers (not the case, is it?) and that Joe Schmoe was a sick & fierce adept of s&v. Joe would have a reason to be a fan of both. But being rivals is not a statement about a common quality… It just says that both hit balls with racquets and earn a lot in doing so, usually a lot more than the rest of the flock.

  11. Hello all.
    The French team (my country) has just qualified for the Davis Cup finals. Yees ! Next Belgium or Australia.
    But it is not my subject.
    I need your help. In 3 weeks from now, I will facilitate a discussion/debate with 10 people about the following subject : joy.
    Joy can appear in various aspects of life. In my exposé, I would like to dwell on joy in sports and especially in tennis. Joy to train, joy to play and to celebrate. You may guess where I want to go ?… I think with all/most of you that Roger Federer is an incarnation of joy in sports. I would like to illustrate it with short video excerpts : which ones could I show my friends in your opinion ? The last game of AO 2017 and his celebration hereafter ? The Wimbledon 2017  one ?  A trophy ceremony of an older tournament ? Some tricks and funny moments from the Matches for Africa ? There are a few ones in his long career…
    If you had a picture of his joy to choose which one would it be ? Or a sentence from one of his pressers ?
    One last question somewhat linked to the subject of the present article on Jonathan’s blog : what differentiates Fed’s joy from Nadal’s joy when they win ? Thanks for your help and tips.
    NB : I must add that most of my friends participating in the upcoming joy discussion  are not regular tennis followers nor Fed fans, as far as I know (sigh !)… but I can still try to convert them.

    1. Well, I would advise against bringing your sports idols into the discussion, at least not as central point. It would severely limit the scope of the discussion and exclude people who don’t give a rat’s ass about sports, tennis or any of its best interpreters. If you take joy in sports, felling it when watching you favourite player/team winning is a very different thing from feeling it when you play as an amateur. In the first case you are projecting yourself on the joy of someone else’s achievement. This is usually amplified by sharing it with a group. In the second case, you feel joy not only when you win, but mostly when you do better than your last time. You can feel immensely better by losing 4646 against the top gun in your club than by winning 6060 against a sandbag, only because in the first case you surpassed your previous best. It is a joy that arises from your own own achievement, not somebody else’s.
      There, my 2 cents.

      1. Ah, well, right, Rui, BUT – Roger is radiating joy, and to find a small cut – not from winning but from playing…I remember for instance this one where somebody (oh, who was it? very sympathetic guy! (from before my RF-tennis time) jumped to his side and chatting in the pause in between 2 games…

  12. I am sure the post was satire. No one could write such tosh and take it any of it seriously. But it seems quite a few here have.

  13. A friend of mine came from Dubai – a tennis player / coach and a Nadal fan. He had stopped watching or playing tennis when Nadal was in the doghouse. Now he is brimming with vim and vigour and back to playing and watching tennis.

    I always wondered as to how a guy who actually plays tennis can be a Nadal fan.

    Such are the inane thoughts of Fedfans when it comes to fans of other players.

    And I am proud of my thinking. Really.

    1. [And I am proud of my thinking. Really.]

      It takes courage to admit that in a time where a politically correct world view is being shoved down our throats. So, respect for that. I understand respecting others for their religious belief as nothing that is being believed by them, or by me, is clear as mud. But Nadal fans? Jesus Chris Almighty! With everything he does both on and off the court?

      I mean…if you’re a Nadal fan, you’re either a rank and file asshole, OR you’re uninformed, are probably a Spanish speaker or a Spaniard. The latter, I can understand. The former I have a huge problem with.

      If your friend is back into tennis merely because Nadal is doing great, then he is your average glory hunter.

  14. Rehabilitation is the right word Sue. Glad your friend came to his / her senses !!!

    Fed-fans & Nadal-fans have nothing in common. I know so many on either side ( more on Fed’s side actually as birds of a feather flock together ) that I can now gauge the person’s personality based on his / her loyalties.

    The Fedfan wants to win – but win fair and square. The Nadal-fan wants to win but win at any cost. That’s the difference.

    Not that I hate Rafa, but I hate his game and his approach. Take Fed who is so open-hearted and magnanimous with his praise for Rafa. I doubt whether Rafa or his Uncle will ever be that way. Rafa may end up overhauling Fed – but in my analysis – a loser for sure. And so are all Nadal-fans. Glory-hunting losers, to borrow that term from Sid !!!

  15. Hi there! What did I miss?
    A fascinating post for making conversation over drinking beer, thanks Rhodri. Great that Jonathan tolerates ‘War of fandom’ 😆

    I’m just a fan of Fed, his game and almost everything that I could see and learn of him on media. (Who knows who he is in real life behind the door?) I don’t care what Rafa does elsewhere unless he plays against our Fed. That’s when I become a Dull hater for sure, though I’m not the hater of every opponent. Yeah, agreed with Murli, the guy’s game? …puke!

  16. LOL LOL Wanda.

    Fed always lifts my spirits high
    While Rafa makes me puke
    Novak right now is a poor guy
    Will Andy become a duke

    Crazy verses apart, can’t watch any of the these guys apart from Fed. When these three guys plal against each other – total pukefest !!!

  17. Interesting article, Rhodri. I don’t claim to love rhetoric the way you write here – have always felt that metaphors are needed for complex things and there is no complexity to the claim that random person a can support two players and enjoy both, however polarised their styles.

    Of course, my bias would mean I find it hard to understand how you would support Nadal and Federer if your reasons were purely the brand of tennis you play, hypothetically. But Nadal has spent his career chasing Fed down, and underdogs tend to be well loved because they match peerless endeavour with a slight inferiority in talent. Our opinion on this site doesn’t vary hugely, that is to say, we respect Nadal for the quality of his achievement and his ethic for so long, but probably will never like him because he is near neurotic on court, will play the injured card on demand, and, well…threatens Federer. It would be petty to begrudge him this tournament, which if anything makes the weak era point weaker against Federer, who always took out some top seeds.

    I agree with Jon. Soon as anything becomes a debate, people will get nasty about it. The same will happen with Djokovic when he returns next year, and it will cool down more when Roger and Rafa both fail to defend their major titles (we shall have to see at the French and Wimbledon)

    1. Thanks, John. As far as I can see, there are only two metaphors in the piece, and they are rather marginal. The foray into Puritanism as a historical entity, and subsequent transformations, is a means to understand a phenomonon (the Fedal or Fedfan) with reference to a broader set of intellectual and social conditions than a discussion about tennis alone would provide. I grant you this is not to everyone’s taste!

  18. I mostly hate because he’s an ugly ape, full of adrenalin. Physical disgust.
    And then I hated him even more because, let’s be honest, he made Roger suffer so much and so repeatedly.
    Love cannot exist without hatred, and how can you not hate someone who hurts the one you love?

  19. And with Laver Cup Fedal has gone off in a new direction and fan bases semi united, albeit temporarily, by entertaining tennis not driven by gaining ATP points.

    A new strand of Fedal exists previously hinted at but revealed by the Laver Cup which is, when not rivals on a court, Fedal engender joy, synergistic competitiveness and united fan love. Semi unexpected is the Nolefam seem wedged and further ostracised from the party of two. They also are hating on the Laver Cup even though Novak was injured and couldn’t play anyway.

    Everyone else generally ( journos, fan bases etc) sees Fedal as two current greats doing something new for tennis promoting a team event, helping the young guys, honouring legends and having a ball.
    This incarnation of Fedal is the admirable & selfless giving back to their chosen sport of tennis and some shared joyful moments of amateur competitiveness and camaraderie. Compelling entertainment being the Fedal byproduct .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close