The Fedal Rivalry Dynamic

Hi Fedfamily, I hope you are all doing just great. I have done posts about the Fedal rivalry in the past but it never seems to get old. It is just such a complicated and intense rivalry that there is so much a can write about it. The Fedal rivalry became a big talking point once again after their semi-final meeting in Melbourne. Ever since I have mentioned it a lot in my writing, to the dismay of some. So I think it is a good time to look at the rivalry again and get it out of the way. For now anyway. I personally felt the meeting in Melbourne was quite a telling one. When Roger destroyed Nadal at the Masters Cup at the end of last year I thought he had finally gotten the monkey off his back, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. As soon as they met in a really telling match it was all too obvious how deep Nadal was in R0ger’s head.

I think from here on it will be very hard for Roger to beat Nadal in a major. Maybe he will have some chances at Wimbledon and the US Open, but it’s a long shot. The match up issue in the mental, physical, and tactical department all counts against Roger. First of all Nadal is more of a fighter than Roger. He is also more clutch. I can already hear some people getting their knickers in a twist over that statement, but it is simply a fact. Nadal’s fighting mindset means he must exert himself a lot physically and mentally, which means he will not have the same longevity as Roger. In the physical department Nadal is clearly stronger than Roger as well. Something I have noticed in their last few matches is how Nadal out muscles Roger. He is simply stronger. And we all know about the tactical department.

The fact that Nadal is left handed and hits with huge topspin from the forehand side means that he can exploit Roger’s less-then-perfect one-handed backhand. That is the central point of the tactical match up. There are more things of course, like the fact that Nadal runs down every ball imaginable until Roger’s gets frustrated. As you can see, this is the worst possible match up for Roger. Literally everything counts against him. This is why the head-to-head doesn’t bother me too much. I don’t know if there ever has been or ever will be a perfect tennis player. For me Roger is as close as they come. So there is no need to keep harping on the fact that he can’t figure Nadal out. Like I said, Roger may not be as much of a fighter as Nadal, but that has it’s up side as well. Nadal will eventually burn out mentally and physically, while there is no telling how long Roger can still play for.

It is just not Roger’s personality to grind and win ugly. This is something my readers brought up after my last post as well. It is something that bothers me sometimes, but in the end I prefer it that way. We will leave the grinding and ugly winning for Nadal. Why should Roger change his personality to become more like Nadal, just because it is a bad match up for him? Roger is the one with all the records, not Nadal. Head-to-head is clearly a lot less important that the kind of records Roger has. I think for Roger to overcome Nadal he may have to change his personality, but it is clearly not worth the effort. As long as he ends up with the most slams I don’t care about the head-to-head. Nadal’s resume isn’t very balanced anyway. He has won only two hard court slams so far and will struggle to win more with Djokovic around.

As far as I’m concerned he is simply not GOAT material. He has far too many limitations. He is essentially a one-dimensional player. He is mainly a defensive base liner who excels on clay. He has done very well to adapt his game for faster surfaces, but it will never be his strength. Indoors for instance he has a poor record comparatively. He also hasn’t spent nearly enough time in the number one spot to be GOAT material. So even though Nadal owns Roger in the head-to-head, it doesn’t matter much. The people who say Roger can’t be the GOAT because of a bad match up don’t know what they are talking about. Roger is still the most complete player in history with the most impressive records. That is the exact criteria for GOAT status and Roger is comfortably ahead of the rest in those regards. RF forever!

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The Future of Federer and this Blog

Last week I started a new work routine and couldn’t blog much because I was too tired. I feel more adapted to the routine now and I realized how much I missed blogging when I wrote my last post. So I decided to make another post while Roger is not playing to make up for some missed posts. Of course it does help when Roger wins a tournament. Roger’s loss to Nadal in Melbourne was a disappointment. It wasn’t nearly as big a setback as the 2009 final just after I started my blog, but it confirmed Nadal’s ownership of Roger. Many of my readers didn’t appreciate me pointing out that fact, and it lead to me making follow up posts. I think some followers even stopped following my blog. I am missing people who used to comment, and unfortunately I had to ban someone. Maybe the people that are missing just haven’t felt like commenting or haven’t had the time.

On the other hand I also found out who were really loyal to my blog. I guess it is the same for Roger. The real fans stay even if they are not sure what is going on. I certainly have. If I ever would have given up on Roger it would have happened just after I started my blog after the 2009 Australian Open final. That was utter devastation. It was by far the toughest loss to take as a fan. Wimbledon 2008 was not so bad because Roger was never in the lead in that match. He always looked like losing to me. But in Melbourne the stars had aligned for him to get his revenge and he failed. I was shattered like Roger, but we picked up the pieces and moved on to greater things. That has always been the case. The lowest points in Roger’s career are often followed by the highest points. It was the same for me when I played tennis and also in my life.

I have actually been going through a tough time towards the end of last year and the beginning of this year, but new possibilities opened up and things are working themselves out nicely. I suppose some people felt I was abandoning Roger after the loss to Nadal, but clearly they haven’t been following my blog long enough. Of course I go through times when my faith in Roger is low, just as he goes through times that he doubts himself. It is normal. But that doesn’t mean I abandon him. I just felt there were some serious things that had to be brought to the fore and clearly it put some people off. Be that as it may, it will not affect me as a blogger. My readers have called me GOAT blogger and that is what I remain. This is still the best tennis blog in the universe, with the best player in history, the best writer, and the best readers.

I just want to make that clear. I may have to slow down on my posting a bit, but I remain as passionate as ever. It’s the same for Roger. He may be getting older, but his passion for the game has not been affected in the least. He is still an incredible player and remain as ambitious as ever. Yes, the Nadal factor is undeniably there. It can’t be overlooked. Roger may never figure him out, but we also have to be grateful that Roger is still such a force in tennis as he ages. Sampras for instance lost the plot at a similar age before he won the US Open and retired. Roger is still putting in very consistent results. Murray seems to be catching up with the top three now, but the top four is still in a league of their own. As long as Roger stays in that little group he will have chances to win majors. And the other thing is that his legacy is so solid that it will be incredibly hard to top.

I’m not gonna lie. It is important to me that Roger ends up with more slams than Nadal. And while there is a good chance that it will happen, you just never know. If Nadal beat Djokovic in the French Open final this year he may just turn the rivalry around again and chase down Roger’s record. On the other hand it makes things interesting and keeps Roger motivated. He knows if he wins just one more slams it will make it even harder for Nadal to catch him. Maybe you think I make too much of this slam record, but I just won’t be able to stand it if Nadal becomes the GOAT. It would be like evil triumphed over good. And just as it keeps Roger motivated, it keeps me motivated as a blogger too. There is still history at stake. If Nadal never came around, then Roger would have something like 22 slams now and be the undisputed GOAT forever.

It would have been nice, but also boring. In a way we should thank Nadal, because he made things interesting. He also made Roger appear more human and made him someone we could identify with through our own struggles. If he was this untouchable tennis god then we would not feel as close to him. He is more accessible this way. This is why being a tennis and Fedfan is not just about winning. It is also about identifying with someone who you have something in common with and sharing in their triumphs as well as struggles. It is not just about cold winning, but also about sharing in each other’s humanity. That sharing in the struggle is actually more important than the winning itself, because we all struggle. But we don’t all win. Luckily as Fedfans we do get to win quite often, which is nice. May the winning continue for a long time still!

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Federer Wins Rotterdam for His 71st Title!

Woohoo! I’m sorry that I haven’t blogged in a while but I started a new job and I was simply too tired to blog when I got home at night. But at least I did warn you that I may start blogging less this year. I must say I do miss the writing and my readers, even though there have been some controversy on my blog of late. Anyway it’s great to see how Roger responded after his losses to Nadal and Isner. In my last post I said I felt like Roger needs to take advantage of the fact that Rotterdam is indoors and win it. And in true GOAT fashion he responded in the best way possible. I did watch the matches, aside from the first round against Mahut which Roger won 6-4, 6-4. Roger was struggling a bit early on. I could see that his confidence was affected by his losses to Nadal and Isner. Luckily for Roger his draw worked out pretty well until the semis.

Youzhny withdrew in the second round so Roger got the walkover. In the third round Roger avoided the inconsistent Dolgopolov and wasn’t overly impressive either as he beat Nieminen 7-5, 7-6(2). The real test came in the semis against Davydenko. Davydenko was playing well again for a change. It looked like the Davydenko of late 2009/early 2010. In fact the match reminded me of the 2010 Australian Open quarter final between the two. That was also a big test for Roger which he won after coming back from a set and a break down. The same thing happened in Rotterdam. Roger started off slowly, clearly not very high on confidence. He lost the first set 6-4 and soon went a break down in the second set. I thought this could be over in straight sets. It was a big test for Roger, given that he didn’t show much fight against Nadal and Isner. I certainly had my doubts.

But Roger’s game picked up as he broke back and got another break to win the second set. Even though the momentum was back on his side, he wasn’t out of the woods. I felt it was very important that he got the win. At 3-4 and 0-40 on his serve he was up against it once more. But again he showed great resolve as he basically served his way out of trouble. The momentum swung and Roger broke in the next game. He then held serve to win the final set 6-4. Like I said, this was the pivotal match of the tournament for Roger. Davydenko was back to his best which itself was great to see, partly due to the fact that he is a tough match up for Nadal. But Roger at his best is just too good for Davydenko as the 17-2 head-to-head record suggests. Since many of my readers suggested that I think Roger has no balls, I will say it again: Roger showed balls in this match. So yeah, Roger does have balls and I never said otherwise.

When Roger won this match I knew he would be hard to stop in the final, even though Del Potro was pretty much in the zone in this tournament. He destroyed Troicki 6-1, 6-0 in the quarters and Berdych 6-3, 6-1 in the semis. I didn’t see the matches but the way in which he destroyed Berdych must have been particularly impressive and unexpected. I didn’t think Roger would have it easy in the final, but he always plays well when he comes through a tough match. An example would be the 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 crushing of Tsonga at the 2010 Australian Open semis after he had that tough match against Davydenko. It is just a big boost to your confidence when you know you can fight back from adversity. It propels your tennis to a new level. By the same token your confidence suffers when you feel like you can’t back yourself in those situations, which is what I felt happened against Nadal.

I still feel that match was bad for Roger’s confidence and caused him to lose to Isner. But as we have seen so often, Roger responds very well after tough losses. He just puts it behind him very fast and don’t dwell on negatives. In the final Roger had the confidence he had during the winning streak back, and he gave Del Potro a 6-1, 6-4 tennis lesson. Surprisingly enough Roger’s first serve percentage was only 49%, the lowest I have seen it in quite some time. But he still played very well. He didn’t let Del Potro settle into any rhythm from the base line by using his excellent variation. His defense was also very good, which seems to have improved of late. The more impressive stats was that Roger was 3/5 on break points and saved 7/7 break points against his serve. I guess that was the key in the end.

Some people thought that this title was not terribly important for Roger to win or that he was just there to increase ticket sales. I don’t agree with that mindset at all. Winning titles is important. Period. Doesn’t matter how big the event is. It keeps the confidence high, and since this was an indoor event it was even more important for Roger. Titles don’t come thick and fast the way it used to for Roger and the older he gets the more important they become in a sense. I felt Roger ended last year in a high and started 2012 off in similar fashion. I didn’t want him to lose that momentum after his loss to Nadal. Even though he didn’t win the first major of the year, I still have high expectations for 2012 in the terms of winning a major, and for that to happen he needs to keep his confidence up as high and as long as possible.

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It will just increase the probability of him winning a major. Yes the Nadal factor is still there, but on the other hand it is just great to see Roger still play so well at this age and be in contention for majors. You really can’t ask for more. We are greedy because we are Fedfans, but we also have to count our blessings. In about a week Roger will play in Dubai where Djokovic and Murray will be too, but no Nadal. I am excited to see if Roger can keep this form up and win number 72!

Davydenko highlights: 

Del Potro Highlights:

Interview:

Ps. Since I may blog less in the future you may want to check out my friend’s blogs at Perfect Tennis Blog and Lefty Advantage. They are both huge Fedfans as well and bloggers that I respect. I am not gonna just leave you high and dry. I will still do whatever I can to blog, but when I can’t you will still have them. Anyway it was awesome to blog again and catch up with Roger and you guys, especially when Roger won another title. It just gives you a lift before the start of a new week, doesn’t it? In GOAT we trust.

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