Australian Open SF: Nadal def Federer 6-7(5), 6-2, 7-6(5), 6-4, to Meet Djokovic Again

You were probably waiting for a while for my post, but I needed some time to process this loss. I wasn’t crushed after this loss or anything, but you do feel disappointed and you don’t feel like writing about it immediately. I won’t go into too much detail about the match itself, because we have seen it all before. You all know how positive I was before the match. I tried my best to believe that this time Roger could overcome his nemesis, but it wasn’t to be. I really did have a good feeling about the match, but I have realized once and for all that Nadal is just Roger’s nemesis. After the Masters Cup I said he was not Roger’s nemesis. Yes, I am changing my mind. Nemesis is a strong word though. Lets just call it bad match up, because that is exactly what it is. It is a bad match up for Roger for two reasons.

The first is the fact that Nadal can expose his less than perfect backhand and the second is that Nadal can expose his less than perfect mental fortitude. What I just said is very important. It holds the whole key to the Fedal rivalry. Roger is as perfect a tennis player as there ever was. He doesn’t have weaknesses. Rather, he has less than perfect qualities, and he has only two of them. As I said, those are his one-handed backhand and his mental fortitude. These are not by any means weaknesses. It is still one of the best one-handed backhands ever and one of the best mental fortitude’s ever. It is just that Nadal can expose their less than perfectness. Because Nadal is left-handed, hits with massive spin on his forehand side, and because he is mentally extremely tough, he can make those less than perfect qualities appear like weaknesses.

It is pretty much that simple. That is why I say it is all about match up. It is as if Nadal was born to be a thorn in Roger’s side. There simply cannot be a more awkward opponent for Roger to play. Nadal is truly the anti-Federer. I have realized that once and for all and it will never change. As far as I’m concerned this was Roger’s last chance to show that Nadal does not own him, but he failed convincingly. Even though it was a match of high quality and intensity, Roger had that familiar forlorn look about him for most of the match. It actually started after the first set. It is that look of almost complete resignation. It is as if he already lost and it is just a question of time before it is all over. There was really nothing new here, but for the sake of completeness I will go through the match with you.

As is the case with most Fedal slam matches, Roger started out on fire. He quickly jumped to a 3-0 lead. In the beginning stages it looked like he had Nadal on a string. He was looking quite relaxed running Nadal from side to side on the base line. It was almost a type of arrogance. This is exactly the kind of attitude Roger must have against Nadal, so I became excited. To beat Nadal Roger must not go for the winner too quickly. He must get a certain satisfaction of having Nadal on a string behind the base line. Ending the point with a winner must almost be like a bonus. The thing is you know Nadal is gonna get back a million balls, but that must not intimidate you. But it does intimidate Roger. He starts to panic and then he goes for too much and he misses. Roger is just too nice a guy. It is as if he starts feeling sorry for Nadal.

Instead he must keep Nadal running until he runs himself into the ground. He must get a sadistic satisfaction from seeing Nadal running around like a headless chicken behind the baseline. But that is just not Roger Federer. He is too good a guy, and that is part of why we love him. We can’t have it both ways. Roger is an artist, not a killer. If he was a cold killer like Nadal he would not be Roger Federer. I think it was at 4-2 where Roger then played a strange game with three unforced errors and a bad volley to get broken. The first set then went into a tie break. It was obvious to me that Roger had to win it to have a chance, so it was nervy stuff. Luckily Roger got the break early on and somehow managed to hold on to win the first set. Roger then even broke in the first game of the second set. It was a a crucial time to break that could have really had Nadal in trouble.

But a break is not a break until consolidated. Almost like clockwork he dropped serve in the next game. Going a set and a break up against Nadal in a slam was just too good to be true. I think it was at this point where I started noticing that resigned look from Roger. Nadal could obviously sense that Roger couldn’t put him away, and he capitalized by breaking in the sixth game. He made two unreal passing shots to do so. He then held serve for 5-2. At this point the fireworks show for Australia Day started and there was a break in play. I thought this was a good time for Roger to regroup, but to the contrary he surrendered serve tamely when play resumed to lose the second set. Certainly not encouraging, but at least it was now on even terms. If Roger could win the third set he would still have a very good chance to win the match.

As the third set wore on it started to remind me of the 2009 final. This was Roger’s big chance to exorcise that demon. He proceeded to get the crucial break in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead. But again like clockwork he dropped serve in the very next game. A break is not a break until you consolidate. Roger was once again doing the exact same thing he did in the 2009 final. He was letting Nadal off the hook. But at least he held on until the tie break. In the tie break Nadal quickly jumped to a 6-1 lead. Roger then saved four set points to make it 6-5. It was just to tease us though, because the next point which was the one that really mattered, he lost. Right then I knew it was all over. There was no need to watch any further. Deep down I knew it was over after the second set, having seen that resigned look from Roger.

But yet I stood by Roger throughout that third set. I wanted to believe that this time things could be different, but I was deluding myself. When he lost the third set I knew for a fact there was no way back for Roger. To Roger’s credit he still fought in the fourth set but it was all in vain. Nadal was going to serve for the match at 5-4. Roger was still fighting and he produced a break back point. Then came the most ridiculous point of the match where a ball from Nadal tipped the net. Roger had a comfortable forehand which he hit down the line. Against most players it would have been a winner, but Nadal got to it and hit a lob that landed squarely on the baseline. Absolutely unreal. Roger was so shocked by it that he steered the smash from the baseline wide. He was clearly psyched out that Nadal could make a shot like that.

There was a look of disbelief on his face. The point summed up the match. Nadal’s superhuman defense had triumphed over Roger’s offense, as it has done on countless other occasions. Nadal is just physically and mentally too strong for Roger. He breaks Roger down physically and mentally until there is nothing left of him. I mean Nadal is like a piece of iron. It is just unreal to watch how he reaches absolutely everything and never tires. It leaves you lost for words. But you just have to accept it. Of course the first thing that comes to mind is the doping issue, but to me that has become a weak reaction. Since there is no proof that Nadal is doping it makes one look like a sore loser by bringing that up every time he beats Roger. It makes it look like Roger is too good to ever lose. But hard as it is to believe, Roger can lose too.

Rather than using the excuse of doping, I want to look if there is anything that Roger could have done differently. The pivotal games in the match was the second game of the second set and the eighth game of the third set. These were the games where Roger should have consolidated and stamped his authority on the match. So in a sense he is to blame. But looked at from a different angle Roger is who he is. He will never become a killer like Nadal. I have come to accept this now. Therefor this match was not very hard for me to get over. I have once and for all accepted that Nadal is just too tough a match up for Roger and I am at peace with that. Other than the fact that this is just reality, there are two things that helps me accept this fact. One is that Djokovic now owns Nadal for the same reason that Nadal owns Roger, which is match up.

Djokovic is just a very tough match up for Nadal as well and he has been owned thoroughly now. The fact that Djokovic beat Murray today means that he will face Nadal in the final and have the opportunity to own him even worse than Nadal owns Roger. If Djokovic beats Nadal he would have beaten him in three straight slams finals, something Nadal never did to Roger, not to mention the other four  consecutive finals in which Djokovic beat Nadal. The other reason that helps me be at peace is the fact that Roger is still the GOAT. The Australian Open website made a poll where people could vote for the GOAT, and Roger won it by a landslide. When I voted Roger had over 70% of the votes, while Nadal was a distant second with something like 12% of the votes. The voting is closed now but you can view the article here.

Roger is still by far the GOAT in most people’s eyes, which is nice to see. It is not impossible that Nadal may catch him in major titles. There is just no way I would count Nadal out from achieving anything, but the Djokovic factor is there. You also can’t put it beyond Nadal to turn the ownership of Djokovic over him around, but if Djokovic defeats Nadal on Sunday it will once again be a big blow to Nadal. It is important for Roger that Djokovic wins, because if Nadal wins he will add another hard court slam to his clay heavy slam resume, he would be on 11 slams, and he would have gone a long way towards getting the Djokovic monkey off his back. The Australian Open surface probably suits Djokovic’s game better than any other slam, so he has to make this count. Djokovic had a marathon five set match against Murray in the semis, but I do believe he will beat Nadal again come Sunday.

I hope you can all be at peace with this loss from Roger as I am and I hope this post helped you. I will be back tomorrow with a look at the Djokoray semi as well as a preview of the final.

Highlightshttp://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/video/index.html#ooid=5tZW9kMzrxRnQufCvlm91xRPjWbV6Tgu

Presser: http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2012-01-27/201201261327585747638.html

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42 Comments

  1. Good post. Though I think it’s possible to both look at what Roger could have done differently and raise the doping issue. There is hardly ever proof, unless there is a serious investigation and the ATP ‘s testing is a joke. If the testing was rigorous, like cycling, then it would be just sour grapes. The reason people raise it is that Nadal’s behavior (injuries suddenly healing, impossible stamina, serve speeds suddenly and inexplicably improving, massive muscles while claiming never to work out) are very suspicious. Just as Djokovic’s sudden new found stamina is suspicious. Again, if tennis had a truly rigorous testing regiment it would be different.

    I do hope the Djoker can win this one. You never know. Nadal could get lucky once and I think he’s convinced himself that he is more confident. But I think the Djoker will win. God I hope so. Lord help us if he doesn’t.

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  2. I don’t care what the media or sports analysts say.
    Roger could of won this match. One, he should pounded Nadal’s backhand through out the entire match. Two, send him out wide and dropshot him. Three, every time Nadal tried to expose his backhand,he should of went around and delivered back into his backhand. What happened to his slice? Roger should have employed this routinely through out the match. I think the only way Federer can beat Nadal is to learn to hate Nadal with passion. What I don’t understand is that Novak Djokovic can defeat Nadal and Roger can’t. I think Federer gets disinterested when he has to employ the same tactics over and over throughout a match and starts to change things up, which you can’t do against Nadal. Nadal plays the same way against Federer, exposes his backhand, passing shots off would-be winners and waitng for Federer to commit errors off Nadal’s heavy topspin forehand. I think Roger Federer is the greatest tennis player that has played the game but he also one of the most stubborn too! I agree with you, Ruan, that Federer is too nice and I like that about him but when it comes to much-needed match toughness against Nadal it is often counter-productive. I often think about the energy level of Nadal and his performance at World Tour Finals and here at Aussie Open, kind of a sharp contrast. Personally, I could care less about the head to head, I just want Federer to keep winning and hopefully pick up a few more trophies on the way. He has had a fantastic five-month run and picked up three trophies a long the way and I am truly grateful for that.One thing that I know in my heart is that Paul Annacone will help Federer achieve his goals. How many other thirty -year old tennis players are doing as well as Federer and will Nadal, Murray and Novak Djokovic be playing with the same intensity, style, passion and athleticism at that age. I really don’t think so. I apologize for my last post critizing everything Federer did wrong, I had acted off of emotion and didn’t really think about it. All great champions, artists,etc… have at least one nemesis. Mozart and Salieri, Picasso and Modigliani. Nonetheless they are still great. Looking foward to year ahead.

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    Manu Reply:

    Simple- Nadal is willing to sell out, while Federer doesn’t care a bit about commercial success. I don’t care is Nadal always beats Federer- I like Roger for what he is.

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  3. Good post, Ruan. I completely agree with your match analysis. I would just like to add that, as Roger’s fans, the healthiest view would be complete, zen-like acceptance of any future match results, whatever they may be. Roger has given us so much, and that should be enough—even if he never wins another Major (the most likely scenario, I believe). Regarding the doping issue, there is really only one way to resolve it: a majority of tennis fans would have to rise up in a loud chorus of protest and demand strict and comprehensive drug testing throughout the year, threatening a boycott if this was not done. It’s all about money really. Greed is the only language the tennis bureaucracy understands. So if fans cut off the currency spigot, the powers-that-be will definitely listen. But the chances of that happening are virtually nil. Fortunately, there are two other justice-inducing outcomes that may vindicate the accusations of dedicated posters like Neil. First, an insider in Nadal’s camp (or anyone else’s) comes forward publicly with damaging evidence. The second is the karmic outcome, in which the guilty party pays the inevitable cosmic price of drug abuse: namely, acute and long-lasting health issues that may even become life-threatening. Whatever the final scenario, the truth will eventually emerge.

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  4. Ruan, very good and fair analysis.

    Like you, I thought that after Roger’s strong start that this time he might do it. Beating Nadal at the WTF last year offered hope. But, as you say, it just turned out to be the same pattern as so many other Fedal matches.

    You are right to look for the reasons in Roger’s losses to Nadal in Roger himself, because in playing Nadal he seems to become his own worst enemy. No one else can do that to him.

    I no longer think that Roger will beat Nadal again in a slam. It saddens me that the greatest player in the history of the game can’t find an answer to such a one-dimensional player as Nadal. But there it is.

    As the author of the blog, it was wise of you to avoid saying Roger lost because Nadal may be a doper. Yes, it would look like an excuse. Also, for the reasons you give in your comments, we can see that Roger’s relative weaknesses are exposed by Nadal. They are mostly mental.

    However, as a regular commenter on your blog I feel I can raise the doping issue as part of the equation when it would be difficult for you to do that. I have made my views very clear. I think Nadal is a doper – I have thought that for some years after looking into the whole doping issue – and it is chiefly the incredible defense that it gives him that breaks Roger’s resolve. To watch Roger play far from his best is depressing, but what Nadal has done to the game depresses me even further.

    But he is not alone. The succession of endless 30-plus shot rallies in the other semi-final, with the competitors running as hard in the 5th set as the first, was very much in the Nadal style of absolute tirelessness. We take it as normal now but it isn’t. In my view, whoever was going to win that semi would be playing Nadal on pretty much the same terms as the Spaniard in the final. It turned out to be Djokovic. If he isn’t gassed for the final – he should be – we can easily guess why. The only pleasure I will get from Sunday’s match is if I see the Spaniard once again beaten at his own game.

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    Chris Reply:

    Ru-an, I very much respect and almost admire the way you defend Nadal from the doping accusations on this blog because there is no proof. Well done! It just shows that you want to be objective, fair and that you accept the fact that Federer has once again not been able to beat Nadal. And you don’t want cheap excuses for that, and as the GOAT blogger you do the right thing.
    I think there will never be proof that Nadal has been doping, unless he dies from an overdose, gets exposed by an insider, or admits to it in his memoirs. Doping destroys the tennis sport, but uncovering it would destroy the tennis business, therefore it will never happen. In the absence of proof, I have to decide if I want/can believe it. Just like there is no proof of the existence of God, I have to decide if I want/can believe it.
    Like many others, I have got increasingly suspicious about Nadal. Not because he is beating Roger again and again. For what I saw, he did not beat Roger in the SF, but Roger lost to him. I fully blame Roger, because if it were not for his mental weakness, he would have sufficient skill to do the job. But I find it very human from Federer to once again lose this seemingly impossible battle. There is something about Nadal that seems not human, not natural to me. His whole behavior, his attitude towards the rules of the game, constantly stretching the limits of what is allowed to the point where he almost, but only almost gets caught (ex. time taken for serving, on court training) there is something unfair about him, something of an animal, something of a machine there. It just does not feel right to me. It is not just that he is a physical freak. I watched Djoker against Murray today, they both got tired and fought against their bodies, against their tiredness. Some nice tennis there. I felt sympathy for both of them. But I don’t feel this way for the Spaniard, he does not evoke sympathy when he runs and supposedly struggles with injuries. Nadal reminds me the Russian boxer Drago from Rocky IV. There is something unnatural about him. I have got this weird feeling. A couple years ago, I was defending him against these claims of doping; I was even fascinated by his fighting spirit and the precision of his defensive shots. I really wanted to belief that he is just an ambitious No. 2 giving his everything to overcome TMF. I did not want to be a sour loser using the doping argument to explain the horrible losses of RF. But over time there have been just too many signs that made me feel that there is something deeply wrong about his performances, something seems fake and mafia like in him and his entourage!
    You have decided to belief that Nadal is not doping unless there is proof for it. I accept that belief, which is clearly based on principles. I have decided to belief that Nadal is in fact doping, because there are so many signs of it, I just got convinced of it even in the absence of any proof. A belief based on feelings and intuition. I don’t need to try to convince anybody, this is just my personal belief and conviction. And I am not really upset about it; it is just a fact in so many sports, you just get used to it as part of the game. And in some endurance sports it should just be legalized, I would not care to see some monsters run the 100m in 3 seconds and die at the age of 26. Why should I care. Bodybuilders are obviously using steroids, and their bodies look incredible. But I still don’t get excited about wrestling or all these ugly muscles. Nothing there to feed my spiritual needs.
    I don’t hope for any proof of doping in tennis either. What an ugly mess that would be. Imagine that suddenly a court would have to decide if all the titles would have been taken away from Nadal. And given to Federer. What for? It would not replace the emotion of the moment. Federer would not enjoy this. It would destroy Tennis, a sport that Federer loves a lot. I found peace with the belief that Nadal is a cheater, a doper. Many are dopers. Sport is just as corrupted as any other business where there is a lot of money at stake. And Spain seems to be a good place for getting prepared in this department. Maybe Roger Federer is doping as well? Who would be surprised, with all the money at stake? At least I have wondered sometimes why he is not sweating at all. But his game is different; it is not based on a performance that could be easily enhanced by juices. I see no signs; on the contrary, he seems to be very fond of the rules of the game and of fairplay. And even if I knew that Federer was using prohibited substances, I would still think that his game is beautiful to watch. Unlike that of his nemesis. And my belief that Nadal is a doper does not affect my hopes for Federer to beat him, whenever they meet. It is like watching Gary Kasparov playing and trying to win against a powerful chess computer. I belief Federer can and must beat Nadal, because beauty should win over ugly, good over evil. The problem is that he has to belief it himself, and there are some shortcomings in that department. It is still fascinating to me to watch his effort, but it is not really disappointing to see him lose. It is to be expected. I still enjoy watching him try. It is watching TMF trying to make his game even more perfect, a great effort! But I won’t care about the h2h he has with Nadal. Because I think RF knows, better than anybody else, that his opponent is using stuff. Still he sees it as a challenge, and he tries. Once RF will be gone, I will certainly stop watching tennis. What is the point of watching Nadal running after every ball and putting it back to the court? I don’t watch Marathon runners, I don’t watch cycling, I don’t watch the Ironman. If tennis is all about endurance, it is not entertaining to watch. And I certainly don’t get exicted watching two chess computers playing against each other. Then I’d rather watch Martial Arts.
    On purpose, I posted my opinion on Nadal before their SF, before he beat Federer. Because I don’t want to appear as a sour loser. Even if Federer was winning against Nadal, I would still not change my belief about Nadal using PED.
    Neil somehow tries to convince you and others that Nadal is a doper. I don’t want to convince anybody. Of course, I don’t know for sure, in the absence of any proof. It is just a belief. And it does not matter. Of course I would enjoy seeing Roger Federer win more titles. But honestly, this is not about titles, it is about art. It is about his style, his way of playing the game, his dancing, his outplaying his opponent by smart shot making, his touch on the racket. I enjoy listening to his music! I don’t care about how many CDs I have collected from him! Federer is the beauty of tennis. And a great ambassador to the sport of tennis. I made my choice. I am a Fedfan, will always be. And he is for me the Greatest Of All Times, until someone comes and plays a more beautiful, more successful and more enjoyable tennis. Nadal can run down all the balls of the world and win 25 grand slams, I don’t care. Because I don’t enjoy watching it. Even his celebrating is ugly, this is not boxing after all. Djokovic is a bit different, and if he wins more grand slams than RF I might accept that he is the better player. And I might become his fan if his game keeps entertaining me. At least he is a fun guy. And he applauds his opponents’ great shots. And today he gave credit to Federer and Nadal for teaching him to become a better player. And I am happy for Serbia to have a guy like him to build up some much needed national pride. I am at peace with tennis. I feel fortunate to be able to watch such an extraordinary personality and athlete called Roger Federer. As a human being, I feel inspired by him. And I wish for future generations that there might be many Federers. Nadal is not one of them, never will be. At least not in my book.

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    neil Reply:

    Chris, I respect your views but I disagree with how you see the doping issue. You say you believe that Nadal is doping but that “it doesn’t matter” that you think that. It does. Doping is a form of corruption and should never be accepted. You may feel that there is little you or anyone can do about it, but it is still wrong. It damages a sport that we all love. We must do what we can to end it.

    You also say that believing that someone is a doper is the same as believing or not believing in the existence of God: there is no proof either way. I disagree. There is nothing supernatural about doping. It is often well-disguised but it is nevertheless real. We can find evidence for it if we look hard enough. I believe if we protest loudly enough and long enough then those in positions of responsibility will be compelled to attack this scourge of modern professional sport. If we don’t then, as you say, there may be no reason to watch this wonderful game once Roger retires.

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    Aravind Reply:

    Legalizing doping is a terrible idea. Already tennis has become a retrieving fest. It will become much worse. Against Nadal, I don’t think he gets his incredible strength and speed from doping, but I really marvel at his recovery from injuries. He keeps sayign that he is fighting injuries and he comes back everytime even stronger. Del Potro had a serious injury. Look at what it did to his recovery period. Doping to recover from serious injuries is not far fetched.

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    Chris Reply:

    I understand your points Neil. Indeed, there is nothing supernatural about doping. But in the present absence of proof, I am forced to decide what I want/can believe. Ru-an goes for the principle of ‘not guilty until proven otherwise’. I go for the circumstantial evidence and the signs to decide what to believe based on my instinctive judgement, and my verdict is ‘guilty’. Reading through your comments on this blog, I think we more or less have the same gut feeling about Nadal. The major disagreement I see between you and me is when you say that you ‘believe if we protest loudly enough and long enough then those in positions of responsibility will be compelled to attack this scourge of modern professional sport’. What makes you believe that? You say we should all do what we can to end it. Agreed, actually I do what I can, by posting on this blog my opinion and looking for other tennis fans who feel the same way. But I am not an expert on the topic, and I could not back up my ‘feelings’ with profound knowledge on doping, how it could be detected, why it is not being detected, and how the professional tennis circuit works. What do I know about doping in tennis? Basically nothing, I just have to admit my ignorance, and no, I have not spent much time to ‘investigate’ this issue. As a matter of fact, it is part of my profession to actively fight and advocate against corruption in very different spheres. Maybe because of that I am not so optimistic as you are about our strengths to lobby for stricter controls and demand consequences for the wrongdoers to stop the bleeding of this wonderful sport. Experience shows me that you end up messing with very powerful people when you really want to fight against corruption. I have no reason to believe that this would be different in such a high-profile sport as tennis is. Doping in tennis is wrong! It is a form of corruption, I fully agree with you. And the fact that I write about it here is to show that I don’t simply accept this as something that nothing can be done about it. But I won’t focus my life and energy on fighting this evil, because in the bigger picture, there are other forms of corruption in this world and its societies that are much more harmful and deserve my time and effort much more that the corrupted tennis world.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Wow, there is quite a few of you who wrote books here. Lol. And I thought my posts are too long! Anyway me and you have similar views Chris. Although I didn’t say I believe Nadal is not doping. I just wanted to make it clear that I was not looking for excuses. I personally think there is a very good chance Nadal is doping. Like you I also feel there is something unnatural and mafia-like about him. Doping would fit nicely into his ‘whatever it takes to win’ kind of mindset. So yeah I think there is a good chance, but I also don’t want to appear like a sore loser in my posts. I want to have a certain dignity which Roger also displays. That doesn’t mean you guys can’t talk about doping. I just have to be careful about these things since I am the author of the blog. As for Djokovic I enjoy his game. I also enjoy that he is a character. And of course I enjoy that he owns Nadal. I could never be a massive fan of him like I am with Roger, but I am a fan for the reasons I mentioned.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Neil. I brought up the doping issue in my latest post. I’m sure you could appreciate it ;-)

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  5. The claim of Roger being GOAT has really taken a major hit. We will just have to accept that he might never be able to even the h2h. Roger’s own view of things might be a problem here. Based on the post-match presser, he apprently does not care that much about h2h (that is, if he is telling the truth). Roger, as he said it himself, is a very happy person (go to his website and click on ask roger and you will see. He also alluded to this in the post-match presser). This might be a reason why it’s hard for him to summon some kind of visceral hatred for his opponent which he needs from time to time. He seems to get over losses quickly, which is good in the sense that one shouldn’t dwell too much on the past. But it also suggests that Roger is not the type of person who is able to channel past frustration into anger and seeks vengeance. Yet, I believe he needs that kind of attitude in order to really conqueror Nadal.

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  6. I still believe!!! He played great, but like Ruan said, Nadal has a game that doesn’t suit his game. Nadal has a game that suits Djoker. Djoker in 4. G

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  7. Haha, Ruan… reading your thorough, gritty match analysis interspersed with adorable pictures of the twins was — well, just weird! :D

    I’m not sure where my hopes were: Roger lost to RN in the French Open final (where Roger was playing really amazing); but on the other hand RN is the king of RG and clay. Roger crushed RN recently at WTF; but the AO court is different. And the fact that Roger had a back issue serious enough to make him withdraw mid-tournament (which we all know is rare & he must’ve hated doing it) in Doha made me kind of worried about AO. I think I was more crushed after last year’s FO loss, but I’m mad now because RN insulted Roger at the start of the tournament when he aired the players’ dirty laundry in public, and so I had yet another reason to really want to see Roger beat him. I’m just so sick of that guy :-x

    I hope Novak trashes him in the final.

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  8. For all of you who wanted Roger to be on el N2 side of the draw you got your wish, hope you are happy!
    I won´t be surprised to see him in his half for the remaining three Slams, I don´t know if he would make the final of a Slam again.I was hoping to see a different result but this is like living in a cloud.
    I don´t think Roger has won 16 GS.titles having a weak mind…but he used to beat all the others players except Nadal, that´s why I hate this guy(I know he´s a doper,remember M.Puerta, I know very well his family). I have to admit that Nadal has the mental edge over Fed.Roger don´t have to let the story of his matches get into his head but he can´t.Is not because he is 30,he has had some pretty
    losses to Nadal in the past.This guy confounds him it´s not as much about the tennis as it is about the mental aspect.Nadal has being created by Tony to be a match-winning machine to beat Roger that was N1.
    That´s why he can´t beat Novak.Go Nole!!!

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  9. This match showed an encouraging sign. The last couple times Federer played Nadal in majors before this (AO ’09 and RG ’11), his game disintegrated completely in the last set.

    I don’t think that’s just chance. It happened because he was forcing himself to go for too many outright winners, much more than he could sustain. Eventually, the mental overexertion caught up to him and his game fell apart.

    There are so-called autoimmune conditions, where the body’s immune system goes haywire trying to fight off a disease. This frenzied response causes much more damage than the disease would on its own.

    That is a good analogy for Federer/Nadal. It’s not that Nadal’s game overpowers Federer, but that Nadal’s mind-numbing consistency lures Federer into a frantic, uncontrolled response that does the real damage. He regresses to his youthful mindset, loses all patience and discipline, and starts hitting out blindly and mindlessly, hoping to blow Nadal away. That merely makes the situation worse because it increases the risk of mistakes and leads to mental exhaustion from constantly trying to go for such difficult shots.

    That didn’t happen this time. I was waiting for Nadal to blow open the match in the fourth set, it should have been 6-1. Surely after going down two sets to one, Federer’s game would collapse. No such thing happened. Instead, Federer remained strong throughout and Nadal escaped a fifth set by a hair, with that ridiculous lob.

    Federer resisted the temptation to constantly go for impossible winners. He played a more controlled match and patiently used higher percentage plays.

    Instead of always going for the kill shot, he put the ball deep and off-angle to Nadal’s backhand, what the commentators call “controlled aggression.” He tried to force errors from the Nadal backhand, and other times to work Nadal’s backhand to open the court for his forehand. He used the backhand down the line, and very acute backhand angles to drag Nadal wide.

    This is the only way, I feel, that Federer can possibly beat Nadal in a major. He has to develop a tactical game plan that’s more sustainable than trying to blast his way out. Unlike what happened in the past, he played in such a way that he was able to maintain a very high level for the whole match; it was only the execution and fine details that were lacking. But the general skeleton of the game plan was there.

    He even won the first set, which he hadn’t done against Nadal in a major for nearly five years. The first tiebreak was perfect: it was Nadal who panicked, tried to go for too big a forehand and netted, which gave Federer the sole minibreak, while Federer played well within himself.

    If he can lay the basic foundation of how to handle Nadal from the baseline, then he can bring his sublime shotmaking skills into play and confuse Nadal with variety and make the bull run all over the court with slices, drop shots, and volleys.

    His problem with Nadal is that instead of being completely in the moment and responding fluidly to what is (the reality of the opponent in front of him), he clings to some rigid notion of what things ought to be (his idea of how he should be able to beat the opponent).

    He thinks: I ought to be able to outhit Nadal’s forehand with my backhand. I ought to be able to match my weaker side against his strength and win. I ought to be able to use the same patterns I do against everyone else.

    The more he clings to this mistaken belief, the more frantically he flails, and the faster he sinks into the quicksand.

    But “I ought” is not reality. Instead of trying to overwhelm Nadal’s strength with more strength, he can only win by patiently exposing Nadal’s weaknesses. He has to reverse his usual patterns and play freely in a way that is uncomfortable for him–but which is even more uncomfortable for Nadal.

    It’s inaccurate to say that Nadal outplays Federer. No one can outplay Federer; he’s the greatest shotmaking player that ever was. What Nadal does is to bring Federer face to face with his own limitations. Being pure mechanism, Nadal exposes what is mechanical and rigid within Federer’s own mentality.

    The psychologist Jung proposed the notion of “the shadow”: the hidden, unacknowledged part of ourselves which we seek to suppress and conceal. The shadow cannot be destroyed; that would be suicide because the shadow is part of yourself. You must learn to live with it.

    Even Roger Federer has a shadow, and Nadal brings out that shadow like no one else. It’s Federer’s great task to make peace with his shadow.

    Why do we watch sport? Because it provides us with drama and conflict and story that shed some kind of insight on the human condition and on our own lives.

    There are a very tiny handful of great athletes, Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee for example, who reach an elevated pinnacle in our collective consciousness because their lives and careers embody the human condition in an especially vivid and compelling way that we find deeply relevant.

    Federer is such an athlete. His exploits are pregnant with meaning and significance that go far beyond the mere winning of titles. It is how he wins that is meaningful–and, perhaps even more often, how he loses.

    It is inspiring to watch this man, the most decorated player in the history of his sport, continue to boldly seek out the greatest and most formidable challenges well into his thirtieth year. In the face of defeat after defeat, he continues to labor away, determined to find a way to win.

    He might not put it this way, but surely he senses that it’s not merely a mortal opponent he confronts in Nadal, but his own limitations.

    It is his quest to transcend those limitations that makes him so compelling even after he has won so much. Maybe he will never succeed, but his courage, persistence, and determination in that quest is truly admirable and can serve to inspire and hearten us all in our own struggles.

    [Reply]

    D.R. Reply:

    This is a wonderful post, Steve. I loved reading it.

    [Reply]

    Susan Reply:

    You have brought me to tears with your eloquence on our beloved Roger. Thank You.

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    This was one of the most poetic and wonderful posts about Roger that I have ever read. You should write a book! :-)

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    yeah, maybe we should right a book all together: “The collected Fedfan experience – Poetry in Sports”, and describe our feelings and points of view on this great trip with TMF. Steve would be the lead author, we all contribute, Ru-an the editor and producer, and the earnings from the book selling go to Ru-an to give him back what he gave to us.

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    Chris Reply:

    “write” a book, gosh it’s early in the morning and I have a hangover ;-)

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    Aravind Reply:

    Great post Steve. I cannot explain the situation as beautifully as you have done(refer to my detailed post about the match down in the comments). But I am completely in agreeement with the post. I thought Federer played an amazing match. The relentless retrieving broke his will in the end. But this was probably the best match Federer played against Nadal in a long time. Even though he lost, this was not a soul destroying defeat. Nadal just edged it, he may not be able to pass like this again. The shotmaking from Federer in this match was outrageously good. He can surely play at the highest level for another 2 years at least. It took Nadal every ounce of his retrieving ability to win this match. He is up against a challenge in form of Djokovic. Let’s see how he responds.

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    Vasco Reply:

    Great analysis Steve!
    I really hope that Fed comes to meet Nadal again in a faster surface (Wimby or USO – where they’ve never met!)where the ball runs faster and it’s harder to Nadal to fetch every single winner that Roger those; I guess this would be great to watch because as you say i think that roger as given signs of triyng to do things different this time…
    Cheers,
    Vasco

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Great comment Steve. I like your optimism as always. I just find it hard to believe that there were encouraging signs this time. This was his worst loss to Nadal yet in a slam outside of Roland Garros. It looks like it is getting harder for Roger to solve Nadal. But I guess in the end it is always better to be positive.

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  10. Great post RU-AN, one of your best to me. Oddly, I found myself in acceptance of this loss without suffering the usual sadness. This doesn’t mean that i wasn’t frustrated and thought Roger could have done better, he could have.Wasn’t able to stay awake but woke up in time to see end of third set and fourth. Knowing the result when i saw rerun of match i was surprised at the first set stat of 93% first serve s by Roger, thats high and then second set was played. Hope Roger and Paul have disected this match to find a way thru Nadal, it is possible. Well possible unless Nadal is a doper.Looking forward to next tournament and watching Roger. Watching these slugging baseliners is boring, reminds me of boxing not tennis. There was alot of beautiful play at the AO by the Maestro, enjoyed every minute.

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  11. After watching Federer lose to Nadal for like the 8th time in a Major, it is hard not to get discouraged and to say that Federer may never beat Nadal in a major.

    Nevertheless, things are never so simple and so straightforward. The one thing about tennis, and that is always true, and all the great tennis talk about is CONFIDENCE. I mean when a player has confidence, he can go places, and when he doesn’t, then life is hard. It is that time, however, when someone like Roger Federer, that hasn’t won a slam in 2 years, albeit being the greatest GS champion that ever lived, should ask himself, how much more can I give to the sport.

    In November of last year, he answered that question and he stated that if it takes long time and many, many dissapointments in order to achieve what he wants – to win more titles, to possibly add another GS to his illustrious career, he will go the distance and see where it takes him.

    To be realistic, we are seeing the rise and the prime of Djokovich, and we are seeing the prime and maybe slightly past the prime of Nadal. We are also seeing amazing determination and will of Andy Murray to try to win a Slam himself (which I belive he deserves as well). And last, but not least we are seeing the return of Del Potro. In few years, obviously, the young players will mature and also challenge for the top spots.

    So, where does all of that leave our beloved champion Roger Federer. I belive that he proved and he is proving, that he is still there, he is getting into the semifinals, he is pushing to try to win.

    When you are so close to the top, the margins are so small (as it was seen in the Djoovich – Murray match). I mean that match was razor sharp.It could have gone either way. Andy really showed me that he belongs in the elite group and with little luck he might do it. All these things make life very difficult for Roger Federer. Few years ago, he was the most consistent of all of them. Nadal, Djokovich and Murray would all have a great tournament buy then would fall in the quarters of the next GS. That would allow Federer to add titles and move forward. Now it is like all time the all top four guys make it into the semis. If anything, it gets even harder for Roger to make it as well, because he is getting older and on certain days Tsonga or Berdych or SOderling come along and beat him as well.

    So, what hope do we have right now? I believe that 2012 will be a telling year for ROger and I believe that (and he has also alluded to that) that this will be his last full schedule year, after which he’ll cut down on the tournaments he plays. That will pretty much lower his ranking as well. So, it’s like 1 of 4 is gone. 3 GS remain. I believe that he will have a chance in each.

    If somehow Djokovich does beat Nadal in the AO final, the hope is that Nadal will go into a slump and not recover. In the meantime, Andy Murray and Roger need to step it up and push for all the other tournaments prior to the GS. Last year, Roger made it into both the semis of Miami and Indian Wells.

    If he does run into Nadal again, I feel it’s good because he can try again to figure the guy out. I know that the record is poor and he has that self-doubt against the guy. Nevertheless, if he somehow developes a plan and just goes for it and plays with controlled aggression, he’ll have a chance. I mean if Djokovich hadn’t beaten Nadal like 4 times in a row in the smaller 2/3 tournaments, he would have never had the belief in beating him in the GS. If somehow Roger wins couples of these tournaments or at least beat either Nadal or Djokovich, it will give him confidence.

    I liked the way Roger didn’t fade in the 4th set against Nadal. That speaks VOLUMES for his mental fortitude. He was strong and he believed. I mean you can’t blame him that after braking Nadal he couldn’t consolidate, Look at what happened yestderday between Murray and Djokovich. They felt like they could break easily but not hold serve.

    Another positive is that Roger’s return game has improved. He is much better retreiver. The only issue, and in a way that contradicts with the teachings of Paul Annacone, is that he goes for his shots, and it makes him miss more. And against Nadal, you have to be patients sometimes. In his post match interview, Federer said that he’d rather go for the winner and miss it instead of allowing Nadal to pound his backhand.

    And that is the whole issue right there. If he just goes for the rally, somehow slice with his backhand to Nadal’s backhand or try to massage the ball, he would have a better chance.

    It’s almost as if Roger has 200 different shots while Nadal has like 50 different shots. On the important points, against like 95% of the guys, Roger can pick almost any of the shots from his arsenal, and it would work. But against Nadal, there are like 25 sots that work and all the others don’t.

    It’s as if he just needs to play this boring but effective match if he’s gonna have a chance. If he has a chance to chose betwen playing his forhand to Nadal’s forehand or backhand, it should be automatic, always go to Nadal’s backhand, backhand, backhan, until either he makes the mistake or you get a chance to for the winner.

    If Roger has a chance for down the line fotehand (riskier shot) or cross court to Nadal’s backhand, he shoudl go for that. If Nadal retrieves it and pyts in to the middle, than Roger needs to go with a forehand to Nadal’s backhand. etc. etc

    There are so many ways you can try to beat Nadal if you are Roger Federer, but he needs to have a clear vision of what he needs to do. Obviously, that strategy would have to be completely different from all the strategies agains’t all the other players. But that’s what he needs to do.

    In 2006 and 2007, Roger won based on his prime. In 2008 and 2009 he lost to Nadal because he was self doubting. I still think that he hadn’t figured him out yet but just because he was RF he extended the match to 5 sets. In all the Year end championships, he beats Rafa again with his aggressive strategy. But what I would like to see from Roger is to have this controlled aggression, but also try to be smart enough to expect that Nadal will indeed make some redicolous returns, and if he does, he should just stay the course, and not try to go for too much. No volleys to nadal’s forhand, etc. Backhand, backhand, all the way. I also belive that his cross court backhand against (although amazing and working for him beatifully on INDOORS) should not be used on outdorrs. I much rather have him try to redirect the ball to the backhand of Nadal or slice it and make Nadal push and maybe he’ll make the mistake.

    Winning ugly basically than losing beatifully.

    So, in conclusion, the next few months will tell what Roger has left in the tank. He is playing with less pressure and expectations which I think bodes well for him. He needs to watch some of his matches and figure out a strategy. It took about a year for the aggressibe return strategy to sink in and I thimk he is a much better returner today that in 2010. Now let’s work on thr fitness and the tactics against Nadal.

    Allex Roger!!!

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  12. This is jsut a follow up on my thoughts about tactics and how much it would mean to Roger if he just figures out how to beat Rafa.

    I am making the anologu hear with the match against Del Potro. Now, I know you might say that Del Potro isn’t the same that he was in 2009 but all the matches prior to the QF, he was playing like that.

    Now, I am almost 95% that a Roger Federer of 2009 would have struggled again with the Del Potro of 2012 had he not changed his tactics. Obvously something must had clicked but once you figure Del Potro, you can beat him. The same thing happened with Tsonga. Roger lost like two times in a row against him, and then he learned what he needs to do counteract him.

    Now, with Rafa, there are two things. It’s as if he knows what Rafa can do to him to hurt him and he tries to avoid it, but he can’t seem to be clear on what he needs to do to beat Nadal consistently. I am discountung all the amazing shots witch which he doesn it because they are bonus. What he needs to figure out is the grinders, the strategy behind every shot, where you have to pin Nadal in order to win. Obviously against everybody else, moving them around might work, but against Nadal, Roger almost has to rethink his strategy and try to employ it and try different things. I remember in Madrid 09 when he beat him in the Final, he began to use the dropshot against Nadal and it surprised him. In 2010 and 2011 WTF he started to be more aggressive on the return. These are all positive things. But the killer blow would be to try to really USE your FOREHAND very SMARTLY. do not go for crazy shots. Unless you see the opportunity, and you are so confident that Nadal has no chance, then go for it, but 85% of the time, Roger should just pin Nadal to the backhand side. Boring but effective.

    The whole point of this post is that Tactics do matter. Mental preparation is important, now it’s all about execution.

    Until the next time!

    [Reply]

  13. Perhaps it is as what you say Ru-an: Nadal has one-dimensional type of game that is perfectly suitable in dealing w/ Roger’s game. What Roger can do is another type of one-dimensional type of game… but here is where the problem comes. In some ways, it’s a sort of creative destruction on Roger’s part. His creativity, which aids him so well against all other opponents, is his undoing against Nadal. Sometimes you just get that kind of paradox in life.
    Regarding this AO final, I think if Nadal is to beat Nole ever again, this is his best ever chance. The thought that Nole was going to retire came to my mind during the later 2nd, 3rd, & early 4th sets. It looked like he was severely fatigued or had some kind of muscle problem. We obviously know that Nole vs Nadal game will be physical. If Nole is to be vulnerable physically, it is this time. If Nadal can’t beat Nole this time, for the rest of his career he may have to play the role of Hewitt as in Hewitt vs Federer “rivalry” (i.e. whipping boy).
    Could it be the case of “karma is a bitch” haunting Nadal this time? Remember what happened 3 yrs ago, only this time the role is switched from Federer to Nadal, and Nadal to Nole.
    Sometime in the future, I hope you would discuss the chance that Nadal may also become the whipping boy of Murray. I just think that if Murray becomes more aggressive and starts to overcome the choker within, his game is very similar to Nole. He started showing that aggressive side against Nole last night.

    [Reply]

    Aravind Reply:

    “His creativity, which aids him so well against all other opponents, is his undoing against Nadal” – One of the best things I have heard about the Fedal rivalry. This is in a way a repeat of the 2009 Final. Federer came into the final well rested on that occasion & we know what happened. This is the exact same situation. Djokovic has had a far more gruelling SF and has one day less rest. Nadal is IMO actually favored to beat Djokovic in this match. Djokovic will not come to the net and allow Nadal to pass. He will keep going to the Nadal BH all day. I did not see anything from Nadal in this tournament that said that he has an answer to that yet. Federer really got some easy points going to his BH early in the match. Later his instincts took over and he did not repeat that tactic.

    If Djokovic beats Nadal in this final, this will be a soul destroying loss for Nadal. I really think he will become Djokovic’s pigeon after this. On the other hand if Djokovic loses, he will have mostly run out of gas and will have the will to fight another day. This is a must win match for Nadal. I think it will be very close.

    Murray BTW, played the most amazing match I have seen him play in a long time. He was aggresive on all the key points, showed great improvement in his FH. He would’ve won, but the FH down the line by Djokovic at 5-5 breakpoint late in the 5th set broke his spirit. I think Murray is going to do really well this year.

    [Reply]

  14. Without even knowing the name of the writer I could recognize Steve from the content of his comments. Just enlightening! Thank you and congrats for a wonderful write-up. Although Federer lost to Nadal I think Federer played clutch tennis this time and that is good.Regarding the GOAT issue even if Nadal wins 20 GS and Federer remains at the present number of 16 GS both of which are most unlikely, I think it will be unfair to confer the GOAT to Nadal because he has not fulfilled some basic requirements for such a coveted title and is not expected to. I would list some of them as a reasonable (consecutive) number of weeks at number one ,a reasonable number of WTF titles, consecutive number of years that he finishes at number one,consistency of some sort etc.

    [Reply]

  15. Ruan, the match analysis could be pretty much summed in one sentence. Federer could not hit the ball faster than Nadal could get to it. There is no other way to describe this match. It was not lost because Federer choked, it was not lost because Federer’s BH was exploited(it looked pretty good), it was not lost because Federer made UFEs at key junctures and it was not lost because of Nadal’s heart.

    I really believe it from my heart when I say this. Nadal could be the best tennis athlete ever. There were 200+ points played in this match. The match was decided in maybe a handful of them(15-20). My everlasting memory of this match is this. There is a critical point to be won. Nadal returns serve from 15 feet behind the baseline(essentially playing a clay court game on a hardcourt) and challenges Federer to hit a winner. Federer plays every big point in attacking fashion, believing he can hit through Nadal. He hits one, two, three points which would have been sureshot winners against 98% of ATP players. One more ball comes back into play. One of two things happen
    – Federer tries to hit an attacking approach shot and makes an UE
    – Federer hits a brilliant approach shot, approaches the net and gets passed by an incredible Nadal passing shot.

    Replay the above paragraph 15 times. Federer lost 10 points in the fashion described above and the match was lost. As simple as that. At every key point, Federer’s instinct told him to attack and Nadal’s instinct told him to defend and all the points played in the exact same fashion. It’s not like Federer does not want to play. His instinct takes over deep into the match and his game plays into Nadal’s game. Federer must feel absolutely crushed to see so many balls come back into play. It is soul destroying(especially the breakpoint lob that you have referred to that landed smack ON THE LINE). Sitting back and prolonging rallies(look to Djokovic to do this tomorrow) is not the way Federer plays. He lives by the sword and more often than not against Nadal dies by it.

    Those incredible big points aside, this was one of the best matches I have seen Federer play. The quality of his shots were amazing. His skill in strokemaking is unparalled in the current bunch of players. This gives me the impression, that Federer can play for another 2-3 years on this sheer talent alone. Somewhere in that time, he will not run into a retriever in the class of Nadal. And that time he will win.

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  16. Ruan:

    I am an extremel;y fanatic Federer Fan and I want to first theank you for your website. KI really enjoy and grown to respect your analysis and predictions.

    But, in my humble opinion your are deserting Federer too son as a fan. This is irnoic since when many have written off Fed you continued to suport and beleive he can win over Nadal in the AO 2012 SF.

    In my opinion, it was RF’s first Serve that decided the match. How many player can even dream of breaking Nadal in every Set. Federe DID that )well almost if the 4th set lob from Nadal went Long). Anyway there are in my opinions many POSITIVES from this match. As ypu Rightly pointed out the Piivotal Gsmes after Fed gTO A BREAK -It isnot Fed chocked it is just that his 1st Serve did not click.
    gr
    Stats show Nadal had 77% First Serve In, and Fed only around 63%. In My opinion this was the clear factor. Fed undounbtably had the Forlorn look , but if we had clicked 1st Serves he would have been more relaxed due to free points (which Nadal was geting).

    Anyway in my humble opinion Fed played great and it was only the 1st Serve % that decided thst mact NOT nadal in his head. All that Pivotal Games you mentioned, Fed could have easily Held if he had Served well. Even when he got his 1st Serve In at many key points it was not as effective as Fed’s normal serve is supposed to be.

    Bottom Line _ I Still do belive Fed will beat Nadal in Wimbledon/US Open.

    The reason for this Loss is in my Humble Opinion is just Fed’s Serve. Novack lost so may Serv games to Murray – Does this mean Murray got to Novak’s head?

    So just concluding that Nadal is RF’s nemesis and that is why he did not consolidate the break is my opinion is not correct.

    Roger DID NOT chocke. It is just that that he did not serve well. (Nadal 77%, fed 64%). That IS in MY opinion is the crux of it al. If RF were to choke you would not have the last 4-5 game with Nadal where RF almost broke him.
    eee
    So Ruan, I urge you to take a relook an dsee positives fro RF. He has broken Nadal in 3/4 sets and almost 4 if not for that freakish lob.

    Breaking Nadal almost every set SAYS a LOT.

    If RF’s 1st Serve were good as they typically used to be, he would have WON the Match.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks sraman, I applaud your optimism. I will try to remain positive. I can lose nothing by it I guess.

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  17. “Nadal’s superhuman defense had triumphed over Roger’s offense. It is just unreal to watch how he reaches absolutely everything and never tires.”
    Exactly. Unfortunately tennis has transformed into something completely different than it once was – even up until recently I’d say. Many people/critics/fans don’t seem to realize what has happened over the years. I’m afraid of what the future holds for Fed. Things are strange. It’s as if the tennis world(the top 2 players, the ATP administrators, etc) wants to convey a message to Federer, that he no longer belongs to the current tennis era/generation. Which is the truth. It’s just that Roger is too good to vanish. It’s more than clear that he refuses to surrender. Federer is an oasis of Grace and Perfection. He’s the emblematic figure of tennis. I feel that his beautiful, extraordinary game sterilizes the sport. Perhaps Federer considers the new phase of tennis(top 4 guys) the ultimate challenge for him as he enters the final chapter of his glorious tennis career. Is his grand masterpiece yet to come? Steve often claims that there are parts in Roger’s game that have improved throughout the years and I tend to agree with him. It’s just that he’s not consistent anymore.

    PS. Do you ever think of what would have happened had Roger not become a father? I’m sure Roger – even unconsciously – doesn’t practice as much as he used to when he was still winning slams. I mean, I’m sure he devotes a certain amount of time to his lovely kids now. What if he reconsidered his practice schedule a little bit?

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  18. This was it for me, folks. I can’t stand to watch Roger against Rafa anymore. Roger simply doesn’t have the mind to beat him on the big stage. And, sadly, we must admit that this defeat will put an asterisk mark on the GOAT question. Roger just doesn’t have the mental balls to do it and never will against Rafa. I think, most likely, he will never beat Rafa again no matter how many times they play and the H2H will get worse, maybe as much as 25-9 at Roger’s retirement. Rafa knows he has Roger figured out on all surfaces, even indoor hard at the end of this next year because of this last easy win.

    I have watched Roger for ten years now, but my heart breaks when I do so these days.

    Yes, I’m giving up. I don’t want to watch his decline or another match where he gave up to Rafa in the middle of the first set. Just too sad.

    Thanks for all your analysis, Ru-an. I am too addicted to Roger and his game and must give it up for the sake of my sanity. Though I won’t be visiting the site any longer, I wish you well and hope I can return here after Roger retires in the next few years to see your great stories about Fed.

    For now, I’m done with sports. Roger was my last hold and no other tennis, no other sports interest me in the least.

    Take care.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Mark and I am sorry that you are leaving. But I fully understand it. I wish you all the best.

    [Reply]

  19. ru-an,

    thanks for your response. i cried when roger gave up this time at AO against nadal. it made me realize that we must all shatter our illusions and though i do believe, always will believe, that roger has the best, most honest game in the world, sometimes that is not enough. sometimes it is mental, ugly fighting, sometimes it is doping (which i do fully believe is occuring in other players on the atp – nadal and djoko, of course), sometimes it is fate. i will start now my memories of roger as a natural, graceful tennis player that never has discussed or overblown his injuries or taped his knees or fallen down or gone out of breath or given up…all these things prove to me that roger is straightforward but the world needs to believe that athletes are not only superhuman, but also super-superhuman. now they have it in bullshit nadal injury man and djoko who uses an ‘egg’ an ‘no gluten’ as his answer. let’s be honest – perfect doping (other than fed) is the key to these animals. perfect doping is the key to their big up and downs and perfect doping allows their strange superhumannnes. roger was never superhuman, he was just a classic, clean, overpowering, perfect tennis specimen.

    [Reply]

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