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Hey, folks. I hope you are all having a good week and that the Fedfans have by now recovered from Roger’s loss in Rome after realizing that he is playing very well and still on course for resurrecting his clay court season which has been less than satisfactory the last couple of seasons. Ideally I’d like to see him make semis at the French and test himself against the best, but quarters would be fairly satisfactory as well as long as he plays a good match and loses to a good player.
We know by now that Nadal will be seeded 7th and can, therefore, fall in Roger’s quarter. But he could also meet Nishikori or Stan in the quarters who on a good day could eliminate him. Not to mention a dangerous youngster like Kyrgios who already defeated him in Madrid. So the draw will already be very interesting, especially for finding out in whose quarter Nadal lands. This brings me to the importance of the French Open for Nadal as well as the importance of Wimbledon for Roger.
- The Importance of the French Open for Nadal
We already started a discussion on my previous post about the Fedal era coming to an end and I’d like to continue it here. Nadal’s career is basically on life support right now and a 10th French Open title alone can save it in my opinion. He has been subject to upsets since Halle last year and for the first time in 10 years has not won a Masters during the European clay court season. In fact, he only made one final! Who would have thought that would be the case before the clay season began?
He has dropped out of the top 5 in the rankings for the first time in 10 years too. These are all signs of undeniable decline. Roger went through the same thing in 2013 and was able to resurrect his career by making changes to his coaching staff and equipment. But importantly, he has not been able to win a slam since then. As for Nadal, there has been no sign of resurrection so far. And I am afraid if he doesn’t win the French Open there may never be a resurrection. The French Open is no doubt Nadal’s last stand.
At least for a long time to come. Maybe he can compete for the French Open in the future again, but I am not so sure about that if he doesn’t win it this year. If he can’t gain confidence from the clay season then where will he gain confidence from? Either way he has clearly come to a defining moment in Paris, and I am not so sure he can defy the odds this time. I always had 14 slam titles in mind for him, and I think there is a good chance he will remain on that number indefinitely.
- The Importance of Wimbledon for Federer
With the arrival of Fed 4.0 at the beginning of 2014, Roger went a long way towards putting the steep decline of 2013 behind him. But I’m not sure anyone can say that the disastrous season is well and truly behind him before he wins another slam. He came awfully close at Wimbledon last year when he lost 6-4 in the 5th set in that epic final against Djokovic. The resurrection of Roger was never going to happen overnight though, and I think toward the end of last year and this year so far we have seen improvements from Roger.
He has already won three titles for instance compared to last year’s one at the same stage, and he’s been having a better clay court season too. The Australian Open loss was a setback, but I think it is fair to say his game has been fine tuned better since the beginning of 2014. But will it be enough to win a slam? I think most people would agree that his best chance is at Wimbledon and that it probably needs to happen this year. It will only get harder in the future.
Murray will already be a huge threat this year along with Djokovic. Djokovic himself seems to be playing better than last year, so what would Roger’s chances be if they met this year? Then there are several other dangerous players like Berdych, Raonic, Dimitrov, and Kyrgios. The situation has definitely not gotten easier since last year, and I am not even sure how much Roger has improved. His serve, net game, backhand, and mental game have all improved. But won’t he need his forehand to be at its best to win Wimbledon with the tough competition?
- Fedal: The Last Stand
For one era to end a new era has to come along. The decline is not enough, or else the Fedal era would have been over a long time ago. The Djokoray era has been threatening for some time now to take over, but Murray was not quite up to the challenge. With his form so far this year and his first clay titles in Munich and Madrid, he has made serious statements. He has been extremely consistent this year and therefore it is no surprise he is second in the race. The Djokoray era looks primed to take over from Fedal once and for all.
The only way they will be stopped is if Fedal wins the French Open and Wimbledon. Here is an interesting excerpt from Roger’s presser after the Rome final:
“You cannot take away the last 10 years,” he said. “It’s going to be best of five sets, we know how tough Rafa is physically and mentally. He is the favourite still to me.
“Novak at this point probably has to win, like in 2011 when he didn’t lose the whole year so it feels similar to that in my opinion. Maybe Rafa isn’t having the same success as before but nevertheless that remains the situation for me. It’s all talk, in the end it’s the racket that is going to do the talking. They are doing good and I hope it is not going to be between the two of them!”
Roger is usually very accurate with his predictions, but I’m not so sure here. It’s almost as if he wants Nadal to win to hold the Djokoray era off one more time. It can also be interpreted that he is trying to put pressure of Djokovic. This time Nadal is well and truly up against it though and it will take a heroic effort to win a 10th French Open. The same can be said for Roger at Wimbledon. Fedal have held off the next generation for an extraordinarily long time, simply because they are arguably the two best players in the history of the sport.
Djokovic has been winning slams for some time now, but one guy is not enough to hold Fedal off. He needs the support of Murray. Murray looks primed for big things like I said and it would be very interesting if Nadal lands in his quarter in Paris after what happened in the Madrid final. But as far as the title goes Murray is a bigger threat at Wimbledon. I wouldn’t be surprised if Djokovic finally wins the French this year and Murray wins Wimbledon. But one thing is for sure; the Fedal era is under serious threat.
If they are going to extend their relevance for at least one more year then Paris and London will be the places to do it in the next couple of months. I would rate their chances of winning the French and Wimbledon respectively about the same as well. Nadal has been more dominant at the French, but he is in much worse form than Roger. And I don’t see them with much of a chance of winning slams outside of the two I mentioned, although Roger will still be a dangerous dark horse in New York.
What do you think? Do you think Fedal have what it takes to make one last stand or is Djokoray here to stay? All opinions and thoughts are welcome.
The is in your court.