Federer and Nadal to Face Off in 2017 Australian Open Final

  • SF #1: Federer def Wawrinka 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3

I’ve already written my thoughts about this match on Facebook but I will say a few more things here. This match was a great disappointment to me despite the scoreline. Neither player looked like they wanted to win.

It’s incredible how Stan’s body language changes when he faces Federer. He is unwilling to play the bad guy which is the role assigned to anyone who dares to defeat Federer on a regular basis. At least when it comes to Fedfans.

Stan is not a warrior. He doesn’t want to win at all costs. He would rather be the nice guy that doesn’t spoil the party than the villain who gets what he wants. That is in stark contrast to Djokovic and Nadal who have received endless criticism simply because they dare to defeat Federer on a regular basis.

Take for instance the MTO incident in the first semi-final. Federer took an MTO after Wawrinka took one earlier and afterward he admitted it was a tactical ploy. There was no criticism. But if Djokovic or Nadal does it all hell breaks loose.

Anyway, I’m not sure what Stan’s deal is. Maybe it is a Swiss thing because Federer seems to lack the warrior qualities too. That is why he keeps losing to Djokovic and Nadal in big matches.

From the start of the match, you could sense Federer was not quite playing his A game. This was Stan’s chance to cash in but he had the body language as if he had already lost. It is like he undergoes a complete transformation when facing Federer.

None of the loud come-ons or pointing to the head. Just totally subdued so that he doesn’t disappoint the crowd who so desperately want Federer to win. It is a tragic thing to see if you are a real tennis fan and want to see good tennis.

Regardless, Federer started playing even worse in the third set and Stan finally started cashing in. But by then it was too late. He had already shown Federer that he would not capitalize on his lack of form.

Federer continued with the unforced errors in the fourth set and even though Stan handed him the break right back that he fought so hard for, in the opening game of the fourth set, Federer allowed him to break again at 4-4.

I think it was after the fourth set that Federer then took the tactical MTO which was all it took for Stan to crack mentally and lose the momentum. In the end, neither player looked like they wanted to win but Stan wanted it less.

Stan was afraid of Federer and Federer was afraid of Nadal which led to a very poor quality match. Sure there were some good points but if you understand the dynamics of the match it was highly frustrating to watch.

Either way, Federer had done very well to make the final after six months out of the sport. It wasn’t pretty but he was now in his sixth Australian Open final and he would soon find out whether he would indeed face his nemesis in the final.

  • SF #2: Nadal def Dimitrov 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-3

In very stark contrast to the first semi-final, this was an absolute epic. Whereas Stan and Federer’s body language were subdued and negative, Nadal and Dimitrov were psyched up and emotional.

They went at it like Spartan warriors who left it all out there on the court, neither wanting to give the other an inch. If you were still undecided as to whether the first semi-final was a good or bad, the second semi-final should have made that clear.

Here were two guys who would pretty much die out there for a place in the final. We know that is always the case with Nadal but I was very impressed with Dimitrov’s level and desire. It’s for sure the best match I’ve seen him play.

I was dozing off from time to time during the match due to sleep deprivation but I saw most of the match. Dimitrov’s backhand was a lot more solid than I thought it would be while Nadal slumped in the second set the way he did against Raonic.

But Dimitrov was good enough to take advantage. Nadal appeared declined to me but you have to give Dimitrov credit for a terrific display of offensive tennis and fight. Dimitrov had two break points at 4-3 and 40-15 on Nadal’s serve in the decider but Nadal saved it in his usual clutch way.

Those were like virtual match points which means Dimitrov was awfully close to pulling off the upset. But given that Nadal was involved we should hardly be surprised. In the mental department, only Djokovic can hang with him.

This match reminded a lot of the 2009 semi-final between Nadal and Verdasco where Verdasco had Nadal at 4-4 and 0-30 on his serve but failed to capitalize after which Nadal won 6-4 in the fifth set too.

That match lasted 5h14min while this one lasted 4h56min. Not only that, but it is also the second semi-final and Nadal will face Federer in the final like he did in 2009. If things continue in this vein Nadal will also win the final.

  • Final Preview: Fedal 35.0

Well, there it is. The final ‘everyone’ wanted. I am not the mainstream media trying to get your attention and clicks so I’m gonna tell it like it is. But then you already knew that.

As a tennis fan, this final is fine with me. I think the Fedal rivalry is overrated but the fact that these two are meeting in another slam final after all this time is astonishing by itself. Who would have thought that was possible when the draw came out?!

But then again no one thought Djokovic would lose in the second round or Murray in the fourth round. This Australian Open has been a perpetual surprise. As a tennis fan, I don’t mind that. I think it is a nice change up.

I think most Fedfans were praying today that Dimitrov wins because if he did Federer was pretty much a lock for the title. And he came ever so close. But now the picture looks drastically different.

Nadal leads the head-to-head 23-11 and 9-2 in slams. Everyone that follows tennis knows by now that Nadal is Federer’s nemesis. That 2009 Australian Open loss to Nadal scarred Federer deeply and he could never slay those demons.

On Sunday he will get another chance. Unfortunately for him, the beatings have only gotten worse at the hands of Nadal over the years. At least in Melbourne. Since they met in that fateful 2009 final they played two more times in the semis in 2012 and 2014 which Nadal won in four sets and straight sets respectively.

So things have gotten progressively worse for Federer. It is just very hard to see Federer exorcising this demon. Time after time in the big matches Nadal has defeated Federer. The last time Federer defeated Nadal in a slam was in 2007, almost a decade ago.

The difficulty for Federer against Nadal is that he has to win the first set or his chances go to 0.1%. But that is not enough. He has to win the second set too, or Nadal becomes the overwhelming favorite again.

Even if Federer wins the first two sets and Nadal wins the third set then Nadal becomes the favorite again. This is the monumental task that Federer has ahead of him and it is, therefore, no wonder he lost his way in the third set of the semis.

He wasn’t consciously thinking about Nadal. But Nadal is so deeply embedded in his subconscious that even if there is just the possibility he could face him in the final it affects him. He inexplicably started missing in the third set after being in complete control.

He invited Stan back into the match but Stan never wanted it to begin with. Had Stan won he would have had a good shot at defeating Nadal but he was intent on making Federer face his worst nightmare.

I am not saying Federer can’t win. Tennis is an awfully strange sport. Literally, anything can happen. It just seems extremely unlikely. It feels like those two points at 3-4 and 15-40 on Nadal’s serve against Dimitrov already determined Federer’s fate.

Dimitrov has a similar game to Federer and he pretty much gave Federer the blueprint on how to beat Nadal except he lost and he doesn’t carry the emotional baggage of Federer when facing Nadal.

I’m just being honest. It is very difficult to see Federer beating Nadal but you just never know for sure. And besides, Federer by far exceeded expectations by making the final. Whatever happens, he can feel great about his form and progress.

Yes, he is the one who made two finals and two semi-finals in his last four slams while Nadal’s best was the fourth round but tennis isn’t always fair. If he loses he will just have to take it as a positive and look forward to his best slam at Wimbledon.

  • The Final from the Perspective of a Djokovic Fan

As a Djokovic fan, this tournament is obviously not the ideal scenario. Not only did Djokovic lose early, but his two main rivals in the GOAT debate are in the final which means one of them will increase their slam tally.

From that perspective, I am not very emotionally invested in this match. And I am very happy about that part. If I was still a Fedfanatic I would be very emotionally invested and if Federer lost it would have been 2009 all over again.

That was my worst moment ever as a tennis fan and I certainly don’t want to experience that again. Or anything close to it. If I have to choose a side it would be Nadal. Why?

If Nadal wins the title it would give him the double career slam with the French Open coming up. Djokovic was the favorite to achieve the double career slam before Federer or Nadal so if Nadal does it now it will hurt Djokovic.

And knowing that the French Open is coming up and Nadal will probably be the favorite there if he wins the Australian Open, it could really cause Djokovic to wake up from his mental slumber.

If Djokovic wins the French it would mean he would also get the double career slam. I think it would add extra motivation for him to sacrifice all for winning the French Open. Otherwise, Nadal will likely go even further ahead of him in Paris.

On top of that, if Federer wins the 18th slam he would go further out of reach of Djokovic. If Nadal wins the target stays the same for Djokovic. But for someone who had high expectations of Djokovic winning the title, I don’t really care who wins on Sunday.

I like that because I can just sit back and enjoy it without being too emotionally invested.

Should be fun!

  • Highlights

Who will win?

  • Nadal in 4 (34%, 41 Votes)
  • Federer in 4 (31%, 37 Votes)
  • Federer in 5 (11%, 13 Votes)
  • Nadal in 3 (10%, 12 Votes)
  • Federer in 3 (10%, 12 Votes)
  • Nadal in 5 (3%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 119

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Posted in Australian Open, Grand Slams.

17 Comments

  1. Ruan, you used to be Roger’s most ardent fan in the past. What made you change your preference? I’m not criticizing you, I’m just curious. I have changed my allegiances many times in the past.
    Personally I have always liked Novak a bit better than Roger. But I’m also relieved that Novak’s complete dominance has retreated a bit. IMO the state of affairs right now makes tennis more interesting. I really wish, though, that one of the young guns could make a serious breakthrough.
    Question: Is there anything about Roger you have let slide in the past but which rubs you the wrong way now? Personally I think the tactical MTO in his semi final is a good example. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, since all players have done it now and then. What I don’t like is the generally prevailing double standard. If Djokovic or Nadal had done it, there would be a huge hue’n cry. But Roger seems to get away with it mostly.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Glad you asked, Sabine. It’s mostly the ridiculous cult-like hype surrounding Federer that put me off. It wasn’t about tennis anymore it was about a player. I saw that I had become too fanatical and that it wasn’t healthy. I had fallen for the hype. Fortunately, I woke up and remembered why I was following tennis.

    I hated the Federer celebrity and hype. It had become celebrity worship instead of tennis. But I always knew about Djokovic since he defeated Federer in the 2007 Montreal final. He impressed me immediately but he needed time to mature. In 2011 he grew more on me when he owned Nadal because I didn’t like Nadal and no one stood up to him including Federer.

    Like you, I had switched allegiance before. And not because someone was winning more than who I liked. I used to be a Sampras fan but his game and dominance started boring me so I started rooting for the underdog Agassi. Agassi always lost to Sampras when it mattered but I was happy supporting him.

    Fedfans have called me a glory hunter and all sorts of insults because I switched allegiance, as you can imagine. Anything to justify their fanatical worship of almighty Federer who clearly had mental flaws exposed by Nadal. Anyway, that was fine. My blog became much less popular but my time as a Djokovic fan have been my favorite time as a tennis fan yet.

    Because of the blind worship from fans, Federer has an inflated ego and he became arrogant which is part of the reason Nadal got into his head and turned the rivalry into a nightmare for him. It’s like you said the double standards and all that nonsense. The hype had become nauseating and didn’t want anything to do with it anymore.

    Hope that helps.

    [Reply]

    Sabine Reply:

    Thanks for answering in detail, Ruan. I can understand your reasons very well. The following of Federer has indeed at times reached cult like dimensions. And while that isn’t exactly Federer’s fault it caused me to fall off his bandwaggon a long time ago. If fandom worship on one hand and rabid hate on the other hand poisons someone’s everyday existence something is very wrong and unhealthy. Tennis is a wonderful sport and watching should give us joy. And like you, I enjoy it most, when I’m watching from a more neutral position.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Exactly! I used to think Nadal was the devil when I was a Fedfan. I still dislike his game but now I respect him a lot more. For me, Djokovic is the perfect blend of Federer’s talent and Nadal’s mental strength. He has the best of both worlds while Federer is not a warrior and Nadal is too one-dimensional. And I like his personality more.

    [Reply]

    Sabine Reply:

    Yes, there are players for whose oncourt antics I don’t care a lot. There are others where I have the impression that I don’t like their personalities so much. But I taught myself not to hate someone, just because I don’t like the way they play tennis. I think the players themselves who know each other much better, see their colleagues in a much healthier way than their respective fan bases.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Oh, sure there is no doubt about it. Pro tennis players are way more mature than their fans. Most tennis fans are flat out annoying. There are great ones like yourself for instance but there are so many who blindly worship their favorite player and once that player loses they lose interest or bitch all day long on Twitter about the players and fans they don’t like.

    Those are not real tennis fans like me and you. We stay involved if our favorite player loses and we don’t quit following tennis when our favorites retire. We know there is more to tennis than our favorite player and we know there will always be someone new to like and have as a favorite.

    [Reply]

    Sabine Reply:

    Btw, I used to be a big Sampras fan, too. But my story went into the opposite direction: I really disliked him at the beginning because I resented Pistol Pete’s machine gun like serving prowess. I saw him as a bit of a robot. But the I saw him falling emotionally apart during his legendary AO 1996 quarterfinal match against Jim Courier because he grieved for his dying coach. And I realized that he wasn’t a machine after all but a human being with deep feelings. I admired greatly how he managed to pull himself together during that match and win in five. After that experience I was able to appreciate him properly.
    Very often a bit of background info helps to see a player in a different light.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Haha, that’s funny. That’s exactly why I got tired of Sampras. Especially in the 90’s when conditions were so fast. Every time he was in trouble he served an ace. Even on second serves.

    Interesting that you said before that you are kinda glad Djokovic’s dominance is over for a while. I felt the same last year but now I miss him. When I see Nadal and Federer playing at the AO I just want to see Djokovic there ruling his turf and ruling them like he usually does at the AO.

    I especially would have liked to see him play Nadal at the AO this year. Nadal hasn’t won a set vs Djokovic in their last 7 meetings and I would have loved to see him spank Nadal’s ass one more time at the AO. It’s frustrating because I know at his peak he beats Fedal like a drum.

    [Reply]

  2. The issue with Federer is the abductor strain picked up in the 2nd set with Wawrinka which led to lesser movement and losing sets 3 & 4
    Also the Wawrinka match Federer’s W/UE was 47/50 (-3)

    Against Zverev W/UE 65/13 (+48)
    Against Nishikori W/UE 83/47 (+36)
    Against Berdych W/UE 40/17 (+23)

    And against Nadal he is going to get pushed more especially on the backhand and Federer is depreciating from the earlier matches

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Good stat that Marcus. Proves my point about how poorly he played! But Wawrinka was the one who had an injury. Federer just took an MTO for tactical purposes.

    [Reply]

  3. It’s going to be 2009 all over again. Serena (already won) and Nadal.

    I do think that Federer has more chance against Nadal than against Djokovic at the AO.

    Furthermore, Mats Willander’s and John McEnroe’s preview of the final was worthless. They were emphasising that Nadal battled for almost 5 hours and thus Federer may have the advantage. Did they forget 2009?

    Anyway, enjoy the match. I am not even going to watch this one.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Lol. Of course, Wilander and Mcenroe are hyping and trying to make it interesting! There is no way they can’t remember 2009 unless they having become truly senile. Mats is just a troll anyway. I don’t take a thing he says seriously because his whole life revolves around hating Djokovic. As for Jmac, everyone who follows tennis knows what silly statements he can make.

    I’m sorry that you won’t watch the match but I understand how you feel. The hype around the overrated Fedal rivalry is frustrating but I didn’t even think there would ever be another Fedal slam final so I can’t miss this one.

    [Reply]

  4. A perfect intro to the upcoming match and the players involved. Qotation is tajen from “Tennis has a steroid problem” blog:
    ” – A player followed by suspicions of PEDs usage all his career, suffering all kinds of career-threatening injuries just before his best moments.
    – One of the oldest player in tour, beating younger top 10 athletes in five sets, just after a knee surgery, mimicking the behavior of the previous player.”

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Are you saying they are both doping? In that case, it’s even Stevens 👍

    [Reply]

    Toni Reply:

    There is a great possibility. Most likely the whole event was well orchestrated so Fed can reach the final. Weird play of Nishikori, no play from Wawrinka and Zverev. Weird course of the final. Es an ex-Fed fan this was the one and only time i felt he did not deserve not only to win the final but being there at 1st place.
    They gotta stop these 2 meeting at such stages of slams. Nadal deserves to be there by the way he plays but becomes way to suspicious for Federer.
    Tennis is dead. Corruption between tennis players, sponsors, event organizers, TV, bookies ….

    The final of AO was actually Dimitrov-Nadal`s semi. Roger`s final was the match vs Berdych.

    BTW thanx for keeping the blog alive! There might not be so many comments as before but being a genuine tennis fan describing was you saw on TV is much better than pleasing fans of different players.

    There are many still visiting your quality blog without interacting with your content. The reason is the the extremely good performance by Jokovic last few years which required less to discuss and the lack of a serious competitor like Nadal . If you use Google Analytic you know that many care about your opinion!

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    Hi Ruan. Obviously I’m pleased that Roger won, but I’m not here to rub it in or proclaim Roger as the GOAT or whatever. I’m just very disappointed by some of the comments under this article and elsewhere. It seems like a lot of people (not you, and not most of the people on your blog either) are just refusing to give due credit for Federer’s win today. I don’t understand it.

    Charlie

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Well there hasn’t been any comments since Federer’s win so it’s a bit tough to say people are not giving credit. I mean people are not obliged to come here and congratulate Federer like they fear punishment if they don’t. As for me, I’m happy for him.

    [Reply]

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