Madrid QF: Federer def Soderling 7-6(2), 6-4

I feel a bit better after this match. I wasn’t sure Roger was prepared to face Nadal, but he after all needed to make semis here at the very least after losing to Melzer in Monte Carlo. There was still a lot of unforced errors, but Roger obviously knows how to handle Soderling. The head-to-head wasn’t 15-1 before this match for nothing. I liked Roger’s drop shots in this match. Soderling doesn’t move forward well and he was caught off guard on several occasions. As expected, Nadal won easily. This means we have a 24th Fedal match up tomorrow, with the h2h currently standing at 15-8 for Nadal. I’ll be highly surprised if the h2h isn’t 16-8 after tomorrow. We all know what happened in Miami, and this is clay after all. I’d like to believe that Roger has a chance, but nothing tells me that he does. He beat Nadal in  2009 in Madrid, but that was obviously a different Roger.

If he wants to repeat that performance again then something drastic will have to change. In that 2009 match Roger didn’t put a foot wrong, and it was still mighty close. It looks very likely that we will have another Nadal/Djokovic final here. The ATP Tour has become a two man show. Djokovic beat Ferrer in a tough three setter today, but in the end he was always the favorite. Ferrer is simply a work horse with limited talent and doesn’t deserve the title of the second best clay courter on tour. Thank God we won’t have another Nadal/Ferrer final. At least there is now a chance that Nadal will get challenged on clay, even though it is highly unlikely that Djokovic will beat him. Even though I find it hard to believe that Roger can win tomorrow, something in me wants to believe. Either way I just hope he plays well and and least makes it close.

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33 Comments

  1. I think you have to give Soderling a lot of credit for the closeness of the match. Soderling hits so hard that Federer wasn’t able to dominate from the baseline, or come forward that often; he came to net only seven times (but won all seven points!). He had to fend off Soderling with his touch shots.

    But he used his soft shots well, especially to construct the point and get the only break of the match, by drawing Soderling in with a drop shot and volleying the Swede’s attempted pass for a winner.

    Against Nadal he should have a little more time to deal with the ball, since the Spaniard’s shots are slower and heavier, not flat and fast. But his ground game will have to be working well (along with the rest of his game) in order for him even to have a chance. And he won’t be able to afford mistakes. Long rallies will play into Nadal’s hands and increase the chance of mistakes. He must impose his game and take his opportunities.

    The perfect footwork and timing that he needs to do this, I haven’t seen yet in this tournament, though he played well against Soderling. Hopefully it will click tomorrow. If it doesn’t, so be it.

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  2. Fed played a good match today. Roger had a few errors but some of his shots were well executed. I am hoping that Federer puts up a big fight, win or lose. I don’t think Nadal is going to take him seriously and underestimate his capabilities. Nadal came off an easy win so I don’t know how psyched out he is going to be or should I say battle-ready. Nonetheless Federer will have to mix it up a lot. Employ that slice and drop shot. Serve better than Nadal. I have faith that he will step it up a notch, maybe beat Nadal in a nail-biter. I am glad he won today, he looks like he is regaining some form and getting his shots in better(my opinion). Anyways it should be a good day tomorrow. Think Positive.

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  3. I wish to think positive but lately I hate to admit I am just losing confidence. Of course, I still want to see him win specially against Nadal, if that will be the outcome, well and good, that is a bonus, if not, I am just happy to see him play–even if I have to stay at 12 midnight just to watch the game! RF forever!

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    Lisa Reply:

    I agree. I just want to watch Roger play. I don’t think either of us is in the position to judge or even try to coach him virtually. He is the most beautiful tennis player in this world, which is enough reason for me to cheer for him.

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  4. Pretty fun to watch today, and I had confidence watching him, that he would win. Felt the same way watching Djerkavich too. Do you know what time he is playing in Madrid? Lets see, for me, I have to subtract 6 hours, and I can actually figure it out, so put the Madrid time please, if someone will. Anyone else a YouTube junky who watches old Federer matches or montages, just to get that good feeling of what a great player he is? It certainly brightens some of my days, cause I’m going through hell right now. Too much to tell, but I would like to share that I have had a cancer scare for 3 months now. Malignant melanoma on my face, which was removed. You think everything is OK, till the doctor says you have an abnormal lymph node, and they need a biopsy. Found out the test was negative, so I’m on cloud9 right now. If Federer beats Nadal, I’ll even be happier. GO FED!!!! G

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    TD Reply:

    I’m glad you got good news in the end. I hope it is all behind you for good. 1st semi final (Federer) is at 10am ET and the other one is at 1pm ET.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well im glad the test was negative Gary. Lets hope we can all join you on cloud 9 after Roger beats Nadal tomorrow.

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    Babel Reply:

    Congratulations! Federer for the win!

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  5. Itatilia draw out, Federer has a tough draw again( possible candidates ,Tsonga, Monfils, Berdych . Ferrer in Nadal’s draw, his draw looks easier except for Bellucci in the 2nd round. Soderling in Djokovic’s draw. Possible Nadal and Federer clash in the semis again]. Why does it seem that Federer is always getting tough draws. Djokovic is going to cruise through this one too. I hope Soderling beats him.

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  6. Although his first serve is sucking at the moment, he is playing great, and won the first set. GO FED. Checkin in with you guys later tonight.

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  7. Typical..
    Just when Federer starts hitting Nadal off the court and dominating, Federror rears his ugly head. The second set is all but lost, hoping for a good finish for Roger in the third.

    One thing that he has proved today, however, is that when he is consistent (at times) from the back of the court, he can beat the best of them. Go Federer!!!!

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  8. Sad thing is – Nadal’s not even playing well. It’s just that Federror is winning the battle of the two Rogers.

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  9. The Federer/Nadal match is not yet over but the pattern does not inspire confidence: Federer has a break point on Nadal’s set early in the 3rd set but hits a backhand long and the opportunity is lost; Federer then has 40-15 on his own serve in the next game and yet drops serve, failing to put away points he should have won. The story of the match, I feel.

    Nadal’s defence is meanwhile relentless; a shot, I feel, he is not however given enough credit for (by his uncritical fans, certainly) is the regularly shanked moonball-return that finds its way somehow into court, bouncing absurdly high off the line and drawing Federer into error; I am not convinced that these shots are anything more than fortuitous on Nadal’s part. Still, it is how the grinder inexorably breaks down an opponent who is often the better shot-maker. Federer hits many more winners than Nadal (and wins points at the net, unlike his opponent, who I don’t recall won a single point at net except for an overhead smash.) But if Federer could only control those errors!

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  10. Well, Roger gave that match to Nadal. While playing brilliantly at times he was nonetheless poor again on the big points. Roger’s last breakpoint on Nadal’s serve – a second-serve! – and he flubs his return into the bottom of the net. Baffling. I have lost count of the number of times I have seen Roger so oblige Nadal over his career, when he had the Spaniard under pressure. So, Nadal wins again, as he usually does, by the consistency of his defence – and his opponent’s loose shots.

    Somehow I feel that Djokovic, should he make it through to the final, will not miss those kinds of opportunities. At the very least, Roger made Nadal look beatable again on his favorite surface. That is small consolation to Roger but Djokovic will feel encouraged.

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    Nelson Goodman Reply:

    Agreed Neil – both on the frustrating character of Fed playing so well but not at the crucial moments and the clear dent in Nadal’s clay-armor this match represents. If Djokovic can help from looking forward to the final and focus enough to not underestimate Belluci, he’s got a decent shot tomorrow. But only a decent shot b/c his form has clearly dropped since IW-Miami (how much due to the change in surface vs the inevitable drop from the stratosphere, who knows). But as Fed fans I think this match should only inspire confidence and renewal – Rog was just terrific in battling back in the first set and he stuck with it in the third. Some great play in stretches. To me this match was a bit like the Djokovic semi in Miami: taking a set to make a point but happy enough with that – so as not to face Nole & Rafa back to back in a non-Major, but rather let them duke it out – so as to not keep the edge long enough to win. The aim is to peak for RG & Wimby and conserve energy – learning from the AO where he peaked too early.

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    Babel Reply:

    I share your sentiments, sir.
    Obdurate as he is, even Roger would have to admit his break-point conversion was abysmal, and his errors inexplicable.

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    Babel Reply:

    I disagree with you, Nelson.
    I apologize if I have misunderstood you but no one throws away a Masters semi-final so as to not “peak too early”.

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    Nelson Goodman Reply:

    I don’t quite mean that Fed “threw it away” Babel. Rather, something more subtle: about the degree of intensity involved in certain tasks – winning a set was clearly very important, just like with the Djokovic semi in Miami, and once that was done the edge was off just a bit, with winning the match not quite so life-and-death. Fed got the edge back a bit in the third, b/c it was important to close it out competitively after that second set (which itself was actually closer than the score suggests – Fed had a number of breakpoints and lost his serve after a number of gamepoints). But I still think, overall, Fed accomplished a fair bit of what he wanted out of this match.

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    Babel Reply:

    Yes, he had a break point in each of Nadal’s service games in the second set, I believe. I agree with you when you say that the second set was closer than it appeared, but it still wasn’t close enough.
    Whenever Roger has beaten Nadal in recent times, the break-point conversion has been very good. Cases in point: the 2009 finals in Madrid; and the WTF in London last year (when he had 3 from 3).
    I’ve come to the conclusion that Nadal is quite vulnerable on serve at most times and he offers plenty of chances to players who can challenge him.
    The first serve stood out as the glaring problem-area for Roger today. If that had worked, well…

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I will make a post after i watched the rerun because i couldnt see it live. For the mean time i dont wana see any whining about the break point conversion rate on my blog. Im proud to be a Fedfan today and so should any true Fedfan.

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    Nelson Goodman Reply:

    I agree entirely Ru-an – hope you don’t think I was whining. As I made clear, I think this match can only inspire confidence. Not to mention pride – mine is swelling at our man today.

    Btw, Belluci is looking very good in the early going here against Djokovic.

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    Babel Reply:

    If you can, please read my post – the one right below this one. Clearly I AM proud to be a Fedfan today and you shouldn’t say otherwise.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I wasnt speaking to you in particular. From the admin panel i have to reply to someone to make a comment so i commented on your post cos it was the latest comment.

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  11. Well we got the fight we wanted. Altogether not an entirely sad day for us Federer fans, I feel. He hit some truly awe-inspiring shots. What stood out for me was his movement at times. Who knows what might have happened if his first serve was working?

    If he works a little more on his fitness and is as fit as, say, someone like Ferrer, he has every chance of beating Nadal. Greater consistency from the baseline will hold him in good stead.

    We can be sanguine about Federer again, if today’s match is any indication.

    We now know this – Nadal is not unbeatable on clay and Djokovic, should he reach the final, has a great shot at beating Nadal if he plays his best tennis.

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  12. I can sum up my current feelings as follows: I’m gutted that Roger lost but proud that he played well and fought hard. Did anyone else notice that he was stretching his arm/ shoulder a lot? I’d rather he lost now so he can get some treatment and prepare for Rome early than win this match, only to face SuperDJ tomorrow. So I’m pleased he lost actually. Taking the clay GOAT to 3 sets means you’re playing well. A good omen for the French Open

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    TD Reply:

    Noticed the arm thing too, I hope it’s not severe.

    It’s ok Federer falls (though I am quite sure it was made this way by the organizers) in Nadal’s half of the draw in all those events, as long as it doesn’t happen in RG and Wimbledon.

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  13. My suspicions that Federer wasn’t in best form were confirmed. Nonetheless, Federer came much closer this time than in Miami, when the majority opinion was that this encounter would be even worse of a bloodbath.

    The first set was a masterclass, especially given that he came back from a break down.

    However, mentally he just wasn’t ready to win. When he started arguing with the ump in the second set I knew he had lost concentration and indeed, did not fully regain it throughout the remainder of the match.

    He can grind his way past a lot of other players playing less than his best, but not Nadal. No one can outgrind Nadal–except maybe Djokovic now.

    Still, there are plenty of positives. Federer had great success with his tactical adjustments, including the backhand down the line and the drop shot.

    He has clearly been thinking and working to develop a game plan to deal with Nadal, and is in better form than he was in Miami. And he fought all the way through.

    You have to give him credit. He’s an old man (in tennis years) and could easily pack it in after having had enough success for any ten players. But he continues to strive to improve, even if it means struggling against younger, stronger rivals.

    The clay season isn’t over yet, and there’s one more Masters tournament to play before Roland Garros. He could very well end up hoisting the Coupe de Mosquetaires.

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  14. Roger’s performance was brilliant today and I think he gave an answer to all these people who had written him off (I was one of them too). I didn’t think he would be able to challenge Nadal at all today. And it’s clear to me that he should have gone all the way to win this match. I mean, he managed to play some great rallies and win the point in the end. When approaching the net he was genius on many occasions. Nadal could not believe what was happening, his face showed fear at times. I believe Roger’s game was adequate to beat Nadal today and it’s a shame he didn’t. He showed me that if he reduces his unforced errors he’ll be back winning Nadal and the rest again. Nadal was actually struggling to guess where the next ball will go, because Federer was hitting clean winners. He also used the drop shot effectively (in fact he’s been doing this all week). Unfortunately, Roger paid one more time for not playing consistently well against the spaniard dog.

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