Madrid F: Nadal def Federer 6-4, 7-6(5), Claims 18th Masters Series Title

I was wrong. Period. Nadal was better on the day than Federer. Having said that, Roger had his chances. No one can dispute that fact. Federer started out the match looking pretty confident, holding serve to love. Nadal would soon make his move though as he broke in the third game, only to get broken back in the next game. Nadal would get the break again in the all important seventh game however, after several unforced errors from Federer. Roger was looking less than confident again. I think it could have been nerves. At 4-5 he would squander a total of four break back points. The first set was very disappointing from a strategic point of view for Roger. It was the old Federer before he realized he should change his tactics on clay against Nadal. There was no particular intention to move forward, hit the drop shot, or vary his play.

And things didn’t look any better in the second set, as Federer got broken in the opening game. But again he would break right back. At this point something started to change. Roger began playing the game that won him the title against Nadal last year. He was starting to use the drop shot with great success and was looking to be much more aggressive. This was all very encouraging, which made the loss of serve in the fifth game all the more disappointing. However, Roger would show great resilience as he broke Nadal back yet again. Entering the tie break, Roger got the mini-break early on. They changed sides with Roger leading 4-2. Things were looking up. But unfortunately from here on Roger would really throw it away. He missed a drop shot which up until that point he made with deadly accuracy.

He really threw it away here and lost four points consecutively. He managed to fend off one match point, getting things back on serve. But in a freak occurrence, Nadal hit a ball short that landed near the service line and took a wicked bounce. Roger obviously missed the ball completely, and Nadal finally got his victory over a top eight player. Ironic, isn’t it? That Nadal needed a freakish bounce to get his first win over a top eight player in a year. It was an unfortunate incident, but Roger should not have been in that position in the first place. He did so well to get into a position to win the second set, but then played some really sloppy tennis. So in the end he didn’t really deserve to win. Nadal on the other hand did what he was supposed to do. He beat Roger once again on his favorite surface.

Even though I said I think Roger would win the match, Nadal is really expected to win every time they meet on clay. It is just a fact. It is also the reason why their head-to-head record is 14-7 in favor of Nadal. Of the 21 meetings they have had, 12 have been on clay. More than half. This is because Nadal fails most of the time to make it far enough in the tournaments outside of clay to meet Federer on a regular basis. Federer also leads Nadal in the most important record, which is grand slam titles(16-6). Nadal will never pass Federer in grand slam titles. Rest assured. Even if he regains the form of 2008, which is highly unlikely, his knees will never carry him long enough to break Roger’s records. Every time Federer and Nadal plays a match, the consequences seem to be great. But these days it’s really not that great.

The overall picture has become more or less static. Since Federer has won the career slam and the most grand slams in history last year, he has effectively put his records out of the reach of Nadal. The Nadal fans will get all excited now, claiming once again that Nadal has already achieved much more than Federer has at his age. But as always their logic is flawed. Nadal peaked early and is already past his peak, and he only has 6 slams on the board. I do think he is the favorite to win the French Open now however. But even if Roger won today, Nadal would still have been the favorite. Roland Garros is slower conditions than Madrid, which makes Nadal impossible to beat there if he plays well. With this win Nadal now holds the record for the most Masters Series titles as well. Lets be glad for him, because he is never going to come close to Roger’s grand slam records.

As far as Roger’s quest to break Sampras’ record amount of weeks at number one goes, the scenario is now as follows:

If Nadal wins the French Open, which is expected, Roger needs to make the semi-final to hold on to the number one spot after the French. To get the record he needs to be number one for another week after Paris however. For that to happen he needs to make the final of Paris. If not then Nadal still has a chance to pass him in the week of Queens and Halle. Djokovic also has an outside chance of passing Roger, but i don’t think he is winning the French.


So in the end Roger needs to make the final in Paris. That is more than possible given his current form. As always, it seems Roger has a thing for the dramatic. He could have settled this number one thing a long time ago if he did better in Indian Wells, Miami, Rome, or Estoril. But at least this will make things interesting at the French. If Roger makes the final in Paris he will have the number one record, and then he can just go ahead and relax in the final. If he should meet Nadal again it wouldn’t matter all that much if he loses. He will have another important record under the belt, giving him the assurance he needs to possibly(more hope than anything) upset Nadal. But hey, we don’t know what the future holds. Just about anything can still happen. And lets not lose sight of what a great week this has been for Roger. Onwards and upwards!

“Considering where I was last week (when he lost to Albert Montanes in the Estoril semi-finals) this has been a major improvement for me,” said Federer. “The fact is I hardly ever play a lefty on clay and nobody as tough as Rafa. So it’s obviously not easy to make that transition and I thought I did it very well today.

“He came in with tons of confidence having done so well on clay this season, I knew it was going to be tough; but I really believed in my chance. I was maybe a couple points away here and there, but just got broken one too many times today. But I’m pretty happy with the way I played. I’ve played great this week so I definitely come out of this tournament with tons of confidence.”

http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/Tennis/2010/05/19/Madrid-Sunday-Nadal-Wins-18th-Masters-1000-Trophy.aspx

May the Fedforce be with you.

Presser: http://www.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Media/Videos/2010/05/Madrid-2010-Final-Interview-Federer.aspx

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23 Comments

  1. You seem very bias towards Federer and seem to downplay his losses against Nadal, such as the one today. Firstly, Federer needs to be able to swing and hit a ball before he can even compete with Nadal… this isn’t baseball, a 4 year old can swing and hit a tennis ball with a racket. The match point ball had no “wicked bounce” at all. Nadal > Federer, I think beating him 3 grand slams in a row pretty much proved that a few years back, and if that’s not enough for you.. watch today’s Madrid final again to refresh your memory.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I downplay his losses because of people like you who are completely ignorant about tennis.

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    forehandshanker Reply:

    If you’ve ever played tennis (especially on clay or an uneven hardcourt), bad bounces happen period. Everyone whiffs at the ball once in awhile. I’m sure that someone can dig out a point where Rafa whiffed.

    Show some class. Rafa deserved to win today. And until Rafa has won more Slams than Roger, Roger is still GOAT.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Haha of course bad bounces happen. But some people, like the one who commented earlier, dont get that. So i have to make that very clear in my post. Also you dont seem to get that there are some points that are more important than others, and that the odds of getting that kind of bounce on MP is particularly small. I said Nadal was the better player on the day and that Roger threw it away. What else do you want me to say anyway? That Nadal is God? Sorry but thats just not true.

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    JDub Reply:

    If Ru-an is biased toward Federer (this is a Fed blog, isn’t it?), then are you biased toward being ignorant? Your comments don’t even sound reasonable. Ru-an makes bold, honest, insightful remarks and backs them up with facts. And if he is wrong, he admits it, describes why and moves on. Your comment shows that you didn’t really read his posts…you’re just making a half-informed comment.

    Ok, I’m done now. =)

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  2. Not entirely sure if Roger is developing Nadal complex again but Roger had his chances and he didnt take it! He played a better game plan during the 2nd set but some bad decisions cost him. Regardless, I think the loss will help him to tune up for FO. I do hope he makes it at least to the semis. If he is to meet Nadal in the final again, well just pray he can overcome his fears.

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    JDub Reply:

    We watched the second and third sets, and at least from our perspective, we did not feel the Nadal complex like we used to. Especially that feeling when Nadal beat Roger, and he began weeping at the mic. That was the lowest point. But now that the major hurdles are over, it seems like Roger doesn’t have that whole complex thing any more. He’s just struggling with form and consistency. And you can’t struggle with anything when playing against Nadal. But as we’ve seen time and time again, Roger will step it up in time for the Grand Slams. Yes, it does seem like he is tuned up now. Exciting! =)

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    Chris Reply:

    what 3rd set did you watch? Rafa did him in straights, I’m sorry, because I really expected RF to win the tiebreak at least.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    What do you mean what 3rd set did i watch?

    [Reply]

    JDub Reply:

    Hmm, I wasn’t paying much attention when I wrote this, evidently! haha Thanks for setting me straight. =D

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Huh? lol

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  3. I´m disappointed.I love Roger but he was off his “A”
    game.The same for Nadal.By far the worst performance when playing each other.It´s pathetic Nadal as the
    “King of clay”.This year champion was the guy who didn´t screw up last.
    I don´t see him as the French Champion, let´s hope for a better F.O.

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  4. I’m a Swiss born in the same village as RF, and living abroad for many years already (Africa, Mozambique). I’m obviously very proud of our greatest embassador and feel very happy when he adds more titles and records to his glory. And I enjoy Ruan’s smart insights a lot, he’s THE must read after every RF match. I guess he’s fully aware that my compatriate is his as well, with RF’s mum being from SA. However, I feel bad when RF (and some of his fanatics, including in this article Ruan who otherwise gives decent spiritual advise) downplay the historical achievements of other great athletes. It’s an immature behaviour like that of selfish children who want to get the gifts in somebody elses birthday party. I’m impressed by Rafa’s comeback, congratulations for 18 Master titles (at the age of 23!). And thank you for showing RF’s limits, I guess you are a blessing for RF’s and our (his fanatics) sanity, with your domination of RF you help us keep things in perspective. And you prevent the almost peRFect to become boring. I wonder how many more records you’ll prevent RF to have?

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Im not sure what you mean by your last question? Can you elaborate?

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    The way I see things develop, I imagine that by the end of their incredible careers as tennis players, RF will be remembered for all the incredible wins and records he has set, and RAFA will be remembered for having prevented the GOAT to win even more and set even higher records. RAFA is the guy to prevent that the tennis record books are gonna sound like a one-man-show done by the GOAT. Concretely, I believe that the record for most master series titles will be one for Nadal; not that I doubt that RF will surpass Agassis 17, but Nadal has probably more years left to accumulate more wins on that level, the clay season is owned by him for probably another few years, and RF has already set his main priority on the slams. My last question in my previous comment wondered what other records will Rafa take away from the GOAT or prevent him to have? There is the obvious question of the record time as #1. Federer is really close to get that record as well, but there is this one player able to still stop him and prevent the GOAT to have that one and very prestigious record as well. It does not mean that RAFA himself will ever be able to break this record currently held by Sampras, but he might well stand in the GOATs’ way to claim it. Honestly, I hope that RF is gonna break all the records there are, and I want him to make the calendar slam, but his quest for records really is more exciting to watch because of that Spanish Freak who just won’t get out of the way. Imagine a James Bond movie without a bad guy! Imagine a Rocky movie without anybody giving Rocky a good batter. And Rafa just looks like the bad bully of the tennis movie we are all watching. Not that I want him to win anything in the end, but I sure appreciate the thrill he brings to the game and to Federers quest for records. Federers wins are a lot more enjoyable when they happen to be against Rafa…, and I would enjoy so much for Federer to win a French Open Final against Rafa! But if he doesn’t, let’s give credit to Rafa for his incredible athleticism and fighting spirit. Because imagine what Rafa could have achieved by now if it wasn’t for this Swiss master dancing around the court and not going away either.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Very good comment i thought. I totally agree of course that Nadal is necessary. It would have been boring if their was no one to oppose the GOAT, and it would not have brought out the best in the GOAT either. I guess i just allow myself to get annoyed by the Nadal fans. I shouldnt.

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  5. Nadal did not win this match Roger lost it.I thought Roger was trying his best.I was shocked that Roger lost the match on four unforced errors.I think Nadal is the only man that gets in to his head.

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    …and that is part of the game! Rafa suceeds to make the GOAT afraid of him, and if you ask me, that is Rafa’s single most incredible and admirable achievement as an athlete. Rafa is the only brave guy on the circuit to watch across the net, see that the GOAT stands in his way, and despite his inferiour skills and talent, fights as hell to make sure the GOAT get’s scared of him. I’m an RF fanatic, I’m a low human being hoping for Rafa’s knees to crack when he get’s the better of my hero, but hey, the guy if a tennis skill David facing a tennis skill Goliath, and he wins again and again because he get’s into RF’s head. Remember, he won a WIMBLEDON final against the GOAT! So when it comes to be a court warrior, Rafa is the best until RF wins a French Open in a final against Rafa, which I pray for this year, RF has the skill to do that, but does he have the guts?

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I agree that Nadal deserves a lot of credit, and thanks for all the nice things you said.

    [Reply]

  6. To Chris Reply at 4:56 PM – my thoughts are expressed in his statement “……Rafa is the best until RF wins the French Open in a final against Rafa…..RF has the skill to do that, but does he have the guts?”
    Your analysis is always a pleasure to read, Ruan.
    Thanks.
    D.

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  7. roger all the best 4 ur future regarding ur carrier & marrige life.roger i wnt u to win more grand slams,i know that u can do it b’coz u have that potential,all d best 4 wimbeldon 2010,it is all urs. u and mirika look so good & lovable together.plz reply i will wait 4 lifetime 4 ur reply.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    This is not Federers website. Go to rogerfederer.com.

    [Reply]

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