Hi Fedfans, I’m back…again. I now have a separate screen for my laptop and I may just keep it instead of getting my laptop fixed. I am just too fed up being without Internet and dealing with incompetence. I may also be covering Indian Wells and Miami for the next few weeks, although I don’t want to make any promises just yet. I already missed out on Rotterdam and Dubai because of my ‘job’ and may just quit before I move onto the big project. But let me move on to the topic at hand:
Roger Federer was unequivocal at the BNP Paribas Open here Wednesday.
“I think they are being too loose about it,” the Swiss No. 3 said when asked if the time rule was being properly enforced by umpires.
Federer even took a swipe at his respected rival, Nadal, a notoriously pokey competitor.
“I don’t know how you can go through a four-hour match with Rafa and him never getting a time violation,” he added.
Nadal, speaking Thursday, disagreed. He said the rule is being enforced properly but must be applied according to match conditions.
“The rules are there, but you cannot expect to play a six-hour match, play rallies of crazy points and rest 20 seconds,” the No. 2 Spaniard said.
It was good to see Roger finally criticizing Nadal for something. For too long he has had this nice guy, buddy-buddy attitude towards Nadal. I never liked it very much. It translated to their matches where he went too easy on Nadal and it ended up costing him dearly. In my opinion he should have said something like this a long time ago, but I guess it wasn’t really in his nature. Now that Nadal has given him another severe beat down in Melbourne he is finally realizing that he has to try something different. I have said many times that something drastic must happen if Roger is to beat Nadal in a slam again and this could be it. It is no guarantee but it is good to see anyway. If the once friendly relationship turns into more of a enemy type relationship you would have to say that it is a pretty drastic change.
But of course Nadal started the criticism when he claimed Roger was only thinking about himself when he denounced the 2-year ranking system. At that point Roger was very diplomatic and said that there was no ill feelings from his side towards Nadal. But I guess the loss to Nadal in Melbourne gave Roger second thoughts. He realizes as well as I do that he has to make something happen if he is going to beat Nadal in a slam again. Despite different claims, I still believe that loss to Nadal was a telling one and a worse defeat than his previous ones to Nadal. Something clearly needs to be done. So I am all for this kind of criticism from Roger. He has tried the diplomatic approach and it didn’t work. Something new needs to be done. For a long time I have wanted Roger to try and get under Nadal’s skin. And there are so many ways to do it. Nadal is extremely methodical in his on court mannerisms. To the point of being obsessive.
I am the kind of guy that would like to see Roger kick over Nadal’s water bottles to unsettle him. Now while that may be a bit extreme for a guy of Roger’s class, there are more subtle ways to unsettle Nadal. Like for instance what Roger did now. Remember in the 2009 Madrid final when Roger waited for Nadal in his chair until he finished his whole pre match routine and then made him wait for him at the net? That was another subtle message telling Nadal: “We are going to play this match on my terms, not yours. I am the one who’s won 16 slams. Bow down to me.” He then went on to destroy Nadal on his favorite surface in front of his home crowd in a no-nonsense type of display. If only we had seen more of that over the years. But it doesn’t matter. Better late than never. The good thing about Roger and being a Fedfan is that Roger doesn’t stagnate.
There is always something ‘happening’ with him. He is always there on the cutting edge of the game trying to improve and make the necessary changes. It may take him a while to make changes because he is stubborn, but in the end he does what is the best for his tennis. Like when he finally decided to hire Annacone, or when he took some time off after the US Open last year and made some very necessary changes to his mental game. On both occasions the changes paid off immediately and he went on impressive winning streaks. He is currently on one of those winning streaks with a 35-2 record, having won five of the last seven tournaments he has played. But that is not enough. Roger went on a similar run after he hired Annacone. It is the slams he is after, and for that Nadal remains a massive obstacle.
Luckily for Roger he managed to regain the momentum he had before he lost to Nadal in Melbourne, thanks to two tournaments that favored his game. Therefor he is confident again and can afford to have a little dig at Nadal. He realizes that he is not the favorite should they meet in the semis of Indian Wells and this time he is trying something different. Roger has always made little digs against the likes of Djokovic and Murray in the press. Why not Nadal? Is he some kind of special case that leaves him exempt from the GOAT’s mind games? No, he is clearly not. If anyone deserves the mind games it is him since he uses gamesmanship more than any top player probably in the history of the sport. It is high time that someone started calling him out, and no one better than Roger to do so.
The problem is that Nadal acts as though he is already the GOAT. He calls for more clay courts, a two year ranking system, complains about the schedule while playing every event possible, and takes as much time between points as he wants. He acts as if tennis exists because of him. Roger should have taken a stand against that nonsense a long time ago. This kind of attitude from Nadal translates to his matches with Roger. He acts as though he owns the ATP and then he ends up owning Roger in their matches too. Roger is the one on 16 slams and he should be calling the shots and throwing his weight around. I can understand that up until this point he has been reluctant to do it because it is not on his nature. I am the same way. I like to take the humble approach first, but if people force my hand I will not hesitate to show them who is boss.
It has happened on this blog in fact. I am very lenient about comments but when people start taking advantage of that they must live with the consequences. This is my blog and no one will tell me here what to do or boss me around. The same goes for Roger. Roger has tried the friendly approach with Nadal for a long as he could, but Nadal is now treading on his turf. It is time to send that pushing cheat packing for good. For too long he has been the pretender to the throne. He is a mere peasant in the presence of the king and it is about time he is reminded of the fact. Note the fact that Roger only singled out Nadal and said nothing about Djokovic, who wastes just as much time between points. This sounds personal and I for one am loving it. The more personal it gets the better.
I believe Roger has a killer deep down inside him but it takes a bit more to bring him out. A killer more ruthless and destructive than Nadal can ever dream of. Hopefully we will soon see a changed Fedal relationship full of hate and resentment. I now have reason to look forward to Indian Wells and Miami once more. Roger play tonight against Denis Kudla, an upcoming American youngster. It is time to get that reign of terror off to a ruthless start and send his opponents a little message. Murray already lost yesterday against Garcia-Lopez. Must be after Roger psyched him out before the Dubai final again, calling his relationship with Lendl ‘early days’. It reminds me of the 2010 Australian Open final where Roger psyched Murray out and Murray having a slump afterwards.
I am hoping this criticism of Nadal is a new direction that Roger is taking in the Fedal rivalry and that it will be the catalyst for Roger picking up his next slam soon. I’m excited!
Ps. Like I said I am gonna try to take off work and cover Indian Wells and Miami. Therefor any donations would be appreciated.