This is it Fedfans. It doesn’t get much better than this. Seeing Roger manhandling Nadal in this way is a dream come true for me, as I’m sure it is for you. How long have we waited for this exact kind of performance? How many agonies have we suffered as fans at the hand of Nadal? We needed a performance that would once and for all erase those pains and set the record straight. This was it. It confirms what we have always known at a certain level – that Nadal does not own Roger. It must now be clear for all that this head-to-head is massively skewed due to the amount of meetings these two have had on clay. Roger is now 4-0 against Nadal on indoor courts, and this victory was an utter destruction. It had that extra significance about it. It came at an important time too. If Roger had lost this match he would have been Nadal’s turkey.
If he lost to Nadal indoors and became his turkey, we could once and for all declare that Nadal does in fact own Roger. It would have been beyond all doubt. Now the opposite is true. Nadal was absolutely OWNED today. There is no doubt about that. There are no excuses. Nadal said on Facebook that he had recovered from the stomach problem, and the win against Fish would have given him confidence. Nadal is not riding the wave of confidence he did last year, but it makes no difference. He was fit but simply outplayed by the far superior player. He simply had no answers for Roger’s relentless offensive assault. Today gutsy, offensive tennis won over cowardly, defensive moonballing, as it always should. It was immense beauty. Justice was finally served. It was judgement day. Good triumphed over evil. The force was brought back into balance.
Roger actually began this match in the worst possible way as he served a double fault. But he quickly got his act together as he hit a clean forehand winner on the next point and proceeded to hold serve to 15. Nadal held serve until 2-3, but the floodgates were about to open. Roger was really spanking his forehand out there and kept Nadal on the defense as I pleaded in my last post. He raced to a 40-0 lead on the Nadal serve. An epic rally then ensued where Roger did some great defense as well as offense. Eventually Roger’s forehand assault was too much for Nadal as he steered a backhand wide. From here on Nadal was only allowed one more game. Serving out the first set was mere formality for Roger as he clinched the first set with a sharp cross court forehand winner. After Roger won the first set it was always going to be difficult for Nadal to get back in the match.
I mean you could just sense JesusFed had showed up and he was out for some serious revenge. I said in my preview that I expect Roger to raise his level in this match, but I didn’t expect an absolutely peRFect performance. I expected a lot from Roger in London after what happened in Basel and Paris, but the Tsonga match was somewhat disappointing. However, it was just the stillness before the storm. He put in an average performance against Tsonga and left his very best for his indoor plaything. He could do no wrong. The second set was pure devastation. Roger kept dominating with his serve and his forehand, and hit some telling backhands as well. The backhand was just extremely solid. There was no chance of Nadal getting free points off that side. Roger kept Nadal running around on the baseline like a headless chicken and made him look like a lost child out there.
I had such a good feeling about Roger today that I asked for a bakery product when Roger has break point in only the first game of the second set. When he broke I asked for a bagel. At 4-0 Roger held two break points on the Nadal serve and the bagel was very much on. Nadal saved the first and on the second Roger had a forehand down the line which he really should have made to get the break, but he found the net. I desperately wanted my bagel so suffice to day this didn’t go down very well with me. But to my delight Roger manufactured another break point and this time secured the break with a backhand down the line winner. I was ecstatic that I was going to have my bagel. I knew Roger would hold serve and he did so with ease. With this bagel Roger assured that he has now bageled Nadal on every surface.
He did so at Wimby 2006 on grass, in Hamburg 2007 on clay, and now at the Masters Cup on hard court. On the other hand Nadal has bageled Roger only once, on his worst surface during post mono form. As I said, it is now clear that Nadal does not own Roger. Owning would be what Roger has done to Roddick(21-2), or what Djokovic has done to Nadal this year. Roger now leads the head-to-head off clay 7-5. Today’s match comes as an early birthday present for me, which is next Friday. This match really made me happy. It is definitely one of my favorite Fedal matches ever, if not my favorite. It may just have been a round robin match, but that doesn’t matter in the least. Roger just could not afford to lose this match for the head-to-head, and instead he went out there and owned the guy that was supposed to own him.
I haven’t even gotten to the match stats. Roger had a staggering 28-8 winner to unforced error ratio, he made a staggering 70% of first serves, and he converted 4/6 break points. As clean as they come. Another interesting stat is that Nadal won 27 points, but Roger hit 28 clean winners! Where does this match rate in terms of Roger’s matches this year? The match against Djokovic at the French Open is still amazing, while the one against Berdych in Paris wasn’t bad either. I asked this question on twitter and my followers said if Roger now goes on to win this title then it would be his best performance of 2011. I have to agree. This win against Nadal was simply epic, but if Roger goes on to win the title it would just all come together nicely. He would have won his biggest title of 2011 while owning his ‘nemesis’ in the process.
This win was also very important for Roger to stay in touch with the top two. He lost touch with the top two earlier in the year and then got that win over Djokovic in the French. But he was still 0-3 against Nadal for the year. This win will give him a huge boost for future meetings with Nadal. It should also be clear after this match that Roger is far from done. He still has it. I mean this performance is as good as anything in his peak. It is an even bigger beating than the one he gave Nadal at the Masters Cup in 2007 when he beat him 6-4, 6-1. This bodes very well for the future. Now Roger just needs to capitalize on his rich vein of form and go win this thing. And getting another win over Djokovic in the process won’t hurt at all. I think it is safe to say that Roger will qualify now, and he will probably end on top of his group.
He only has Fish left now and will probably defeat him in straight sets. Today Tsonga beat Fish 7-6(4), 6-1. Tsonga and Nadal will now play for the second spot in group B. That should be interesting. I think Tsonga has a good chance of beating Nadal. In group A there is still quite a bit of tennis to be played. I think Djokovic will end on top of the group. Murray withdrew today and Tipsarevic will take his place. Ferrer has good records against both Tipsarevic and Berdych and he may even end up qualifying. Or it will be Berdych if he can win his remaining two matches. So you could have a semi of Roger vs Ferrer/Berdych and Djokovic vs Tsonga/Nadal. Roger’s semi shouldn’t be much of a problem. In the other semi I don’t really mind whether it is Tsonga or Nadal. It would be nice if Nadal is eliminated before the semis, but it would also be nice to see him lose to his master Djokovic again.
If it is Tsonga it would be fine as well since Tsonga has a positive head-to-head with Djokovic and should make for a good semi. Of course this is just speculation and we don’t know for sure what is gonna happen yet. But I think we have a good chance of seeing Roger playing Djokovic again, which is what I would like to see. Roger is in such fine touch right now while Djokovic has not been at his best, so this will be a good opportunity to get another much needed win over Djokovic. If Roger gets a win over Nadal and Djokovic each, and wins the title, then you really have the best possible scenario for him. Well I hope you all enjoyed today as much as I did. I’m definitely savoring the moment. Lets hope we will have something more to celebrate soon. This is for all of you who have hung in there through the difficult times with Roger!
It’s been an amazing ride and it’s clearly far from over!!!