Rift Between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer as Aussie Open Begins

The Rafael Nadal-Roger Federer rivalry is far from nasty – indeed, the two are never less than utterly respectful to one another. However, a small rift has appeared between the pair on the eve of the 2012 Australian Open.

The subject that divided them is not a new topic: the demands placed on players by tennis and its governing bodies. For some time now, top players such as Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic have openly argued that the ATP calendar is overcrowded. This, they claim, increases injuries and exhaustion, potentially damaging players’ health in the long-term.

Yet if Federer feels the same way, we’ll never know. At the weekend, the Swiss said he dislikes players airing complaints publicly, as he feels it tarnishes tennis’ image.

This in turn brought a backlash from Nadal, who on Sunday said Federer was adopting his silent position to reinforce his image as a tennis gent. In comments translated from Spanish, the world number two said:

“I totally disagree. [For Roger] it’s good to say nothing. Everything positive. ‘It’s all well and good for me, I look like a gentleman,’ and the rest can burn themselves. Everyone is entitled to have their own opinions.”

The way Nadal sees it, only small changes need to be made to tennis to make things safer and more manageable. He also suggested that the unpopularity of Federer’s view may be telling:

“The vast majority of players have this same opinion. [Roger has] a different opinion. If the vast majority have one opinion, and a small minority think differently, maybe it’s them who are wrong.”

Does he have a point, readers? Are tennis players worked too hard? And does the amount of money they earn mean they lose the right to complain?