Well, it seems karma finally caught up with Federer after he made the great escape last year against Mayer in his first match at Shanghai as he lost 6-7(4), 6-2, 3-6 to world #70 Ramos-Vinolas today. It was quite ironic that Ramos-Vinolas is also a left-handed Spaniard. Since Federer won Shanghai last year he loses 955 points this week. Murray has already overtaken Federer in the rankings at the start of the week and he now has a chance to stretch his lead over Federer this week.
By making semis this week in Shanghai, it would go a long way towards ensuring him of the second seed in Melbourne next week. He is already playing one fewer event than Federer in the fall due to Davis Cup and needs to make every tournament count. I watched the third set of the match and I was quite impressed with Ramos-Vinolas. He was quite aggressive from the baseline and didn’t choke when he had the chance to put Federer away.
And of course, it didn’t hurt that he is left-handed and that his crosscourt forehand goes into Federer relative weakness. He also used the slice serve out wide to Federer’s backhand to good effect and his serve, in general, is not huge but effective. The match stats are confusing because Ramos-Vinolas had a negative winner to unforced error ratio of 22-26 while Federer had a positive one of 45-30. Just goes to show again the importance of winning the important points.
The two slam final losses to Djokovic in the last two slams wouldn’t have helped Federer anyway. Especially with all the chances Federer had. Those slam final runs with nothing to show for it takes a mental and physical toll, and then Federer played Davis Cup as well after the US Open. He looks burned out. But he still has Basel, Paris, and London ahead and this one loss is not the end of the world.
- The Fedal Dynamic
What is more concerning for Federer is the fact that Nadal looks to be on his way back and how deeply Nadal is embedded into his sub-conscious. Could the mere fact that Nadal played well in Beijing and that he is in Federer’s half of the draw in Shanghai have caused Federer to lose today? Most certainly. I would not underestimate what effect Nadal has on Federer’s sub-conscious. He is like a monster lurking there.
So as usual we won’t have our Fedal match and maybe we will never see them play each other again. Nadal has won the last five matches in the head-to-head and as far as I’m concerned that rivalry is dead anyway. Nadal owns Federer and that’s the end of that. He has even beaten Federer on the few surfaces where Federer was still supposed to have the upper hand in Cincy and the World Tour Finals.
He also straight-setted him in a slam. The ownage is complete and there is hardly anything left for Federer to salvage. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to see them play. But it seems unlikely because where it was only Nadal who avoided Federer in the past when he was not in top form Federer has now started doing the same thing. So it is likely that if Nadal continues his comeback that we will continue to see Federer slip.
Nadal has been on such a poor run of form that Federer never had to worry about him and it allowed Federer to get back to number two in the world and make two slam finals. But he wasn’t going to be so lucky indefinitely and he needed to make one of those slam finals count. Especially the US Open final where he had a massive advantage with the crowd and 23 break points. But he didn’t capitalize and now that Nadal is coming back it will be harder to make those slam finals.
We will see what happens with Fedal for the rest of the fall. They could be drawn in the same group in London in which case they will definitely face each other. Nadal is also playing Basel so maybe if he continues to improve Fedal can even face off there. In Paris, it seems more unlikely. This Fedal dynamic will be interesting to monitor as the fall progresses anyway and it adds to the excitement.
- What is Left for Federer This Season?
Federer has had another great year at his age, but the biggest title he’s won is Cincy. After making two slam finals, I’d think he will want to do one better than that or at least win another Masters. He’d desperately want to win the World Tour Finals again, but I don’t think he can beat Djokovic on those courts. Nadal could beat him too if he continues his good form. And at this point Federer seems burned out.
Maybe this early loss in Shanghai is a good thing for him so he can take some more time off but winning more titles won’t be easy. You’d think he can win Basel at least if he avoids Nadal but with Djokovic at Paris and London it will be harder. It certainly won’t boost Federer’s confidence if he can’t end the year with anything more than Basel and Murray gets the number two seed in Melbourne next year.
- Tomorrow in Shanghai
Tomorrow the big boys are back in Shanghai. Nishikori and Kyrgios open on stadium court which promises to be an interesting one. With Federer losing Nishikori can make a deep run or Kyrgios can make a breakthrough run. Then Murray plays his first match back since Davis Cup against Johnson. Certainly he will want to make at least semis to stretch his lead over Federer in the rankings.
The third match will be the world number one against Klizan and in the last match Nadal will play Karlovic which will be another very interesting one. Nadal will look to build on his form in Beijing, but big-serving Karlovic is a tough opener. And it doesn’t get any easier for him with Raonic/Agut and an on-fire Cilic and Wawrinka lurking up ahead. Just making semis in Shanghai would be huge for him.
Should be another cracking day of tennis!
- Match Stats
The is in your court.