I know you don’t want to be reminded of a Federer loss, especially not to Nadal, but I just have a few more things to say about this match. I just watched a rerun of the second set of the final, and if there was one point that stood out it was the drop shot Roger missed in the second set tie break. It was at 4-2 and on Nadal’s serve, when Roger went for a drop shot that completely took Nadal by surprise. Having looked at it again, Nadal didn’t even began running for it. Roger only had to hit a half decent drop shot and he would have won the point. But instead he went for the peRFect drop shot and he netted it. If he had made it he would have been ahead 5-2 with two serves to come. From that position you would expect him to win the set. But after he missed that drop shot he hit a backhand and a forehand shank long on two consecutive points.
Missing that drop shot was clearly still in his mind. He did however manage to salvage one match point, and then at 5-6 he got that ridiculous bounce of course. Here it is again:
I was amazed that some Nadal fans would claim that it was not a wicked bounce. It just shows to what lengths they need to go to feel like Nadal is one a similar level as Roger. Well good luck with that. Lol! But in the end maybe it was a fitting end to the match. It was really not Roger’s best tennis and that bounce at the end just summed up his luck. If he had taken any one of several break opportunities or made that drop shot in the breaker, this match could have had a very different outcome. I just had the feeling it wasn’t his day. The match stats tells an interesting tale as well. Roger’s winner to unforced error ratio was 34/33, while Nadal’s was 27/27. Not only did Roger hit more winners than Nadal, but he also had a better winners to unforced error ratio. As far as the break points go, Nadal won 4/11 while Roger won 3/11.
It all points to the fact that this was an extremely close match, even though it was straight sets. Also, Nadal won only one more point than Roger. Ironic that one bad bounce should be the difference between two players, isn’t it? It’s just one of those matches that as a player and a fan you want to forget as soon as possible. Since the match Roger has gone and put the pressure on Nadal for Roland Garros:
“The clay-court season will not be judged here but in Paris,” he said.
“We will see what happens in three weeks. I feel I’m ready for Paris. I felt a major improvement in my game compared to last week when I came here from Estoril.
“It’s been a wonderful event for me. I’m sorry I couldn’t defend the title. Rafa’s had an incredible clay season, he was supreme today.”
Way to go, Rog. He does make a good point. I think if Nadal could choose between winning the French Open and three Masters Series events, he would surely go for the French Open. So I thought it was a pretty smart thing to say. Defending the French Open is going to be a tough task for Roger, and he has to pull out every stop to do so. All in all it was a satisfying tournament for Roger, all be it he fell over the last hurdle. If he beat Nadal it would have been a close match, whichever way you look at it. And given that the conditions are slower in Paris, that would still have made Nadal the favorite to win in Paris. The only way that a win would have given Roger a big boost going into Paris, was if he did it in clinical style like he did last year. And you just have the feeling that was never going to happen.
Roger now goes into Paris as the underdog, and that doesn’t matter all that much. His first objective is to get to the semi-final anyway, to make sure he will still be ranked number one after the French Open and that he keeps his semi-final streak at the slams going. At this point a lot of pressure will already be off his shoulders. The next objective will be to make the final, in which case the number one record will be secured. Then he will have something to celebrate and it may just inspire him to do something special in the final. This is of course assuming that Nadal makes it to the final, which is not a forgone conclusion. Whatever happens, I’m just happy Roger regained his confidence at Madrid and goes to Paris feeling really good about his game.
May the Fedforce be with you.
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