Nadal vs. Federer-Sampra's opinion
I am a big fan of Rafael Nadal. When Pete Sampras was playing, I was a fan of his, also. Pete's ability to construct a point, his dominating second serve, and his world-class volleys made him a pleasure to watch.
A year or more ago, I watched Pete in an interview, stating that he did not believe Nadal could beat Federer on a regular basis, because Nadal lacked the shot variety needed.
With due respect to Pete Sampras, I could not disagree more.
While it is true that Federer has incredible eyesight, after watching many of Nadal's matches I have to conclude that he, too has very, very good eyesight. His return of serve is world-class. So much so, that even Federer has difficulty dominating Nadal with his serve.
Nadal also has, like Federer, exceptional footwork. He is extremely quick and athletic.
His serve is a major weapon. He has great accuracy with it, and his win at Indian Wells was a great demonstration that Nadal can move and vary his serve quite a bit.
His backhand is quite good and improving. He can hit down the line, at the corner, with spin, almost at will. He can also do very deft drop-shots with both the backhand and the forehand.
His forehand is, of course, a great weapon.
Add to this his mental strength, fitness and willpower, and you see why Federer has difficulty with Nadal.
His first serve percentage is consistently between 75-85 percent!
I see no weaknesses in him, in the same way you can say that Federer has no weaknesses.
Against the rest of the world, Fereder's winning percentage is above .900. Against Nadal, it is around .300. This is no coincidence.
Also, the fact that he reached the finals at Wimbledon last year speaks volumes about his desire and adaptability. There are many hard-court and grass specialists who have not reached the Wimbledon Finals. Yet here he is, a supposed clay-court specialist, doing it at 20 years old! Also, Nadal beat Federer in Dubai last year, on hard courts!
Going back to my main point, I think it is easy to overlook Nadal's adaptability and variety. His shots look too simple! Even his strategy seems simplistic! (breaking down Federer's backhand, for example). But what he does choose to do, whether it is to serve to the backhand or do a drop shot, he does exceptionally well.
This year Nadal looks even stronger than last year. I do not think Federer will win the French Open. But first, let us see what happens in Rome.....