Masters Cup RR: Federer def Fish 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, Tsonga Sends Nadal Packing

Yesterday I said that Tsonga could still qualify first in group B. That was a mistake. Because head-to-head come into play first if two players have the same amount of wins, and Roger beat both Nadal and Tsonga, he was already assured of qualifying first in the group. So really there was not much to play for here, aside from pride, 200 ranking points, and $120 000. Relatively speaking of course. There wasn’t a reason for JesusFed to come out is what I mean. These days JesusFed shows up much more seldom than in Roger’s prime, and he needs to use that alter ego more sparingly these days. Having said that, he is so comfortable indoors that JesusFed is around quite often on this surface. This was a dead rubber though so it must have been hard for him to get very motivated. In the end he did the necessary.

In the first set he broke Fish’s first service game, only to get broken back. That was the only game Fish would win in the first set. It was decent tennis from Roger but not spectacular. In the second set Roger fell asleep and got broken in the fourth game. In the final set Roger got his act together and got the one break needed to take the set. I’m not gonna say more about this match because it was a dead rubber and Roger did what needed to be done. No conclusion can be drawn from this match. It was more like a practice session. This means Roger has now had two matches where JesusFed didn’t make an appearance, which makes me think that JesusFed will show up for semis and finals. The match that actually meant something today was the one between Nadal and Tsonga. In the end Tsonga made the semis when he beat Nadal 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-3.

Tsonga had too much firepower for Nadal in the end and also used a lot of drop volleys. Nadal gave it his all but he just isn’t a very good indoor player. The scoreline also shows what devastating form Roger was in when he beat Nadal. I seriously doubt Nadal will ever win the Masters Cup. Indoor courts just shows Nadal up for the one dimensional player that he is. It is a similar situation to Sampras that was not able to win the French Open. Sampras was too much of an attacking player to win the French Open, while Nadal is too defensive to win the Masters Cup. If surfaces have not been slowed down as much as they have, I seriously doubt Nadal would have been able to complete the career slam. He would have struggled to win either Wimbledon or the US Open of old. Point is both Sampras and Nadal have limitations to their game, while Roger is the complete player.

Nadal has now also failed to win a title off clay for the first time since 2004. Surely not a good sign for him, as decline looks to be near. Tomorrow we will find out who joins Roger and Tsonga in the semis. If Djokovic loses to Tipsarevic, and Berdych loses to Ferrer, then it goes to sets and games for who goes through between Djokovic and Berdych, while Ferrer qualifies first. If Djokovic beats Tipsarevic and Berdych loses to Ferrer, then Ferrer qualifies first and Djokovic qualifies second. If both Berdych and Djokovic wins, then it will go to sets and games to decide who goes through between Ferrer, Djokovic, and Berdych. Ferrer is already through, and the only way that he does not qualify first is if he loses to Berdych and Djokovic loses as well. So there are a lot of scenarios possible but it looks like Ferrer will qualify first in group A.

We are probably looking at a Ferrer vs Tsonga semi and then it will be between Djokovic and Berdych as to who plays against Roger. I hope Djokovic qualifies, since Roger can do with a win over Djokovic and it would make for a more exciting match. With Nadal and Murray gone I would like at least one more of the top four in the semis. I think if it’s Djokovic against Roger it will also bring the best out of Roger again. But another win against Berdych won’t hurt either I guess, given that he has lost to him quite a bit of late. If it’s Tsonga and Ferrer in the other semi then Tsonga could well win and we would have a repeat of the Paris final. Whatever happens I think Roger is still the clear favorite to win this title. He has only been at his best in one match so far, and I expect JesusFed to be there for semis and finals, in which case this title belongs to him.

Highlights:


Presser:

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15 Comments

  1. well said Ruan.
    i think tsonga is the biggest threat for fed at the moment. asuming fed makes it to the final along with the frenchman it means he will have to beat him AGAIN,for the 3rd time in 2 weeks. that is a tall ask. also Ts will be full of confidence after his win over rafa and i expect him to play well from hereon.
    so i keep my fingers crossed for ferrer and fed….

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    booya719 Reply:

    Right on, my thoughts exactly. I also feel Berdych would be the hardest possible SF for Roger. It’s very likely to happen. Is Ferrer really gonna beat Berdych on this court?

    If Berdych and Djokovic both win in straights today:

    it would be:

    1st: Ferrer 2-1, (4-2 set record 66.66)
    2nd: Berdych 2-1, (5-3 set record 62.50)
    OUT: Djokovic 2-1, (4-3 set record 57.14)

    A Djokovic loss would put Berdych in 1st place instead of 2nd due to his head to head win over Ferrer. So it’s really unpredictable what position any of these guys will finish in but if I was Roger I’d be prepared for Berdych – the hardest of the 3.

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    Jiten Reply:

    Well, Djoker has just lost 6-3,3-6,3-6 to Tipsarevic.

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  2. I think Federer is reserving himself for semi’s and the finals. The game against Fish was of little concern. Tsonga is a good player but has consistency issues and I think if Federer meets Tsonga that he is not going to hand it over to him. Federer is going to do great.

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  3. Boris Becker tells it like it is. There is no Fantastic Four, but the Fantastic Three. One of those guys doesn’t have a slam, so why would he be included is his argument. Couldn’t agree more. Sometimes when we watch a player, he looks unbeatable. We’ve seen Fed there many times through the years, and took it for granted that he would win. Nadal and Djoker have been there too, but it appears to be our guys time. Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. I know I did.

    Gary

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  4. My fantastic 3 in this tournament were Federer, Nadal, and Tsonga. It was just bad luck they were all in the same pool. Nadal would not be going home right now if he were drawn into Group A – he would be a semi finalist for sure. He probably would have went 3-0 in the other pool actually, if he could have traded groups with Djokovic. Nadal would have beaten Ferrer, Berdych, and Tipseravic to be 3-0, then he’d be playing Tsonga in the SF with a bit more confidence. For once in lord knows how long Nadal finally received a tough draw – something I don’t think I ever remember happening in all the years I’ve been watching Nadal. Just a side question, if anyone can name Nadal’s last tough draw that would be great – thanks. It’s not a knock against him, just curious as I can’t seem to recall one and I’m going back years here. I know he drew Murray in the Australian Open QF in 2010 which is a round earlier than normal, but that is not really a tough draw as Federer and Djokovic were on the same half as always. Nadal would have had Cilic in that SF if he would have beaten Murray – the easiest possible draw for that stage of the tournament. Nadal and tough draws are extremely rare, but hey we’ll take it for once!!

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  5. Despite Roger’s terrific current form I think the one thing that we might expect from what he has shown us over the last couple of years is that he can surprise us – with either a fantastic display or a check-out. Anything can still happen from here. If Djokovic is Roger’s semi-final opponent the Serb could show us why he is the current world no.1, despite his earlier patchy performance. If it’s Berdych, the Czech could play the match of his life. Despite Roger having beaten Tsonga twice recently the Frenchman is the kind of streaky player who could seriously trouble him in a final, if he can can put enough big shots together; there is little doubt that Tsonga has found a boost in power over the last year. So whoever Roger faces here on in, he can afford no slip in form. He will have to continue to play close to the level that saw him humble Nadal. I hope he can, but with Roger nothing is a given these days.

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  6. Djokovic lost to Tipsarevic. He now needs Ferrer’s favor to win over Berdych. Just like Nadal, he just might not make it. The field is opening to become easier for Roger. Clearly, it is now his tournament to lose.

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  7. looks like Ferrer will win this match (vs Bird)! hope he does.. no im praying he does. you all know what that means. and for the first time in my life i will be rooting for you know who!

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  8. jumping on the season-comparison waggon here…

    that was Nole’s 6th (and last) loss of the season. so i think it is safe to say that even though he has had a brilliant year it is by no means surpasses Fed’s 06. Fed win/loss ratio was better, he won more matches and more titles, he made the final of the RG as oppose to Djoko and he won the Masters Cup without losing RR match.

    Djoko did win unprecedented 5 masters titles to Feds 4, but we must keep in mind that back then the top seeds did not get a BYE @ 1st round (so it took 6 matches to win the title) and in most of the tournament the final was played in best of 5 sets format.

    nevertheless amazing and unforgettable season for Nole. kudos.

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  9. Great post, Ru-an.

    Only in the third set of Federer/Fish did both sides show their best tennis at the same time. But it was good to see Fish so competitive after losing two round robin matches. He gave it his all, and produced some breathtaking stuff.

    Nadal’s loss to Tsonga is pretty significant. It was obvious Nadal’s confidence would be dented by losing to Federer, but it wasn’t clear how much.

    If he’d shaken it off, it would have meant that he’s totally impervious mentally, that he really is a winning machine who isn’t fazed by anything. But that didn’t happen.

    Uncle Toni must have been working overtime to motivate his nephew for the battle with Tsonga, whether through fear or promise of reward or some other psychological goad. It was of no avail, and Tsonga took full advantage.

    If ever Nadal loses his relentless mentality, he’ll cease to be a dominant player.

    He depends so much on executing with mechanical consistency on each and every point that if he wavers even slightly, he’ll lose.

    Federer planted a seed of doubt in Nadal’s mind. He completely countered Nadal’s usual game. It was Federer who maneuvered Nadal around during the long baseline rallies, hitting winners or pressing aggressively to force Nadal into errors.

    Nadal has a simple creed and a simple faith. He believes that if he just obstinately repeats his simple formula over and over again, eventually he’ll wear down the opponent and grind out the victory.

    Against Federer, his creed–topspin forehand to opponent’s backhand, run down every ball–failed him. His faith was deeply shaken. And if Nadal doesn’t have that absolute faith, what has he got?

    Tsonga dealt the finishing blow, but really it was Federer who knocked Nadal out of the tournament.

    Who knows what psychological tricks Uncle Toni has in store to coax his prized racehorse to run in 2012, but it’s clearly getting harder. Should he lose Roland Garros next year, it will be a long time before Nadal can be motivated again.

    Federer’s hard work appears to be paying off: the tactics he used to beat Nadal were more highly developed than those he used in last year’s London final. Because he succeeded at outplaying Nadal from the baseline, these tactics should translate more readily to clay and other surfaces. Undoubtedly he learned a lot from his previous encounters with Nadal this year (on slow hard and clay) about what works and what doesn’t.

    If he can win this title it will put him in pole position to start well next year and mount a strong campaign at AO.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Great comment too Steve. I agree that Roger’s win over Nadal did a lot of damage to his mentality. He tried against Tsonga but the damage was done. It’s not good for Nadal’s mentality going into 2012 either like you say. Djokovic have beaten him down this year and then Roger cashed in as well. He will use the DC to get some confidence however, as I’m sure it is on clay again. Anyway who knows what Nadal and Djokovic will do next year. I’m just glad Roger is ending the year so well and got that win over Nadal. I think he is going to win a slam next year.

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    Gary Reply:

    Whaddya mean think Ruan? He’s gonna do it!!! Believe!!!!! Gary

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  10. It’s Fed vs. Ferrer in the semis tomorrow, followed by Berdych vs. Tsonga. The Djoker is out—so much for the greatest season of all time. And the top 3 have all laid a big egg in London. How’s that for the consistency of the younger generation! Also, Ferrer has a short turn-around; fatigue could be a factor. Everything points to Roger winning his 6th YEC crown. Youth looks old. Old looks young.

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    marron Reply:

    It does look good for Fed. Incidentally, Ferrer is not young, compared to the others – he will be 30 yrs old in a few months.

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