Very interesting to compare Seles and Nadal. There are more similarities and differences between these players, as well as with their respective rivalries (Nadal/Federer and Graf/Seles):-
- Both Seles and Nadal loved to pummel their arch-rivals 'weaker' back hand repeatedly until they opened up the court to finish the point. The pattern of play between these two pairs is amazingly similar
- Nadal/Seles both have amazing mental strength and were never ever out of it, both won the most dramatic big matches against their biggest rivals; Nadal 9-7 in that memorable 5th set Wimbledon final triumph against Federer, and Seles 10-8 in the the 3rd set of the final of the 1992 French Open against a battling Graf
- Nadal/Seles ruled on clay, Federer/Graf ruled on grass
- Both Federer/Graf have monstrous FHs and vicious BH slices
- Both Fed/Graf speak German
- Both Fed/Graf have detractors over their GOAT candidacy
, Graf probably more so. Federer has an underwhelming H2H record against Rafa (7-14, 2-12 on clay!). He also suffered defeats in GS finals against Nadal at the A.O '09, Wimbledon'08, AND was annihilated in the RG final in '08, winning just 4 games over three sets
). Graf's non-GOATness has been argued to death on these boards and elsewhere mainly because of the infamous stabbing incident which removed the Slam-sweeping machine that was Seles who was a pale shadow of her self physically and mentally post stabbing, leaving the path clear for the German superstar to trigger an avalanche of slam wins she had not enjoyed while her biggest riva was on top of her game
- All fanbases have reasons (valid or not) to explain why their faves were knocked off their perch and were in the shadow of their respective rivals at a particular point in time; 'Mono-Fed (Mononucleosis) in '08
, Peter Graf's affair with another Fraulein in the early '90s
, the dreadful stabbing in Hamburg in '93
, and Mr & Mrs Nadal's divorce coupled with injured knees for Rafa last year
- Clay Monster Nadal has the edge over Grass King Federer when it comes to athleticism, while Queen of Grass Graf was the better athlete in comparison to Queen of Clay Seles.
- Federer uses both top-spin and heavy slice on his back hand, while Graf heavily favored the use of the BH slice despite being able to play BH topspin shots herself
- Graf ran Seles very close on clay before the stabbing, only barely losing the aforementioned '92 RG final and beating her once at the F.O '89, and notching another win over post-stabbing Seles at '99 F.O enroute to winning the title that year.
-On the other hand, Federer has been completely eclipsed by Nadal on clay, never beating him at RG (including losses in F.O finals). Only has 2 wins in 12 attempts against Rafa on clay, but came close to a 5th set win in the Masters Series finals in Rome some years ago, holding match-point
- Nadal was able to beat Federer in a nail-biting final at Wimbledon (2008) at the 3rd attempt having lost finals to Roger in 2006 and 2007, whereas Seles only got one chance against Graf in a Wimbledon final, a 2-6,1-6 defeat in the 1992 final. There was never to be a rematch in the final, with Seles unable to return to the finals in the subsequent years following her stabbing
-Graf had awinning H2H record against her upcoming young challenger even before the stabbing, leading narrowly 6-4, tied 3-3 in slam meetings although Seles led the H2H in Slam Final clashes 3-1
- Seles was Queen of Melbourne, Paris and New York prior to the stabbing, while Rafa was reigning King of Paris, London and Melbourne before his disrupted 2009.
- Rafa has reclaimed his Paris crown after making an impressive come back from physical and emotional setbacks, can he reclaim his London and Melbourne crowns, and even possibly claim the New York throne as well?
- Seles, unfortunately, and understandably, was never the same player after the dreadful attack, the mental scars were never quite overcome and led to a long exile from the sport.
- My favorite player from Seles/Graf is the left-handed Monica, while my favorite player from the Nadal/Federer rivalry is the right-handed Federer
What amazing players, with amazing rivalries!