Last week John McEnroe quipped that ‘Rafael Nadal is the Leonardo da Vinci of Tennis.’ I think part of the reason was McEnroe’s shallow stock of metaphors–Federer is typically ‘the artist’–but Ashley Fetters at The Atlantic does a great job unpacking two da Vincis and two respective styles of Tennis.
I quite like the contrast between two styles of artist: Federer the painter, musician, dancer; Nadal the technician, strategist, engineer. If Federer is da Vinci the great Renaissance painter, perhaps Nadal is more the Ancient Greek wrestler, archer, or doctor–the embodiment and performance of a craft or skill (techne) whose beauty is the successful deployment of his knowledge.
I also like the no-nonsense video explaining how insanely good Nadal’s forehand is.
See also: David Foster Wallace’s “Federer as Religious Experience” from the New York Times in 2006.