Does Federer Still Have What It Takes to Beat Nadal When It Matters Most?

Hi folks. With a possible Fedal quarter final match up coming up at the US Open, this rivalry which has been at the forefront of tennis for almost a decade, is on everyone’s mind once more. It is of course far from a certainty that they will meet at the US Open this year, but I have a feeling there is a pretty good chance. Whether they meet or not I wanted to make a post to take a look at where this rivalry is going, because I believe we have reached an important point in it. Even though I think the rivalry is slightly overrated, it has no doubt created a lot of interest in tennis and had a big impact on Roger’s tennis career. First of all I think it is important to realize that Nadal has ultimately been a good thing for Roger. He was the one guy that could force Roger out of his comfort zone when no one else could do it. It made Roger grow as a player because it challenged him.

Since the first time they met in Miami 2004 and Nadal won 6-3, 6-3, he has been Roger’s Achilles’ heel. Roger never really got to grips with Nadal, although he did score some key wins over his great rival. Given what a tough match up Nadal has been for Roger, that was really all that was needed. All players have opponents that they struggle with, and for Roger it happened to be his main rival. The main reason that Roger struggles with Nadal is the fact that Nadal is left-handed and the fact that Roger has a one-handed backhand. Those are not the only reasons however. Nadal has a certain love for the battle that Roger does not have. He thrives under pressure. You have the feeling that even if he was right-handed he would still be a headache for Roger, although to a lesser extent. He just fights for every point, never gives up, and overcomes all obstacles.

Nadal is relentless in that sense and has thus been able to push probably the greatest of all time out of his comfort zone. I mean Roger is in my opinion the most complete player in history, yet Nadal found a way to penetrate this complete game and expose the few weaknesses that there was, namely Roger’s one-handed backhand and his mental fortitude. For lesser pros those ‘weaknesses’ would be a strength, but compared to the rest of Roger’s game they were slight weaknesses which Nadal have exploited to the full. That in itself is a massive achievement. Now the question I want to get to is whether Roger, after all these years which included some brutal losses against Nadal, can still beat Nadal when it matters most. That would definitely be the question if they happen to meet at the US Open this year.

Roger is considered by many to be the GOAT, but many doubt this claim as well due to the way Nadal has dominated the rivalry. If Roger is gonna be the undisputed GOAT, then Nadal is gonna make him deserve it every inch of the way. I read a quote today where Roger says he found a great sense of peace because he doesn’t care what people say anymore. I believe him, but at the same time there has to be a certain amount of discontent inside him about the rivalry with Nadal. Or else it would mean he doesn’t care, and Roger is too competitive for that. And that discontent is necessary because it is part of what keeps him motivated and in the game. It’s not over. Roger didn’t all of a sudden reach a point where he is now totally at peace and just plays for fun. It doesn’t work that way. Even if that appears to be the case by what he says.

Nadal is still a threat to his records and to his legacy, and will continue to be for as long as he plays. You can be sure that Roger is not thinking that the result does not matter in a possible quarter final with Nadal. He may even say it doesn’t matter, but he would know better. If you lose 22/32 matches against your main rival and 9/11 in slams including a loss at every slam it does not look good if you have aspirations of being the GOAT, no matter what spin you put on it. Fedfans will argue that Roger is past prime and therefor a loss to Nadal in New York would not matter. I beg to differ. I bet you Roger wouldn’t think that way. I bet if he comes up against Nadal in New York he would believe he can win, and there would be no excuses on his mind. He can probably find an excuse for every loss he has had to Nadal, but champions don’t think that way.

Looking good at last night’s ATP Heritage Celebration for No.1’s

They know on a given day anyone can beat anyone, and if they show up on the court, then they have to accept whatever the result is. And if there is a doubt in Roger’s mind that he could beat Nadal when it really matters then he has a serious problem. There could be sub-conscious doubts due to all the brutal losses he has suffered to Nadal in the past, but that is not an excuse. A champion has to overcome those demons and find a way. In the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ Muhammad Ali was fighting against George Foreman who was a much stronger fighter and he could easily have felt overwhelmed and caved in, but he hung in there for eight rounds and absorbed the best Foreman could throw at him, until Foreman was utterly spent at which point Ali saw his chance and delivered the knockout blow. Champions find a way against all odds.

They simply refuse to lie down. I feel like it’s almost destiny for Fedal to meet at this year’s US Open. Roger played really well in Cincy and his draw looks generous until the quarters. I think his chances to make the quarters are very good. Nadal on the other hand has been unbeatable on hard court the entire year, and he has just as good a chance to make the last 8. I also feel like such a match would be critical in the Fedal saga. I have already said this, but I think Roger desperately needs a win against his nemesis and I believe he can do it too. You know, it’s not like Roger trails the head-to-head 21-0. I have already said he had some key wins over Nadal. And if he does beat Nadal in a possible US Open quarter final, it would be another key victory. Nadal has now won their last 3 meetings. He has also won the last 5 slam meetings and is starting to run away with the head-to-head.

There is now only one slam left where Nadal hasn’t beaten Roger in, and beating Roger in New York would kind of put the nail in the coffin as far as the rivalry goes. However, should Roger beat Nadal in New York it would go a long way towards reminding everyone that Nadal does not ‘own’ Roger like so many Nadal fans believe. We can then go back to blaming the head-to-head on bad match up, the fact that they played so many times on clay, etc. But I do feel it’s time for Roger to put his foot down in the rivalry like he has done on several occasions in the past. I don’t mean to put pressure on Roger or to have a black or white kind of outlook. If anything this is a positive post, because I’d like to believe Roger can beat Nadal at the US Open, and I realize how much it would mean to him. On the surface it looks like Roger won’t put as much emphasis on this potential meeting.

He never appears to look at things in a black or white way. But I have seen how serious he looked during practice sessions, and I think he realizes that a meeting with Nadal would have much at stake. I also think he can feel that he has reached a potential turning point. It has been a tough year and more than ever people have started writing him off. With his form in Cincy and his draw at the US Open he senses that the tide is turning. I think he is very determined to reach the quarter final, but he doesn’t want to stop there. Yes making quarter finals would be a a decent result, but considering his promising form in Cincy and his disappointing form since Melbourne, it would almost be a disappointment if he loses in the quarters. Just making the quarter final wouldn’t do much in convincing people that Roger is back either.

Roger’s year has been so disappointing as far as the media is concerned, that only a famous win over his nemesis would convince them otherwise. If he beats Nadal it would give him a massive confidence boost and a final spot would be almost guaranteed. Then there is just one match between him and a record 6th US Open crown. It’s not too late to dream. I believe the game is still there. It is a question of putting it all together on a given day and believing. Thinking that Roger will make the quarters of the US Open, never mind beating Nadal, seems almost absurd given how inconsistent he’s been of late. And in a sense it is. Of course there is still the back issue and you never know when it can flare up again. I guess I’m just excited for a change and have a good feeling after Cincy. I hardly expected him to make quarters there, and yet he did more than that by almost defeating Nadal.

I am sensing a certain urgency in Roger. From the pictures I saw of him practicing there is a seriousness about him. Just look at the current picture I have on my top bar. Roger usually looks very relaxed in practice and smiles quite often. Of all the photos I saw he hardly smiled once and he had a stern look on his face. I think he badly wants to prove something in New York.  He says he doesn’t care what people think anymore, but why so serious? Even if he won’t admit it must be an awesome feeling proving the critics wrong, something he has done time and time again ever since 2009 when people first started writing him off. That has been my favorite thing about following past prime Roger as a fan, and I guarantee you Roger gets satisfaction from it too. Roger can be a tough guy to read, but every champion enjoys winning.

He can’t still be in the game ‘just for fun’. That is not how the mind of a champion operates. He still wants to win. He still wants to feel the exhilaration of coming out on top and holding a grand slam trophy. He is not playing to make slam quarters or semis or even finals. He is playing to win. In fact I heard him say that just today. So it should be clear what his intentions are. I was going to write about what it would take to beat Nadal at the US Open, but as usual I have so much to say that this post has already become too long. And besides, there is still a long way to go before a Fedal quarter final. I am therefor hesitant to talk about such a match at all, but my question still remains whether Roger still has what it takes to beat Nadal when it really matters. And I think the US Open would provide an opportunity for him to do so, which is why unlike most Fedfans I would like to see them face off.

I will see whether I feel like making a follow up post tomorrow, where I talk about what it would take to beat Nadal if they do happen to meet, and answer the question I put in the subject in a little more detail.

Let me know your thoughts.

Presser: Interesting that Roger says his back bothers him less these days and that it doesn’t affect his focus and concentration during matches anymore. So that should put to bed a lot of the concerns about his back and make fans quit always using it as an excuse when Roger doesn’t perform well.

http://www.usopen.org/en_US/interactive/video/index.html?promo=subnav&category=press

Posted in Uncategorized.

19 Comments

  1. Hey, Ru-an!

    This was another AMAZING Post. I can sense that you are as worried as much as I am about this potential match! I completely agree that the TIME HAS COME!

    It’s the match that will pretty much determine the GOAT status in my book! In fact, I think that whomever wins this match just has to go on and win the US Open. Even if Rafa somehow beats Roger and then loses in the Final, in my book he would already be considered the better player of the two. As much as I love Roger I sense that the time has come! We kind of hyped up their match at the AO 2012 but it was one if those matches that got away quickly from Roger. I’d like to say that it was because of the surface which is slower than in New York but that might be just a way to comfort myself.

    Nevertheless, it is about time that Roger wins one of these epic matches. Enough is enough!

    To be beaten at the Australian Open 0:2 and at the French 0:5 is bad enough!

    To have a leading record at Wimbledon 2:1 is nice but If Roger wins this year it would give him that crucial 1:0 leading record at the US Open which would balance things and show that Roger is definitely the better player on fast hard courts.

    That being sad, Rafa is on a mission this year and it would take a MASTERCLASS performance in the realm of the performance against Novak Djokovic at the French 2012 in order to do it. The performance at Cincy gives us hope but Roger will have to play out if this world to pull this off. At the French, even if he played like this, he would still lose. But here he’s gonna have his chance.

    I think that to really put away his demons for good, he would have to imagine that this match will go to 5 sets. As much as he’ll want to get a great start, he just has to mentally get ready for anything. I just hope that he’ll have a smooth first week because he’ll need all his physical and mental energy in order to survive the onslaught.

    This is truly going to be Rocky vs. Drago in Rocky IV. It’s gonna be the same type of match. I have no doubt that both will make the quarters. It’s Roger’s destiny. He has to face his demons head on and FIGHT like never before. He put himself in this position. He fought valiantly and lost that Epic Wimbledon Final in 2008. Then he lost that Australian Open Final in 2009.

    Subsequently, he did beat Rafa on couple important occasions. He also won the French and broke Sampras’s record. Those great achievements eased his pain and made him feel better about himself. He so did beat Rafa memorably at the 2010 and 2011 WTFs as well as at Indian Wells 2012.

    Nevertheless, there are certain questions that need to be answered and the best way to answer those questions would be if Roger beats Rafa here at the US Open 2013. If he does that, it would erase all the bad memories. I even secretly hope that they will play a 5-set epic and that Roger will co e through at the 5-set tiebreak. It would be SWEETEST victory in his career. If he tops it with the cherry on top (the US Open trophy) he would really have scaled the highest mountain.

    If he loses to Nadal for the rest if his life it would be OK. He just needs to do it here and now. It’s just that IMPORTANT!

    Remember how Roger was crushed twice by Novak in the semis of the US Open in 2010 and 2011. As CRUSHING as those losses were, I think that a SUPREME being made sure that Roger lost these so that he would avoid Nadal. Otherwise Nadal would have beaten Roger in either of these occasions. This year it’s different. Whereas in 2010 and 2011 we kinda blindly expected that Roger would be the favorite to win, this year we realize that Roger is the underdog. That being said, I agree that Roger sense what is happening and he just wants to put his stamp on history, yet again, just as he did it at the French!

    Everyone knows that if Roger gets through this tie, he will be so pumped up that he will win Number 18. It’s that crucial right now!

    He will not run away from this challenge. And neither will Rafa. It’s basically going to be a fight to the death. Roger has to be ready. No excuses. No more places to hide. This is his LAST Stand! And one last chance to shut everyone up!!!

    Allez Roger! I believe in you!!!

    :-) )))

    [Reply]

    Raoul Reply:

    Another great post by the GOAT blogger but I am going to say that this post right here by Vily is one of the greatest posts if not the greatest I have read about tennis, destiny and our man ROGER FEDERER !!

    Maaannn this is so true on so many levels and I can see you were just going with the flow, with what your heart was dictating to write !

    Thank you so much Vily !! You have just made my day and I think this can go toe to toe with any of STEVE’s best posts !

    I am addicted to this blog and don’t comment much because all of you guys are pretty prolific writers and you always find a way to echo my thoughts and feelings.

    Now let’s get back to business ! Once again Roger has a date with destiny ! Let us all send him positive vibes so he can go ahead and slay the monster and at the same time erase all those past demons !! This could be a huge turning point in Roger’s career that I really believe he could get to his goal of being a 20 times slam champion could he stop Nadalstrong’s current 2013 hardcourt run !

    This is so crucial folks, I already feel butterflies just typing these words..( pray for me because once that match starts, the probability of ending up in a hospital because of heart attack or me smashing my tv screen and other things is vey good !!)

    C’moooonn Rooggeerrr ! We all believe in you !!

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    It’s true that I want this match to occur. Obviously it’s going to be a match for the ages. But who knows? Are they both going to make it? I’d like to believe it that they will. Is Roger going to play out of this world? We, as fans sure want to see it happen. The first week will tell a lot about this match. I just hope that Roger doesn’t think too much about it. I don’t want him to stiffen up. I hope that he just concentrates on his matches and play it point by point.

    Everything else will take care of itself. I just want it to happen. One way or the other we’ll know. Is Roger the greatest? Or is Rafa the greatest? We will find out. At some point, it’s better to face your fears head on and do your best. If you win, great. If you lose, oh well. It wasn’t meant to be.

    There’s no more for me to say. It’s nail biting stuff…

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    Raoul Reply:

    I hear you.
    I just want to clarify something though. Me personally I dont think the winner of the match will determine who is the GOAT between these two. The GOAT status cannot be agreed upon by everybody even if Roger is the closest to it ( the Man himself admitted as such). There are so many things that come into factor.
    Who knows maybe a freak will come along in the next 20 years and smash all Roger’s records ?!
    But my point is I consider this match, as you said in that AMAZING post, as THE LAST STAND for Roger to even things up with Nadalstrong !
    This is the last chance to prove that GOOD will always prevail against EVIL !
    I really think Nadalstrong is juicing up and he might not get caught while still active but the TRUTH shall prevail in the end! But how long is it going to take before it comes out ?? No one knows and it could take quite a few years.
    I so want this match to happen and Roger to shut the critics up !! ( esp McEnroe, cant stand this guy anymore!)
    I believe everything happens for a reason and this could be his sweetest victory to date ( he has sooo manyy though).
    You are absolutely right about destiny and the crushing losses in 2010 and 2011 US Open were meant to happen, I just dont know if I will be able to survive another crushing loss, this time at the hands of THE BULL in the one slam where they have never met before and where Federer is a 5 time Champion.. I would be devastated and this is why I think The Universe wont let it happen !!
    This is Ali vs Foreman, Rocky vs Drago but most importantly GOOD vs EVIL !!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Vily and good comment. Saying a Fedal match would determine the GOAT status are strong words, but I tend to agree. No more running, no more hiding. The moment of truth has arrived. As for them going to 5 sets that won’t work in Roger’s favor. He’d need to get it done in 4 sets, but I’ll see if I can make a post like I said.

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    I just watched the US Open preview on CBS and once again I kept hearing the same old stuff. Roger is old. Roger can’t get it done. He’ll need to get through 3 tough guys in order to win. Blah blah!

    First of all, where do they see the three guys? To me it’s going to be Nadal and then one of these four (Djokovic, Murray, DelPo and Berdych). I don’t see him having a tough one against anyone else, especially if he gets through Nadal. I mean they all say how Nadal is the overwhelming favorite. But at least say that if Roger wins this one, he’ll have a huge chance for the tile. They are ignoring this.

    Anyway, like I said – this is going to be a very decisive match. That being said, I rewatched the Cincy match with Nadal and it doesn’t seem like an impossible task. Roger apart from couple of games, held his serves with relative ease and was hitting his spots.

    I guess we’ll have to wait and see how he does in these first 4 rounds. If he struggles early (I don’t see against whom but you never know these days) then it would be pretty much a really hard ask of him to do it against Nadal. However, if he imposes his game and all the shots are working, especially the backhand, then I think he’ll be ready. I also hope that he’ll hit his spots with the serve. There is no need to overtax himself and hit it hard. But it’s crucial to be painting those lines or at least close to the lines. If Roger is confident on the serve, I think that everything else will fall into place.

    After all, he will have 4 rounds to prepare. Yes, the nerves might start to creep in. But just try to enjoy each match. I also think Roger should be loose and even try out some things in the first couple of rounds, especially if he has a big lead…

    Anything to just get his confidence up and his shots on target. I mean Nadal is not perfect. He also makes mistakes. It’s just that he is very sharp on those decisive points. Obviously Roger will need to win several of these tight points in order to have any chance. I just think that if he can’t do it here, what else can he do. He’s lost in all other slams. Yes, he has beaten Rafa at the WTF but that’s not longer the consolation that it once was. Obviously, he has to do in a major. It’s that simple.

    They have split their overall hard courts 6:7 for Nadal so it’s not just a pipe dream. Their AO 2012 was close. The AO 2009 was close. Cincy 2013 and IW 2012 were close as well.

    It’s just going to depend on how the match begins. Who wins the first set? All these things. History has shown that Nadal should win. But everyone expected Djokovic to win at the French in 2011 as well. So why not get an “UPSET” again here? Roger has to have at least one more Masterclass performance in him.

    I mean if he beats Rafa and then he loses in the Final – I’ll still take it. It might be bitter sweet but at least Roger will have beaten Nadal.

    If Rafa beats Roger and then he loses the Final – ya I guess that might work also. But I’m just sick and tired of always hoping for someone else to help Roger protect his own legacy. Roger is his own man. He’s got to do it. No one else.

    So we’ll see what the Tennis Gods have in store for us this time. One thing I have learned is that things happen for a reason. I just hope that after suffering through all these gut wrenching losses, there just has to be a light in the end of the tunnel. It just has to be.

    [Reply]

    Dolores Reply:

    Vily, understand your frustration about the media blasting Roger’s chances of winning hardly anything anymore. Just read an article in the Sports Section of the Wall Street Journal, August 23, a most refreshing read, you would like it I’m sure. I loved it.
    Best,
    Dolores

    [Reply]

  2. The Year, 2011. The Place, The French Open Semi Final. The opponent, Novak Djokovic. That dude was on a 43 match winning streak, and looked unstoppable, didn’t he? The best returner ever, as stated by many folks. Don’t forget who stopped him,,,,ever. It was our guy. Roger, you can do this!!! Go FEDERER!!! G

    [Reply]

    Grumpy Reply:

    Love this comment in response to another commendable write-up from Ru-an. Roger does look serious, doesn’t he? I think he’s finally had enough of the 3 losses this year to Nadal and an overall mediocre season by his standards. As John McEnroe said before the 2011 FO semis – and this was after losing to Novak 2-3 times – this time, Roger will come out to play.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I like it Grumpy. ‘No retreat, no surrender’.

    [Reply]

  3. Ruan,

    Are you saying that Federer’s status as GOAT is in jeopardy in this potential QF matchup with Nadal?

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    It’s tough to say that one match can decide who the GOAT is, but these players have a long history and I think this rivalry has reached an important juncture. Considering NAdal will probably win the US Open if he beats Roger, it would add an important missing piece of the GOAT puzzle to his legacy as well if he does. To have a shout at being the GOAT his resume needs more balance, and winning another US Open would help achieve that. If he then wins another AO he would be very close. Beating Roger may not assure NAdal of becoming the GOAT, but it would go a long way towards achieving that and it would look bad for Roger’s GOAT status. It would definitely weaken his argument for being the undisputed GOAT.

    [Reply]

  4. When you think about it, the whole Goat debate is ego driven.
    I’m a big Fed fan because of the influence he has had on the tennis stage. He has a beautiful game. He has worked hard to bring more money to the players esp the 1st, 2nd round losers. Less players will struggle with finances.
    He has raised millions for his foundation. Roger has inspired many people in so many ways.
    If he is beaten by Nadal in the quarters, it matters not.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    This is true Sue. But sport is ego driven because you compete against others. There is no way around it.

    [Reply]

  5. I guess the question is…can one play competitive sport and leave their ego behind? Tom Watson (the golfer) comes to mind. A great competitor that always had both feet firmly on the ground.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Golf is different because you don’t directly play against an opponent. You can just compete against yourself. Anyway Roger is not beyond his ego. To go beyond the ego you have to dedicate your life to it and let go of all attachments. It is the ultimate pursuit which very few people are ready to undertake. It is in a sense much more difficult than anything Roger have achieved, because you as a person effectively die. You let go of all personal interest in the world.

    “He who conquers others is strong; he who conquers himself is mighty – Lao Tsu”

    [Reply]

  6. Hi, guys! As much as we can talk and pump our guy Roger up, in the end it’s going to come down to who will get the 2:0 lead or the 2:1 lead. I have included Federer and Nadal GS meetings for you to see. And basically the trend is certainly there for all to see. Whomever got that crucial 2 set lead or the 2 sets to 1 lead, went on to win. It’s just that simple. I bet that it will happen again here.

    Just watch..

    2005 Roland Garros
    France Clay S Nadal, Rafael
    6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 Stats

    2006 Roland Garros
    France Clay F Nadal, Rafael
    1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(4) Stats

    2006 Wimbledon
    England Grass F Federer, Roger
    6-0, 7-6(5), 6-7(2), 6-3 Stats

    2007 Roland Garros
    France Clay F Nadal, Rafael
    6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 Stats

    2007 Wimbledon
    Great Britain Grass F Federer, Roger
    7-6(7), 4-6, 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-2 Stats

    2008 Wimbledon
    Great Britain Grass F Nadal, Rafael
    6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(8), 9-7 Stats

    2009 Australian Open
    Australia Hard F Nadal, Rafael
    7-5, 3-6, 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-2 Stats

    2011 Roland Garros
    France Clay F Nadal, Rafael
    7-5, 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-1 Stats

    2012 Australian Open
    Australia Hard S Nadal, Rafael
    6-7(5), 6-2, 7-6(5), 6-4 Stats

    As you can see, in the two matches that Roger won (at Wimbledon) he basically got the crucial two sets to love lead or the 2 sets to 1 lead. And Vice Versa, whenever Rafa got the same, he prevailed. At Wimbledon 2008, Roger made the improbable comeback from two sets down but in the end he still lost. Rafa likes to get the lead. I feel that if Roger wins the first set and then he loses the second, THE KEY WILL BE to NOT GET DISCOURAGED. We’ve seen it time and time again.

    If you really get to the nitty gritty you’ll also see that the third SET is ABSOLUTELY KEY…

    In 2006, Roger won the first two sets at Wimby and then he lost the third set tiebreak. Since he was leading 2:0 he could allows himself a breather. He closed it in 4.

    In 2007, it was even closer. Crucially, Roger and Rafa split the first two sets. Then Roger played an amazing tiebreak in the third. He took that commanding 2:1 set lead and then – ya it went to 5 but Roger closed it…

    Then, a similar trend continues at the 2009 Australian Open – Roger and Rafa split the first two sets again. However, the third set goes to a TIEBREAK again but this time Rafa prevails to take it and get the 2:1 lead. Roger fights to force a fifth but he loses it.

    And, finally their last meeting at the Australian Open 2012 semi – again Roger and Rafa split the first 2 sets. But again they force a third set Tiebreak. Basically whomever takes the third set and the 2:1 lead wins. And again, Rafa takes it and closes it in 4. I even think that if Roger forced a 5th he would have still lost.

    You see the picture here. It’s not that Roger should necessarily fear a 5th set. It’s how you get there. Are you in the lead 2:1 and the other guy comes back and then you close him out. Or are you the chaser?

    These statistics don’t lie. They almost paint a huge picture that basically shows that the first set is not that important in the grand scheme of things. If Roger loses the first but wins the next two is much better that taking the first and then losing the next 2. I mean if he takes the first 2 sets, then in most likelihood he’ll win in 4 sets. Nadal is not Djokovic and I don’t see him forcing a 5 set after being down 2 sets to love.

    More realistically however, Roger and Rafa will split the first 2 sets. But the way it has played out is really that Rafa almost lets Roger take the first set and then play Roger really close in the 2nd set. And then he makes his big move by taking a crucial break in the end of the 2nd and then stuns Roger by breaking him early in the third. To me this is shocking that Roger lets this happen to him.

    Other times, Roger and Rafa play tight but if ROger gets into a third set tiebreak HE MUST PLAY as if his life depends on it. If he wins the third set, you can pretty much book the victory. Either in 4 or 5 – it doesn’t matter. That 2:1 set lead will be key. He’ll relax while Nadal will have to play from behind.

    Anyway, I think I am onto something here. I hope you guys agree. Let me know what you think. As you can see we can talk all we want about this but at the end it does come to who will play tough especially in the third set tiebreak.

    [Reply]

    V Reply:

    Great going Vily,This post has belonged to you I must say.
    Some morale boosting comments and great positive energy.Yeah I think Nadal is definitely not djokovic to come back regularly from 2:0 deficits and still win.I mean djokovic is a greater mental beast than nadal and though nadal chokes sometimes when things dont go well for him,djokovic just smiles and takes it all in his stride and thats the key for him succeeding in facing break point/match point situations.just remarkable how he regularly saves them.really nerves of steel.Anyways,yeah even i have kind of wondered that in any match winning the middle set is important as it either balances the match or tilts the match in your favour.so yeah that 3rd set is crucial and that pattern must not continue for roger.if he wins the first set,he deinitely needs to put the foot more on the gas and try to bury his opponent.i think as you say the time has come for them to meet in USO.I mean we have been waiting for this from 2009 and if and when they meet,I think roger realizes that this could be his last chance to revive an otherwise lost rivalry and he has that fire which is very important but as things stand now,he is playing his first match in todays night session after serena’s match and a good start is half the job done.hence,good luck roger.
    History beckons

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    You are so right! It seems as if many of Roger’s fans, including myself have analyzed and overanalyzed this match. That’s what happens when so much hangs in the balance. Roger just keeps losing these key matches and then the pressure is just that more apparent.

    It seems so easy though. Roger is good enough to get to a third set tiebreak with Nadal time and time again. But he’s won only one of these and he keeps losing the others. I know that Roger is a very good if not great tiebreak player. Come on, Roger. Just squeeze this one out.

    You can rest all you want after. :-) Anyway. I’ve been listening to all these podcasts previewing the US Open and everyone is like – Roger may not even make it to the QFS – or he may have to play 4 or a 5 set match to get there. Come on. Really? I could see it at the French and maybe at the Australian Open. Even at Wimbledon.

    I just can’t remember any year where Roger has struggled even the slightest in the 1st week at the US Open. It has always been 3 set victories in all his early rounds. I know that he has been broken. But it usually happens if Roger leads like 5:0 and then he gets broken serving for it and then rebreaks.

    Maybe that early loss at Wimbledon makes me that slightly bit more nervous. I am pretty sure that he’ll be fine. I expect an exhibition like performance tomorrow under the lights and off we go.

    [Reply]

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