Originally Posted by winstonplum
Federer has the better forehand, is a better server, volleyer, and we can call their backhands a wash. However, until 2011 Nadal was the best mover on the tour, and one of the greatest retrievers of seemingly irretrievable balls in the history of the game. Nadal also has extremely good hands for soft angle shots up at the net; not necessarily volleys, but pick-ups, re-directions and the like, perhaps more so than Federer. Nadal also had, up until the last year and a half, a spectacular overhead. And ultimately and most importantly, from the very beginning in KB in 2004, Nadal had total belief that he was good enough to beat Federer, which approximately zero percent of the other players on the tour had.
Nalbandian, for one, never lacked belief that he could beat Federer. This comparison of Federer with Mike Tyson and that people were beaten before they stepped on court is an exeggaration. Some did, but not all. Not to mention, people didn't just start to fear him after he cut off his ponytail or something. They didn't believe they could beat him, because in all likelihood, they couldn't. Everybody saw the demolition jobs he was capable of.
And I disagree with some of your observations. Nadal never had the soft hands that Federer has. (just watch his match against Tomic in AO) But he typically is extremely calm in such situations, moreso than Roger.
I disagree that Federer's BH and Nadal's is a wash. Federer's is superior. Saying their forehands is a wash would be more accurate.