Federer brushes off Nadal’s dig, Nadal regrets airing grievance

Chris Chase
Busted Racquet

The Rafa-Roger spat at the Australian Open lasted about as long as their respective first-round matches.

Roger Federer refused to be critical of recent comments made by Rafael Nadal regarding Federer's lack of interest in taking a stand on players' issues, while Nadal backed off his comments and expressed regret for making them public.

"We can't always agree on everything," Federer told reporters after a straight-set win over Alexander Kudryavtstev. "So far it's always been no problem really. Back in the day he [Nadal] used to say, 'Whatever Roger decides, I'm fine with.'

"Today he's much more grown up. He has a strong opinion himself, which I think is great."

In his press conference following an easy win over Alexander Kuznetsov, Nadal didn't take the bait when pressed by reporters about his quotes from Sunday. The world No. 2 insinuated Federer would prefer to stay above the fray rather than dirty himself and his reputation. Nadal didn't elaborate on his point on Monday, instead choosing to state his remorse for airing the grievance in public.

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"Probably I am wrong telling that to [the media], especially because these things can stay, must stay in the locker room," Nadal said. "I always had fantastic relationship with Roger; I still have fantastic relationship with Roger, it's just I said we can have different views about how the tour needs to work. That's all."

And here we seemed so close to an epic catfight between two of the greatest tennis players in history, but, no, they had to go and act all gentlemanly about it. It was predictable that it would end this way, Federer and Nadal are too smart and too media savvy to let an issue like this become a distraction during a Grand Slam. Still, it's a bit of shame; bad blood always make rivalries more interesting.

A public truce doesn't mean the resentment won't linger. Federer was always going to defuse the situation and Nadal was clearly going to back away from the comments at his first opportunity. The issues aren't going away, though, and more conflict could be coming. Just don't expect to hear about it in press conferences.

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