I thought about making a positive post about Roger, but I think I’ll wait for the result of the final before I do that. After today’s semis we have yet another Nadal/Djokovic final. It is getting a bit boring, but this is my preferred match up given who was left in the semis. I don’t see how Tsonga could have beaten Nadal in the final and Murray was never going to beat Nadal either. I told you Murray would not have the balls to upset Nadal and that is exactly what happened. It is all a little too predictable for my liking. Murray started well. He was actually going for his forehand in the first set, which I thought was the key to the match. And not surprisingly that helped him to bag the first set 7-5. Robbie Koenig, who is a regular commentator on the ATP Tour, excitedly made a tweet that he could not believe how calm Murray was.
I replied that we will have to see about Murray’s calmness. Knowing Murray, I knew that could all change in a split second. At 1-2 in the second set and Nadal serving at 15-30 down, Murray worked him over in a rally and got a sitter of a forehand right by the net after Nadal was scrambling on the base line. Murray missed the forehand long. From being in control of the match and having a chance to go a break up in the second set, it was back to 30-30. But more importantly he let Nadal out of jail when he had him on the ropes. This is something you simply cannot afford to do against Nadal. If you show the slightest sign of inability to finish him off he will smell it like a hungry lion and make you pay dearly. We see this happen time and time again with players facing Nadal. We have to look no further than Roger himself.
The most recent being the French Open where Roger should have taken the opening set but let a 5-2 lead slip. Against Nadal you have to be a cold calculated killer. There is simply no other way to beat him when he is at his best. This is something that frustrates me greatly when I watch Nadal, because I know there are so few players who have the killer instinct to finish him. In fact there may be only one player on the entire ATP Tour who is currently capable of doing it, namely Djokovic. Anyway to get back to the match, it all fell apart for Murray after that point. He dropped serve in the next game(which I predicted) and from there on lost 6-2, 6-2, 6-4. He went away after his missed opportunity never to return. You know, it surprises me when someone like Robbie Koenig gets excited about Murray’s ‘calmness’ after Murray’s history of abundant choking.
The guy is simply a relentless choke artist. There are two certainties in life: death and Murray choking. Only the latter happens sooner and much more often. I hope he doesn’t win a slam because he doesn’t deserve it. That may seem like a cold statement to you but if he wins a slam it will be because he fluked it, and slams shouldn’t be fluked. It is the ultimate test of a player’s mental fortitude and only the deserving ones should win it. Murray doesn’t have a champions heart. It is what it is. Even though Roger is struggling at the moment, at least we can still take comfort in the fact that he is still mentally far ahead of Murray, and will be until the day when he retires. When you have Nadal playing Murray you have maybe the most clutch player in history against maybe the biggest choker in history. There can be only one result.
The Djokovic/Tsonga match was more competitive. Djokovic was two sets and a break up when Tsonga started coming back into the match and took the third set. Unlike Roger, Djokovic steadied the ship in the fourth and made sure Tsonga didn’t sniff a fifth set. So let it not be said that Roger deserved to be in the final instead of Djokovic. In a way I am glad it is Djokovic in the final and not Roger. At the French Open I thought Djokovic was the only one who could defeat Nadal, and now he will get his chance. Try to look at the bright side. If Roger made the final and lost to Nadal it would have been more devastating than losing to Tsonga. At least now there is a guy in the final who have beaten Nadal in four straight Masters Series finals. There are people still harping on the fact that Djokovic have never beaten Nadal in a slam, or that best of five is a different story.
But I think four Masters Series finals is more telling then one grand slam meeting, or at least on par. I think Djokovic deserves respect for that and he deserves being the new world number one. Having said that, grass is probably Djokovic’s worst surface. He never made the Wimbledon final before and I don’t think he has ever won a grass court tournament. It is tough for me to make a prediction about the final. All I know is Nadal would not have forgotten about those string of losses to Djokovic. He knows Djokovic has the killer instinct to beat him, because he has done it before. No doubt we will see mostly base line rallies and a lot of defensive play from both players. Djokovic’s backhand may be the key again. Nadal can’t break that side of Djokovic down. Instead Djokovic can use it to break down Nadal’s forehand.
I’m not so sure Djokovic’s defense is on the same level as it is on clay or hard, but it looks like he is sliding pretty well on grass as well. He needs to be able to retrieve a lot of balls from Nadal which will frustrate him and make him miss. Also Djokovic’s returns can play a big role. He is a great returner and it can help him to put a lot of pressure on the Nadal serve. Most importantly of all Djokovic won’t choke. If he loses it will be because Nadal outplayed him. That fact alone is enough to make me excited about this match. It is just unacceptable for Nadal to win another slam by facing someone who doesn’t believe they can win. That’s why I’m glad Djokovic made the final and not Tsonga. Djokovic will believe he can win given their last four meetings. It may be a new surface, but that didn’t stop him when they met the first time on clay this year.
I think this could be a classic match in the making and I am pretty excited knowing that there is a possibility Nadal will lose. As a Fedfan my second priority is to see Roger’s main rival and nemesis lose, after my first priority which is to see Roger win. The first priority is for the time being not an option, so the second becomes my top priority. Make no mistake about, the result of Sunday’s final could have far reaching consequences, even though Nadal was saved by Roger at the French Open. My worst fear is that Nadal wins and Roger has done nothing but help Nadal in catching up with him in slam count in the last two slams. However, if Nadal loses it will be a devastating blow to him. He would have missed a golden opportunity to close even further on Roger’s slam count, and Djokovic’s ownage will have increased over him.
If Roger’s slam count is gonna remain in tact then Djokovic must strike now and make it clear that he will be a big hindrance to Nadal in the future. If Nadal wins then people will keep saying that Djokovic can’t beat Nadal in slams, and the last four losses to Djokovic will have been erased. Nadal will have a clean slate and he will chase down Roger’s record. So you can see that this match carries a lot of significance in terms of the ‘Fedal fate’. A part of me thinks that Nadal will have his way, and he will take advantage of the fact that he was let off the hook by Roger at the French Open. It is as if Nadal always has his way. But another part of me knows how important it is for the ‘Fedal fate’ that Djokovic wins, and I know that Djokovic is a legitimate threat to Nadal. So I am gonna try to remain positive here.
I feel too emotionally involved to make a prediction though. It won’t be based on any logic. I’ll let you decide.