Miami QF: Federer def Simon 3-0 w/o, Fedal Rivalry to be Resumed

Well it’s not exactly how you want to win but we will take it. It seems Simon’s neck was stiff and he withdrew after being two breaks down. I thought Roger looked good in the first three games but it’s hard to draw any conclusions with the opponent carrying an injury. This was the 16th time an opponent of Roger have retired, while Roger have never retired. That says a lot. Roger will now face his old nemesis Nadal, after Nadal beat Berdych in three sets. It will be the first time they meet in North America since the 2005 Miami final and the first time they meet in a semi-final since the 2007 Masters Cup. I watched Nadal’s match against Berdych and Nadal wasn’t that impressive. He seems to have been suffering from some sort of injury because he was getting treatment during the match. But there always seems to be an injury problem with Nadal if he is not performing at his peak.

Could it be something else? I don’t know. What I do know is that it won’t be an easy match for Roger, whether Nadal is at his best or not. But at least he is showing some signs of vulnerability. If Nadal plays like he did against Berdych then Roger will have a decent chance of beating him. This will be the 23rd meeting in the rivalry which Nadal leads 14-8. Every meeting in the rivalry carries significant importance. If you look at the conditions it probably favors Nadal. It is slow and allows him to play his retrieving game from the base line. The bounce is also pretty high which will give him the opportunity to hit his high spinning forehands to Roger’s backhand. It won’t be like the Masters Cup last year where Roger can hit backhand winners cross court. Roger won’t be able to play the attacking kind of game he did that day. Or it will be much harder anyway.

He is certainly gonna have to serve well and be at his offensive best. To beat Nadal Roger must play a clean, clinical match. There is just no other way to beat him basically. I thought the matches against Stepanek and Rochus was pretty clinical. It’s a shame Roger could not measure his game against Simon. A clinical win against Simon could have given him a nice confidence boost going into the semis. But at least he is in yet another semi, his 13th consecutive since Toronto last year. Like one of my readers said, he probably needs to win tomorrow to feel like his hard court exploits since the beginning of the year has been a true success. It’s been consistent going but he hasn’t beaten a player inside the top 10 and has lost three times to a main rival. If he still wants to get the number one spot back, a win against Nadal tomorrow ill be an important mental and ranking boost.

So I really feel like Roger must make his move tomorrow. If he serves and hits his ground strokes like he did against Stepanek and Rochus he will have his chances. If he plays like he did against Monaco however he won’t have much chances. There won’t be room for a low first serve percentage and many shanks from the base line. I just think he must serve big, hit his forehand big, and come to the net pretty often to finish the point off. And he musn’t waste a lot of break point opportunities. The drop shot may be effective too if he can push Nadal behind the base line from the ground. As with all Fedal matches this will be another close, intense encounter, but should JesusFed or at least a version of it come out tomorrow, I feel like Roger may just get a much needed win in the rivalry. All the best champ!

Interview: http://www.sonyericssonopen.com/News/Tennis/2011/Interview-Transcripts/Interview-Transcripts/Extra-Column/2011-Roger-Federer-March-31.aspx

Roger Federer,Tumblr


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21 Comments

  1. Here we go again.
    It will be very difficult to win tomorrow but it will make the win much more satisfying.
    The main thing Federer has to do, as he did in the WTF2010, is keep Nadal out of rhythm. That means short points and as few rallies as possible – I have no idea how to do that on a slow court though. Of course, the serve must be there and also a solid backhand.
    I hope Federer can take some confidence, that he can pull it off, from their last match in London.

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  2. It would be fantastic if he could beat Nadal, but it would be even more fantastic if he could win the title.

    Ironically it’s Federer’s dropping to #3 that made this possible, otherwise Nadal would presumably be in Djokovic’s half and Djokovic would have the chance to score two straight victories over the Spaniard.

    Very often before on hard courts, when Nadal was a little off he was defeated before he could meet a peak-form Federer–at Cincinnati last year and in 2009, USO in 2008 and 2009, depriving Federer of the opportunity to beat him.

    However, even a vulnerable Nadal is no easy pickings, as Berdych showed tonight. Only a supreme performance will do it. If the match becomes close and drags on and on you would have to favor Nadal.

    Federer’s had enough matches on the slow hard courts this year that he must have figured out a few things by now. Hopefully he can put it all together and execute well tomorrow.

    C’mon Roger, show us your best stuff!

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  3. Ru-an, thank you for the positive post, it gives me more optimism going into today’s match.
    Your analysis and view are largely spot on, imho, except the fact that we know even if Nadal is not at his best level, he may just raise it enough to frustrate Roger and get into his skin, unless Roger could play a clean match and stay focus throughout.
    Hope Fish will pose some questions to Djoko in the other match. Someone must put some doubts back into Djoko’s mind and stop it from growing ever bigger!

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  4. That press interview after the retirement is very interesting. Roger was a bit injured last week. I actually noticed that! When he played Chela he was stretching his neck after I think the 3rd game. I was immediately worried about it and I even thought i’d post on her about it but I didn’t:

    “ROGER FEDERER: In the morning? Right. I came on court right after he I took his court really at 12:30. After he had been hitting for a half an hour he looked fine. He even hit some serves. He stopped pretty quickly when he was serving, I remember, but then I saw him sort of in the locker room and everything seemed normal.
    But it really restricts you. I had a bad neck last week as well. It’s just something that’s really hard to play with sometimes. Sometimes you got to be lucky that it doesn’t happen like two hours before but maybe while you’re already playing or right after so you have that night to sleep through it and work on it.
    He probably just didn’t have that time, and that’s why he wasn’t able to play properly.”

    I can’t wait for these two to go at it tonight. I’m finding that i’m enjoying watching Roger play more and more recently regardless of the result. He has nothing to prove anymore and yet he still has this incredible hunger to win. If he wants the number 1 ranking he has to win this tournament IMO. Even if Roger loses i’ll be happy that he’s got to play his greatest rival in an great event with lots of the line. As long as Roger doesn’t get bageled or thrashed I’ll be happy.

    On a side note- I notice that Nadal’s bad sportsmanship continues. Has he EVER lost a match where he was fit?!! He has an injury time out in nearly every match when he’s losing.

    And something else i’ve been thinking of today is injuries. If you look at the players who are always injured they are players who play a defensive baseline game. Hewitt, Nalbandian, Murray, Djokovic (more health than injuries i guess) and now Simon has revealed that he has a back problem which always effects him. Tsgonga is another player and Monfils. My point is that the biggest injury prone player is the current world number 1. How many more years can he keep up his running game? And with that injury list how can he possible avoid having to have more lengthy time out due to his own problems. Both knees are wrecked with tendinitis (only cure is to rest- alot!) His shoulder also had the same problem. now his OTHER should has started to go on him! Thigh muscle went I think in Australia? He tore his stomach muscles last year before US Open. The guy is already banged up pretty bad and he’s only 24.

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  5. Djokovic seems thoroughly juiced. It will be interesting if Nadal winds up playing him. Juice against juice.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Lol.

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  6. Roger is all over the place tonight. Not good. He’s 3-6, 1-3 down. Having recently watched some 2005 matches I notice now how much slower Roger is to get to the ball. He just can’t make the ground up! He is still a great champion and no matter what happens from this point I fell proud to be a Federer fan after he showed his heart to hang on from break points down at 3-6, 0-3

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    onefly9 Reply:

    Totally agree, all over the place today. The last 2-3 games were really bad with all the shanks and UE.
    So many time he put Nadal under pressure with a very good shot, only for Nadal to some how put the ball back with his speed and quick reaction, and then Roger follow up with a UE. Very frustrating to say the least. It’s going to be a big challenge for him and Anacone to try to re-group after this.

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  7. Painful. Too many unforced errors and a strangely dispirited effort. Still, Nadal is just so hulking in his shirt. How do you look like that without juice?

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  8. I just erased the “F” word, but just pretend it’s there. The crowd was so for him. Unless he gets ahead, and has that positive vibe, you can see he was going to lose right when Nadal broke the first time. This is getting painful to watch time after time, but I still say he’s got some great tennis left.

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  9. This was almost as bad as the 2008 French Open final. Maybe Roger shouldn’t have resigned himself to losing before the tournament even started. This performance was a joke.

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  10. One statistic is telling: Nadal won 86% of his first service points, as against Roger’s shockingly low 57%. (What made it worse was that Nadal’s first service percentages were also much higher – 76% as against 60%. From that perspective alone, Roger could make no impression on Nadal’s game and was always going to struggle on his own.) None of the other statistics were in Roger’s favour. It wasn’t even close.

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  11. The big difference between London and Miami is obvious: Nadal’s shots bounce higher and Federer had trouble timing the forehand with all that spin, let alone the backhand.

    As against Murray in Shanghai, he got off to a poor start and couldn’t generate any momentum thereafter.

    Nadal didn’t do anything special, he just stuck to his usual gameplan of pounding the backhand and retrieving everything. Nadal’s serve and forehand were suddenly much better tonight (then again, Federer returned rather poorly), and who knows? “Super Nadal” may well make an appearance in the final.

    The hottest player on tour is due to be ground down on Sunday; he’s looking just a wee bit peaky. Nadal will not want to lose a second final to the Serb, and he’ll have taken the “special measures” needed to accomplish his goal. Especially since he has never won Miami before (whereas he had won Indian Wells twice) and Nadal doesn’t want any gaps in his collection of Masters trophies.

    It is perhaps not a coincidence that Uncle Toni is in the stands for this tournament and Nadal is now playing much better, while he was absent during Indian Wells when Nadal lost.

    Federer had seven hard-court tournaments to work on his game before winning the WTF: Toronto, Cincinnati, USO, Stockholm, Basel, Shanghai, Paris. It took a lot of time, and some tough losses–once to Djokovic, once to Monfils, and twice to Murray–before he could raise his game to the level needed to win in London.

    He’s now played five tournaments this year on slow hard courts, and had four losses, 3 to Djokovic and now 1 to Nadal. I figure he will need a couple more tournaments on clay before he gets to the point where he could beat the top players and win titles.

    A good thing then that he’s playing Monte Carlo.

    Losses hurt, but the wins are far more enjoyable than the losses are painful. So I’m willing to wait for them. They will come.

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  12. Love your comment Steve.It´s true Nadal playing poorly against Berdich and like a beast today.Toni came and who knows? it´s all so strange…But as you have said
    Roger won´t give up and we musn´t either.
    The media write Roger off after his AO defeat to Nadal
    and he went on to win the FO and Wimby.Alright I´m off.
    Roger come back stronger and show Koenig what a useless tool he is.

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  13. Of course, Roger losing is bad for his fans and so is for me but I am not that disappointed as many others are in this site.Nadal played just extraordinary and Roger could not match him this time and if he knows that he cannot win on this day why go to the extent of extreme? I agree with Roger that he saved his energy for the future. The sky has not fallen yet. In Dubai he played almost like that but then in IW he produced a far better play. He knew that he had to play Nadal so may be resigned in the third set. Here he would have to play Djoker had he gone all out and won. He would have a tremendous psychological pressure and so I think he did just the right thing. After all he is now only number three and he has justified his ranking. Nadal, on the other hand, had no lapse this time as against Berdych the other day and should he play like today I just donot see Djoker competing with him either. For now, that is probably right because it is time that somebody schooled him and demonstrated that all people have sometimes good times and sometimes bad.

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  14. Looking at a replay of the match it was difficult to not see it as a clay-court match played on hard court. Nadal’s balls looped massively over the net, often bouncing above Roger’s shoulder. At some point in the rally Roger would make the error – either from the back of the court or by missing an attacking shot. When he did attempt to attack the net, there was Nadal making him play yet another awkward ball at his feet – or passing him contemptuously with a flick of his wrist. For Roger it was the oft-recurring nightmare; an opponent who was at every part of the court at once, who was able to loft balls repeatedly back at the most uncomfortable height for the Federer backhand, and whose invitations to attack the net off a shorter ball turned instead into a noose for the Federer neck, drawing yet another demoralising error or opportunity for Nadal to pass.

    I tried to remember what Federer was like in his prime: this player I saw yesterday lacked the speed, penetration of shot and sheer flair of the genius that bore his name; he looked instead like an averagely good ‘pro’ substantially outclassed by a player whose preternatural defence he found impossible to overcome.

    I recalled the Federer of the ’06 and ’07 end-of-year Masters, who was in every part of the court a better player than Nadal – or, for that matter, anybody who has ever wielded a tennis racquet. Nadal, by contrast, looks little different today, his game virtually the same as when it first appeared so many years ago – although possibly a bit ‘weightier’ now, and he may move even faster around the court. For the connossieur of the game, it offers little to enjoy or admire except for its quality, extolled by so many commentators, of sheer relentlessness. But it works far better now than the Federer game. It is Federer who appears to have changed the most; his ability to withstand everything that Nadal is able to throw at him and then provide his own devastating riposte appears to have largely gone. Against a Nadal or a Djokovic, I wonder if we will ever see it again.

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    Ed Reply:

    So far, Neil, I think yours is the most accurate and the fairest commentary on what we saw yesterday afternoon. I have to say that it was painful to watch, embarrassing, in fact.

    I was thinking, afterwards, about what Roger said to Brad Gilbert after Simon retired. Gilbert asked him if was going to watch the Nadal/Berdych match. He said that his coaches would but why should he; after all he’s played them many times. As I recalled that, I suddenly added, and, yes, you’ve lost to them pretty consistently recently. This came back to me as I was thinking about something P. McEnroe said. He commented that it seemed as if Roger just didn’t have a game plan. My observation was that Roger went out there with, really, not much in mind at all and, time after embarrassing time, was simply flat-footed, outplayed. He brought just about nothing to the game. He became Olivier Rochus to Nadal’s Federer. No serve. No plan A. No plan B. A broken man, it occurs to me, before he was actually broken–in the 3rd game in Set 1, in the 1st game, in Set 2. It doesn’t matter about the five year age difference if Roger came out to play, if, at the very least he left it all out there on the court. But he didn’t. At another point, McEnroe observed that to beat Nadal you have to come out of your shoes when you hit. That was, alas, the very last thing Roger was going to do. That, to me, was the most telling evidence that Roger, like just about all of his opponents throughout his brilliant reign, was beaten before he stepped out onto the court. Who knew better than Roger what he was about to face?

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  15. It’s important to remember too, Nadal and Djokovic are 5-6 years younger than Federer. That’s huge, obviously. It’s also worth remembering that Fed beat Nadal and Djoko just a few months ago. Obviously, it will be challenging for him to beat them consistently, but I think like Jimmy Connors or Pete Sampras there will be a few more surprise victories, wins, when we least expect them. Also, worth noting that besides Djokovic and Nadal there’s no one that can consistently beat him, which is quite impressive for the GOAT who is nearly 30. I think he’ll rebound from this embarrassing defeat with new determination to snatch at least a few more thrilling victories. It feels a bit like he’s the John Henry of American folklore fighting these machines, who frankly, seem to be transparently doping. For sure Nadal and likely Djoko (EPO or other endurance boosting PEDs).

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  16. Even in Federer’s pomp he had tremendous difficulty with Nadal on the Miami courts; in 2004, during which he completed one of the greatest seasons any male tennis player has ever had (topped only by his performance of 2006)–winning three majors, three Masters, 11 titles overall of 11 finals reached, and going 92-5 in wins-losses–he fell in straight sets to Nadal in Key Biscayne, in their very first encounter ever.

    In their second meeting, the 2005 Miami final, Nadal again won the first two sets. Fortunately for our man, that match was best-of-five instead of best-of-three and, as Andrew pointed out, Nadal didn’t have the same limitless endurance he has today. Federer was able to eventually turn it around and win.

    So in reality, we aren’t seeing a radically new development in yesterday’s match.

    The comparison to the story of John Henry is apt but somewhat unfortunate, for the hero pays the ultimate price for his victory over the steam engine.

    Happily for us, Federer has more options besides sheer brawn to deal with the machines. He can jam up their works and force them to self-destruct.

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