Well that was pretty much JesusFed right there. The first game didn’t look like JesusFed at all though. He looked rusty after the day off and there were several deuces in the first game on his serve. Then came a moment which seemed to change everything. Roger hit a slice serve clearly wide on the deuce court which the linesman missed. Del Potro challenged but hawkeye did’t work. Lyani, a highly overrated chair umpire in my opinion, missed the call and awarded the point to Roger. This really bothered Del Potro as he lost the game and then dropped serve. You have to feel sorry for him because he was done in and it broke his concentration. After that it was all Roger. I was actually feeling a bit uneasy about this match since it is not easy to keep beating a good player like Del Potro.
But Roger made it look easy. I think the key for him against Del Potro is his variety. He uses angles, slices, drop shots, and takes the ball early. In other words he never shows Del Potro the same thing which doesn’t allow him to settle into a rhythm from the back and pound those big ground strokes. He also out served Del Potro by 13 aces to 0. His returning, which is an underrated part of his game, impressed me. Roger showed no signs of the illness he had earlier. It seems the day off was just what the doctor ordered and he has lifted his game. The other quarter final between Nadal and Nalbandian was much more competitive and dramatic. Nalbandian won the first set 6-4. He kept giving Nadal trouble in the second set with his immense talent.
But at 5-5 he started crumbling mentally while Nadal was extremely clutch as usual. Nalbandian had an easy volley which he should have put away but allowed Nadal a look, and of course Nadal didn’t need a second invitation to pass Nalbandian. He also hit a drop shot into the net on a crucial point, and on break point he served a double. Nice choking. Nadal held serve and broke early in the third. It looked like Nadal would run away with the set but Nalbandian kept it competitive, only to choke again at 4-5 and 40-15 on the Nadal serve. A rally ensued and I suddenly got the feeling that Nalbandian is gonna screw up the next shot badly. The feeling was unmistakable and Nalbandian proceeded to hit another silly drop shot into the net. More choking.
But at the same time you have to give Nadal credit for the way he makes his opponents choke. They know he is not going to make it easy and you simply have to go out there and win the match, because he is definitely not going to lose it. This match reminded of their 2009 match in Indian Wells where Nalbandian also won the first set and had Nadal at his mercy in the second set. He could not take advantage of the five match points he had though. It is simply a case of desire winning over talent. Nadal just wants it more. Nadal wants to win more than anything, and of course that plays a big role in the Fedal rivalry as well. Nadal just seems to want it a bit more than Roger. This is once again what Roger will be up against in their 28th meeting later today, if the weather permits it(which it doesn’t look like it will).
Despite the fact that Roger looked in great form while Nadal seemed to be struggling, it doesn’t really mean anything. We have seen many times Roger being in great from before stepping on court with Nadal, only to turn into another player against his nemesis. For instance their last two meetings in at the French Open and Australian Open. Luckily Roger was able to find his form again soon after losing to Nadal in Melbourne this year. Now we are back to that inevitable Fedal meeting. It can’t be avoided as long as Roger is in this kind of form, because he will keep making latter rounds of tournaments and inevitably run into Nadal. Having said that, I have pretty much accepted that Nadal is Roger’s nemesis and that there isn’t much he can do to beat Nadal.
Of course he can beat Nadal indoors and have the odd win over him, but I don’t see Roger changing his personality just to be able to beat Nadal on a consistent basis. Roger is who he is and Nadal is who he is, and neither will change. It’s no use for me to keep acting like this time Roger will win for some reason. I would rather expect him to lose and then be happily surprised if he wins. Indian Wells id slow hard court after all and Roger have never beaten Nadal on slow hard. You can argue he beat Nadal in Miami once, but the court were probably faster back then and Roger barely won that match after being two sets and a break down. I don’t mean to say that Roger cannot beat Nadal today. He has after all beaten Nadal on slow surfaces before.
But if you look at past results then Nadal must be the overwhelming favorite to win this match. He has even beaten Roger on fast hard courts before(Dubai). And again, I don’t think Nadal is guaranteed to win. Roger is playing very well and he will know how much a win against Nadal will do for him. It will increase his chances to win a slam this year even more. Maybe the fact that it is best out three sets will give him a better chance. He must start well and win the first set. Then he knows he needs only one more set to close the deal. There is nothing wrong with hoping. But expecting him to win is something different altogether. At least Roger has defended his points from last year and is still playing great tennis.
As far as the head-to-head goes I don’t care much about this whole turkey business. There isn’t much difference between having a ten match lead in head-to-head to a guy then having a nine match lead or an eleven match lead for that matter. It matters more when the record is 12-2 or something like that. Roger isn’t completely owned in the head-to-head. He has won his fair share of matches. As long as he wins the odd match I am ok with it. Something I haven’t mentioned is the time Nadal took between points against Nalbandian. In the last game where Nalbandian was threatening to break back Nadal took and average of 40 seconds between points. That is blatant breaking of the rules and it’s a shame that the umpire did nothing.
Apparently the umpire warned him earlier in the match, but of course when it really mattered he did nothing. Now here is a way for Roger to beat Nadal: When things get tight, which I expect it will, he must complain to the umpire that Nadal takes too long between points. He must do something to get into Nadal’s head. This is what I talked about in my post about Roger criticizing Nadal too. He must do something different here. He would be fully within his rights to complain to the umpire if Nadal breaks the rules. It is time he uses his own star status and starts calling the shots. He must do whatever it takes to unnerve Nadal, and like I said there are many ways because Nadal is so obsessive-compulsive.
Roger may not like to use gamesmanship, but if the other player breaks the rules it is not gamesmanship if he complains to the umpire. Mental warfare is part of sport anyway. It is time for Roger to put his foot down in this rivalry. He has to let Nadal know that he can’t just do as he pleases. Go back and read my post about Roger criticizing Nadal. It is all there. I want to believe that Roger will do something different here to get into Nadal’s head and get the crucial win today. The time for change is at hand…
Ps. I will create a thread in the forum again for those of you who want to comment during the match. That’s if you can stomach it haha.