Yay! We’re in Toronto! After getting over a killer red eye, we made our way to the Rexall Centre on the York University campus to get our first taste of the Rogers Masters. We had a chance to catch Novak Djokovic’s presser (he took out Victor Hanescu in straights) and the tail end of Rafael Nadal’s victory over South African Kevin Anderson.
They may have lost to Canadian upstarts Vasek Pospisil and Milos Raonic in the first round this week, but Nole can’t wait to team up again with doubles partner Rafael Nadal:
“I would love to (pair up with Nadal again.)“ he said on Thursday night, laughing. “I would definitely accept that challenge again.”
He even got a little gushy about his partnership with the World No. 1. Oh, if only eharmony ads featured pro tennis players:
“It was a great experience playing with Rafa who is for me one of the best players to ever play this game. . .He’s a legend already in this sport and he’s a good friend of mine. So to be able to stand on the court with him as No. 1 and No. 2 in the world was history as well for our sport and attracted a lot of attention for media and the fans. It’s good for the sport. These things should happen more often in men’s tennis.”
Roger Federer, asked earlier this week about the teaming of the No. 1 and 2, agrees that it’s a fun development:
“I think it’s great Nadal is playing with Novak. They know each other. We all know each other. We’ve been on the council, and they have the same guy who handles the press. So I’m sure they’re very friendly and it’s great for the fans, good for the game, so I’m for it.”
But is he all for playing doubles with Rafa, if the situation should present itself? Well, that’s a different story. Fascinating stuff:
“Rafa asked me a few years ago to play doubles in I think it was Madrid indoors or so, but then I think our rivalry was so intense, I just felt like it was the wrong thing to do. Like you say, could be like a conflict and not something we should be doing.
“It would have been great for the game, but I think it would have been a bit of a curveball for everybody. It was fierce rivals, now all a sudden they’re being friendly. I don’t think the press would have enjoyed that so much. They want to put us against each other, not with each other. But today I think we’re much more laid back, me especially, too, because I didn’t have a rival for a long period of time, and then Rafa came up and there was — it was great, you know, but I just didn’t feel like we needed to play doubles together.
“No, I would see myself playing with Rafa. It’s just, if I do play, I want to play with my friends from Switzerland, help those guys out, and I don’t know, play with other top guys. I could imagine myself doing that.”
Talk about head games! Roger may as well have said: “No way am I getting that close to the guy who’s beaten me 14 out of 21 times!” (When Djokovic was asked if it would be weird to play his new doubles partner in the singles final this week, he joked that the winner would cover private jet fare to Cincinnati.)
Despite Roger’s hesitancy, Rafa’s still mighty eager to get on the same side of the net with the sixteen-time Major champ.
“I never had any problem (with the idea of playing doubles with Federer). I would love to play with Roger. We live a lot of important moments together in our careers. . .It would be a nice experience. For me it gonna be a pleasure if any day Roger want to play with me.”
A reporter asked if we’d see Team Federer/Nadal in the Rexall Centre next year.
“Tomorrow, ask him.” Rafa laughed.
Never saw this one before – good friends enjoying some futbol. I bet Nole’s trying to get Rafa in the photo with him: