Indian Wells SF: Goderer Routines Nadal 6-3, 6-4, Isner Upsets Djokovic

Well what a surprising day yesterday was in Indian Wells. First Isner played some incredible clutch tennis to upset Djokovic 7-6(7), 3-6, 7-6(5), and then Goderer made a rare showing by defeating his nemesis in epic fashion. I don’t think anyone expected those two results. I was disappointed when Djokovic lost because I wanted him there for insurance in case Roger lost, but Roger didn’t look like he needed any insurance the way he played against Nadal. He came out there looking too stamp down his authority on the match from the start with aggressive tennis. Having said that, when he went ahead 3-0 on the first set I wasn’t getting my hopes up. We had seen that happen too many times before, only for Roger to end up losing.

And I was right not to get excited because Nadal won the next three games to even things up at 3-3. At 4-3 Roger got the break again however, and this time he wasn’t gonna get broken back again as he played a faultless game to hold serve to love and take the opening set. The stats for the first set was pretty much spotless. Roger made 74% first serves, won 9/9 points at the net, and converted 2/2 break points. In the second set Roger kept up his dominating play as he broke Nadal to love in the third game, but not before a short rain break. It was just spitting rain and not enough for the players to leave the court.  At 3-1 and 40-15 on Nadal’s serve Roger produced two more break points to get the insurance break. These were like match points in my mind.

I think Nadal saved the first one with a serve and then Roger netted a forehand on the next break point. There were still doubts in my mind as to whether Roger would get it done. But at 4-2 he did get the insurance break. Suddenly 6-3, 6-2 had a very nice ring to it, especially after Nadal beat Roger by the same score last year in Miami. But Nadal became more aggressive as he usually does when under pressure, and broke back. Roger would serve for the match at 5-4. At that point Nadal took a bathroom break which he did no doubt to unsettle Roger. Yet another example of gamesmanship by the king of gamesmanship. He just wanted to remind Roger that he is serving for the match and tried to make him crack under the pressure. This is what I was talking about before the match also.

As a player it wasn’t in my nature to use gamesmanship, but when my opponent used it I felt it gave me a license to use it too. I guess Roger is different. He prefers to make the racquet do the talking. Whether or not Nadal’s break affected him I don’t know, but he was clearly nervous again. He kept missing first serves like he did against Nadal in Melbourne, but he played well enough to get the score to 30-30. Then there was a rally where Nadal was on the attack again but Roger defended well to force the error from Nadal. And incredibly on match point it started spitting rain again. They had to sit down again and thank God they didn’t have to leave the court. Maybe the short break allowed Roger to gather himself a bit because he served an ace to clinch the victory.

Just beautiful. It was Roger at his best in this match and the match reminded me of the 2009 Madrid final where Roger also took control and basically just hit Nadal off the court. This victory was special because it was the first time Roger beat Nadal on outdoor hard court since 2005, and possibly the first time that he beat him on slow outdoor hard court. And you gotta love the fact that Roger is doing this at age 30 while Nadal is still in his prime. I don’t want to hype up this win too much like I did after the Masters Cup however. This was not a slam after all. It would be nice if Roger won the first two sets against Nadal in slam like he did here though. But even then you know Nadal is not out of it. The three set format allows Roger to end the match sooner and puts less of a mental burden on him.

This was a very nice win anyway. It made Roger avoid the turkey status and he is now leading the head-to-head on 2/3 surfaces again, and he leads Nadal 8-6 off clay. The 3-2 lead Nadal has in slams off clay is the one that bothers me, and hopefully Roger can do something about that during the remainder of the year. I wouldn’t bet against it either. This win must give Roger some confidence against Nadal. He really played well in all departments. Aside from that final game Roger served very well. His backhand was the key perhaps. He was ripping it for winners and hit so many of those half volleys from the base line. He didn’t allow Nadal to expose his backhand like he usually does. Given that the wind was quite strong it was even more impressive.

Of course Nadal complained about the wind after the match, forgetting how he destroyed Murray in the final in an even stronger wind a few years ago. Roger’s return and net game was on fire as well. The main thing is that he took control of the match and played very aggressive. I have talked about this before as well. Fedal matches is offense against defense. The one that applies their strength the best on the day is going to win. When Roger keeps attacking and stamps his authority on the match then Nadal doesn’t have much of a prayer, because I have always believed offense is better than defense. Problem is Roger doesn’t always play as dominantly against Nadal as he did here. He usually begins that way and then allows Nadal into the match somehow.

It is mostly mental, as Roger apparently said in his presser as well(I don’t read Roger’s pressers before I make a post). I guess over the course of five sets there are more chances for Roger to allow Nadal back in the match as opposed to three sets. But Roger must use this experience and take it into slams against Nadal. At least he knows he can win the first two sets against Nadal, after which odds of him winning must increase significantly. Something interesting is that since the US Open Roger has won five titles while Nadal has won none since the French Open last year. Roger has also accumulated 5410 ranking points since the US Open, Murray 2960, Djokovic 2920, and Nadal 2560. And if Roger wins today he will have 5810 points since then.

He will also bag his fourth Indian Wells title if he does so. The head-to-head for Roger against Isner is 2-1, having lost their last meeting in the Davis Cup this year. Isner is now a top 10 player after his win against Djokovic, and deservedly so. He has been impressive of late. Something that has always impressed me about him is his clutchness. Against Djokovic in the tie breaks he showed that once again. That is something that could be a problem for Roger, although after his win over Nadal Roger will be boiling over with confidence. Isner’s serve is especially difficult to deal with. Djokovic is maybe the best returner in the game, but there wasn’t much he could do against the Isner serve. Roger is also a very good returner though and is good at returning big servers.

We are probably looking at at least one tie break here. There one or two points will make the difference. Either way this is potentially a very tough match for Roger, just because Isner is such an awkward player and is so clutch. It certainly won’t be anything like playing against Nadal. Isner will give Roger no rhythm. The match will come down to a few clutch points, and both players have loads of belief in their own abilities after their semi-final matches. But in the end I believe the GOAT will seize the moment and win a sixth title in eight starts. I am just loving seeing Roger back in an Indian Wells final and I’m excited about his year. He could win a slam and return to the number one ranking to beat Sampras record of total weeks at the top if he keeps this up.

But first there is business to take care of…

Live chat thread

Highlights:

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50 Comments

  1. good analysis as usual….

    we should not be very optimistic from this win…as roger had gud win against rafa in past too…he is on right track ….

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  2. Nice blog! I think Federer will win the final, if nothing else separates the two I would at least expect Isner to show nerves on the big stage in front of a home crowd, and having what he considers the GOAT on the other side of the net. I’m happy Nadal does this kind of unfair tricks, gives me a legitimate reason to dislike him which goes beyond mere questions of taste of style. And finally, breaking the Sampras record of #1 would be very sweet, I really hope he’ll make it.

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  3. I have to be very honest with you guys but I didn’t watch the match intentionally due to the past traumas inflicted by Nadal to an avid RF fan like me.I watched the replay though and I’m so proud and happy with Roger’s win against his nemesis under a very tough weather condition.His confidence is soaring high when he face Isner.It’s going to be a tough match for the GOAT because he was humiliated by Isner in their last meeting(Davis Cup)in Switzerland but now Roger can avenge that loss and his chances to regain the #1 spot is getting closer.Like you Ruan I don’t want to set some high expectation from Roger cos I really enjoy surprises.Upon knowing that he had acquired a flu or whatever type of illness in the early rounds I didn’t expect him to reach the final esp when I learned that he’ll be facing Nadal in the semis.It’s better like this..Roger letting his racquet do the talking and surprise his fans with his beautiful execution.All the best to the King of Tennis!!!!!and welcome back Ruan :-)

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  4. Hail Federer!
    With all due respect ruan – this is yet another opportunity Roger is giving you to stop putting up defeatist posts like the one before the Nadal match. Even if it seems like all the odds are against him, if anyone can make a miracle happen its Roger Federer. Fans don’t doubt. Fans don’t write off. Fans believe. Unconditionally.

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    Kathleen Reply:

    I couldn’t agree more – word for word. I was about to stop reading this blog as I too believe the power of the word (read: positive thinking) & never doubted Roger’s ability to not only beat Rafa (as he had already done @ year’s end)but to also win a GS & return to #1. FedFans keep the faith through good times & bad; he is and always will be the GOAT and is no where near over making his mark in tennis history!

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    ba Reply:

    Exactly, kathleen.

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  5. Just finished watching the match for the second time. When played i was in such a state of anxiety and excitement could not take it all in. Second viewing allowed me to sit back and enjoy the artistry of Rogers game. I am still in a state of joy. I for one am hopeful from this weeks tennis and his tennis so far this year. In all interviews lately he has stopped making excuses unlike Rafa and Novak did after yesterdays losses. They have tasted the bitter pill of defeat, the shock of it. Roger has had several years of dealing with defeat and i think he is past it. Roger doesn’t have Rafa in his head anymore and is willing to play the aggressive kind of tennis needed to beat Rafa and Novak. Heck, wouldn’t be surprised if he beat Rafa at thr French. Rafa is now losing to Novak and Roger, tough place to be, just ask Roger. Roger Federer, the greatest tennis player ever. He played four matches with a fever from flu, seriously who can do that?

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  6. God, what a relief that was to see Roger totally outplay Nadal. I was so nervous and queasy when he was serving 5-2 in the second set and lost his serve. Ithought to myself, “Oh no, not again!” Remember Roger has lost set leads to Nadal of 4-0 and 5-1 in the past (in Rome and Monte Carlo). I was biting my nails in fear.

    Then when Fed lost his serve I was practically convinced Nadal would come back strong and take the match. When Roger finally aced him on MP I was ecstatic! What a satisfying win!! And of course cheater Nadal takes a freakin’ toilet break right before Roger serves for it. Typical gamesmanship from him.

    Most importantly, if Roger wins here, he will cut Nadal’s lead over him for the #2 ranking. It’s imperative for Roger to get to #2 by the time of Roland Garros so he won’t have to beat both Djoker and Nadal.

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  7. I have to disagree with this opinion:

    “Fans don’t doubt. Fans don’t write off. Fans believe. Unconditionally.”

    Of course real fans doubt. How can any Fed fan have confidence whenever Roger plays Rafa, considering their H2H and their history? How many times has Roger choked away matches to this inferior player? Countless times. It’s possible to be a devoted Fed fan (as I am), and still realize his limitations and mental issues with Nadal.

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    George Reply:

    I couldn’t agree more. Blind faith is the recipe for disaster. It creates unreasonable expectations and hides the truth. What is wrong with you people. Ru-an emphasizes things no one else does or has the courage to do so. There are some hidden truths concerning Roger we have chosen to ignore as fans all this time. In my mind, Ru-an would have been a valuable member of Roger’s team, had he been given the opportunity. Could have helped Roger a lot. Really.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Appreciate it George.

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    ba Reply:

    Blind faith and being outright negative are two different things. Having been proven wrong time and time again and to still continue writing an obituary before every Nadal match up is plain ridiculous. No fan is in denial about the problems he faces against Nadal. We all accept it for what it is but that does not warrant being this negative. To Roger as we know, his fans are very important to him. Look at this blog of one of his so called biggest fans. Anyone would think Fed fans are nothing but an ungrateful defeatist

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    ba Reply:

    *bunch. I’m just saying accepting his shortcomings and writing him off are two entirely different things.
    If you didn’t believe he could win, you don’t deserve to celebrate his victory with him.

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  8. well said Candace :-) You’re absolutely right,we love Roger but we also accept his downfalls and limitations as an athlete.We must not practice blind fate when the obvious is very clear sometimes.Let’s just savor sweet moments like this and pray for more victory against the cheater Nadal and the cocky Djoker.More GS to the GOAT in the near future and the Olympic gold medal as well ;-)

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  9. This is quite a significant win, even though it’s not a Grand Slam. This is the first time Federer has beaten Nadal on an outdoor hard court in nearly seven years and only the second time he’s ever done so overall.

    It’s also important because Indian Wells is arguably the most Nadal-friendly hard court on the tour. He is a two-time champ at IW, a three-time finalist, and made the semis seven straight times, clearly he is very comfortable on those courts.

    Unlike the indoors WTF courts which are low-bouncing and reasonably fast, the outdoors IW courts are like blue clay and the ball bounces high. In London, Federer can pinpoint his attacks without worrying about wind or humidity and hit outright winners with his crosscourt backhand, which is not so at IW.

    Nadal claimed the conditions made it hard for him. But given his previous results, he certainly should know how to deal with adverse conditions there.

    And of course wind, wet and cold affect Federer’s complex, high-risk style much more than Nadal’s very safe, simple, consistent game. Yet Federer executed much better even though he had a lot less margin for error and was implementing tactics that he’s not usually comfortable with.

    There’s been an argument that it’s easier for Federer to overcome his mental block in best-of-three because he can simply will himself to play well through a shorter match. I don’t think that’s a material factor; Federer has wobbled against Nadal in best-of-three after having the lead.

    In Madrid, Federer won the first set with some beautiful tennis, but as if to make up for his superlative performance, he mentally collapsed in the second set and was never quite the same player afterward. For some reason the strain of playing against his usual tendencies was too much for him even in a best-of-three match. He really has to be focused the whole way through.

    This time he was mentally able to keep it up the whole time. No lapses or mental walkabouts. When he made mistakes he didn’t lose heart, he continued with his game plan. That’s huge.

    If this had been London it would have been another 6-3, 6-0 demolition. That Nadal was able to recover two of the breaks is greatly due to the advantage the slow surface gives him.

    Isner will pose a very stiff challenge. He played heroically to edge Djokovic. His game may be limited, but he knows how to maximize what he has and never gives up.

    I agree completely that it comes down to whether Federer is clutch enough to make those two or three points on which the match hangs. Djokovic did a fantastic job returning the Isner serve but he was unable to capitalize on his chances. For me it was decided when he dropped serve after breaking Isner in the first set. That gave Isner confidence and allowed him to take it to a tiebreak where he is very dangerous.

    Federer has incurred a similar loss to Karlovic (three sets where he lost two tiebreaks) a few years ago, but that was when he was low on confidence. He will be sharper today and he will be hungry to win the title and overturn the result of Davis Cup.

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  10. Well done Roger. THE DEFINITION OF FRUITION

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    Ru-an Reply:

    What business is it of yours what the definition of fruition is, FRIENDO? :D

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    veronica Reply:

    Love that definition, George!! Didn’t I say Fed is a different animal this year?! Didn’t I say I was convinced that he has finally confronted himself this year?! And I was convinced he is in the best position form-wise and mental-wise to take down the top 2 dogs in this tournament BUT for his sickness. YET, he did it DESPITE not being 100%! This says A LOT, folks!!! (Fed was coughing little coughs throughout his match with Nadal). Some headlines should have read like this, “SICK Federer overcomes FRESH Nadal”. Barring illness/injury, I believe we are about to witness Fed heading into a second successful phase of his career where he rises again; maybe not as long as the first phase, but definitely much sweeter and begs to be savoured every single moment. Nadal blamed the wind?! I love it! Fed is NOW getting into Nadal’s head!!! Isn’t Fed playing outside his comfort zone, with his high-risk, complex game more susceptible to the elements than Nadal’s game?!! Isn’t slow hard courts Nadal’s forte?! Isn’t it proven time and again that Fed is ONLY good in indoors?! I love it that Fed was pounding Nadal’s backhand instead of the other way round! Just watching that was pure bliss! Nadal looked like a lost rabbit frantically looking for his carrot! Ha! Didn’t Fed make him look one-dimensional?! I think all those years of playing in the wind -affected USO has really helped Fed deal with the wind like no player can. Big John starting to be a bit cocky when he beat a tired, sub-par Fed in Switzerland. I just love it when all these players beat old man Fed and they had a whiff of the throne and then old man Fed stifles the whiff with his magic wand! I also really like the respectful and dignified way Fed celebrates his wins. Btw, let’s cut our dear GOAT blogger here some slack. Ru-an is a loyal, honest, objective and realistic fan. We fans come in all sorts of shapes and sizes – “focus on positives” fans, blind fans, realistic fans, negative fans, demanding fans, critical fans,etc, etc, etc. All of us are one or a mix of those. No fan is perfect. It’s ok to disagree on an issue and have a great discussion about it. But I don’t think all this labelling of what kind of fan and judging who is the better fan gets us anywhere. Why are we here reading and commenting on this blog? Because we love Fed and we are his fan, perfect or not. And we have Ru-an to thank for providing this forum and taking into his stride all our dissatisfaction with his posts/opinions sometimes. Which reminds me, Ru-an, I want to air out a dissatisfaction (just in case readers here think I am very “Pro Ru-an”!!) Your comment that this year’s AO final is the greatest tennis match of all time. REALLY? Ru-an?!! Are you out of your mind?!!!!! Anyway, I’m cutting you some slack so I stayed quiet when you made that comment! Heehee!! Anyway, Congrats Fed and all fed fans here and let’s move onto Miami. I’m not looking for Fed to win Miami; I just want him to keep in touch, keep close. We don’t want Fed to tire himself and overplay. The big ones are yet to come and needs his 100% fitness and focus. Onward and upward Sir Rajah Federer!!!!

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  11. This is so great for Roger! :D
    I hope he can keep up this mood/motivation all year. Don’t worry about Nadal’s gamesmanship; Rog went and peed in his water bottles while Nadal was off the court during that toilet break ;-) (j/k)

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  12. LOL Katarina! That toilet break stood out glaringly for me in this match. It was so classic Nadal (when he asked umpire for the break, he looked like a little boy about to lose his favourite toy and trying desperately to cling on to it). It was PURE, TRUE, 100% gamemanship!! So classless. I almost puked when he did it. I’m surprised, even shocked that none of the media has picked this up. Shame!

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  13. Thanks for the post! love reading this blog though I don’t usually comment. I really find that toilet break of Nadal at 5-4 Roger serving for the match very distasteful. OK, he made it quite quick, but is it really necessary? surely he can wait another few minutes, given it was not a long match? it was just such bad gamesmanship. I normally am quite indifferent to Nadal but after this incident, I really cannot bring myself NOT to dislike him. He used these tactics against other people before but when it is agianst Roger, I just cannot stand!!!!

    Tonight is a great day for us FedFans, I love that ‘Monday After’ feeling after Roger had a great win!!!! I think his backhand is better than ever, even in ‘crazy’ windy conditions. It was a sight to behold! really hope Roger can keep it up and close in on the no.2 ranking before RG!!!!

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    veronica Reply:

    Yeah, Longlivekingrog, Fed’s SBH is a sight to behold and NOT a weakness anymore! It has become a lethal weapon!!! Can someone please explain the scenarios for Fed to get back to no. 2 before Roland Garos?! Thanks!

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    V Reply:

    Hey Veronica.I will try to explain this.You see,Roger is now No1 in the ATP Rankings for this season.He has accumulated 2820 points.Djokovic is second with 2540 points.In the 52-week ranking system, Federer remains ranked No. 3 behind Djokovic and No. 2 Rafael Nadal. But if he reaches the Sony Ericsson Open final Federer could overtake Nadal in the next rankings after Miami.
    Here are the current ATP Rankings – 2012 points only:

    1. Federer 2,820
    2. Djokovic 2,540
    3. Nadal 1,800
    4. Ferrer 1,405
    5. Del Potro 1,315
    6. Murray 1,280

    While Federer stays ranked No. 3, he does leapfrog Novak Djokovic for the most points in 2012. Federer moves into the top position with 2,820, ahead of Djokovic’s 2,540.

    Both Federer and Djokovic will be competing at the Sony Ericsson Open set to begin later this week. Djokovic beat Nadal in the final last year. Federer lost to Nadal in the semifinals.

    Federer can overtake Nadal for the No. 2 ranking in Miami, but the Swiss will have to at least reach the final to harbor a chance.

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    veronica Reply:

    Thanks V, really appreciate it!! The only problem I see is even if Fed reaches final and overtakes Nadal, Nadal has got his clay courts coming up and he may then regain his position. What’s the minimum worse in Miami, Monte Carlo and Madrid that Nadal can do to NOT regain no. 2 presuming Fed overtakes him after Miami?

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    V Reply:

    Well,alright.Here goes.
    THe ATP MAster 1000 points breakdown is:
    Tour Points
    Winner 1000
    Final 600
    Semi-finals 360
    Quarter-finals 180
    Round of 16 90
    Round of 32 45
    Round of 64 10

    Last year,Fed reached Ofs of MC,Sf of Madrid and 3rd round in Rome.So he defends 180+360+45=585points.
    Whereaas Nadal won MC,and reached Finals in Madrid and Rome.SO he defends 1000+600+600=2200points in these 3 events.Now in current rankings,Fed is 9530 and Raf is 10175.Now Fed wont play MC.So take out 180 from 9530=9350 and if fed wins madrid he will get 1000 points and will lose the 360 points he ius defending so he will gain a net of 640 points to 9530=10170 and reaches semis or better at rome, he will atleast gain by320-950 points which makes atmost 11070.Now Nadal is defending 1200 points.NOte that if he gains any more points,only the net of points earned less points defended will be added to his current ranking points so if he is not able to repeat what he did last season,ie win mc,reach final in madrid and rome,we may see Roger taking a good lead from Rafa if he takes away the no2 from Nadal next week in Miami.Hope you understood.
    V

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    veronica Reply:

    Wow! V, thanks!! Really appreciate it!!!

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    V Reply:

    9350*+640=9990 plus reaching semis or better at rome,gain y atmost 950=10940

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  14. yesterday roger was pretty tentative in the first set, but somehow managed to scrape through the tiebreak after squandering 2set pts, also he served a double, another day d set cud hav gone, but in 2nd set he found his range, started to play with aggression n swing his shots freely, imposed his game upon isner, obviously isner had nothing much to do thereafter.
    as far as the ranking race is concerned, if roger manages to get back to no.2 position, then he’ll chase down nole for sure, because nole has a huge amount of points to defend till us open, and obviously he’ll not be able to repeat the same feat, i think nadal will also prefer this changed situation, he may like to face nole in sf than in final and try the things differently. ultimately, nole will get back to no.3 and those sweet old days will be completely back, we can foresee this scenario :-)

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  15. OK …seems there is excitement about the win and well deserved after so many crushing losses. But onece again lets get little bit more realistic
    1.His performance deserves cheers but he has always had that and showed only in 1st games of a match a Nadal then comes back and it completely disappears.
    2.This win is no way bigger than that in 2009 Madrid final on clay – Rogger showed better game and mentality then and was avoiding Nadal a whole year till they met there again for Roger to loose without putting too much effort. Conclusion even after a better performance he was unable to repeat his game/tactics and reverse the rivalry or start beating Nadal on a more regular basis.
    3.The wind – the wind was crucial for roger to get his breaks and look imperious on many moments throughout the match. Its not his problem Nadal cannot handle it that well but definitely affected to a large extent the quality of Roger`s game and a lot less Nadal`s. To compare it with another sport formula 1 fans know that Michael Schumaher would always win if there was rain…he just knew how to drive the car better in those conditions. So please stay on the ground – as fast court enhances Roger`s game so wind conditions helps him ina a way he can use a his competitive advantage of using it better than anyone not to affect his game.
    4.The toilet break – FED must stop being a lady and start addressing those on court or immediately after the game. He has proved in the past (think Rome 2009 when arguing about ball being in vs Nadal or arguing with empire during 2009 US final vs Del Potro) he get distracted when going in an argument during a match so he better not address those immediately not to affect his play which Nadal wished for.
    By the way why no one comments as a reader said earlier FED vs Del Potro when he asks him to confirm the ball was out in the 1st game and Fed didn`t even bother to answer something like “didn`t see it from here or dunno” and he preferred to stay silent and have that point?
    5.Choking – clearly after RG 2011 he started losing with more respectable results especially in final sets vs Nadal, he improved a little in mental department too but he is far away from taking Nadal`s demon out of his head. Prove – after winning Madrid 2009 he didn’t use the experience either on slow or fast surfaces the next 2 years. He is more or less same mentally not so strong player when plays Nadal – you all seem to overlook very easy the fact that for 100000 time he starts with lead of 3:0 and then boom its 3:3…its been happening over and over (no improvement here!!!), then 5:2 on second set goes blown away for no time till 5:4 and 30:30. We must all be greatfull to Nadal that he missed that shot for a break point at 30:30 –he makes such mistakes once for years!!! And never on such a clutch moment. Had he win that point that was a match point cause you must be a full to think Roger will recover in a tiebreak or next 2 sets !!! Did u all realize that if Roger didn’t make that ace to win the set he would lose the game and the whole match afterwards. Was going to be the most crushing loss of his career , lot worse than AO2009!!!
    When did Djokovic ever head such lapses and chokes last 7 or even more meeting with nadal?Please stop putting excuses that is natural to always comeback like nadal does after been 3 games down – its not because Nadal started play better or more aggressively its pure choking – don`t wanna read about surfaces excuses as well.
    What`s good is that next time (better be soon) he can be more relaxed and self-confident to play his shots.He has a good chance to win Miami but if court is slower and there is no wind on his semifinal or final will be tougher but not impossible. He has the belief he can beat anyone and its still only Nadal that can ground him. Waiting impatiently to see how he continues with his streak
    p/s pls lets not make statements that FED is in Nadals head already – this is so true as the statement “there was snow in Africa once for 500 years so ice age is approaching there :-)

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    amine Reply:

    i think that the fedal matchup analysis in this is blog is quiet wrong because there is a simple fact that a lot of Fed fans are denying : Nadal is a better slow court player than Federer (he is the second best). Instead of taking this reality and living with it, we try to find unbaised explanations like psychological problems or lack of balls…
    The hard facts are the following : nadal is a better player on slow court federer is better player in fast courts.
    Out of the 28 confrontations, 20 were on slow courts (14 on clay court and 6 on slow hard courts) and 8 on fast courts. The results are the following : 16-4 in favor of Nadal on slow courts 6-2 in favor of Federer on fast courts.
    The reason why Fed fans should be very proud about the h2h record against nadal is because Federer managed to face Nadal 20 times in slowcourts whereas Nadal managed only 8 times to face federer in fast courts (I still count wimbeldon as a fast court in order to avoid unnecessty argument).
    Federer meet nadal 5 times at rolland garros, 3 times in montecarlo, twice in Hamburg, 3 times in Madrid, once in rome, 3 times in Miami…How many times did they meet in usopen, in cincinatti, in dubai, in the rogers cup, in paris bercy, in shangai : 0.
    the other reason to be optimistic is that Federer is closing the gap by changing his game plan. He is much more agressive know (rg 11, oa 12, indianwells12) and it is exactly the right strategy to beat nadal on a slow court.
    I am giving a 50/50 chance that federer will beat nadal in RG if they are to meet again.

    a proud Fed fan

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    stoyan Reply:

    Like ur post and argument backed up by data but if u watch all those clay court matches they played especially outside RG u will see plenty of examples what pure choking is. The more he looses , the more he chokes :-) See nadal lost 7 times but excluding missed easy forhand that lost him AO final this year he is a mental gigant most of times. We cannot say Djokovic is better and accept it as a law till the end of time.These are top player and margins are not that wide especially with Fed and Nadal.If we don`t look at the stats but believe what our eyes have seen FED was/is lot weaker mentally and this is huge part of the game and i would rather accept that and live with it.I can definitelly accept nadal is better overall claycourt player but not as much as stats show – they cover mental weakness and many of us try to excuse him because they play on clay.No one can constantly beat the 2nd best player for years on his 2nd best surface .he used to be so good 2003-2007 that he never learned how to be strong when it matters.Seems like he might get rid of his fears but lets wait and see the next meeting.
    I think he was ready to beat nadal last RG but… classic choking at 5:2 1st set and he burned :-) Really hope he can beat him again in Miami – that would be a begining of new era…in their rivalry and new reighn as N1 :-)

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    amine Reply:

    I understand your point but you seem to underestimate the power of Nadal on a clay court (he has lost only one game in rolland garros so far, 70% of his titles are on clay, he has an 80 someting winning streak on clay, stoped only by Federer) he is simply the clay goat and it took a clay goat to stop Federer on clay thats how good federer is. The only loss in my mind that came from a mental weakness was the wimbeldon 08 final when he was defending 5 titles in a row, the number one ranking, a post mono experience, and a demolition from Nadal a month before in Rolland Garros. And even in this match he showed a lot of fighting spirit by coming back from 2 sets to love, winning 2 tiebreaks and going all the way to 7-9 in the fifth set. federer’s acheivements are so amazing (winning 24 staight finals, 23 consecutive slam semis, 16 slams, 285 weeks at number one…..) that automatically eliminates mental weakness. The main reason for the Fedal h2h is Nadal clay game and federer wrong strategy : he was trying to beat him from the baseline (prior to annacone being on board)
    We are witnessing a new federer era were strategy is taking a more important part of his game and it is going to be amazing to watch : the new n°1 is coming back and i am expecting very speacial moments from now one.

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    veronica Reply:

    Stoyan, very good comments. I would just say why some Fed fans are wildly excited (like I obviously am) is the difference with Fed lately is he DIDN’T choke, that’s all. He would have, could have, definitely should have if we look at Fed’s “illustrious” choking history! Fact is HE DIDN’T. That’s what is so exciting/shocking about his last few tournaments playing Nadal and top 10 players. He closed out tight matches, he crawled back to win, he didn’t lapse, he didn’t allow himself to be rattled, he scraped. He was never like that before. And he did it again and again and again in last few tournaments. As you say, Fed has never been a master of consistency as far as fighting is concerned and you site good examples. I totally agree with you. I am actually quite weary of keeping the faith in Fed as he invariably always lets down when it really matters and whatever new/great changes you see do not last long or do not translate to slam success or when he meets the big boys. But you must admit, these last few tournaments have been very consistent for Fed and he met top players. In the past, after that toilet break by Nadal, he DEFINITELY would have lost the match in IW. But he served an ace after all that psychological pressure! An ace, Stoyan! Surely that is cause for celebration, given Fed’s dismal mental battle against Nadal; and for once, gives me a stronger hope and anticipation that he can finally cross the finish line and give us all a slam. It looks to me that he has taken steps, at least the first giant step to overcome his demons; not only with Nadal but with top 10 players. Also he seems to realise now that this is what he has to do and when he did it, he succeeded. For once, he didn’t seem arrogant that he won because of his skills. He realise he has to work (mental and physical) for it. And work he must if he wants a slam. About that Delpo ball out, yeah, agree with you. Not only this time, few times (think with Soderling, don’t remember what match), Fed keeps quiet if it is to his advantage a call is wrongly made. I think he should play more fair. But wrong calls are a big part of a match and sometimes things get lost who is right or wrong and a decision just have to be made; whereas gamemanship is created by a player to gain advantage. Still, I do not excuse Fed for keeping quiet.

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    veronica Reply:

    Correction : I meant served an ace at championship point after the last rain delay. After Nadal’s toilet break, Fed got nervous but still held his game together. In the past, he would have broken down and gave the game away to Nadal.

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  16. Right now Nadal and Federer have 10175 and 9350 ATP points respectively. If Nadal does not reach Miami finals, he will have maximum 10175-600+360=9935 points. If Fed wins Miami, he shall have 9350-360+1000=9990 points. So it is still possible for Federer to reach #2 before the clay swing if he wins Miami and Rafa is stopped in the semifinals or before.

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  17. Some comment I read on a site I think Ruan you’ll like. : “As Im always talking about Nadals poor sportsmanship,I thought I should add this from someone who was actually in the audience watching the match:

    Just got back home from IW, seeing the Nadal-Fed game.
    FYI: Because I’m a French Canadian living in LA and a huge Tennis fan, it was always easy for me to respect, like and root for both, Nadal and Fed, my perfect Yin and Yang of tennis, despite my dislike for their personality-flaws (Fed’s arrogance / Nadal’s hypocrisy).

    Today, I was hoping for Nadal to win the second set, simply because I wanted to see an epic third, and when Nadal broke Fed in the second set, the game got tighter. Federer was up 5-4, SERVING FOR THE MATCH, tension peaking and then the oddest thing happens: Nadal walks off the court — for a bathroom break!! The crowd went: ohhhmg-shhhshhhoohh, the guy next to me said: ‘what a scumbag!’.
    I know, it’s not the first time that Nadal is accused of bad sportsmanship. Or puzzles people with perfectly-timed game interruptions, like for example the bathroom break against Fish at the WTF 2011, or the dodgy MTO against Del Potro at WI 2011, or the MTO against Fed at RG 2011 when Nadal was down 2-5 with Federer serving. But watching these matches on TV, I always used to say: so what, moving on.
    But this time it was different: I was there. It was the first time that I actually witnessed Nadal doing it — and I must sadly say, it was disgusting.

    First of all, being there in the stadium, it was all too obvious that it was a dirty trick. Bathroom break before the last game and the opponent serving for the match? C’mon man. Ever seen Kobe running to the bathroom with the clock winding down? Ever seen another tennis player doing this? Besides, bathroom breaks are to be taken before your OWN serve, and if Nadal really had to go to the bathroom, he could have gone 5 minutes earlier before his serve.

    And here is the second difference for me: because there aren’t any tv-commercials at live matches, all I got to see during the break saw was Federer alone on court. Every second of it. Waiting and waiting. Minute after minute. Taking deep breaths. Staring at his racquet. And I could almost feel what went through Feds head: he had time to realize that Nadal just successfully adjusted his game, that Nadal just started to play better, he was possibly thinking of RG 2011, the missed match points against Nole at USO 2011, the Tsonga melt-down… gosh, even for me, as a regular Tennis fan in the stands, these minutes became AGONIZING!

    When Nadal came back, I no longer rooted for Nadal to win the second set. Instead I hoped and prayed that Fed would close it out. And I was afraid that the match would slip away, that Nadal has managed to get into Fed’s head once again to cake-walk the third. But then, it didn’t happen. And Fed won.

    Which left me relieved for Fed, but also sad that after what I saw in person, my personal, 7-year-old, perfect Yin and Yang of tennis, has just been thrown out of whack. “

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    Ru-an Reply:

    What a great comment. I thought it was disgusting behavior from Nadal too. The guy is an absolutely terrible sport.

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    Chris Reply:

    I believe that this is just the visible part of the iceberg. If the truth about the ‘physical freak’ ever came out, he would go down as the biggest individual cheater in the history of sports. While I don’t really see that much arrogance in Federer. Any person of his status and success must have have a sense of superiority, and if for nothing else because he is told so all the time. Furthermore, he speaks to the microphones all the time, under the influence of extreme emotions, and if he only happens to say something which can sound like arrogant, the press will always be more than happy to take it out of context and cite him in a way that makes him sound bad. I’ve never seen him play, but I’ve seen him interact with ‘normal’ folks in Switzerland, where he is admired because of his down to earth manner. The Swiss are suspectful of success, understatement is culture, and arrogant behaviour is punished by the public. If Federer was arrogant, he would not be popular in his country

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  18. It’s great to see Fed win IW, his 3rd tournament in a row, especially after beating Nadal on the way to the title. I really hope he continues to play with his mind loose, for it will increase definitely his chances of winning another slam.
    Nadal’s behavior keeps worsening every time… behind all that pose, all that “never quit attitude, always keep fighting, blah blah” he seems really desperate. Although I consider him the favorite to win the French Open, I guess that if he fails to accomplish the title he won’t be in for bright future…
    Another thing that puzzles me is all the Fed-haters out there in the tennis forums and blogs. Their rationale is something like this:
    -Federer won tournaments in late 2011 because all other top 4 didn’t care, were tired, etc;
    -He won Rotterdam because he didn’t play against either Novak, Nadal or Murray;
    -He won Dubai because the court was fast and in spite beating Murray, he didn’t face Novak and Nadal wasn’t there;
    – He won IW because the wind helped him, the slow court favors him(WTF?!), Nadal was rusty because he hadn’t been competing, since this wasn’t a slam Novak and Nadal didn´’t commit at 100%;
    So, for a hater, Federer never has merit in anything he accomplishes. I guess if he wins another slam we’ll be hearing something like he got lucky or the planets aligned to favor him or some sorrow excuse like that…
    All Best,
    Vasco

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  19. Goderer routines Nadal….
    Interesting title for this special Federer victory…
    I’d say, even if Federer has been winning matches and tournaments lately as routine as morning coffee, there is not such a thing as a natural winning routine. Roger may make it look easy as if everything comes so natural to him, but he has been working very hard to be where he is, and he had to first get rid a bit of that monkey, this fear factor towards his main rival. His victory at Indian Wells is for sure a milestone in their rivalry, maybe even a turning point who knows. Anyway Roger looks – to outward seeming – back on the right track, poised for more victories and on course to make history. The question is however just how far he can and will keep going… Will he be able to turn things around on slam level too?

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  20. What was so great about this victory was the fact that Federer stayed true to the plan the entire match, unlike Melbourne. If he commits to hammering Nadal’s backhand, he gives himself a safeguard that prevents Nadal from turning it into his point. He cannot take the bait that Nadal gave him at Melbourne with the space left to Nadal’s forehand. I would like to how this tactic holds at slams especially if he encounters him on clay. Most of all, I want to see Roger play him at the US Open. If Roger plays and crushes him, then he could say, “See, had we met all those years before, I would’ve gotten you.” Federer doesn’t have to consign the rivalry yet, he can gain some ground this year.

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  21. After watching the Fedal Match, I must admit that Federer did learn something from Australia. He is consciously trying to pin Nadal in his backhand. In fact, there were 5-6 key points that Nadal made errors becauce he was pounded by Federer. It is true that wins are never easy against him, and that the wind favoured Federer today. I was very surprised when I heard on TV that Nadal is the better wind player than Federer. Not true – actually it’s the other way around.

    Anyway, Fed has a very interesting prospect now to actually leapfrog Nadal to get to number 2. Wouldn’t that be interesting? And if the draws align, who knows! Maybe it will be Djokovic and Nadal grinding it out in the semis? And then hopefully we’ll have A Djokovich – Federer final – at Wimbledon?! That very same thought is just dreamy right now, but not impossible!

    That is why Federer must go back to work – try (no pressure or must win, like in IW) but try to win again while riding the momentum. Actually it will be interesting to see the draw. Maybe I kinda want Djokovich in the semis now, for a change.

    And then after Miami, I think Federer will another BRILLIANT trick out of the bag – namely, taking a STRATEGIC 5 week break just BEFORE the HEART of the SEASON! He will be fresh, CONFIDENT, rested and READY!!!

    Just when Djokovich and Nadal will be busy in April, Roger will be at the beach somewhere. And then – MADRID – actually I am looking forward VERY much to this Masters 1000 event – it will be played on Blue clay and who knows! What if Roger wins therer – which is not impossible, looking in his record for the past 3 years (Winner,Runner-Up, SF) and that can be another twister. I just love how the season is unfolding. I am kinda discounting Murray here (unless he shows me something special in Miami) and it will be a 3-men race this year!!!

    Go Roger!!!

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  22. Whohoo. I actually got my wish – the draw is out – Federer is in Djokovich’s half – and actually has a pretty decent (easy) draw. If he takes it seriously, he is going to the semis – and possibly the final! YES!!!

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  23. Hi Ruan. Nice times, eh? Everyone still celebrating….I’ve been following the posts, but I’ve also been remembering the AO period, where a few of us predicted Roger would go on a tear this year, while everyone was wallowing in the misery of the Nadal loss. As you recall you had alot of discussions with many fans after the AO loss to Nadal, which you saw as a mental weakness episode. Some just saw it as a blip- a fluke – in the new world of Roger Federer who is confident, wins from behind, focuses on every point – and fights. A match where two points going a different way could have resulted in a Roger win. I still maintain that loss to Nadal was mostly bad luck- and nothing more – and the new post USOpen Roger was in full flight already then. Have you revisited that match and changed your mind? Do you plan on rewatching it, perhaps with new perspective? If not, I am curious to know what you think changed against Nadal so drastically from that match, to this last one, on a slower than clay court?

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