Murray Bagels Nadal in Tokyo Final, 3-6, 6-2, 6-0

Every time Nadal gets bageled it is a newsworthy event. But this final was newsworthy anyway. It was yet another chance for Nadal to defend his first title off clay, and he failed yet again. Murray on the other hand had lost his last five matches to Nadal, and one more loss would have made him Nadal’s turkey(10 match deficit in h2h). So there was a lot to play for. Given what was at stake for Nadal, I thought he was probably the favorite, but I did not count out Murray since these were faster courts and he had been playing very well of late. He won the event in Bangkok and in the semis of Tokyo he destroyed Ferrer 6-2, 6-3. Murray lost the first set and it looked like Nadal would have his way with him once more. But when Murray got the second break in the second set it looked like he was getting on a bit of a roll.

In the third set he allowed Nadal only four points, bageling him in the process. Four points? That’s not even enough to win Nadal a game! I watched from midway through the second set and I must say Murray played some amazing tennis. This is what Murray can do when he is on. He is a very talented player, but he’s problem lies in the mental department. Some people says he needs to get a better forehand, but this match makes it clear that the forehand is good enough. What is stopping Murray from winning a slam is the mental department. We have seen Murray put in this kind of performance at Masters Series level, but never quite at the slams. This performance really means nothing to me. Until Murray is able to put in this kind of performance at slam level there is no reason for his fans to get excited.

Murray has proved himself at the level below slams and the Masters Cup and we all know it is about winning a slam for him. This result is nothing new. In fact he has already bageled Nadal in the final of Rotterdam. Last year he destroyed Roger in the final of Shanghai, yet when the Masters Cup rolled around Roger reversed the result. We have seen Murray do this time and time again but failing at slam level. So I really see no reason that this result changes anything. He was overdue a win against Nadal and showed what he is capable of. But that is as far as it goes. Next time they meet at a slam you will probably see Nadal destroy him again, like he did at three of the slams this year. But at least Murray denied Nadal his first title defense off clay which I like, and he didn’t become his turkey, which at least doesn’t allow Nadal to own him completely.

Nadal has now lost 8 of his last 11 finals. He has also been bageled in a final on each surface:

Hard: Tokyo 2011 (Murray), Chennai 2008 (Youzhny)
Indoor Hard: Paris 2007 (Nalbandian), Rotterdam 2009 (Murray)
Grass: Wimbledon 2006 (Federer)
Clay: Hamburg 2007 (Federer)

http://www.menstennisforums.com/showthread.php?t=191163&page=10

Nice to see Roger have bageled him twice, one of them on clay. That was in the Hamburg final and reminds of the Tokyo final because Roger won that match 2-6-6-2, 6-0. Nadal on the other hand has only bageled Roger once on his worst surface when Roger was having his worst season due to mono. All these times that Nadal has eaten bagels, not to mention the times he has been destroyed by guys like Del Potro, Tsonga, and Gonzalez in slams, is another reason he can’t be GOAT. And these things are all happening in Nadal’s prime. Nadal is currently in his prime and is still being fed bagels by Murray. I don’t remember Roger ever getting bageled in his prime outside of that match against Nadal, which was outside his prime anyway. I don’t remember him ever getting destroyed in a grand slam either.

Whenever he lost it was a very close match. These are just one of the many reasons that Nadal does not have that GOAT aura about him. And of course the fact that he has never defended a title off clay shows once again that he remains ultimately a clay court specialist. Does this loss to Murray show that Nadal is becoming more vulnerable after all the losses to Djokovic? I wouldn’t bet on it. Nadal still played a good event and easily beat Fish in the semis after losing to him in Cincy. I would like to believe that all these final losses is signs of decline from Nadal, but really there is no reason to think so. He has still been the second best player by far this season. The indoor season is Nadal’s worst part of the season and he won’t be putting too much emphasis on it. What happens next year will give us a better idea of where Nadal’s career is heading.

This coming week is the Masters Series event in Shanghai, and Djokovic have withdrawn from it as well. I think that is a smart move from Djokovic after all the tennis he has played this year and he will be back in Basel with Roger. This mean Nadal and Murray will be the main favorites in Shanghai again. I wouldn’t mind seeing Nadal and Murray in the final again and Murray giving Nadal another beating. Well it is still another three weeks before Basel. It has been a long break for Roger but I will try to make some more posts to keep you guys entertained. I hope this one helped a bit.

Roger Federer


Posted in Uncategorized.

27 Comments

  1. I agree overall except for this part: “And of course the fact that he has never defended a title off clay shows once again that he remains ultimately a clay court specialist”. He remains ultimately a clay court specialist?? I don’t think that’s the case. Otherwise this means Roger was denied an AO title and a Wimbledon title by a clay court specialist. It certainly makes Roger look bad. I think Nadal quickly evolved and found a way to play effectively on grass, only to become one of the toughest opponents to beat on that surface. In general, Nadal plays exceptionally well on the natural surfaces, clay and grass. He’s just a European. Federer is International. haha.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well if you look at his results on clay in relation to his results on other surfaces it is similar to other clay court specialists probably. Other clay court specialists may not have done so well on other surfaces but they didn’t do as well on clay either.

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  2. I dont mean to be rude but calling him a clay court specialist isnt right. He has won on the US open courts and the olympics which are both pretty fast. There is no way he can be considered a clay specialist. He has been the third or so best hardcourt player of his era (2005 onwards, behind Federer and Djokovic).

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    Ru-an Reply:

    See my reply to George.

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  3. Thank for posting Ruan.Nadal won only 3 of the last 11 and still hasn´t defended a title as you have said but
    I really wanted Nadal to win.
    AM. already saying he´s going to be N3 and I guess it can happen.I hope Roger stop lying there and stands up just to hurt AM a little bit more…He´s all excited to
    be ranked above of Roger for the first time…Murray has
    to defend his title in Shangai in order to pass Roger so
    I want Nadal to beat Muray and may be save Roger´s ranking? Have you seen Nadal´s Shangai draw? All his fellow spaniards there…

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  4. Well Ines,i feel there is no harm if Murray gets ahead one spot.All we want is a different semis lineup for the next GS.We are sick of it.aren’t we??
    As for rafa vs murray,i will always root for murray despite the fact the number 3 spot is up for grabs for him.Such is my dislike for rafa.Call it rude but i simply cant digest his game style.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Exactly. I don’t know why people keep referring to the #3 ranking. There is no difference whatsoever between #3 and #4 and believe me Roger couldn’t care less about Murray passing him. If he did he would have gone to Shanghai.

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  5. As always great post and some good stats Ruan, I don’t want to get into the GOAT debate again.. but that 3rd set looked like joker was playing not murray… that backhand seems to be working against rafa … Fed cant control or be aggressive with his single hand but murray/joker are using both hands to good effect on that backhand…

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  6. I knew that should Murray win that would help him one step more in achieving him the third ranking above Federer but I liked him thrashing Nadal nonetheless. The reason is simple. I donot like any sportsman that achieves his goal of winning by hook or by crook, by gamesmanship, by midcourt coaching, by playing tricks as trying to change of momentum of match when down and so on.There are a few Nadal fans such as some Vee Jay who finds funny ways to declare Nadal the best player ever such as an average ATP win loss ratio ( which does not imply anything big really )and what not. In the context of Nadal’s unfair play and his fans’ craze I just want him to lose whoever he plays.Nadal may resort to many tricks in the future when he is getting thrashed so I do not count him out.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well said mridul. Nadal’s win loss ratio, especially in slam finals, is taking a big hit due to Djokovic. He went from 7-2 in finals last year to 3-7 this year, and his slam finals record went from 9-2 overall to 10-4. These things will all continue to get worse as he declines.

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  7. Nice to see Nadal losing another final. Finally, Murray found some form to hit Nadal off the court. In the second set he faced a 0:40 but hit 3 aces in a row. -> the decisive moment for the match. Against players with a good backhand and a useful forehand Nadal struggels big time 2011 (Djokovic, now in-form Murray, sometmes Fish). Still, I think he is far off his form in 2010. Anyways, he should never count him out.
    Atm tennis is still boring without Fed I don’t watch it….

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  8. Ruan said: ‘… I don’t remember him ever getting destroyed in a grand slam either….’

    Do you mean ‘outside’ of that 3-set utter smackdown in 2008, in Paris? When Roger was not at his ‘prime’ anymore, whatever that means? If so, it’s not that clear in your sentence up there.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    If you actually read the whole post you would have known that I already mentioned that beat down in the FO final, so the answer to your question is obvious. And yes, Roger’s prime ended in 2007. 2008 was way worse than 2004-2007.

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    marron Reply:

    I did read it all. It may have been obvious to you, since you already know what you’re trying to say, but it truly wasn’t as clear to me. Thus the question. Thanks for clarifying.

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  9. roger lost quite badly to Kuerten in the 2004 FO. That being said, Federer has been more consistent than Nadal in slams.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well that was before he found his feet at the FO and 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 isn’t exactly a trashing.

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  10. Roger’s sure taking a long break from tennis this fall. Sometimes I think it must be a difficult thing for him to be consistently up and totally focused for every single match. What is his motivation like these days, I wonder. He’s won everything he wanted, plus so much more, been at the top of the game for so long, and is recognized the world over. Now the minute signs of ‘age’ are starting to show, it’s got to be hard to set aside his family in order to go to work with full focus, and the tour must seem like a grind after so many years. And the work is not getting any easier. I would still expect him to win the Tour Finals in London, though.

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  11. Roger doesn’t set his family aside at all. His tennislife and familylife are very well in harmony with each other, I believe, and without Mirka’s full approval and support, Roger might not have achieved the results in such a short span of time, as he has done. The long brake from tennis gives him the opportunity to recharge the batteries and spend indeed more time with his wife and kids. It gives him also the opportunity to evaluate things and makes it possible for him to put his results so far in 2011 in perspective. He has for sure not won all the matches he wanted to win, particularly not this year, but feels he still has a shot at winning the major tournaments and will keep trying to achieve this goal. The balance between his familylife and tennislife is more an advantage than a burden. His opponents have of course also a life outside of tennis, but to a lesser extent. They have still more fysical power and endurance, but less maturity in scheduling their tournaments. We’ll find out in the coming months and next spring which qualities will prevail.

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    marron Reply:

    Oh, I agree Mirka is fully supportive, and the two of them employ all means necessary to make their travelling lives as streamlined as possible, plus I’m sure she and the twins absolutely enjoy the life they lead. I didn’t mean to suggest they are some kind of burden to Roger. I just wondered what his mindset might be, since I don’t think he’s taken such a long break at this time of year before, unless injured.

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  12. Expected. Nadal always has a desultory post-USO hard court season.

    Murray won because Super Nadal didn’t show up in Tokyo, but I’m sure Super Nadal will suddenly reappear at the YEC in London (after a shaky opening-round match, the usual “injuries” that magically disappear after a couple days, etc.).

    Djokovic’s dominance this year has far outstripped Nadal’s in 2010, which also fell a little bit short of Federer’s 2007.

    So far Nadal’s only managed peak performance at the majors, the YEC, IW/Miami, and clay season; he turns in lackluster performances in pretty much all the other tournaments. In particular, he has never done very well in the fall hard-court season, aside from the USO.

    In contrast, Federer in his best years performed at a high level on every surface, in nearly every tournament. Were it not for meeting Nadal in so many clay-court finals he would have swept the clay season in 2006-08 as thoroughly as he did on the other surfaces, and he would surely have already won over 22 majors.

    This year, Djokovic has also been dominant throughout the entire year, on every surface. Much more so than Nadal was in 2010.

    Were it not for Federer he would certainly have won the Calendar Slam, just as Federer would certainly have in 2006-07 in the absence of Nadal.

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  13. Thanks Ru-an for keeping the posts coming during this off season. Much appreciate it. Good comments from Marron, Wilfried and Steve. This is a bit off topic but I’m just wondering am I the only Fed fan who is worried about DJoker?! I’ve never liked him although I admire what he has done and I think he is a great player. I have always thought Djoker is a great player, right up there with Fed and Nadal. Everytime he plays Fed, I’m always very nervous, even way back in 2007. I can see how good he really is and I always wonder how come he ends up usually losing to Fed in the past. I always have this uncomfortable feeling that Fed can’t hold out on him much longer. I always felt he could win when he plays Fed. When Fed lost USO 2010 semifinal to him, I immediately knew without a doubt that this was a bad omen. Djoker has finally broken through. He was open enough to search for answers to the mental and physical aspects of his game and he found the answers. Having solved both of those aspects, he is now truly a complete player – you can say even more complete than Fed. He can attack, can defend, good serve, athletic, agile, solid, accurate and deep strokes, best returner, mentally strong, ambitious. You can’t find a more complete player. In 2009 or thereabouts, I remember there were matches (I don’t remember which ones) where I watched him struggle to string a few points together and he would go on and on and on hitting ball after ball, deep, inside the lines, eventhough he was breathing very hard and physically worn out. If Nadal was physically worn out, he gives short balls, not Djoker though. And I remember I would then grudgingly admire his perserverance and strength and accuracy. Today, all those weaknesses are gone and it is scary to watch him. He doesn’t make mistakes and he hits so deep, returns so well, it is impossible to play with him. Mentally he is way ahead of Fed and Nadal at the moment. Did you all notice how he was able to absorb the crowds’s dislike of him in this year’s USO, absorb Fed’s pressure on his game and then he turned the crowd who was against him to applaud for him after he returned that serve that was supposed to be match point for Fed? I do not agree at all with what he did; calling the crowd on and making Fed wait to serve. But what he did was “brilliant” in the sense that he got what he wanted and I’m quite sure he won many fans after that cocky act. This is something which I never liked about Djoker. He knows how to play with people’s emotions, manipulate situations for his own advantage. Of course sometimes he succeeds, sometimes he doesn’t but you won’t find him not trying. As I see it now, only a perfect Fed can beat him. And we all know that perfect Fed hardly appears nowadays. Fed said when he won his first wimbledon, the floodgates opened for him as finally, “everything came together” for him; his game, his mentality/maturity. The same thing is happening to Djoker. The floodgates have opened for him and the crystal ball in front of me show Djoker becoming a second Fed, gobbling up slams, being invincible, injury-free (he is not very injury prone; surprising for his kind of play). I’m not worried about Nadal catching Fed. I’m worried Djoker would. He seems much more capable physically, emotionally, mentally, talent-wise and he is very ambitious, cocky, not shy at all of what he wants and he loves the limelight, the adulation. He’s like a caged animal that has been finally released from the “perpetual no. 3 prison”. See his King Kong victory roar; he’s been suppressed by the Big 2 for too long. Now let loose, he is very dangerous, uncontrollable and he has a perfect motivation now – to win and to continue to be on top of the 2 players who have brushed him aside for too long. Fed fans, what are your thoughts on Djoker? Ru-an, I’m not a tennis expert, just wondering why is Djoko’s strokes so deep and so accurate? Why are they always in, always clearing the net? I know Nadal’s are accurate because of his topspin so there is a lot of clearance and Fed’s is not accurate because he is about timing and taking the ball early. Players who try to hit deep or paint the lines always hit out or hit the net after few strokes but not Djoker. Why is that? Sorry if I’m naive about the game but as I said, I don’t know too much about the game like all of you here.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I agree with you about things coming together for Djokovic but I don’t think he can threaten Roger’s record simply because of his age. He waited a long time before he peaked, losing repeatedly to Roger and Nadal. But I like the fact that he has come to the party now when Nadal is starting to threaten Roger’s record. As far as I’m concerned things are working out just right. As for how Djokovic manages to hit so accurately it is just the talent and control he has. His backhand is on of the best ever. His strokes are just very smooth. He doesn’t need as much spin as Nadal to keep the ball in cos he is more talented. I wouldn’t say he is anywhere near as talented or graceful as Roger though. Roger has a much better serve, much better volleys, and much better hands. His forehand is also much better. Djokovic’s backhand is the main difference which makes him such a tough opponent for Nadal. His defense is also very good, especially on the backhand. Overall he has a very balanced game. Very good on defense and offense. But not as complete as Roger. His transition game isn’t very good for one.

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    veronica Reply:

    Thanks lots, Ru-an! I get it a bit more now.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    You’re welcome ;-)

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    veronica Reply:

    Thanks lots Ru-an for the explanation. Appreciate it and this blog so very much. Have a great day today!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I appreciate you as a reader very much too :-)

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  14. Very spirited written comment, Veronica, and a very pertinent question too. I’m also wondering if and how long Djoker will be able to keep up his current level, and which impact this could have on Roger’s career. If Djoker can keep up this level long enough and keeps beating Roger on a regular basis, Roger might not only have to carry one monkey but two monkeys on his back.
    Is this the most likely scenario to happen? Is Djoker indeed going anywhere, as Ruan wrote somewhere in the context of the Nadal-Djoker contest, not leaving any space anymore neither to Nadal nor to Roger, or will it rather be the two young big monkeys fighting with each other for the sweet-smelling banana, while Roger or someone else takes advantage of it.
    I’m not so sure about Djokovic being that injury-free: after all he did have to pull out of the Daviscup because of a to me not so innocent-looking back-injury. Will this injury hinder him again in the near future or can he play again ‘really freely’… it remains to be seen. For that matter his playing style seems to me not only taxing his back but also his knees… and his ankles.
    I’m not sure either of the benefits of manipulating a crowd in the long run. This attitude can turn against you… not to speak of the possibility /probability that the Roland Garros- and Wimbledon crowds might react in a different way to this kind of demeanor.
    Anyway, I’m also eager to hear Ruan’s thoughts in this matter.

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