Freakish Nadal Defeats Federer 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 in Cincinnati

Wow. That was some match and I’m sure I won’t be able to cover all of it here. First of all let me say this was a very good performance from Roger and I am proud to be his fan today. In my last post I said I just want him to make the score respectable but he did more than that. He came very close to winning this. He looked in control for the first set and a half. He was playing pretty much the perfect match on one of the few court surfaces that still favors him against Nadal. This is what makes this such a freakish performance from Nadal. I mean the guy seems utterly unbeatable. At age 27 after years of grinding it out on tour he is still beating the best on hard court of the current and past era and fast hard court is his worst surface! I don’t know what to say. He just seems to be getting better with age, despite chronic injuries and spending a lot of time on the sidelines.

So credit to him I guess for finding his way back after Roger was up a break and looked to be in control of the match. From the start I noticed that Roger was being more positive on the return. He was going over his backhand more often, although he did have a break point early on and then chipped the return, resulting in him losing the point. I wasn’t sure he had quite taken my advice to heart yet. He continued to go over backhand returns though and it paid dividends when he broke Nadal to win the first set. It was match on. Almost every time Roger went over a backhand return he won the point. I mean it’s a no-brainer, and it was nice to see Roger finally catching on. Being more positive on the return made all the difference. All of a sudden he was in a winning position in a match where no one gave him a chance.

He was still slicing some returns, but he was becoming more and more positive with his returning. He clearly realized it was the only way he stood a chance against Nadal, and now he was even in the driver seat. Unfortunately there are no highlights which makes it very hard for me because I can’t remember every point, but Roger had some chances in the 2nd set. I think at 4-4 he had Nadal 0-30 on his serve and chipped a Nadal second serve back. Or it may have been earlier in the set. The point is in a match like this the margin between winning and losing is extremely small. The difference between winning can easily be the difference between going over a backhand return or defensively chipping it in a crucial moment. And this is precisely why Nadal owns Roger. Not because of bad match up, not because of doping, not because of anything else than mental fortitude.

Nadal instinctively knows when a crucial moment in the match arrives and he plays extremely aggressive and makes unbelievable shots. Roger senses the same moment and doubts himself. It has happened at Wimbledon, it has happened at the Australian Open, it has happened in almost all their big matches. Nadal is mentally stronger than Roger. It is that simple. I was told from the start as a tennis player that mental fortitude contributes to about 80% or more to you tennis success, while talent and fitness makes up the other 20%. It’s probably not that much, but mental fortitude is the single most important aspect in tennis. You can be immensely talented and the fittest guy in history, but if you don’t believe in yourself it’s all worthless. Now we know Roger believes in himself, or else he wouldn’t have won 17 slams?

It’s just that Nadal has that little extra bit of belief in himself. He responds very differently to pressure than Roger. Roger gets tight and fearful, while Nadal relishes the moment and becomes a better player. Roger was blessed with more talent than Nadal, but Nadal was blessed with better mental fortitude. He is just unbelievably clutch. He is a mental monster. After Nadal won the second set I saw that resigned look on Roger’s face again. To his credit he fought very hard until the end. He saved several match points in the last game, coming back from 0-40 down on Nadal’s serve. It was amazing. But kind of fitting to Roger’s mentality he failed to challenge Nadal’s final forehand, which happened to be out. Who knows what difference it could have made? That kind of summed up the difference in the two players nicely.

Roger went through all that trouble to try and stay in the match and then he doesn’t challenge the final shot. The difference is that once he has the momentum against Nadal and loses it he can’t get it back again, whereas Nadal finds a way to turn the momentum around and hold on to it. Roger just can’t find another level. He gets that resigned look on his face, and even though he is still fighting the belief isn’t really there. Or else he would have challenged that final call. Nadal can just dig deeper than Roger. He finds something extra where Roger gives up. That is in the end the biggest difference. Sure the match up is a factor but it is not the decider. What happened in that crucial 2009 Australian Open final? Roger had his chances to put Nadal away in the 3rd set. He didn’t fail to put Nadal away because of a bad match up.

He failed to put Nadal because he hesitated, and Nadal made him pay dearly. There are countless more examples of this in their head-to-head. Roger should have won today too, but he allowed Nadal back in the match. I am not condemning Roger like the fake fans though. This is just who Roger is and I have always known it. How much can you criticize a guy who is still mentally pretty damn good and have won 17 slams anyway? No player in history is flawless, and you take the bad with the abundance of good. In the end Roger played really well and it is a shame that he had to lose one of the best matches he played this year. It will hurt but as always Roger will take it as a positive and move forward in that fashion. Overall Cincinnati has been a positive event for him after the disappointments of his last three tournaments.

At the very least he has proven that switching back to the old racquet was the right thing for the moment and that he can go over his backhand return and that it works. So hopefully he will use it more often now. Confidence is also a factor here and he was actually very confident today. He played just about as well as he could, which is a very encouraging thing. It is just that Nadal was better. Nadal is currently on another unbelievable run and I won’t be surprised if he sweeps Montreal, Cincinnati, and the US Open, especially since Djokovic and Murray both lost today. I mean the guy is unplayable. Even on his least favorite surface. The chances also looks good that he could end the year ranked #1, because he has no points to defend while Djokovic has several. As for Roger I have new hope and making quarters or better at the US Open is now actually a very real possibility.

I feel much better about Roger, even though he lost today. Nadal is now on a hot run but as I’ve said before the tide will turn again, at which point Roger will go on a hot run and Nadal will be down again. This may just be the point where things start turning around for Roger. It has been a tough old season but his results towards the end of the year may just get better and better, and then he could peak in 2014 again, while Nadal could slump. There is new hope.

 

Full match: I found the below videos and couldn’t find where Roger chipped back in the 2nd set when he had an opportunity, but even if he didn’t it seems Nadal is able to find that something extra while Roger can’t. And that is an ongoing theme in their matches. Also Roger could not find a way to turn it around again in the 3rd and shouldn’t have dropped serve in the first place.

Posted in Uncategorized.

40 Comments

  1. While agree that Fed gets tight and doubts whn in close situations but i disagree that he didnt challenge becasue he didnt have belief…it was just a close line call that Fed thought was good but it was actually out..it can happen anytime coincidentally it just came at match point…if fed didnt believe he couldn’t turn around then he wouldn’t have saved all those match points in the first place…
    I also disagree when you say “Not because of bad match up, not because of doping, not because of anything else than mental fortitude”
    This makes it feel like the only difference between Nadal and Fed is mental ..thats wrong..their games are diametrically opposite, their matchups can be lop-sided depending on form/surface, Imagine Fed having the same prowess with a two handed bh, surely he wouldn’t be good to watch but could have an adv over rafa in particular no?… i agree Rafa is mentally more strong Fed, but that is not the ONLY difference between them

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Never said it was the only difference between them. Also Fed got unlucky with a return at 15-15 somewhere in the 3rd set where he went over a backhand but it was out by like a millimeter. Who knows what difference that could have made. As for the last ball Fed should have challenged, but granted his call challenging is probably the worst in the world.

    [Reply]

    Pryzm Reply:

    Ruan,

    Everything you said in your blog and post is quite right on in my opinion, and I don’t want to focus on where I think Nadal’s mental strength derives from in this post. He obviously played extremely well. But so did Roger, as you very rightly said.

    I would just like to add another small point: I think another reason – one I’m sure has been noted on this site before – that Roger’s mental strength seems to fade late in his matches with Nadal is that when he gets behind (this seems to happen against Berdych as well), he tries too hard to hit winners on his first serve, and misses.

    I haven’t seen any numbers for this match, but I can scarcely remember a point in the last half of the third set where Roger actually got his first serve in, and I’m sure his first serve percentage dropped significantly toward the end of the match. If you watch, you can almost see his back bending too much at times when he’s serving, and even predict when he’s going to miss. When he was doing well in the first two sets, he was also serving well, and NOT trying to hit winners every time, but just to get Nadal out of position. Then, when he’d established success at moving Nadal – that’s when the winners came naturally.

    But – this was a great effort by Roger, a titanic effort really, especially considering his sub-par year, and he missed a couple of challenges where just a few millimeters difference would have given him a point and changed the momentum of the match.

    There’s a lot of good for Roger’s fans to take from this match, such as the way he played the second half of the third set toe-to-toe with Nadal (after he was already down a break, I mean) and still stopped a lot of set points/match points. I think that Roger showed a lot of belief in himself in this match (could have showed just a little more though), returned well, just used his backhand well in general, played very intelligently, served very well – especially in the first two sets – and even had pretty good challenges most of the time. :-)

    He played great tennis when he was down against Nadal. I can’t tell you how glad I was to see that, and how proud of him I was when he didn’t give up. I think the mental strength and self-belief he showed tonight might even be his best take-away from this match, or at least as good as his ROS.

    And he did all this while Nadal is on one of his best rolls, while no one can really play with him this year, especially on a hard court. I think we’d all agree that Roger stayed with Nadal ‘about as well’ as anyone has this year.

    When he plays like this, he shows us all what is possible, especially with a few tweaks to his enormous and amazing repertoire.

    And while it may still be too early to expect a lot from Roger at the US Open (it would be great if he could win of course, and if so each of the big 4 would have one slam win this year), but I think he’s given all his fans a lot of hope for next year with his outstanding play in this match.

    Best Regards,
    Pryzm

    [Reply]

    Gaurav Sood Reply:

    Hi Ru-an,

    Nice to find your blog after reading several mentions of it on Jonathan’s perfecttennis blog.

    Perhaps it was a touch of class from Roger, not to challenge the call, on account of it being match point? He did have two challenges remaining and it seems counter intuitive that he would not have challenged the call had it been any other game on the Nadal serve.

    Anyhow, it was great to see him fight the way he did today.

    Also, I was wondering about one thing- in the match against Rafa tonight, could Federer have played more of the way he did in the final game for more of the match, ripping cross court backhands to open up the court and then try and pop a forehand into the open court? It’s what Novak has used to great effect when he’s beaten Rafa and is what helped Roger beat Rafa in the WTF 2011/10

    The way I look at it is-
    a) The cross court backhand is higher %

    b) It’s a shot that Roger is used to playing against other right handers, it’s closer to his natural shot selection

    c) Because of it’s higher margins Roger can really let it rip (as he was in the game where he saved those 4 match points) and have far more confidence in the shot landing and doing some damage.

    d) Trying to change direction with the backhand- it comes across as a forced/ weak shot that Rafa invariably urns around and hammers either way- something he can’t always do if Roger has ripped it cross court.

    It was good to see Roger fight the way he did today. As fans that’s all we can ask for, after what I’m sure, has been a tough year for all of us.

    [Reply]

  2. Excellent post, Ru-an. It was quite painful for me to watch Federer’s belief slip away in the third set, especially as I felt he was the better player in the second set and should have won the match already. He was making good progress in Nadal’s service games. I know what 0-30 opportunity you talked about in the second set, where Federer I think missed a backhand return. Overall, he missed a few too many returns, which may have cost him the chance to grab the break in the second set. This is where the new racquet could have helped, on the stretch backhand returns that he tried to block back and often missed or hit weakly.

    Overall though, I am happy with the match today. Federer’s level was MUCH higher than in the majority of 2013, and I was impressed with the way he fought back in the last game. Had he been slightly luckier with the netcord and slightly more judicious with his challenges, he may have been able to find a way into the match again, so he was not far at all. Federer seems to be peaking in time for the US Open, so hopefully he can have a good tournament there.

    One last comment, regarding mental strength. Steve and other posters have made the point that Federer’s mental strength, while remarkable in its own right, cannot be at the level of Nadal and Djokovic because of his much more complex and tactical game style. While it pains me every time Federer wastes a break point, fails to serve out a set, or otherwise wilts under pressure, I have to agree with their point. Unfortunately, the same game style that is so beautiful to behold and makes us such steadfast fans makes it almost impossible to play with the same mental fortitude as the Nadals and Djokovics with their relatively simple styles. We can’t have it all; it happens to be our bad luck that Nadal’s game is the ultimate destroyer of Federer’s. Right now I’m just happy that we can still watch Federer play at such a high level; we don’t know how much longer we will have such an opportunity.

    [Reply]

  3. Hi Ruan–interesting analysis as always. I do think Nadal is a mental fortress while Fed’s ramparts are always open to entry. That said, two key things that I noticed today that were very positive for me:

    1) Fed did not lose in the 3rd set just because he lost belief. I think he also lost because he lose a bit of his foot speed –Darren Cahill made that comment as well, and I think it is more due to Fed’s lack of matches than him being out of condition. This match will give him the belief that he can stay in longer matches and who knows what can happen over a best of 5 match? A key sign of this was how he was less able to run wide on his forehand in the third set, something he was doing with more ease in the first set.
    2) The next positive thing were Fed’s comments before and after his match. Before the match, he said he didn’t have to prove he was one of the big boys, he had done enough, and then after the match, he was pissed off at losing and spoke about how he thought he had played better but could have still improved on many things. All of this says to me that Fed has that old fire back. He is tired of being written off, and he came very close to wagging his finger at Nadal today.
    Last but not least, I think Nadal is going to be exhausted after Cincy–there is no way Birdman is going to give him an easy match, and then he’ll have to play big Delpo in the final. I guarantee you he will be showing up with taped knees at the US Open.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Good comment Sakhi. Roger said this: “I’m happy with my progress along the way. Could have won tonight. Should have won tonight, who knows? But at the end, I think Rafa’s confidence and the way he’s playing at the moment got him through. So for me, I think it was a good step in the right direction.”

    I thought this was a good comment from Roger too. He realized he could have won, but Nadal is currently on a high while Roger has been on a low. That is a big diffrence and probably what got Nadal through.

    [Reply]

  4. Federer lost to Nadal today not just because the latter is a mental monster but also because he’s an amazing problem solver. After seeing him beat Djokovic last week in Montreal on his best surface and today Federer on his most favorite surface, it is clear why he’s dominating his main rivals again.

    It is Nadal’s backhand that is no longer as error prone as it was in 2011 & early 2012. Back then, Djokovic regularly exposed his backhand’s weakness to the maximum & beat him in 7 straight finals. Nadal, as usual, went back to the drawing board and has tweaked it to the point now that during the baseline rallies in their semi-final in Montreal last week, he was hardly making any mistakes on that side which frustrated Djokovic tremendously. The Djoker was unable to win points easily on Nadal’s backhand side thereby allowing the latter to hit aggressive forehands and finally win the long exchanges.

    Against Federer today, he hit some incredible down-the-line backhands on big points such as the one he hit on set point in the second set. On the other hand our hero, although playing one of his best matches of 2013, missed several regulation backhands & even forehands as usual on big points cost him the match. Case in point: serving at 4-5, 40-30 in the second set, Federer over-cooked a cross-court forehand which would’ve tied the second set 5-5.

    I just wish if Federer had gone to the drawing board and re-invented himself to solve the Nadal problem (like his nemesis always does) starting in 2008 after he suffered several crushing defeats at the hands of this monster, he & his fans wouldn’t be suffering like this.

    I wish Federer could’ve done something to solve his single biggest liability, or I should say disability, his one-hand backhand against Nadal. If he had, he could’ve been sitting on 23-24 Grand Slams right now. Seeing how Nadal solved the Djokovic problem since last year after all those beatdowns in 2011 & 2012, if I was Federer, my single biggest remaining goal before I retire from tennis would be to do whatever it takes to hand some crushing defeats to this maniac who has given me so much heartache over the years.

    [Reply]

    Toni Reply:

    If Fed was not in such a slump trought the year this would have been a regular loss to his nemesis. However, since he hit the bottom at Wimby now this loss seems like a huge progress and confidence booster to regular Fed fans.The truth is , Fed got back to his level at AO 2013 and continues with his stubornness when facing Nadal. Even the ultrafast conditions of Cinncinati cannot help hiding his mental fragility. He cannot understand that the matches do not get over when Nadal scores a set be it the 1st or the 2nd. The one department he improved for this match only is that after Nadal takes a set of him, he doesnt just throw the white flag but play for respectful score in the last set and/or game.
    Sometimes i think that he betetr start avoiding Nadal as much as possible (not that he has not done it so many times after Madrid 2009)and keep its stats out of clay more respectable. The season is over for Fed anyway nomatter how good he played today.As long as Raf`s around he will stay quiet, travel the world, makes some more cash from its sponsors and enjoy the game in the sense not striving to bother for anything cause he already has it all :-)

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    I think that Roger did the best he could under the circumstances. Yes, he could have won but I always felt that if he loses the 2nd set it will be almost impossible to win.

    However, what made Roger play so menacingly and with so much determination in that last game? Why couldn’t he be like that on all his returns? I think that that he must learn from this experience and stick to it. That being sad, the court was hugely in Federer’s favor because I saw so many returns from Nadak that actually went wide whereas in clay they always miraculously fall in in the last second. On a fast court at least Roger has a shot at Nadal. I just hope that Roger will turn the corner after this and give us a great showing in New York. Let’s hope for a nice draw and a Ferrer QF setup and potentially a Myrray SF set up.

    And we’ll go from there…

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Great post Ken. You are totally right that Nadal’s problem solving ability is what makes him so good. Roger is much more stubborn and finds it much harder to change. This has been evident since the start against Nadal where he tried hitting him off the court from the base line in French Open finals. He doesn’t like to adapt, while Nadal’s middle name is adapt.

    [Reply]

  5. Hi Ru-an. Everything you said in your marvellous post was running around in my head too and you distilled your readers’ collective thoughts about the match very well. I too felt like Sakhi did on Roger losing his foot speed in the 3rd. as I noticed it wasn’t as sure and decisive as it was in the 1st. Ken also noted that Roger gave up points that he should have won blindfolded, like at 4-5, on his serve and 40-30 up, he nets a routine forehand in an open court. Technically Roger lost because he was broken once in set 2 and another time in set 3. He was also less consistent than Nadal on serve and that didn’t allow him the advantage of 2-3 strike tennis that he deployed so well in set 1. Some of his volleys were also lacking depth and direction and played right into Nadal’s strike zone. Still, a fine performance and everything you said about him echo my thoughts except for the match-up.

    I will like to say someting about Nadal here: I dislike the man for his false humility, time-wasting tactics, on-court coaching. and I dislike him even more when i see that he has now shrewdly taken his pre-serve mannerisms with him when he’s sitting down during changeovers or when receiving serve, just so people think he’s not doing it to hold up serve. My dislike is amplified when I know he constantly lies and exaggerates about the state of his knees. I also think he dopes. That said, regardless of the surface that has helped hone his mental and physical game, it is Nadal who is now blazing a new path of mental strengh standards and raising the bar for others including Roger. Last night was another example, although in that case, it is easier to kick-in the self-belief and win from a set down when you hold a 20-10 H2H against the opponent. I will grudgingly say that Nadal is the smartest tennis player alive and indeed a problem solver. He gets beaten by Djokovic on all surfaces in 7 matches; although in the 7th match, he loses narrowly – a bit like how Roger did in Cincy -and he goes back to his think-tank and devises a way to overcome. He has now Beaten Djokovic in 3 of the last 4 matches I think with new tactics and that is a tribute to his never-say-die mentality. I am also amazed at this first serve %age (it seems like it never dips below 65-70%) and that is a reflection of his high concentration levels. Roger by contrast is up and down in that department and it was another reason or his loss to Nadal.

    Back to Roger, he probably deserved some luck with the net cords yesterday but overall, he redeemed himself and made us proud. This must surely be the turning point for him and a fair measure of his current game after testing it against the best tennis player of 2013. With Nadal leading the way followed by a shaky Djokovitch, Murray, a resurgent Del Potro and Berdych, Roger should relish the challenge of being the hunter on the hunting grounds of the US open. It’s a good time to show why and ow he won there 6 times.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hey Grumpy, Roger lost the match at the end of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd set. He failed to make that fh at 4-5 and 40-30 and at the start of the 3rd I noticed that resigned look on his face. He dropped his guard for a second, he was looking back. And that cost him to lose serve again. Then he tried fighting back but it was already too late. This is the big difference. Nadal doesn’t drop his guard after a disappointment. He never looks back. Ever. He lives entirely in the moment, playing every point at 110%. I realize now that was the key to the match, and many of their other matches. Roger regrets and it costs him. Nadal never regrets. He just gets on with the job. Like I said I won’t be able to cover everything in one post, but this is really the essence of what happened out there.

    [Reply]

    Grumpy Reply:

    Agreed. That point was the crux of the entire match. It reminded me of Roger’s semifinal with Djokovic a few years ago when he had 2 MPs on his serve at 5-3 and 40-15 up.

    [Reply]

    Dolores Reply:

    Grumpy,
    I like your comment…especially agree with you about your thoughts on who Nadal is. Would like to add that I find his mannerism on court more than appalling.
    Best,
    Dolores

    [Reply]

  6. Though he lost, I am happy how he stepped up to the challenge after being all time low past months. I think he is slowly climbing back up. He is coming back along just in time for GS. Let’s hope US Open draw will favor him. He just needs to avoid Nadal in the quarters.

    [Reply]

  7. Thanks for a great post Grumpy. I agree with a lot you said, and especially what you said about Nadal. In fact, I wish I’d said those things myself!

    I certainly don’t understand tennis as well as you, Ruan, and most of the other bloggers here.

    But I’ve grown a little impatient at times about discussions of Roger’s lack of mental strength against Nadal, so I’ve decided to post about it, hoping that any differing views will be educational for me. As always, I welcome differing views.

    So here are my thoughts about Roger’s mental strength:

    1) He’s actually a mental giant (17 slams, a million other untouchable records) in my humble opinion.

    2) However, he tries too hard to hit winners on his first serve against Nadal – and misses. Of course I realize it’s not easy to serve like Sampras when one’s back is injured – but his low first serve percentage against Nadal in later sets is an established fact in my mind (is that a mistake on my part?).

    3) Playing ‘second-serve’ tennis against Nadal – and a lot of other great returners – is just about the same thing as playing against someone who gets to serve against you every game.

    4) When you’re playing ‘second-serve tennis’ people will rip their returns; you’ll end up running a lot more, and you’ll lose foot speed eventually.

    5) Nadal’s strategy of working Roger’s backhand relentlessly is designed to exhaust the greatest player of all time.

    Nadal is a great player, but he’s not technically superior to Roger; so he has to play to tire Roger out.

    In the face of Nadal’s now well-known and fairly obvious anti-Federer strategy, I think that Roger plays critically into Nadal’s hands to an extent by missing so many of his first serves.

    In their latest match, I didn’t see any lapse of mental strength on Roger’s part. Facing an uphill battle, I saw Roger his some amazing shots that missed my mere millimeters, even at the latest stages of the match, and I saw some unlucky net cords. But I also saw great mental fortitude in the face of extreme fatigue, an inspiring come-back in the final game, and a poor call on match point.

    As you correctly say, ‘Technically Roger lost because he was broken once in set 2 and another time in set 3. He was also less consistent than Nadal on serve…’. There are many other points that could be made on a technical level, that have already been made on this site, and that I fully agree with.

    I agree, but just happen to think the first serve percentage is the key Roger’s loss in this match, and many past matches against Nadal as well.

    I don’t think his mental strength was deficient in this match. I don’t think his conditioning showed any weakness either; just that his first serve percentage is especially important (he certainly had to run more in the third set than in the first two) against a physically dominating player who pounds Roger’s backhand and uses both hands on his own.

    I actually thought Roger’s performance and the mental strength it showed in the face of physical exhaustion was inspiring.

    Am I too blind a fan? I certainly admit that Roger has folded in the past against Nadal. But that was when he thought being the greatest meant that he was unbeatable, and shouldn’t have to change a thing against any player. And when he and Nadal were on friendlier terms.

    Roger doesn’t think in such naive terms any longer; he’s looking for adjustments to his game in general, and for specific strategies against particular players. I also think he’s become tired of Nadal’s endless gamesmanship. They don’t seem to be friends any longer, and I’m frankly quite pleased if that’s the case.

    Is it too easy to say Roger lacks mental strength? Could it possibly be accurate to say that he played heroically against a man whose game exhausts him, against whom he cannot afford to miss many first serves?

    Best Regards,
    Pryzm

    [Reply]

    rich Reply:

    It was quite revealing at the end of the match when the players came to the net that Roger was p*ssed at losing. He is normally a very gracious loser but he showed no warmth towards Nadal, choosing not to look the Spaniard in the eye. He might have been thinking of the shanked balls that Nadal made on critical points that helped turn the match around. Or maybe he too has come to the view that he is basically up against a doping machine. Either way, you could see that it was a match Roger badly wanted to win – and felt he should have – but once again couldn’t do it against the human backboard.

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    Clearly this was a very close match and I think Roger feels like he could have won. Unfortunately indoors and fast outdoors (and possibly grass) have become the last stand for Federer against Nadal. And even on those surfaces, success us not always guaranteed.

    What I did notice, howevere is that the fast surface surface certainly was helping Roger. Obviously the first serve has to be great and that is a MUST in order to have any chance against Nadal but at least here when actually Riger did produce some master serves, Nadal’s return would at least happen to go out and be mishit. On clay, even the most amazing serve would be returned and even if the frame of Nadal’s racquet hit the ball it would still spin its way in like a numberang. I actually enjoyed that finally Roger’s go up play: Slice Serce out wide, Nadal short return and Federer’s inside put forehand winner would actually work here. This would never work on a clay court. Nadal will run that ball down and moonball that baby deep into Federer’s backhand corner.

    Therefore, there is hope. For the US Open I will not make any predictions. But if Roger has great first week and manages to reach the semis bg some miracle you never know.

    Yes, Nadal got him this time but I wouldn’t put it past Federer to try again should they meet again. I just hope that it’s not as early as the QFs again. Enough of that, anyway. But I wouldn’t be as tormented by the prospect. At least not on a fast hard court. Roger feels really comfortable on this surface. Any other surfaces and it would have been a blowout.,. So, I am keeping my optimism based on what I have seen.

    [Reply]

  8. Yes! I noticed and enjoyed their post-match ’embrace’ too. ;-)

    Something else I meant to say above is that Roger’s having to run more because of too many second serves is one reason Nadal appears to become stronger as his matches with Roger proceed …

    [Reply]

  9. Apparently players who beat federer go on to lose their very next match. Nadal could well lose tonight to Berdych. Nadal has had to go the distance in both his last matches against baby fed and original fed. I’d say the chances of Nadal losing are good. I’ll be watching.

    [Reply]

    Alex Reply:

    Well so much for that…

    [Reply]

  10. Hi Ru-an and Fed fans.Great article as always.I feel good about good match,Roger played very well,but its hard to beat somebody as good as Nadal at the moment,but we all know why Nadal is so good.There is no way and many of us played sport professionally including myself and there is no way you can just come back stronger,faster and better after so many months off.Maybe his ego was just too hurt and he was just training harder then ever but its hard to imagine.As for Roger,he sent a statement that you cant write him off,ever.It will be good US open for us,i can feel it.This match could be easily won by Roger,small margins and few nets which bounce outside the court,Roger just showed everybody that he is here to stay.Cant wait for the draw,but im sure if he plays close to last nite performance it does not really matter who he will play in first rounds.Im not going to details of the match cause many of you covered that perfect here.Keep supporting Roger,we will have one more laugh or two…its not over until its over.Enjoy!

    [Reply]

  11. Guys,

    I am just looking at Nadal right now I feel it will a ridiculously awesome performance to stop him. It’s like he has become this monster unstoppable avalange and it’s becoming painful to watch. It’s like Djokovic in 2011.

    Nadal is just winning all the CLOSE matches nowadays and it’s so unfair.

    First, he won the French Open after being such and asshole and being do lucky in that semifinal against Djokovic. Then he manages to win against Djokovic again in Montreal. Then the close win over Federer yesterday. And today the same thing is happening again. Berdych is trying everything and still Nadal is hanging on and might even win in straights.

    I don’t know what it will take but if someone doesn’t stop this guy any time soon he is going to sweep through the US Open and the WTF. He is really in the zone right now. And for some reason all the calls go his way. People miss regulation shots when they play him and it’s so frustrating and impressive at the same time.

    I just hope that this will end soon because the last time it happened the following year Djokovic stepped up to the plate. But I am not sure that he’ll be able to do it again. Federer is getting older and Del Potro is too unreliable. I just hope that someone just stops this guy in his tracks at the US Open of we’ll truly enter the dark ages…

    [Reply]

    Alex Reply:

    I hope somebody stops this guy like we’d hoped djokovic would have. Someone that will dominate him till the end of his career. I don’t even care about the numbers anymore, if he reaches Roger’s slam record or not. He needs to stop winning. His serve was never that great (except apparently at the US open in 2010). All one has to do against nadal is keep going to his backhand.

    Djokovic used to beat him when he played more aggressive than him. Now djokovic is just a grinder. See Monte Carlo final, where Djokovic kept attacking until he hit through Nadal.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    It’s not as easy as just going to his bh. Nadal actually has a very good backhand. He hits it really hard when he wants to. It’s basically like he has two fh’s. He actually has very few weaknesses, and if someone finds a weakness he just improves in that area. It’s a shame Djokovic didn’t beat him at the AO when he was up a break in the 5th. That could have really hurt him. Now he is on top of Djokovic again, and Djokovic seems like the one who is hurt.

    [Reply]

    Alex Reply:

    I agree Ruan, if it were so easy to just go to the backhand then lots of people would defeat rafa. It was said in the commentary during fed nadal match 2 days ago that whichever of these two players gets the ball on their forehand with some time, usually ends up winning the point (even fed went to nadal’s backhand consistently – it does break down u know).

    I agree with you about the weaknesses thing. Nadal seems to be so adaptable. He certainly does not wait around for changes. He gets on the practice courts and improves his weaknesses (case in point: Federer’s serve out wide, used to be a really big problem for nadal and still is to a certain extent, but he returns it a lot better now. Needless to say, Roger goes to that serve so many times that Nadal may not even need to go on the practice courts to improve his returning. He probably does it during the match!)

    I think you meant Djokovic didn’t beat him at the FO. but yea djoko is not doing extremely well this year. I don’t like it. And Murray bloody tanked again!!! Depressing stuff all round.

    [Reply]

    Ken Reply:

    Couldn’t agree with you more. With the sudden rise of this doping machine called Nadal again, we’re truly witnessing the dawn of Dark Ages in tennis.

    I currently don’t see anybody stopping this juggernaut Nadal including Djokovic. Apparently, the Spaniard has finally figured him out after some devastating defeats in 2011 & 2012.

    Maybe Federer should declare war on Nadal in 2014 which may well be Roger’s
    last year of having any realistic chance of winning another Grand Slam. Being the GOAT, he should leave no stone unturned to eliminate glaring weaknesses in his game constantly exposed by Nadal (hint: backhand & serve). He should at least go down fighting in his final year preferably scarring and deeply wounding this monster in the process just like he was scarred by Nadal all these years.

    Obviously, with the current situation, this sounds like a laughable idea but Federer has nothing to lose.

    [Reply]

    Diego Reply:

    Shame on you… dark ages??? are you nuts??? dark ages for whom??? for you, for roger??? If so, you’ve been living in an inmense pitch black since 2008 to say the least. keep on looking for excuses instead of facing the truth (Rafa’s roger daddy since a long time ago) and having your fair share of sour grapes.

    They bark, we ride

    [Reply]

  12. Is there anyone on planet Earth who can defeat Rafa??
    Tomorrow his 11th Final of THIS year against a tired Isner.
    Guys, this is Rafa’s year and world, we just have to ride it out….

    [Reply]

    Katyani Reply:

    And…. Delpo’s “curse” strikes again.
    He lost, but made his opponent so tired that he will definitely lose in the final…..

    [Reply]

    Alex Reply:

    I would have NO CHANCE to beat Rafa since I’m just an amateur tennis player but watching these players go out there against him and get defeated one by one with considerable ease, I feel so angry that I want to get out there on the tennis court myself and teach nadal a lesson. We all know it’s not that easy though once the monster gets going.

    [Reply]

  13. Whenever Roger used the slice return he did so to Rafa’s backhand and Rafa still ran around to hit a forehand. His footwork to get around the ball is immense.
    Very proud of Roger, he proved that he can still play at a very high level.

    [Reply]

  14. Guys,

    I really don’t know what to think anymore. This Nadal guy is just REDICULOUS. And again everything seems to go his way. All the calls, all the tight rallies, everything. We just have to ride this out.

    At this point he is the overwhelming favourite for the US Open. People will get really close to beating him but they’ll fail. I just don’t know what needs to happen. It feels exactly like the Djokovic year of 2011. It would be so cool if he does get caught in some doping scandal. But who knows? As of now he is legit and is getting all the accolades. 26 Masters 1000. That’s insane, and to know that he was THAT close to being MURDERED at the French Open at the hands of Djokovic it really hurts. The monster is alive and getting bigger and stronger. I don’t know what it would take to slay the monster. I really don’t. It’s beyond me… It pisses me off that Roger didn’t challenge that call. 5th match point would have been saved. And who knows. But oh well!

    [Reply]

    Martin Reply:

    Hi Vily,
    I just saw a replay today of the matchpoint. If I remember correctly the ball was wide, not long, so from Roger’s perspective I can understand that he wouldn’t challenge. If it would have been long instead of wide I think he would have.
    Challenge is a funny thing sometimes. I often think some challenges depend on the umpire in the chair, how much a player trusts the umpire. In some matches when a umpire overrules and a player challenges the overrule and the umpire was right I think players tend to trust the umpire more. So I feel the wrong unchallenged calls are a result of trust in some umpires to some degree in a few instances.
    That said, maybe Roger didn’t want to be the guy who challenges on match point, because so often they are just the last straw for some players.
    Anyway, just my two cents on the challenge situation, everything else was already great analysed by you guys as always. Let’s hope Roger get’s a great draw and stay’s healthy at least for the remainder of the season and can attack next year.

    [Reply]

    Cagney Reply:

    First off, “rediculous” is not a word and secondly stop your bitching and moaning. You losers crack me up. You and your ilk have no problem throwing around doping accusations about Nadal, and then at the same time, root for Djokovic, who is the most obvious case of doping I have ever seen in tennis, just because he has been protecting Feds slam record. Pull your head out of Fed’s ass and take in some oxygen; your brain is beginning to rot.

    [Reply]

    Katyani Reply:

    Hey Cagney, on behalf of Vily and me and others, thank you for the English lesson and congratulations with Rafa’s winnings !!!

    [Reply]

  15. Ok so the juiced to the bones Nadal finally got the Cincy title. It took him like 8 years after his 1st RG title but he did it. Look back on Roger…the 2nd best on clay of its time…and its been a lifetime and still cannot get a 3 set win on clay from nadal :-) Remeber the last “trial” in Rome 2013? :-) Yeah ..i know he got a back issue, the tennis is in cycles…the age…While Rafa improved not only with the banned substances Fed stayed where he is. Yeah..the bad match-up, the topspin lalala excuse.
    They gotta catch this monster with doping so this sport will see at least some justice since Fed will never improve from here on. The problem is that Dr. sanchez is maybe world`s best antidoping expert and just no freaking chance the will live up to this glorious moment…

    [Reply]

    Mike Reply:

    Federer already has TWO wins on clay vs Nadal.

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *