Roger Federer Ends the Year on a Huge High with Fifth Masters Cup Title

Sorry for the delay in my post but I had to watch the rerun before I made the post. You just had the feeling Roger would win this one didn’t you? Or at least I did. Many things pointed towards it. Since Wimbledon Roger has been slowly and steadily building his confidence back up which took a dive after a visit to Ethiopia, having just won the Australian Open. His results have been so steady that he was bound to break through and do something special. But this result was never certain. He still had to go out there and win it. It was crucial that he got this win right at the end of the season, and therefor there was a lot of pressure going into this match. Had he not won it, I would personally have called this season a bit of a disappointment. Sure he started off fantastically by winning a slam, but the clay and grass court season was a big disappointment.

And even though he got his act together after Wimbledon, he still lost before the finals of the US Open for the first time in six years. And he did so after having match points. The loss against Monfils in Paris after having match points was yet another big disappointment for me. It was the fourth time this year that he lost after having match points. To be honest I was a bit worried. Had Roger Federer lost his mojo for good? Nothing less than a title at the MC would convince me otherwise, and he had to do so by beating Nadal in the final. I have been building this up for months now. I said I would believe Roger’s mojo is back if he can beat Djokovic, Murray, and Nadal in one event, and that is exactly what he did. He couldn’t have done it in more convincing fashion either, crushing both Murray and Djokovic, and handing Nadal the bread stick in the final yesterday.

That’s right, the GOAT is back in no uncertain terms. He beat Murray 6-4, 6-2, Djokovic 6-1, 6-4, and Nadal 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. It doesn’t get any better than that. And that is leaving out the Soderling and Ferrer wins. The final yesterday was high quality stuff as expected. For Nadal to have taken a set off Roger while he is in this mode says something about his level of play too. Roger’s serve was terrific in the first set, and he held his service games with ease. On the return he started off nervous, which was to be expected in a match of this magnitude. Soon he found his range though. His backhand was simply devastating. The point of the match came at 3-2 when there was a long rally with some incredible ball striking. After pushing Nadal around on the baseline, Nadal came up with a backhand of his own which put him in control of the rally again, only for Roger to hit a clean winner off the backhand side.

In the next point there was yet another extended rally which Nadal ended with a huge forehand of his own. Nadal held serve, and in the next game Roger went down 0-30 on his serve. It was his first big test, and he passed it with flying colors, winning the next four points in convincing style. That was the decisive moment of the first set, because in the next game Roger broke serve. He came back from a 40-15 deficit in that game and broke Nadal with a stunning backhand cross court angle which was probably the shot of the match for me. Even the fastest player in the world could not reach it after it dropped inside the service box. Advantage Federer. At 5-3 Roger then served out the first set to love. It was the perfect first set. It was only expected then that his level would drop slightly in the second set and that Nadal would push hard to get back into the match.

I kept telling Roger to just keep it solid and not lose serve. His first serve percentage was dropping though, and you could almost sense the inevitable as Nadal broke in the fourth game to take a 4-1 lead. I was hoping Roger could somehow get the break back, but Nadal wanted none of it. He served out the set at 5-3 to make it one set all. This was probably the most nervous time of the match, knowing that it was a one set playoff for the title. I sensed that Roger would lift his level again however. Nadal was always going to come back in the match, and it was just a question of Roger raising his level again, while it was almost certain that Nadal would not be able to keep his level of the second set. Roger is just impossible to hang with in that form. The fact that Nadal was able to delay the inevitable by taking a set is an achievement in itself.

In the third set Roger’s first serve percentage picked up again which put the pressure right back on Nadal. When Roger is serving like he did in the first and third sets it’s virtually impossible for Nadal to hang with him. After Nadal evened things up at 1-1 in the third, Roger cruised through the next five games to send Nadal packing. The slice serve out wide on the deuce court was especially effective. This is the obvious serve to use against the left hander. It goes to his backhand side and opens up the whole court. Add to that the backhand cross court angle which Roger hit so superbly well, and you have the tools to tame Nadal. Those were really the two shots that stood out for me. Basically Roger did exactly what I said he should. He served well and kept the points short with attacking tennis. He hit several forehand and backhand winners from the base line.

He approached the net when in control of a point to make sure Nadal doesn’t have a prayer of getting back in the point. But he also approached the net behind some good approaches and volleyed skillfully. He kept it attacking on the return as well. None of the unnecessary negative chip returns which allowed Nadal to dominate the rally. Of course the indoor conditions didn’t hurt, but this is the game plan that Roger must bring to slower surfaces as well. This was obviously a massive a win for Roger. I can’t praise Roger enough for the week he had. You will remember I was quite negative before the event, but as I watched Roger throughout the week I became impressed to the point that I had virtually no doubt he would beat Nadal. This was like an early birthday present for me and an early Christmas present for the rest of you Fedfanatics.

We couldn’t possibly have asked for a better end to the year. If there was ever any doubt about Roger’s age slowing him down, this win basically shatters those doubts. I have persisted with my believe that Roger’s age is is over hyped for a while now, and even though I have had my own doubts at times, my believe has paid off. It was a question of confidence all along as I protested. It should be clear now that the slump in mid season was a kind of blessing in disguise. It forced Roger to look at his stubbornness and it resulted in him adding Annacone to his camp. Who knows exactly how much difference Annacone has made to Roger’s game so far. But it is not just the tennis, but also the mental difference of making a change and a new beginning. Roger is not someone who likes to make too many changes.

He is naturally stubborn, but this was a necessary change and it is really paying off. And it’s paying off sooner than I thought. When Roger hired Annacone I was more looking towards next year to see any real results, but the results came immediately. Still, there was something missing. Roger had not convinced me as recent as the loss to Monfils. But what happened at the MC changed all that. Roger is now well and truly back. Not that he was ever gone, but he proved a lot with this title. It is obvious that he can still play at his very best level and dominate tennis. It was simply crucial that he won this title against Nadal after Nadal won three slams this year. By this win he reminded Nadal that he is right there with him. It is so important going into Australia next year as well. Nadal must not be allowed to win Australia next year.

If he does so he will have won four slams in a row, something Roger could never do. It will also mean that he will probably win five slams in a row, given that the French open is basically a lock for him. He can also win Wimbledon, which then gives him six slams in a row. And if he does that he will have a chance at the calender slam. And if he manages to achieve that feat, he would be very close to being the GOAT already. This is looking very far ahead of course, but I’m trying to tell you how important it is that Nadal is not allowed to win in Australia. The MC was just a preview of things to come really. Australia is where it’s at. If Roger and Nadal meets in the final there it will be absolutely massive, and it is very likely to happen. By winning such an encounter Roger could virtually settle the GOAT debate.

There would be an immense amount at stake. If Roger defends his title he would have a good chance of reclaiming the number one spot in the rankings during the clay and grass court season and finally break Sampras’ record weeks at number one. At the moment he is still 0-1 against Nadal in hard court slams which is just plain wrong. I would like nothing more than for Roger to settle the score after losing to Nadal in that 2009 final. It is slower conditions than the MC indoors, but Roger should never have lost that 2009 final in the first place. The idea is that this time around he puts Nadal away when he has the chance. He didn’t do it in 2009 and he must have learned from that. I’m sure Annacone would point that out to him. But aside from the reasons that I mentioned, the most important reason for him to win Australian is to stop Nadal from winning four slams in a row.

Let me get back to yesterday’s match for a second. This win makes the h2h off of clay 6-4 in Roger’s favor now. It also affirms that the h2h is massively overrated. Lets assume for a second that the twelve meetings on clay between the two was instead on indoor hard. Indoor hard is arguably Roger’s best surface, while clay is Nadal’s best. If that was the case the h2h would have been pretty much the direct inverse of what it is now, if not more in Roger’s favor. Roger is now 3-0 against Nadal on indoor. It is just virtually impossible for Nadal to beat Roger indoors when he is playing anywhere close to his best, just as it is virtually impossible for Roger to beat Nadal on clay when he is anywhere near his beat. But first of all there isn’t that many indoor events, and second Nadal doesn’t make it far enough in those events to face Roger.

If anything, the h2h proves that Roger is a better player on his worst surface(clay) than Nadal is on his worst surface(indoor). Time and time again Roger makes it to clay court finals only to lose to Nadal, but where is Nadal in the indoor finals? Another problem is that conditions on the ATP tour is slow in general. The grass court season is short compared to the clay court season, and by far the most hard court events are outdoors. On top of that, the grass and indoor surfaces have been slowed down. Everything is in favor of Nadal. If you can’t see my logic about the h2h then I doubt you have logic at all. Lets say Roger have played against Nadal many times on indoor hard from the start, instead of clay. Or not even indoor hard. Lets just say fast hard. He would have beaten Nadal repeatedly just like Nadal have beaten Roger repeatedly on clay.

This would have no doubt resulted in Roger ‘owning’ Nadal, just like Nadal currently ‘owns’ Roger in the h2h. It is simply what happens when you play a guy repeatedly on their best surface. It has absolutely nothing to do with the other guy being better. It’s like Sampras and Agassi playing more than half of their matches on clay, which Agassi would have undoubtedly won 90% of, and then saying Agassi is the better player or that he ‘owns’ Sampras. It just makes no sense. Sampras was not good enough on clay to meet Agassi there enough. Even if Agassi made every clay final he would hardly ever have faced Sampras. I think you get my point. The critics latch onto the h2h between Roger and Nadal because it is really the only thing they can find to damage Roger’s legacy. But anyone with a sober mind can see just how flawed their argument really is.

That is enough of the h2h. Like I said, this was a big win for Roger, but the real test will come in Australia next year. Enjoy this win, but don’t think the score is settled once and for all. Only when Roger defends his title in Oz next year will I really relax. At the very least Nadal must not win the title. But it’s hard to see anyone other than Roger stopping Nadal there anyway, so it is likely that Roger will have to do so himself in the final. Just a final word to any of the Nadal fans that claims Nadal was tired in the third set. You are talking about a guy here who has taken off three weeks from the tour before the MC, while Roger has played five events in the last seven weeks. Not to mention that Nadal is supposedly the fittest player on tour, that he is 24 years old, and that Roger himself is 29 years old.

The tiredness argument has obviously no validity at all. The Nadal fans will find an excuse no matter what anyway. Some fans are so deluded that hey actually believe Nadal have never lost a match when fully fit and rested. Even if Nadal was slightly tired from his match against Murray, there was no way he was going to beat Jesusfed anyway. This title gives Roger his fifth MC title of course, tying him with the record set my Lendl and Sampras. It also means Nadal still has zero MC titles, emphasizing his shortcomings on fast courts. Clearly Roger is much more capable on his worst surface(clay) than Nadal is on his(indoor), having won several important clay court titles including a grand slam. Nadal has won all of one indoor title in Madrid. OK I better finish up with this post. I just want to say congrats to Roger and all of his fans who have actually stuck with him through all the tough losses.

This win makes all of those losses worth while. And there certainly have been some tough losses this year. The future looks bright now. There is no telling how long Roger can still stay at the top of the game after this. He is clearly far from done. How good is it to be Federer fan?

Ps. I didn’t even get to the match stats. There is just too much to cover in one post here. Let me just say that the most impressive stat was the 3/3 break points won. It really made all the difference in the end.

Highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Bs1CDKirXE&feature=youtu.be

Interview: http://www.asapsports.com/show_interview.php?id=67864

Roger Federer


Posted in Uncategorized and tagged , .

74 Comments

  1. 1. Nadal did seem a bit tired to me, a bit anxious and not with his usual warrior attitude. But, on second thought and looking back on last week matches, everybody playing Federer seemed a bit tired, a bit anxious, not themselves. Murray, Djokovic and even Nadal under-performed against Federer. So the only obvious conclusion is that Federer had something to do with it.

    2. After AO2009, Nadal can’t use fatigue as an excuse against Federer. If he beat Federer then, he shouldn’t have had a problem dealing with Federer yesterday after his amazing year.

    3. Ruan, to go back to USO2010 and Federer’s loss to Djokovic – Federer confirmed again your analysis of what happened in the semis. In his interview yesterday when asked about that loss:
    “But as I mentioned once before, I thought it was quite tricky mentally to prepare for that kind of a tough match knowing it was best of five sets and Rafa had an easy run through to the finals, that he was going to be completely fresh on Sunday. I didn’t know rain was going to come on Sunday. I didn’t plan with that. Maybe that’s why the second and fourth sets kind of were over in a hurry. That’s one thing that’s never going to happen to me again. You live and you learn.”

    4. AO2011 might decide the whole year for the #1 and #2 players. Nadal – he will really storm into the history books by winning and will have tons of motivation for the rest of the year. Federer – winning and defending the points will give him a good chance to fight for #1 again. If the final is between the two, it will be even bigger and more important.

    5. Federer and Nadal are going to play 2 exhibition matches next month. How depressing could it be for Federer had he lost…

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Great comment TD. As far as Nadals tiredness goes, he also had more chance to recover than Roger having played the first semi. Thanks for posting that quote from Roger. I read it as well and it confirmed to me that my theory about his loss at the USO was correct. I has so many things to think about in this post that i guess i forgot to mention it again.

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  2. So much of what you say in ur post is right on Ru-an. The break points converted was just amazing. Fed’s winners to unforced errors in the final and in the semi against dj was just amazing considering how well those 2 guys defend. Not easy to hit any winner past them on a slowish court. I’ve also heard a lot about this Nadal being tired rubbish but most objective fans realise that Nadal has no excuses- he actually had 5 weeks off I thought before this tournament?
    This match was vital but 2011 is another battle. Btw I also read Fed’s interview and I thought about ur blog when he said he was thinking of Nadal in the US Open. You totally called that one.

    I also wanted to say thank you Ru-an for your posts this year. I stumbled across your blog after wimbledon this year and have followed it closely ever since (I’ve only started posting comments recently tho!) I’ve found ur well thought out posts very helpful to think about the positives and negatives of this difficult year for a Fed fan which has turned into another great year! Another record breaking year due to 16th slam and 5th WTF trophy.
    Keep up the good work for 2011!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Andrew your comment is much appreciated.

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  3. Good win for Fed and will set things for 2011. Most important Fed needs to defend his AO. I think he will now that he will be riding WTF confidence wave. Influence of Paul is slowly paying off and you can see a different Fed playing now. I think it has created buzz in the locker room that Fed is not that easy to beat as one think. I was amazed how well he executed his BH and was able to muscle winners from Nadal from the baseline. The gameplan was spot on and I hope he continues to tip the scale to his favour now. Nadal IS beatable, Murray has shown that Nadal has his weakness and Fed executed to perfection.

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  4. perhaps the most important thing about Fed’s year is this: he has never had a post US Open period of win-loss like he had this year. it is the best he has ever done after Flushing Meadows. this makes me think that he is on a resurgence the likes of which no one has ever done at his age. ‘His 21 victories since then is the highest number of wins he has ever recorded post the US Open.’
    this fact, hidden in all the other wonderful things he has done, is the signal that Fed could very well have 2011 be among his greatest years ever.

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  5. I think this proves a very important point: that Roger really cares about all the tournaments. I never bought into the theory that Roger only cared about the Slams. I always felt he had difficulty in the Masters Series events because of the 5 days in a row against top players format.

    How bloody unfortunate that Roger had to have that damn lung infection. Had that not happened, I’m certain he wouldn’t have had such a horrible clay and grass season. What bad luck. His form now matches his form in Australia.

    So Roger, please do not get sick!

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  6. Epic post for an epic win. I’m still on a high and it’s good to see that you are too :-)

    Some commentators claimed Nadal was flat during the first set. I don’t buy it. He was playing very well during the first two sets. For instance, he served above 75% first serves during the first set. After Federer struck the first of those awesome crosscourt backhands, Nadal hit back with a huge forehand. He was clearly going for big shots and trying to match Federer’s aggression. Federer simply played faster and with even more aggression. Nadal himself described Federer as “unplayable” during the first set.

    In the second set Federer allowed Nadal a bit of breathing room, and his first-serve percentage dropped. The rallies got a bit longer, and Nadal was able to break.

    But despite his losing the second set, Federer’s constant aggression seemed to have a cumulative effect on Nadal’s game. His defense became useless because Federer was not letting him into the rallies. When Federer hit those incredible crosscourt backhands, it was an message to Nadal that he couldn’t just plop a high-bouncing ball to Federer’s backhand and hope to stay in the point that way. It rattled Nadal.

    For the first time in a long time, Nadal was forced to try to beat Federer at his own game, by playing offensively, and he came up woefully short. Mentally he got worn out by the effort of trying to serve so big, play so quickly and deal with the continuous variation of shots and net rushes that Federer was throwing at him.

    By the third set he was missing regulation forehands and backhands and dumping easy slices into the net. Federer was able to regroup and blitz his way to the title.

    Obviously the question weighing on everyone’s mind is: was this a test case for how Federer can play Nadal in Grand Slam finals?

    I’d say we can’t draw any conclusions quite yet, but it is promising. We can see that facing such constant aggression seems to take its toll on Nadal mentally. It was such a contrast with the Murray match, where he had just enough time to run down everything, and even to attack Murray. In this match he wasn’t given any time at all, and his game totally fell apart. It was shocking.

    Most likely a similar effect will happen in best of five sets, although it will not be as pronounced on slower surfaces like clay, where his defense gives him more confidence and it’s more difficult to attack the ball. The question is whether Federer can stick to an attacking game plan through five sets, even if he ends up losing a set or two. That may take some time.

    Federer truly had to evolve as a player to win this match. That new backhand was far beyond my expectations. Even I thought he would just run around his backhand to protect it. Instead he has improved it and had the presence of mind to use it on break point to nail a clean winner off of a high-spinning ball. They might have to start going to his forehand now, and he’ll have to improve that more too in the future.

    Anyhow I hope your doubts are put to rest (at least for the time being :-) This is a good omen for next year, AO or no.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi Steve, thanks for the comment. One thing I forgot to mention is that the average height of the bounce on this surface was 1.09 m, while on clay it is 1.4 m. That makes a huge difference to both Roger and Nadal. Nadal likes the high bounce, but it makes all the difference to the high bouncing ball to Rogers bh. It is just that much easier to handle. Im sure the AO is higher bounce than these courts too, which makes it harder for Roger to hit those bh’s that he hit vs Nadal at the MC. This makes me worry a bit. But the fact is he had Nadal on the ropes in 2009 and didnt put him away, so in my mind it was a mental error, and not a match up problem. The other problem is that if he meets Nadal he will probably be more fresh this time around. He really did have it all going his way the last time around at the AO. It will be harder to beat Nadal at the AO this time around. That much is almost sure. It will also be harder cos it is not an indoor surface and the bounce is probably higher. He must find a way.

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  7. Why is AO. mentioned here?People seemed to forget that Nadal hasn´t won a Master 1000 on hard surface or even reach the final on one, in this his best year.
    He won USO. because the stars aligned and he got a joke draw.That doesn´t make him an AO. favorite.Nadal was playing good but he didn´t beat a single person who was ranked in the top ten at the time(clay court season).
    What Roger did this week was far more impressive. He beat the N#7,N#5,N#4,N#3 AND N#1 players in the world only dropping a single set.In this WTF should be Roger who is fatigued, since Wimbly Nadal has played only 29 matches and Roger has played 39.
    In the same way that some pundits highlight Nadal´s H2H
    record over Roger´s career now some pundits highlight
    this Roger win as a big shadow on what Nadal did in the past 6 months.Suddenly there is a big elephant in the room with him, who´s beaten him.
    Congrats all Fedfans and you Ru-an that weren´t convinced, are you???

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    mia Reply:

    Love the elephant comment.You know Ines that I couldn´t access the RF site right
    after the match and so funny one girl wrote”it can´t be easy to keep up a website that´s having a 20.000 person
    collective orgasm”!!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Lets not get carried away with this win. If Nadal wins the AO the elephant will be back in Rogers room.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Ill tell you why the AO is mentioned here. Nadal didnt win a HC title this year and then won the USO. What does that tell you? It tells you that he wins on the big stage, and he takes pretty much whatever he rests his eyes on. I think its time you started respecting Nadals achievements a little more. If he wins the AO next year, and yes he is a huge favorite for it, Roger can all but kiss his GOAT status goodbye. Nadals draw was not bad at the USO, but he only dropped one set, and i dont see anyone who would have beaten him in that form anyway. The only guy who could have done it was Roger, but he didnt make the final, just like NAdal didnt make the final of the FO in 2009. Like i said, its time you started giving Nadal a bit more respect, even if its just because he is Rogers big rival. If he wins the AO he would have done something that Roger could never do(4 slams in a row) and then he will make it at least 5 at the FO. Nadal beat Roger in the final of 2009 when he was physically spent. The stars aligned in Rogers favor yet he still couldnt finish Nadal off. This time he wont be so lucky. Nadal will be more fresh going into the final. If Nadal could win the USO, he will be even more confident that he can repeat at the AO. The slower hard courts suits him very well indeed. I think you take this AO situation far too lightly, and you have to get over this Nadal disrespect. I think three consecutive slam titles after being down and out deserves it.

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    ines Reply:

    Let´s get serious here, we should be proud of him, At least for a moment stop
    praising Nadal.In Australia Nadal has to again face a lot of players that can crushed him.That would have not changed
    even had he won here. Perhaps he can have a cake walk draw again but hardly happens twice in a row.No one is disputing Nadal´s 2010 excellent year.Even if Roger wins 6-0 6-0 it will not change Nadal´s achievements this year.But the great “dominant” player such as Fed, Sampras, Borg, Mc Enroe and Lendl won the WTF IN THEIR MOST DOMINANT SEASONS (3 sLAMS+WTF).Nadal needs to win a few of these at some point in his career to enter the GOAT DEBATE.Please let´s enjoy this win.I´m soooooooo happy!!!He´s still the King and the prince may be the King but some day, not yet…

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I agree, lets be happy and enjoy this win. It was a great way to end the year and a Christmas present for all of us. We can all go into the holiday now in the best possible way as far as Roger goes. We can deal with next year when it arrives.

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    TGIF Reply:

    Quick quibble about the stars alligning for Roger at ’09 AO:

    True to an extent, but I don’t believe Roger’s back was at 100% that tournament which affected his confidence in his serve. Going into AO ’09 I had zero expectation of him winning it because of the amounts of DFs he was hitting in the pre-AO tournies; it was obvious to me his back wasn’t fully healed which was confirmed when he pulled out of Dubai and DC post AO.

    Am thrilled that Rog seems to have gotten the back situation under control lately.

    I have to say I’m a bit concerned that he won’t have a proper rest / buildup this offseason; those stupid Nadal exos really cut into the schedule along with starting so early in Abu Dhabi. Have to say I really hate the whole idea of those exos: needlness waste of physical and mental energy, and why give Nadal two free workouts to analyze his game on HC? I think he intimidated Nadal a bit at the WTF, the exos may undermine that. Hope he plays them in some silly way like S/V every point or sth.

    Whoops sorry for the negativity, am thrilled to bits with this fall renaisance, and in general love your blog and analysis!

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  8. What a wonderful win for Roger: strong, aggressive, penetrating and (consistently) precise with his backhand: 6-1, a score for any Fedaddict to rejoice in.

    About Rafa’s tiredness. I have to say that I saw it in the Murray match, which is why I kept wondering what all the “greatest match” blather about that match was all about. I’ve watched Rafa, as we all have, for several years, and I’ve gotten used to his relentless energy, but I sure didn’t see it in the Murray match, and only intermittently in the match with Roger. Not that he wasn’t truly dangerous, but dangerous in spurts–and it’s clear that it was only Roger’s focused aggression and the fact that Roger, after his lapse in set 2, came back in high gear, steady and punishing, for the most part, in set 3 that defeated Rafa, who saw the future of the match in balls that he couldn’t get to, that were throwing him off balance, and that, finally, he didn’t even try to run down.
    The last thing I’ll say about what szx clearly not Rafa at the peak of his physical readiness is that he (nor his team) has figured out a schedule that will allow him to stay strong all the way through. Roger, the consummate professional, figured that out a long time ago. There’s playing tennis and there’s being a seasoned and wise professional. Rafa would do well to learn from the way Roger manages his time during the ATP season if he wants to find out how to have gas in the tank at the finale.

    I think that for Fedfans, the new thing we all have to live with is the not knowing who’ll show up: call them the evil twins or whatever, but the drama of watching Roger play has turned in a different direction. It makes sense, of course, after the fact: there had to be a time when something had to change. But watching Roger’s game change, seeing him swinging freely (and making the shots) to the deep corners and lines; seeing him outplay Rafa, getting on top of Rafa’s game, taking it to him; seeing, once again that sinewy elegance and deliberate power, was breathtaking and inspiring.

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  9. Excellent posts from everyone. The match also took me back to AO 2008 semis: Tsonga straight-setted Nadal in almost a mirror image of the o2 2010 finals. Consistent and Controlled aggression. Not letting Nadal get into the rythm of long rallies. High first serve percentages with aces down the T. And a whole bunch of forehand winners down the line. Nick Almagro tried similar tactics against Nadal in Madrid 2010 semis. He won the first set with aggressive cross-court backhands ( similar to Federer’s yesterday)kept the rallies short and served down the T ( like Tsonga in the AO). Come to think of it, this kind of attacking tennis makes Nadal, Murray and Djokovic’s games appear antiquated. Why would a professional tennis player choose to hammer away from the baseline with an opponent who plays a similar game? It would only extract its toll by way of energy and stamina with the match-hours going beyond the realm of common sense. How laborious, taxing and inefficient! Contrast that to the aggressive style displayed by Federer in o2 and there’s a world of difference! I hope to see more smart tennis in 2011.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    The problem is that the indoor courts makes it easier to win easy points on serve and play attacking tennis. At the AO it will be different. In 2009 Roger could hardly ace Nadal, out wide or down the T. It is just that little slower courts that makes all the difference. Because of this Roger 1st serve % was horrendous, kind of like it was in the 2nd set in the O2. And then there is no chance of beating Nadal. Nadal just covers the court so well on the return that it put massive pressure on Roger in 2009 AO. I dont know how he will deal with that this time around, but he needs to up his 1st serve % whether Nadal gets a racquet on it or not.

    [Reply]

  10. More than any other, this match was going to be the measure of Federer in the closing stages of his career. Did I say ‘closing’? To see the way that he so completely dominated, in every department, his 5 years younger 2010 triple-slam opponent, makes it seem absurd to consider the end must be near for the 29 year old champion. In his consummate victory over Nadal, and the way he swept through his other top rivals this week, Federer has prduced a compelling riposte to his doubters (and I admit that I have been one of them) and made a promise, that we will not be denied the joy of watching the most consummate tennis player in history perform his magic for some time yet to come. We saw it indeed with our own eyes in the final; there is not and nor has there ever been a player of his prodigious skill. This week in london, the best were without question beaten by the best.

    [Reply]

  11. This is the most stupid article I have ever read:

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/513594-nadal-federer-djokovic-murray-and-del-potro-predictions-for-2011

    It really helps to clarify what Ru-an has been saying that age is just a number and doesn’t mean alot for Roger. Roger has already broken almost every record and I don’t know why people are obsessed with his age. Sure he’s not as quick as he was but the commentator after the WTF final said that in his opinion Roger was a BETTER player at the moment than he was 4 years ago. I didn’t follow roger at his peak so I can’t judge but it does seem from things i’ve heard that he was more content back then to rally from the back of the court and to rely on his court speed and skill.

    Now he uses all out attack on every ball, angles and (since Wimbledon) and clear game plan to win his matches.

    If the Federer who won at the O2 played the Federer who won the WTF in 2007 who would win? The fact that he played Ferrer in that final and James Blake the year before also says alot about the players the old Federer had to beat. In this years’ WTF he dismantled a grand slam champion in straight sets in the semi who had just got a month earlier to the US Open Final (DJ) and then he also breadsticked a 9 time grand slam champion who’d won 3 slams during this year. I’m not sure a 25 or 26 year old Federer won has beat the JesusFed version 2 model that we’ve seen over the last few months!

    Andrew

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Good question Andrew. Its pretty hard to say but prime Roger was just so confident. He had the air of invincibility where no one could really touch him, just like this week. Maybe this year WTF was a similar level, but in his prime he pretty much always played at that level. We’ll have to see how long Roger can keep up this level now. Just check out the 2007 match vs NAdal on youtube. Obviously Nadal wasnt the player he is now, but Roger completely dominated him.

    [Reply]

    Ed Reply:

    It’s the “air of invincibility” that Roger has lost, and, I think, that has made him more human, more interesting, more accessible to his fans. When Roger was “Roger,” we watched with awe, and that awe became something that we relied on. More than that, it became something that we depended on: Roger became one of the few sure things in a world where there are no sure things. He became iconic in ways that satisfied deep, human needs–needs for a hero, needs for a consistent excellence, needs for triumph–that all the rest of us have, desire, and, when it appears out of the blue, savor.
    But now–well, let’s say, so far, with a teasing consistency that still keeps us on our toes–Roger’s struggles and his serious effort to change his game, to find himself within it–has changed the drama, deepened it by making him more real. This is why I think he’s more inspiring than ever, because he’s entered our world of flaws and faults and fears, taken it on and has won. Doing so, he loses his “magic,” but replaces it with an underlying strength of will, nerve, and discipline that surpasses the magic–which as fans we can only be in awe of and thus be distant “worshippers of”–and replaces it with a concrete humanity that we can take the measure of. For me, so far, this is Roger’s triumph.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Excellent comment Ed. Although i dont think he will ever lose his magic, while i will use words such as will, nerve and discipline to describe Nadal rather.

    [Reply]

    steve Reply:

    Lovely comment. His remarkable human qualities are often overshadowed by his genius as a tennis player. It’s difficult for the media to convey these qualities; his personality is too complex to be easily boiled down to a simplistic media narrative, which is why they either build him up as unbeatable or tear him down for not being unbeatable.

    Everyone loves a winner, but to be loved in defeat–that takes something truly special. Not a special talent, but a special quality of character. It’s difficult to say what makes a person lovable, but Federer has it.

    Even his occasional sarcastic and waspish moods are endearing, he’s a completely straightforward person, doesn’t seek to conceal his feelings from the world, or pretend to be something he’s not. He’s a real human being.

    Did anyone catch the part of his trophy acceptance speech when he rambled about the ball kids and how they were a good thing, because if the players had to pick up their own balls, it would take too long?

    Clearly he was punchy and happy and his mind wasn’t entirely on what he was saying. Classic and hilarious.

    [Reply]

    Andrew Reply:

    As i’ve said before- I didn’t become a Fed fan until after the Wimbledon defeat of 2008 so I agree with Ed’s good comments that it’s his human side that makes people love him more.

    Ru-an, you say that the difference was confidence, but what about tennis ability? Mentally Roger may not be as strong as he was but hasn’t he added much more to his game since 2007?

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Its hard to say. He may even be more experienced now and therefor mentally better now, but slower on court and therefor have less tennis ability. He hasnt been very consistent over the last 3 years. Not nearly what he was in his peak anyway where he won like 12 events a year including 3 slams. He was just utterly dominant. These days he can still probably reach that level, but less often. For me its important that he becomes more consistent again. Maybe Annacone can help him with that by changing his strategy to become a more attacking net player. But we have to remember that he had illnesses in 2008 and 2010 as well which clearly affected him. In 2009 he was healthy and he won 2 slams and made two slam finals. If he can stay healthy in 2011 im sure he can have a similar year again.

    [Reply]

    marron Reply:

    Don’t know why you read those Bleacher Report articles, Andrew. I’ve learned not to, years ago. They’re just opinion pieces and should be taken with a grain of salt.

    [Reply]

    Andrew Reply:

    I read them because i’m addicted to tennis!!!! :-) I love the facts, stats and views of everyone. I agree that the articles are usually rubbish but they sometimes add to the significance of what’s to come sometimes. For example I was quite interested to see the article comparing Agassi to Nadal recently. I always forget how much Agassi apparently ‘hated’ tennis

    [Reply]

  12. Whoops

    “I’m not sure a 25 or 26 year old Federer won has beat the JesusFed…..”

    Should have been “I’m not sure a 25 or 26 year old Federer WOULD HAVE beat the JesusFed…….”

    My bad for the confusing wording! Sorry!

    [Reply]

  13. He is back ! Roger couldn’t have won this title in a better way than demolishing all the top players back to back. Like you said, I think the steady improvements in his game have been visible ever since he started working with Annacone, but those missed MPs at USO and Paris still left a lot of questions unanswered. Whether he would ever find the confidence to beat the big guys on the big stage, would he find that mental strength when push came to shove…He answered all of them in the last week, and how !! There couldn’t have been a better way to end the year.
    And I like how he stopped Rafa from getting that one missing title on his CV. How many times has Rafa stopped him at the FO (and consequently CYGS a couple of times)? I wanted this to happen at the USO, but this should count for something.

    [Reply]

  14. “That is enough of the h2h. Like I said, this was a big win for Roger, but the real test will come in Australia next year. Enjoy this win, but don’t think the score is settled once and for all. Only when Roger defends his title in Oz next year will I really relax. At the very least Nadal must not win the title. But it’s hard to see anyone other than Roger stopping Nadal there anyway, so it is likely that Roger will have to do so himself in the final.”

    I delurked to cosign this and the idea that the AO 2011 fedal final would be the biggest match by far in their legacy. Nadal wins and it’s the floodgates being open: if he remains injury free he will probably get to 16 before Federer retires and 20s before it’s all over. This is something that worries me because that’s enormous pressure on Federer and we’ve seen him affected negatively by that (and Nadal but he is impervious to pressure and relishes those moments).

    TO be honest, at this point I think the conversion should move away from Nadal owning Federer to Nadal just being pretty legendary and owning almost everyone in his prime: Murray, Djoko, etc. (we’ll see if Del Potro can come back and build on his already fearsome game).

    [Reply]

    Ed Reply:

    “This is something that worries me because that’s enormous pressure on Federer and we’ve seen him affected negatively by that (and Nadal but he is impervious to pressure and relishes those moments).”
    Hi, Flo. I just want to comment on your last point because I’ve been rethinking this whole issues, about Rafa’s “imperviousness” to pressure. Based on what I saw, his ability is based on the inability of his opponents to bring the game–and the will and nerve to back up that game. But look what happens when Rafa is backed up. I think we all saw it–he does toughen up, yes, but do it enough and desperation begins to surface, and when that happens, lo and behold, Rafa is human. Just as we’ve made the mistake of deifying Roger, we need to be clearer about Rafa’s game. He has an amazing and instructive ability to learn because, I think, he has an insatiable will to win. But so does Roger–so do all the elite players. But what separates Rafa and Roger is their ability to turn what they want into what they do. And I may be mistaken, but I’m seeing that when the wild boy is outplayed, which means that what he does isn’t getting the usual result, he gets shaky. I think we can expect Rafa to come up to net more frequently this year–it’s clear that he sees that’s the next step: and if he doesn’t get that (he does), Uncle Tony absolutely understands that. So Rafa is a work-in-progress, but Roger (and others), but Roger especially because he can pull it off, is developing the stomach (he already has the tennnis chops and genius) to actually do. One more victory over Rafa just might make Roger a regular visitor in Rafa’s dreams.

    [Reply]

    Jiten Reply:

    “One more victory over Rafa just might make Roger a regular visitor in Rafa’s dreams.”

    Simply loved that comment. Well, two more will make Roger a regular visitor in Rafa’s “daydreams” as well.

    [Reply]

  15. Federer only focuses on his own game while his best opponent as “number 1” should focus on Federer’s game. Federer collected every point he ran towards net. Federer is a real gem and he is now sitting on throne with this aggressive offensive multifaceted powerful game style. His serves are untouchable. Keep them untouchable! get grand slams! become slamillionaire!

    [Reply]

  16. Ruan, what impressed me overall about Federer this last week, and in the final especially, is that he showed no weakness in his game that could be exploited, as well as real focus. Apart from the jaw-dropping effect of some of his glorious winners, especially off his ‘relative weakness’ (in relation to Nadal) which is his backhand, some statistics from the final clearly bear it out: he won an astonishing 92% of his first service points, he hit almost 3 times as many winners as Nadal did in the match (32 to 11) with about the same number of unforced errors (22 to 19) and had 100% conversion rate of break points (3 of 3) against the mentally toughest player on the tour. Whew! In such a mood, clearly no one was capable of threatening him let alone beating him. Such a player must be capable of adding to his tally of grand slam titles if he is able to sustain this kind of form.

    I realise it will antagonise some followers of the game and may seem mean-minded to raise it, but I don’t believe the Nadal of the 2009 championships would have even been on court with Federer in the final this year. Why? Because I incline to the view that the player of the second half of 2009 was the ‘real’ Nadal, whereas I doubt that the credentials of the inexplicably resurgent Nadal of 2010 are completely natural. For a variety of reasons, I don’t trust the guy. Further, after his complete domination at the USO this year I didn’t think he was beatable even on his weakest surface. So, in my view, in beating Nadal this year on hardcourt Roger has made a another point, even if it wasn’t on his mind.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Good insights into the stats Neil, i didnt even fit that into my post. That really is some incredible stats, and surely he is unbeatable in that mode by anyone in the history of the game.

    [Reply]

    Ed Reply:

    “I incline to the view that the player of the second half of 2009 was the ‘real’ Nadal, whereas I doubt that the credentials of the inexplicably resurgent Nadal of 2010 are completely natural. For a variety of reasons, I don’t trust the guy.”

    I’m just about to finish “Strokes of Genius” by Jon Wertheim, which is about the 2008 Wimbledon final. I think it’s a terrific book, even-handed, very smart about sports, about tennis, and, primarily–and especially–insightful about Roger and Rafa. If I’m reading this comment by Andrew (I think Andrew wrote it), he appears to be suggesting–it’s been suggested at length by Ruan and commented on by others–that Rafa may be doping. I’ve never thought that, and Wertheimer’s analysis further confirms my belief. But what’s specifically interesting that I’ve learned from the book is that anyone can go to the ITF website and check who was tested and when. Having just looked at one of the tables, I’m left with some questions, but, also with some facts. For the 2009 AO both Roger and Rafa were tested for blood and urine; the usual test is only for urine. Players can be checked anytime–including Christmas day or on their birthdays or whatever, according to Wertheimer, though he doesn’t say that this has happened to either Rafa or Roger. Really, more information is needed about this matter. But for the doubters about Rafa, I’d recommend reading pgs 112-127 of Wertheimer’s book. They convince me; or, rather, confirm what I’ve always felt about Rafa: that what we see is the real man, as much of a tennis genius as Roger is: he may not play as subtlety, as beautifully, as elegantly as Roger–who does?–but to downplay or degrade the beauty that comes controlled rawness, to only prize the fighter and not appreciate the beauty and (yes) the finesse of the brawler, to miss the way in which Rafa learning curve has not, for one moment been anything but ascendant, is, I believe, to miss what is so stunning about this rivalry. For it’s Rafa, finally, who has pushed Roger (Wertheimer’s very good on this point) to become even greater.

    [Reply]

    Ed Reply:

    Oops! Two corrections:
    It is Wertheim, though for some reason I added “er” to his last name. And, two: I meant to write “to downplay or degrade the beauty that comes FROM controlled rawness… Sorry.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    But I’m not so sure Wertheim is not biased. Although I don’t know too much about him, i get the feeling he is a Nadal fan. Most of these American writers dont like Roger much. It has something to do that Roger has basically destroyed American tennis single-handedly and surpassed their GOAT Sampras. And if in fact Wertheim is a Nadal fan then it means he will be biased. In these matters there can be no bias whatsoever if the truth is to come out. And since im a Fedfan i admit that i am biased myself and that i dont force anyone to accept my word as truth on the matter either. I never said that Nadal does dope however. No one knows because there is no proof. I just think its highly improbable that he is not doping given all the loopholes in the system, and believe me there are many.

    [Reply]

    Ed Reply:

    “I just think its highly improbable that he is not doping given all the loopholes in the system, and believe me there are many.”

    Why not, then, Ruan, say the same about Roger, logically? But, as you admit, “since im a Fedfan i admit that i am biased myself.”

    I’ve just finished Wertheim’s book, and there’s nothing in it–so far as I can tell–that even implies that he favors either player. There’s not one moment, not one phrase, that suggests that the book is written with an animus towards Roger because of Sampras.

    As far as Wertheim being an American, another American, the late writer David Foster Wallace (himself a high ranked college player earlier in his life) has one of the best pieces of writing in English (in my opinion) on Roger: “Federer as Religious Experience.” It is a phenomenal piece of tennis writing. I recommend it to everyone who loves tennis and Roger’s game–and Roger.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Fair enough. Like i said i dont know Wertheim all that well. I was talking about guys like Bodo, Gilbert, Agassi, etc. Wertheim may not be biased at all. As for Roger, its hard for me to believe he is doping, aside from being biased. If you look at Roger and Nadals respective personalities and physical builds it just seems more likely that Nadal is the one that dopes. Thats just me though and everyone should make up their own mind. Im not saying its impossible that Roger is doping, but hwy would he ask the ATP to keep doping samples until they have more sophisticated methods to test the samples, while on the other hand Nadal is always complaining about the apparent strictness of the testing? Roger has aid before that he is sure he has played against players who have an unfair advantage due to doping, and i dont think he would say that just to sound like he is clean. He is not that kind of person. He always does what he thinks is best for the sport. He is respectful to everyone around the sport, he cares very much about the past and future of teh sport. I think he genuinely wants the sport to be clean, judging by what he has said. If you look at the reasons why Roger and Nadal plays its also drastically different. Rogers main motivation has always been the love of the game while the titles and records is just a bonus for him. For Nadal on the other hand its all about the titles and the spoils that comes with it. Hes bad scheduling has been a clear sign of this in the past. He just seems like the guy that would do anything to get ahead, and about that i am not gonna change my mind.

    [Reply]

    Ed Reply:

    A while back, Ruan, you were capable of revising your estimate of Roger and of appreciating Rafa’s game, and I think that was a real service to the credibility and value of this blog. Consider doing the same with your latest estimate of what makes Rafa run. There’s a line in Macbeth: “There’s no art to tell the mind’s construction in a face.” I think that applies to this: you base your sense of Roger on your sense of the man. We all do that with everyone. We have the public statements of both men. Isn’t it, by now, a cliche that Roger is keenly aware of records? Isn’t it a simple matter of record that he’s aware of tennis history and his place in it? And what does that come down to except the number of titles won, the number of semi-finals played, the number of weeks at Number 1, etc? So why would you (or anyone) fault Rafa for wanting more? Wanting more is the sign of a champion, and Roger has always wanted more.

    About the men personally, what do we know except our impressions based on watching them play and hearing what they have to say? And for me, Rafa has always been gracious, as has Roger. And Rafa, I have to say, comes across (as does Roger) as a very nice guy. Both seem emotionally vulnerable and kind–and who can forget Rafa’s sweetness to Roger at the AO, when Roger was distraught? He didn’t have to be, but I think it’s natural in Nadal. I think it’s who he is.
    I think this wonderful rivalry is enhanced by seeing that these two men are exceptional–in their sport, in their sense of themselves–in the gracious way they treat each other publicly, in the way that the existence of each has made both of them the amazing players they are–and will continue to become.
    If Roger had to change his mind–and his game–to win in London and to loom truly large as a shadow over Rafa–and I don’t think there’s a doubt about that–then perhaps you can too, about Rafa. It’s worth considering, no?

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Well i like Nadal as a person off court. I just dont like the way he carries himself on the court. He has in fact admitted to cheating and some of the injury time outs seems suspect. But i agree with you mostly. Im not really anti-Nadal. I suppose i get influenced too much by other people. Some Nadal fans are really jerks and i also get influenced by some of my readers who doesnt like Nadal. At the beginning i didnt really have any problem with him at all. Its good that people like you come around and remind me of that. One thing i will say though is that he is Rogers rival and therefor i will never be his fan. Maybe in some other era i would appreciate him more, but in this one he is the one thats wants to spoil my party. Its just the nature of tennis and competition.

    [Reply]

    Jiten Reply:

    Here is the link to “Federer as Religious Experience.”:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/20/sports/playmagazine/20federer.html

    [Reply]

  17. Nice blog and nice ideas. May be I missed in blog and comments what the mood of Nadal was after the defeat to Federer.It seemed glaring to me that Nadal was devastated by the loss.After an epic battle in the semifinal and the luck with which he happened to come out winner he must have thought that he will win the WTF. After all, he skipped Paris Masters for this event and he was continuously reminded by his worshippers that once he sets his target, he gets it done as in USO, for example.After all, he must be dreaming of the GOAT status.Without a title of WTF, which is , in essence a champion of champions, what kind of GOAT will he be? Tim Ruffin in BR was empathizing on Federer to lose the final to Nadal, since in his opinion Federer could just not handle his idol. After the final Tim confessed to have been wrong ‘this time’ but he must also be terribly disturbed by the result. Even now, that part is the most pleasing to me as a Federer fan.

    [Reply]

    marron Reply:

    ‘… Roger is probably the more complete player of the world.
    When he’s playing well, is difficult to find solutions. But for the moment, I found it. I am happy about my match of this afternoon if we think about the global conditions. Was very difficult final for me. I still won a set. So in general I’m very happy about this afternoon.
    But I am more happy about all the week. Was a fantastic week for me. Four top-8 players in the same week in a difficult surface for me. So I think never happen that in the past. So that’s very good new for me….’ (Nadal interview)

    Really, mridul1? He’s devastated? Sounds pretty pleased with himself according to his postmatch presser. If Tim Ruffin is terribly disturbed, well, that’s his problem. I can tell you there’s many of us Rafa fans around that are absolutely thrilled that he got all the way to the final of an event that he’s historically had problems with. Not only that, with the fantastic, fabulous, phenomenadal year Rafa’s had, it’s pretty hard for any of us to be glum about Rafa not winning this year’s WTF. Vamos, baby!!!!!!!

    [Reply]

    steve Reply:

    Leaving aside the performance of last year, it took Federer to stop Nadal in the semis in 2006 and 2007, so not terribly shocking that he could get to the final playing so well.

    Nonetheless this is the first time he’s ever taken a set off Federer in indoor play, and I think the first time he’s gone unbeaten in the round robin. So, progress.

    I think his match vs. Murray was probably one of the best he’s ever played on hard court. He essentially reduced it to a clay-court style attrition match with the help of his big serve.

    Endless rallies and lots of incredible gets, not my cup of tea, but still very high-quality tennis.

    He’s had an unbelievable year, and won the career Slam at a very young age. He’s certainly the favorite to win four majors in a row in Melbourne. Plenty for the Nadal fans to be happy about.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    He’s certainly the favorite to win four majors in a row in Melbourne.

    Dont agree.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Well yeah i dont think this is gonna bother Nadal too much. Thats why i put so much focus on the AO. IF Roger defeats him there it WILL hurt and you can make a book on that. Same thing for Roger, if he loses to NAdal there it will be a huge loss. But i think you can agree that this win was huge for Roger going into the AO. IF he couldnt beat Nadal on indoor he probably wouldnt have been able to do so in Oz. Its a great confidence booster and a reminder to Nadal he doesnt call all the shots.

    [Reply]

    marron Reply:

    Yes, I do agree, I think getting this one was way more important to Fed than it was to Nadal. And it should give him confidence, not that I think he was ever lacking that particular quality. Or that he was ever ‘done’. Or ‘gone’. Or ‘too old’. OT here, but I also think getting the win over Murray was very important to Rafa.

    [Reply]

    marron Reply:

    Sorry, had another point here, I don’t believe for una second that Rafa feels he calls all the shots. So no ‘reminders’ needed. Cheers.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    No, i think it was very important that Roger won the WTF and beat Nadal in the final helped a lot. If Nadal won the WTF it would have been an utterly dominant year since the clay season. By winning this Roger took the shine off his year so to speak. Nadal still won the year easily, but had it won the WTF it would have been even more dominant. On the other hand, this may serve as a motivation before the AO to work even harder since he know Roger will be hard to beat there. It all depends how you look at it.

    [Reply]

    marron Reply:

    Well, I DID agree with you, Ru-an. :-)

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I was just pointing to the fact that Nadal did in fact need a reminder. If Roger did not win the WTF or lost to Nadal in the final, no one would have believed that he is truly back, including NAdal.

    [Reply]

  18. “I think his match vs. Murray was probably one of the best he’s ever played on hard court. He essentially reduced it to a clay-court style attrition match with the help of his big serve.

    Endless rallies and lots of incredible gets, not my cup of tea, but still very high-quality tennis.”

    Well, in my opinion that didn’t come about from Nadal’s force of will so much as Murray also likes to play long rallies and lacks the weapons to play quick points. Either that or he’s just very risk-averse. When Nadal plays into Murray’s forehand he pretty much knows he can get back into the point unless he leaves it really short.

    [Reply]

  19. I agree that Nadal has greatly improved his game on hardcourts and there is the proof of him winning the career slam by defeating a great hardcourt player in Djokovic at USO, the least favored surface for Nadal. But my point is that he cannot always fulfil whatever he sets his eyes on.And Nadal was anointed as such and before the result of the final, I was inclined to think that it was impossible for Federer to win the coveted trophy this time around.

    [Reply]

    marron Reply:

    ‘…And Nadal was anointed as such and before the result…’

    He was??? By who??? Most accounts I read gave Fed a small edge, considering the surface. Your point about ‘he [Rafa]cannot always fulfill whatever he sets his eyes on’ – GAB. Can you? Can anyone? Not unless you set your sights extremely low. Come on. LOL.

    [Reply]

  20. Great article as usual Ruan! I found an interesting article on the Fedal rivalry with interesting perspectives which you may find interesting to do an article on:

    http://blogs.wsj.com/dailyfix/2010/11/29/the-federer-nadal-rivalry-rekindled/

    Also, i didnt quite understand what Federer meant in the post match interview below. What is your take?

    “Q. A question about the semifinal match with Novak. How would you compare this semifinal to the US Open semifinal? Was Novak really playing much better then or did you start playing better in Basel and here?

    ROGER FEDERER: Possibly. Maybe I learned my mistakes in New York. But as I mentioned once before, I thought it was quite tricky mentally to prepare for that kind of a tough match knowing it was best‑of‑five sets and Rafa had an easy run through to the finals, that he was going to be completely fresh on Sunday. I didn’t know rain was going to come on Sunday. I didn’t plan with that. Maybe that’s why the second and fourth sets kind of were over in a hurry. That’s one thing that’s never going to happen to me again. You live and you learn.

    Reference: http://gototennis.com/2010/11/28/roger-federer-wtf-final-press-conference-sweet-victory-and-fondue/

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes we already addressed this. He was already thinking about the final with Nadal which obviously influenced him against Djokovic. I called this a long time ago, right after the match with Djokovic at the USO.

    [Reply]

  21. I wish you have a really HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
    Hope you are enjoying your day.
    From an addict Fedfan to my favorite writer, I will be near you in your day.BE HAPPY!!!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Ines! You are too sweet :-) I dont even know when youre b-day is! Please let me know! You just made my day *hugs*

    Ps. You are a very special person Ines ;-)

    [Reply]

    ines Reply:

    Thanks Ru-an Nothing special it´s your time.My b-day is in August the 20th, I´m 24, i´m getting old…It would have been nice to make a celebration on line
    for you…May be Roger made you a present in advance,Great day!!!

    [Reply]

  22. So it’s your birthday, Ru-an! Happy Birthday to our favourite Federer blog writer! What a fantastic birthday and Christmas present Roger’s win must be for you! Have a great day today and keep up the good work!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Veronica! :D

    [Reply]

  23. So it’s your birthday Ru-an! Happy Birthday to our favourite Federer blog writer! What a fantastic Birthday and Christmas present Roger’s win must be for you! Have a great day today and keep up the wonderful blogging!

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  24. Ruan, I notice the exchange you had earlier with Ed about the Wertheim book and the question raised of whether Nadal dopes (or Federer, for that matter). I would hesitate to rely on one source (as Ed appears to do), that of a writer whose desire is to promote the game, on a topic that could – and maybe even does – undermine the credibility of tennis. Wertheim doesn’t even want to enter that discussion. He has acknowledged that professional tennis will not be’squeaky clean’ but he will not question the credentials of any player (or even the tour generally) in the absence of a failed drug test. Were the world that simple. We know that many drug cheats never failed a drugs test (remember Marion Jones and Barry Bonds – they never failed a drugs test), that sports like cycling (with its much more stringent programme than tennis) still throws up cheats on a regular basis, that testing in-competition is largely a formality only and traps few, that unwarned out-of-competition testing is necessary and yet very little of this is conducted by the ITF (as their own figures earlier this year embarrassingly confirmed) and there are generations of drugs such as IGF-1 that produce phenomenal results for athletes and for which there are no currently no tests, and that there are players (such as Christoph Rochus on his retirement) who have insisted doping is rife on the tour. So, to ignore the problem, as Wertheim and most other tennis writers do, is to refuse to see any evidence at all for a problem analogous to a ‘blackmarket’ – we know it is there but it is deemed not to exist because it is an official embarrassment.
    I won’t bore you all by going into the variety of circumstantial reasons why I (and quite a few others now, judging from websites such as ‘Tennishasasteroidsproblem’)suspect Nadal (as well as a number of other top players), but you raise the interesting point of whether character and personality are a useful guide. I would hesitate to suggest that they are conclusive in themselves but taken along with other relevant factors they may be revealing. Although Federer wants to win as much as anyone I also see that a primary motivation in his game is to play beautiful tennis: he brings an aesthetic motivation to the game that is unusual in professional sports; drugs will contribute little to that (if at all) and indeed the doper’s ethos of winning at all costs would even seem to conflict with the artist’s temperament (which sometimes gets in the road of Federer winning!) Nadal, on the other hand, shows a determination to win over any other considerations to a degree I have never seen before: his whole game is based around the notion that winning is everything. The aesthetic is clearly not part of why he plays tennis. However, his being fined for on-court coaching (which is cheating), his illegitimate use of delay (for which he often receives a code violation) and the ‘strategic’ MTO (as in the Petszchner match at Wimbledon) demonstrate a rather unattractive penchant for gamesmanship that is absent in a player like Federer. It is also interesting to note that there have been comments on the tour that have been very critical of his character – such as from Jonas Bjorkman, who accused Nadal of being ‘two-faced’ and compared him very unfavorably to Federer in that respect – and Roger Rasheed (Lleyton Hewitt’s coach at one time), who claimed that Nadal was not only an on-court cheat but a locker room bully of other players as well. That’s pretty stiff stuff. I have never seen or heard anything similar of Federer. Now, it doesn’t prove anything much of itself, other than that some of the ‘nice guy’ image of Nadal doesn’t ring true on closer inspection. As for taking performance enhancing drugs – well, I can believe that a guy who will do anything to win, as Nadal has demonstrated, will probably do anything to win – if he can get away with it. So character does count.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Good post Neil, i agree with what you say. I am not a writer who is interested in promoting the game while it is rife with corruption. I have never been like that. Writers like Wertheim who doesnt want to even enter the discussion is useless to me. It makes me think that they dont really care about the game and that they are fine with corruption and cheating. Well i am not. For me it has always been about the truth. See http://ruansfedererblog.com/?p=3628

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  25. Great news! Simon Reed has tipped Nadal to win 3 slams next year!! Nadal’s fans must be very worried now. As you have amusingly pointed out before Ru-an, Reed is very rarely right and makes crazy predictions based on no evidence. Everyone on Eurosport news seems to hate him and they all call for him to be sacked every time he posts.

    He also hates Federer.

    http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/tennis/simon-reed/article/5207/

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Wow yeah that is great news indeed. Thanks for letting me know. Ill have to make a post soon then :-)

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    Ru-an Reply:

    It says the content is no longer available? Maybe Simon finally got fired?

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  26. WONDERFUL Ru-an .The blog is excellent .I agree with u abt the h2h theory.A player cant be better htan the other just becoause he beat him on his best surface.And yes Lets enjoy the win .Its a great Christmas present for all of us and for roger too and lets wish Roger a gr8 year ahead and hope nadal fans hrt over the tierness theory that he has never lost a match when he is full fit and rested.Anyways I think Roger would have learnt his lesson from the Ao09 final .He had nadal in his pocket but still lost the macth .The win at the WTF gives Roger the much needed confidence going into next year and yes it may turn out to be one of his best years.HE IS IN HIS BEST FORM AND IS VIRTUALLY UNBEATABLE.AND OH YES Simons predictions is good news for all fedfanatics.
    BOTH FEDERER AND NADAL will be fresh for AO and both are hot favs to reach the finals.If that happens,it will be ba great match and particularly it will be important for Roger to win the AO open because I think he is the only one at the moment who can stop nadal as nadal will get immence confi if he wins AO .But if Roger continues to be in this red hot form, nobody including nadal have a chance of beating him.I am so impressed by the way fed has imroved his BH nad As somebdy commented,I think now everybody will be hitting to his FhH which will make him improve his best shot and I think that will be good for him :))
    Anyways gereat blog and Lets all wish Roger a geat and good year ahead.Bye

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