Make us your homepage

 

LaRosa's Sweet Spot: Mar 23, 2011

3/23/2011 3:00:00 PM

LaRosa's Sweet Spot Archive |

Bromance is in the air.  There are several bromances on the ATP tour, each one more brotastic than the next. Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez have spectacular photos of them on a boat in Ibiza re-enacting Kate and Leo - or jazzercising in their bathing suits, I can’t figure out which. (http://x17online.com/flopez062910_01_X17.jpg) Ernests Gulbis and Marat Safin are so close it’s getting harder and harder to tell them apart. And Quisner even has their own Twitter (while not actually run by John Isner & Sam Querrey, it is proof positive that their white hot American guy love inspires a generation).

But there’s a new bromance brewing that threatens to blow them all out of the water.

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

Rafa and Nole have always been chummy (as a simple google image search of Nadal, Djokovic and Hot Tub will attest), but when it came to on-court chemistry, well, they came up short coming out of the gate. Having never met in qualifying, at a Challenger or a Futures event, their first face-off would be at a major, the quarterfinals of the ‘06 French Open, but all that build-up just climaxed with a Djokovic retirement. Novak would retire against Rafa again at Wimbledon in ’07. They just couldn’t get it together.

And then Madrid 2009 happened. Their epic encounter was not only the most thrilling best-of-3 match that year, it tipped to the magic that could transpire between two of the most physical, vibrant, explosive games on tour.

Fast forward, and who would be there that fateful day at the U.S. Open when Rafael Nadal earned his Career Grand Slam? Who would be there last weekend when Novak Djokovic won his 18th consecutive match of the year, capping off the best start to a season since Ivan Lendl in 1986?  

Like Vanessa Williams so famously sang after the nudie pics but before selling her soul to Proactiv, sometimes the very thing you're looking for is the one thing you can't see. Sharing milestones – and the best 12-month spans of their careers – has shoved Rafa and Novak together into the spotlight like never before, and they appear to be owning it harder than the two Coreys. But is it a true bromance? The kind that should have the other halves of Fedal and Murrkovic running scared?

Let’s see if it passes the Bromance Test.

Emotional Outpouring: Drunkenly telling your bromantic partner I LOVE YOU MAN! is key to true guy love. While Rafa is now the spokesperson for Bacardi’s “Champions Drink Responsibly” campaign, you still can’t help but think he and Novak got into the liquor cabinet after the Indian Wells final. Djokovic: “For me you’re the greatest player ever.” Nadal: “I lost today, but I lost against one of the greatest.” Then they both wailed “YOU’RE MY BEST FRIEND!” while falling sobbing into each other’s arms. I may have imagined that last bit, but only because I myself am currently face first in the liquor cabinet.

The New Tennis Bromance?

Vacationing Together: Rafa and Novak enjoyed themselves so much in that IW final, they just couldn’t stand to be apart. So off they went to Colombia. Okay, there was an exhibition match involved, but there was also salsa dancing! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTT36a5Ya0I)

Dressing Alike: See photo.

Partying Together: Novak tweeted another photo of he and Rafa “After exho,dinner,party,2h of sleep.” It’s the kind of photo where you put your bleary-eyed 4am game face on but you know the real craziness is going on after the camera’s tucked safely away in the stripper’s G-string.

Elbowing Out Of Other Friends: In that same tweeted photo, Rafa’s doubles partner Marc Lopez can be seen shoved into the background wondering how it all came to this. Doesn’t Rafa love me anymore? WHY DID I EVEN COME?! (http://yfrog.com/gy13zzjj)

Uh-oh, Federer and Murray might want to watch their backs. Not just because their besties are fusing together to create a friendship monster poised to take over the world. But because, while bromances can inspire nicknames and Twitter handles, they can also inspire the people in them. To work out harder, to achieve more, to make the other proud. Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova were the original bromance (oh wait, women just call each other friends), and look where that got them.  Right now, Novak Djokovic is unbeatable on hard court. Rafael Nadal is unbeatable on clay. If they do in fact inspire each other to higher heights, I’m afraid for everyone else.  

But I’m pumped as H-E-double hockey sticks for the tennis to come.

--

Follow James at twitter.com/JamesLaRosa.