Reflections on Indian Wells: The Essence of Roger Federer

I usually only do this after slams, but the fact that Roger beat his nemesis on the way to the title makes Indian Wells worth reviewing. Indian Wells and Miami are like slams in the sense that it is also a 128 draw and it is played over the course of more than a week. But let me get back to the Nadal match. Whenever Roger beats his nemesis it is a special event since it doesn’t happen often. For a Fedfan it doesn’t get much better. It feels good because it is a reminder to Nadal and the critics that Nadal does not own Roger completely. Roger have gotten some key victories over Nadal in the past which can’t be overlooked. Off of clay, Roger leads Nadal 8-6, while Nadal leads the head-to-head on clay 12-2. Those are pretty telling stats.

In slams it’s 3-2 in Nadal’s favor off of clay, but again they have met five times on clay in slams, making the overall head-to-head 8-2 in Nadal’s favor. Clay plays a huge role in this rivalry, with exactly half of the matches having been played on clay now. And Nadal is a clay court specialist after all. So it is only natural that he should lead the head-to-head. Having said that, we all know this rivalry is about more than just surfaces. Even when Roger beats Nadal, you still get the feeling it was a very close match, and Nadal could have easily come back int the match(with some exceptions, including all the indoor matches). If you look at their match in Indian Wells it could have gone either way. The point at 6-3, 5-4, and 30-30 was the key.

Nadal had gotten one break back after trailing 2-5 and was closing in on Roger. Roger had one more chance to hold his serve for victory, but Nadal knew the pressure was increasing on Roger. And just to remind him of all the past failures he took a bathroom break right before Roger had to serve for the match. Roger was clearly feeling the pressure as he kept missing first serves. At 30-30 Nadal was playing attacking tennis as he does when there is a big point. Roger was desperately defending and then Nadal missed an inside out forehand in the net. If he made that shot I think he would have won the point and the match. Then came the short rain break which seemed to give Roger a chance to settle down a bit, and when he came back he served a clutch ace to finish the job.

Today I read on a forum someone saying that the point at 30-30 may have been a turning point in the Fedal rivalry. As far as I am concerned there is no reason to believe so. I didn’t want to spoil your party during Indian Wells, but it is time to get some perspective. If Roger held serve at 5-2 in the second set then I may have agreed that we reached a turning point. But like I said this match could have gone either way. If Nadal won that point at 30-30 he could easily have broken  and then he would have won the match 99% certain. I think the rain break also helped Roger before that last point. He seemed very nervous throughout that last game and the rain break just allowed him to gather himself and do what was needed to win the match.

If he didn’t serve an ace Nadal would still have had a very good chance to win the point and even the match. It is all just too close for comfort, which is why this match doesn’t carry any special significance to me(other than the fact that Roger won). We have seen Roger beat Nadal in best of three sets before. Should we be content with the way the rivalry is going? As a Fedfan I am greedy. I always want more and better. As far as Roger’s form goes this year and his career in general I am content, but as far as the Fedal rivalry goes I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking for better. Or do we just accept that Nadal is a scumbag and leave it at that? I have to say I was pretty disgusted by the bathroom break Nadal took before the last game.

It was just terrible sportsmanship, and reminded us of what Nadal is all about. For Nadal it is all about winning, and the means always justifies the end. That is why it is also easy to believe that he is doping. The Fedal rivalry is something very complex. It goes further than just tennis. It is also about moral values and integrity, which Nadal have none of. At least not as a tennis player. For Nadal winning is everything, and morals mean nothing. Gamesmanship is not against the rules, but we see Nadal break the rules all the time anyway. He receives coaching on court and consistently takes more time between points than allowed. He is also a false person. He creates a public image of humbleness which is utterly fake.

The true Nadal would step over anyone and anything to get what he wants. He epitomizes everything that is wrong with the world, which is selfishness and greed. For this reason I have never and will never warm to Nadal. I respect some of his fighting qualities but I will never like him. I also can’t stand falseness. I would rather someone be honest and be labelled arrogant for it, rather than being fake and labelled humble for it. It’s an easy choice, and for anyone with any moral values it would be an easy choice too. This rivalry is certainly more than a tennis rivalry. It is a moral rivalry. I think Roger is ok with taking some key losses to his main rivalry for the sake of integrity. To beat Nadal he has to become like Nadal, and he refuses to do so.

I have said before that as a tennis player I always became involved in gamesmanship as soon as my opponent started it, but that is the cowardly way out because it makes you no better than them. You sink to their level instead of retaining the moral higher ground and being strong. Roger has the integrity and strength of character not to sink to the levels of Nadal, even if it means he has to take some heart-breaking losses in the process. This is what makes him a true hero, and not the amount of titles he has won or records he has broken. Whatever happens on the tennis court, Nadal will always be a boy and Roger a man. Roger has moved past the narrow confines of his personal ego and realized that life is about more than the ego’s greedy needs. Roger is more than a tennis great.

He is a truly great man, and I am humbled to be a fan of his.

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70 Comments

  1. This is a personal thing- the way nadal bites trophies, i get disgusted, esp wimbledon.. It represents the entire world of tennis, a coveted crown, held by TRUE greats like Rod Laver, Sampras, Bjorg, Federer etc.. His biting act is an insult to all that, to all that it stands, to all that it represents. It just shows the lack of respect he has for history!!!

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  2. Ru-an, Greetings to you. This is a great analysis you wrote, agree with you 100% on what makes a tennis player a tennis player we can admire not only for his game of tennis but of who he is. Nadal in my view is a very ill-mannered tennis player. I shall say no more. Your analysis says it all. Am very proud to be a fan of Roger Federer and a fan of yours, Ru-an. Thanks for your honesty you expressed in your blog.
    Wishing Roger success in Miami, may he keep good health.
    Kindly,
    Dolores

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  3. Hi RU-AN, thanks for another post so soon. In most of the matches played between Roger and Nadal have come down to wins by a few points. For me Roger doesn’t have to bagel Nadal to make it a good win. I knew Roger was going to win that match and the tournament. I have said it before, you can see it on his face. Roger had some tough opponents but he , from the beginning, outplayed them all. Loved the dumb founded look on Nadals face when Roger surprised the S… out of him with his shots. The Nadal bathroom incident is despicable, and also predictable. Roger was brilliant at IW, his play took my breath away. Looking forward to Miami.

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  4. Hey ruan. I generally agree with most of your views on the Fedal rivalry. But, I have to disagree on this one. I think this win will be a turning point in the rivalry. I am not saying that Fed will win most of their future matches. I am saying that Fed will finally have confidence in himself when he is playing Nadal(outdoors).

    Also, looking at the their h2h off and on clay may seem nice to us fedfans. But we are brought down to reality if we see it outdoors(6-18) vs indoors (4-0).

    And btw, IW and Miami are 96 draws, not 128. Hence the first round byes for the 32 seeded players.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    What you are saying is not impossible. I like the way this year have started and it s not impossible that Roger can get some more key wins against Nadal in the future. And with key wins I mean in slams. I am more positive about that than after the AO anyway. But I was also very optimistic after the WTF match that he could do so. I just don’t want to get over excited. The slams are still a different animal and Roger did struggle to close out this best of 3 set match. If Roger is to beat Nadal again in a slam it would have to be at Wimby or the USO I think.

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    Pratik Reply:

    I agree with you there. I am not too sure if Fed will ever be able to beat Nadal at a slam. But, I think he will be able to get a few wins in in Bo3 format.
    What I am excited about is his chance of getting back to no. 1 and the 286(It is probably the most important record, after number of slams).
    Post USO fed has 2700 points over Nole.
    Currently, he is just 825 points behind Nadal, and is defending 2350 points lesser before FO. So, if he can get to no.2 by then and get lucky in the draw in either FO or W, we could see what we want. 17 + 286.
    This is probably expecting too much and is just a crazy-geeky-diehard-fedfan rant, but i guess we are all allowed one from time to time ;-)

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    veronica Reply:

    You are allowed, Pratik! Hee! hee!

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    Suhas Reply:

    I’am even more greedy, 18+286+gold :D :D

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    Suhas Reply:

    Unless Fed beats Rafa in a slam* the fedal rivalry wont turn

    *–condition apply, like Rafa is not injured or faking injury..

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  5. Woah! I read your blog and find in it the very exact feelings I have about these two players and what happened in California. Spot on! Only the GOAT blogger can summarize it so neatly. Congratulations, Ruan! I have one burning desire, one more wish for Federer: A defeat of Nadal in a Roland Garros final – followed by an Olympic Gold in Wimbledon. That would bring peace to my fan heart, and I would forgive the Tennis Gods for what they have permitted to happen to this sport. Federer is not a perfect tennis player, he is not a perfect athlete, he is not a perfect men. But he is as close to it as anybody will ever get. 2000 years ago, he would have created a world religion by inspiring so many followers through his aura. Today, he converts tennis into a religious, a spiritual experience. Where we become aware of the difference between good and evil, between sacred and blasphemy. It’s only a game, you might say. But from following Federer it is not entertainment what I seek. It’s profound, honest, pure admiration for the one person who teaches me lessons of spiritual transcendence – living true values on and off court. Remember what he did after the earthquake in Haiti? I might sound ridiculous here to anybody who has not experienced him-/herself the JesusFed, the Goderer feeling. But I am truly humbled by the man whom we know as Roger Federer!

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  6. Ruan:

    This is a great perspective. When I watched the match live while I felt the tension, only after viewing the replay several times I realizw how too close for comfort it was especially after having 5-2 lead.

    What concerns me is the following two things:
    1. Against Nadal Fed seems to have too much of a heavy dependence on 1st Serve %. Sure for all top players this is key, but it just seems for Fed it is mandatory against Nadal while he could get by with < 60% against even Murray. As you said he served badly in the last 2 games not to mention the double fault. Maybe as you say this is mental.

    2. This is something I need your view. While Rafa's backhand is relatively weaker comapred to his FH, it is still a formidable weapon. When Fed hit winners it had either depth or angle. But in rallies even when he seems to be the attacking one, more often it lacks depth. And especially in the last 3 games most of his even attacking shots were falling closer to service line than baseline and the results are clear. As much as good the strategy to attack Rafa's BH, I do not think it is enough unless Fed's shot has depth or angle. In that match whenever it had depth Nadal made errors.

    Tell me your perspective as to why Nadal or Novak hit deeper near the baseline more often while Fed more often hits near the service line. I am curious to know.

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    veronica Reply:

    Yeah, Ru-an, like Sraman, I’ve been wondering about this for a long time. Why does Fed more often hits near service line and not deeper near baseline? Is he relatively weaker than Djoko/Nadal or what? Please let us know, Ru-an. I just don’t get it why he doesn’t hit deeper.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Veronica and sraman, I think when he plays Nadal he isn’t usually quite himself. So I think it is a mental thing. Like sraman said, he did hit deep during the match but in the last 3 games he got nervous and hit shorter. You hit short when you are nervous. When you are relaxed you hit deep, because there is more flow to your stroke, whereas when you are nervous you force things more and the stroke isn’t as fluent. So I don’t think it’s weaker than Djokovic and Nadal. Also he stands closer to the base line which means the ball is harder to control. That’s what I would think.

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  7. First, congrats to Fed for winning Indian Wells, I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen. One thing that I have noticed is that Roger is becoming a much more consistent clutch player than he has been the last two years. This must be a working progress and probably the hardest thing for him is staying mentally tough throughout a match. I am curious to see how he will handle himself throughout a five-set match against Djokovic or Nadal. This will be the true test of his focus and mental strength. Even though Federer is winning tournaments and riding a wave of confidence and momentum, I feel Federer should raise his level another notch if he is ever to win another slam. As a Federer fan, I believe Federer is capable of achieving his goals, another more slam, Olympic gold, reach the number one summit which he righteously deserves. He needs to work even harder and train his mind to be even more disciplined and focused and try to build upon every win. Interested to see what happens in Miami. Should Roger jump over Nadal in the rankings, do you think Nadal will face Novak even more and creating a scenario of more defeats for Nadal? I hope this pans out so Nadal will have to fight his nemesis rather than Roger having to do the work, No?

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  8. Your article made me cry.This is my favorite RF article ever!What separate RF from the rest are his good conduct and integrity for the sport.You hit the nail on the head when you labeled Nadal as a boy and Roger as a Man.I’m sick and tired of Nadal’s hypocrisy and his fake modesty every interviews.Behind his praises for Roger lies an envious soul.I don’t wish him well and may Roger’s career prosper.

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  9. Ru-an.Great analysis.I agree with everything except for the “If you look at their match in Indian Wells it could have gone either way.”part.It is a big IF.If Nadal had made that forehand at 5-4 30-30 in the second set,he may have got the break but it is a BIG IF whether he would have won the match.As Federer fans,even we can say that IF Roger had made that drop shot in the FO final 1st set,he would have won the match but again it is a BIG IF here too.We can say that if he didnt serve that ace,he would not have won this match,Again it is a big IF as Fed served an ace and finished the match.So we cannot predict what might have have happend if he had not made that ace.Everything is just probability and IFs and threfore cannot be considered as certain even given the fact that Roger has choked agiast Nadal in the past.Even Novak was broken back in the semi final 1st when he wrongly challenged a ball which was in.So again it is BIG IF whether he would ahve won that match had he not challenged.So lets live the moment as it is and lets enjoy what we get from Roger who is playing the best tennis for a while now and lets not dwell on IFs.And BTW,MIAMI draw is one of the easiest Roger has got in a while.Hope he makes use of it and wins miami.ALLEZ Roger Federer

    V

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    rich Reply:

    I agree. There are a lot of “ifs” riding on that 30-all point. If Nadal wins it it gives him game point but not the game or even the set and nowhere near the match. Why was Roger going to fold if he lost that point? Thats about as good a prediction as the main blogger picking Roger to lose before the match. Roger showed fight and never backed off against Nadal, even when the Bull came back at him. That’s why he won. A win in straight sets, he breaks the Spaniard 4 times and hits 3 times as many winners. Pretty damn convincing if you ask me. Some of us could show a little more confidence in the champ.

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  10. Hello, Everyone! This is my take on this:

    The rivalry dinamic between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal is amazing to watch because it’s just so unpredictable. There are times that you feel that Roger should win and he ends up losing. Then there are times where you feel that Rafa should win and he ends up losing.

    In this rivalry, it seems that there are some key matches that changed the whole complexion of the rivalry:

    2005 Miami Final: Federer won this in 5 sets after being down 0:2
    2006 Rome Final: Nadal won this in 5 sets in the 5th set tie-break

    I think the key switch came around that French Open 2008 and the Wimbledon 2008. Up to that point Roger held his ground and Rafa held his ground.

    But just the way Rafa beat Federer at that French Open 6:1 6:3 6:0 just made Roger doubt that he would ever win a French Open. Not only that, but Nadal was knocking on that door to win his first Wimbledon.

    And than at the Wimbledon Final (The Greatest Match of All Time) even after being 0:2 and actually leveling the match, the pressure was just too great. And Roger couldn’t keep his throne. I think that changed the whole dynamic. Nadal felt that he can just benefit from all that mental wound he inflicted on Federer.

    I think that is what led to his victory in the AO Final 09 as well. Roger just couldn’t figure him out. He was passive. He was afraid. He had lost that belief.

    But than came the MADRID Masters Final 09. I always come back to this match because that is the MATCH that turned the tide. I think that is what actually led Roger to win the French, win Wimbledon and relax a little bit. I don’t think that he had truly solved Nadal. But he just beat him somehow.

    In 2011, especially after losing to Nadal in Miami, Roger started trying out new stuff. Actually, he was back at square one. But then all of a sudden, he found his game again and played his BEST French Open tournament in years. He beat Djokovic which was such an emotinal high, and he was in control to win against Nadal as well.

    But as there is so often in sports, there are KEY points in a MATCH that can turn the WHOLE match upside DOWN.

    1. In the French Open Final 2011, Roger had 5:2 and a double-set point on Nadal’s serve. He made a drop shot that supposedly landed JUST wide. That changed the whole dynamic of that match.

    I personally believe, however that in THAT MATCH ROGER actually had a game plan on HOW to ACTUALLY beat NADAL. He was executing beautifully. I just think that after missing such a shot, it’s SO DIFFICULT to stay MENTALLY in that match. He tried, and he fought, but ultimately failed.

    2. And how about that US OPEN SF 2012 against Djokovic: AGain, double MATCH POINT. PERFECT SERVE and Djokovic hits a GOD-like return. How do you shake that off? Roger couldn’t and it’s tough to swallow especially because he had another MATCH point but that’s life.

    3. Then in Australian OPEN 2012 SF – AGAIN Roger played fantastic against NADAL. He was again in front, but NADAL again came back. Luckily Roger won the first set, but then he lost the next two (the third set tie-break was CLOSE). BUT again, if you think about it, THIS SET should HAVE GONE to five sets. Roger had 2 BREAK points to go 5:5 in the fourth. And again, everyone remembers that point at 40:40 Advantage FEDERER when Roger had LITERALLY beaten NADAL and then Nadal made that amazing crazy lob that hid the line and then Roger was forced to make the overhead that went wide. That was the match there.

    4. But to make things more equal: Nadal also made some errors that cost him:
    Especially in that EPIC Australian Open 2012 final against Djokovic – after fighting to force the 5th set and actually being a break up. At 30:15 I believe at 4:3 he was supposed to make it 5:3 I think and he missed a backhand which would have made it 40:15. Instead he missed and it went wide. And then he lost the match.

    5. And then again in IW – 6:3 5:4 30:30 – After a tough battle, finally Nadal missed that forehand into the net. That was the match.

    So, the point I am trying to make is that matches are won by few points. Sometimes it’s mental, and that’s true. But sometimes it’s about LUCK as well.

    I think ROGER is STRONG MENTALLY. I think that he lost a lot of close matches last year. This year he is winning a lot of close matches. That just shows that if luck goes your way, it could be the difference.

    I also believe that the more matches Roger wins, the more easy it will be for him to get into situations where he wouldn’t have to rely only on luck. But that’s the beauty of sports. One never knows what to expect.

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  11. Ruan, i have to say this is probably the best post of yours after AO, i never agreed with most of your views after AO, but I completely agree with you on this one…

    Another thing to note of Fedal rivalry is the age difference Fed is almost half a tennis career ahead of Nadal, thats a lot in any kind of tennis rivalry, I have absolutely no doubt that their H2H would have looked far better for Fed, if he was of same age as Nadal..

    You wrote a great last para here…. “I have said before that as a tennis player I always became involved in gamesmanship as soon as my opponent started it, but that is the cowardly way out because it makes you no better than them. You sink to their level instead of retaining the moral higher ground and being strong. Roger has the integrity and strength of character not to sink to the levels of Nadal, even if it means he has to take some heart-breaking losses in the process.”

    But werent you the guy who said fed should complain about rafa taking lot of time if things went going good for fed?
    I was actually shocked to see that, i mean i will never want see Fed like that, i will take all the tough losses into the stride, its ok at the end of the day its just a sport/game, but i will never want fed to stoop so low like nadal…never…

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    George Reply:

    This is not like that, it is all about justice and nothing more than that; we all know that justice is NOT served not only in every single Fedal match but in any match that features the name “Nadal” as well, considering ofcourse the typical violations of the rules that has become almost like a ‘routine’ for the spaniard no matter who he plays against.
    I personally don’t find it crazy at all if Federer complains about Nadal taking an awful lot of time during the match, since he DOES it. He doesn’t have to wait until things aren’t good for him, that would be hypocritical as well. I believe what Ru-an means is that Fed should stick to the view “What’s mine is mine” (nothing more than that) when he plays against the biggest cheater in the history of the sport. Roger doesn’t “have to” beat his nemesis in style like he does against the rest of the field, it will be totally cool if he grinds it out for once against him.

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    George Reply:

    Is anyone else sick and tired of the spaniard’s rituals (checking his whole face, hair, etc.) before EVERY SINGLE serve?This is almost like a joke to me, I mean the guy takes +-30″ to hit a 1st serve and another +-15″ to hit a 2nd one just to perform his stupid ritual again.
    Anyway, I have this feeling that Fed will school him again on the surface that they haven’t for a long time, grass. A very possible Fedal encounter could be in the final of Halle, and then again there is the Wimbledon twice (Olympics as well). Like I said, I’ve got this hunch that Federer will take care of his nemesis 2-3 consecutive times on grass this year; of course they have to meet each other first.

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  12. There is one more reason for Nadal to have such a lead in h2h.. In nadal’s early days, he was best on clay and Federer always came 2nd to him. But on other surfaces, where Federer was best Nadal wasn’t 2nd best.. There was lots of tournaments where Nadal lost in semis n prior;thus avoiding Federer and invariably avoided being beaten by Federer. Hence the h2h is skewed heavily in favour of Nadal.

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  13. Agree with your analysis of Federer’s win over Nadal, I don’t see it as a turning point, yet. It will only mean something if Federer faces Nadal with confidence and self belief in future matches. That didn’t happen after his wins in London.

    I have to say that I feel Nadal is not the same player since he got Djokovic’s “treatment”. In 2010 he used to fire forehand-cannonballs, deep and accurate, and his backhand was a very solid weapon as well. Most importantly, he was very aggressive (Aggressive Nadal at USO2010: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsFW0s8EPlI). Nowadays, his backhand doesn’t give him any advantage, it’s just a defensive tool. His forehand is very good but nowhere near the fearful weapon it used to be. He’s back to his old defensive style apart for glimpses when he feels he has no choice. Federer should take advantage of that because it eases the match-up problem.

    The toilet break was outrageous. I’m surprised no reporter brought it up anywhere.

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  14. Beautifully written Ruan. One thing I will say: ever since Madrid in 2011, Fed has gone into every match with Rafa with a gameplan. It may not always work, but it’s there, and Roger knows he can always go back to it. That’s why he gave Rafa such a strong test at the FO11 and AO12. That’s why he beat Rafa at IW. While it is true that the IW match could have gone either way if Rafa had broken at 5-4, one thing I know for sure: it was the best Federer had ever played against Nadal. Oddly, we kept saying that Fed had to attack the Nadal BH relentlessly. But that is not what won him this match. What did win it for him was his backhand, and the way he smashed it cross court like Djokovic does. When he mixes that play in with his all-around attacking game, Nadal is done for because he jus can’t handle the supreme attacking ability of Roger when Fed can neutralize Rafa’s favourite play of attacking the BH constantly. THAT was the difference in IW for me.

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  15. Hi all,it is a great time for us Federer fans,for me it is always been great time watching Roger,no matter the result.I hardly missed a match since 2004 and I’m so happy the way Roger is playing and i never stopped believing he will be contender in any tournament till he retires,i mean guy is just great,it does not get any better when he plays.Lately he does not let matches slip like it happened last two years but i think he just focused more and he is on the mission now.Its just pleasure.I actually stopped blogging here after Us open semis,cause some people just lost it,i still did read just did not bother to write back and I’m here since that forum started.One thing that annoys me here and in every media,any time he loses a match he is just written off straightway and on this blog too.I mean people just don’t give him enough credit(they do until he loses one bloody match) for what he did and still does with tennis racquet.He is a victim of his greatness,cause what he did when he was younger was just out of this world,winning almost everything for many years and people forgetting he is human and married and has two kids.So next time he loses its ok people don’t go mental,he is still best ever and no,he does not have mental block playing that super fair play Spaniard,bad match up-ok,but not mental block.I just don’t like fans cheering only when player is winning and then give out when one match is lost.Last year he played brilliant tennis then he lost to Berdych in Cinci and so called fans were buying him pyjamas and slippers to retire,then he played brilliant and lost to Djoko(match could not be any closer)then played unreal again then lost Nadal and same old story,for god sake its a sport and he is not superhuman.Just my opinion,you can have yours,for me he will stay best tennis player ever until he plays the sport.
    Sorry if i jumped to different theme,but was waiting to blog for few months and yes i did have to change few T-shirts watching his matches but that’s the beauty,it would be boring if he wins everything,than there is nothing to blog about.
    Stay positive,cheer for Roger and enjoy we have Roger
    around.

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    Vily Reply:

    LOL, And I thought I was the only one who changed T-Shirts while watching his matches. Roger sure knows how to entertain. Even in that final against Isner – the way he missed couple of set points and I was like – OMG. Here we go. Another Bomb from John and the set is his. That was great escape.

    It seems that I enjoy watching him play in the early rounds more cause I know he’ll win. Then again the Belucci match was on a dime as well. Anyway, Roger is Roger and that’s why we all love him. I am just so excited right now at the prospects of Novak vs. Roger in the Miami SF – I don’t even care what will happen. I just want to see them play. There is a lot to play for in that match. And I bet you, there will be more than ONE “lucky SHOTS” in that match!

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  16. Ruan, this is the best sentence of your most recent Blog entry: “I have to say I was pretty disgusted by the bathroom break Nadal took before the last game.” Boy, do I ever agree!! I have never seen any player EVER take a bathroom break in the middle of a game. It’s just like the crap Rafa pulled at Wimbledon when he had a “crushed foot” at 6-6 against Del Potro. Then he takes yet another MTO!! Bathroom breaks are to taken at change-overs, not in the middle of the game.

    I know the Miami courts are very, very slow and high bouncing. Perfect conditions for Nadal, unfortunately. But I really am starting to believe Djoker’s 8 beatdowns of this ogre have had an effect on his confidence level, even against Roger. I hope so. I think the greatest moment ever in watching tennis would be if Roger could beat Nadal at the FO and then win the Olympic Gold medal!!

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  17. Hi Ruan,

    Agree with almost everything you said. This part in particular is great:
    “Whatever happens on the tennis court, Nadal will always be a boy and Roger a man. Roger has moved past the narrow confines of his personal ego and realized that life is about more than the ego’s greedy needs. Roger is more than a tennis great.He is a truly great man, and I am humbled to be a fan of his.”
    I can’t think of a better way to describe my feelings towards Roger. You should write a biography on Fed ;-)

    Concerning the match itself, I know it’s tempting to go into the if’s, coulda, woulda. But we should stick to the facts:
    a) Roger did what he had to do and converted match point;
    b) Nadal was the one who hit a forehand into the net;

    Had it been the other way round and everybody would be saying “Roger choked”. The fact is that he didn’t. He showed that he can get a grip on himself during crucial moments against his thoughest opponent. Hasn’t always worked but this time it did and it’s f…ing sweet :-)

    All best,
    Vasco

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  18. hi everybody
    this is a very good post which describe very well why I like Federer so much not only for his artistic style, his winning and efficient game, his intelligence but also for his behavior. If we take everything into consideration, the closest player to Federer in my mind was Stephen Edberg. He was so elegant, very efficient but also had a great behavior on and off court. That is why there is the Stephen Edberg trophy that Federer won so many times.
    Edberg winning record was far away from Federer’s but he was still n°1 in the world, has won multiple slams (all of them twice except Rolland Garros where he made the Final against Chang which is for me the worst heartbreaking loss in my tennis history), he was fighting with the likes of McEnroy, lendel, Becker, Willander and ended up beaten Samprass in Slam Finals when he was close to 30 and Samprass was at his peak. Being a fanatic Edberg fan in the past did not suppose that he needed to win everything. I am still capable of enjoying an edberg match in the senior tour. What he really needed to do everytime is play elegant tennis and behave as a true gentelmen
    I think that we are spoiled that our beloved idole is so complete, efficient, elegant, mastermind, healthy, a good person on and off the court.
    I just dont accept some critics because it cant get any better than what Federer gave to his fans and i am sure it will continue for a long time. Federer is great but he is not and is not suppose to be Superman or some kind of a perfect robot winning everything for 10 consecutive years. He is just as close as a human can be compared to superman. The tears that we have seen winning or losing is also a part of what makes us like this enigmatic almost perfect human being

    a proud Fedfan

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  19. Is this a Federer fan site or a Nadal hatred site?

    I often come here to read in depth analysis of Federer’s performances as it’s hard to find elsewhere on the web but too often the blogs descends into a mean spirited rant about Nadal.

    As soon as I read the sentence ‘Nadal is a scumbag’ I stopped reading. It is nonsense born purely out of bitterness because he is Rogers nemesis and has prevented him breaking records many times over.

    Avoid this overt and infantile bias and you will have a far more credible sporting blog as opposed to one blinded (and nearly ruined) by ‘fanboy-ism’.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Why is it always when a fed fan dislikes and mentions nadals unsportmanlike behavior it has to be because of bitterness and such. It could also just be that nadal truly is a poor sportsman. IMO his on court antics are a disgrace and totally unworthy of someone of nadals standard and that has nothing to do with him beating fed alot.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Exactly.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I truly believe Nadal is a bad sport and bringing it up had nothing to do with the amount of times he beat Roger.

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    Michael Reply:

    If you truly believe Nadal is a bad sport and a ‘scumbag’ and a ‘doper’ as you have previously alleged, then write one blog about it and leave it at that.

    This was a fantastic tournament for Federer and there was much you could have written about it, the records he broke, his chances of regaining number 1, without making the majority of it about how much you dislike Nadal.

    And because he had a toilet break…Federer once admitted to taking a toilet break so the sun would set a little more and stop obscuring his vision. Gamesmanship? Is he a scumbag? Is that fair on his opponent? A little perspective please.

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    veronica Reply:

    Fair enough Michael. Maybe Ru-an should have concentrated on Fed’s achievements rather than be bogged down by Nadal’s gamemanship. I think Ru-an will come up with posts on the implications of all Fed’s achieved so far; there are many many things to be said and I’m sure Ru-an will respond. Fed took a toilet break versus Davydenko, again, fair enough; but maybe he did it during the sit-downs instead of the other person’s serve? (if so, it would be totally fine)and Fed does not make a habit of it, that’s the difference. And he even honestly admitted that during that break, he hoped the sun would go down. I wonder what Nadal would say if questioned about his toilet break? Would he say oh, nature’s calling; or would he openly admit that he is giving ample time for Fed to agonise over all the many defeats he’s inflicted upon him? Anyway, let’s not get caught into a debate of Fed/Nadal’s virtues and vices. It will never end. Fed is not all holy and Nadal is not all evil.

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    LongLiveKingRog Reply:

    Roger took the toilet break at the AO vs Davydenko after he lost the first set – ie between sets and not before the opponent’s serve. And mostly importantly, he does not make this a habit – when was the last time he took a MTO? On the contrary Nadal has done it too many times (eg during Wimby vs Del Potro, Petszchner – they both openly complained about this in the press afterwards) and has very little credibility.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I like your last sentence Veronica. And you are right, I will come up with more posts before Miami. Also go look at that comment someone left who was at the Fedal match. It made quite a big impression on me.

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    veronica Reply:

    Yah, I read it already in Bleacher Report. It made a big impression on me too but I was already disgusted when I saw it on TV. I couldn’t believe it! The cheat, the desperado! What is there that he would not stoop down to! And poor Fed just taking it into his stride. In fact Fed looked like he was the one caught doing wrong! He looked a bit forlorn and lost starring at his racket. My heart really went out to him. I was hoping that Fed would do something; like protest or whatever. But I guess Fed’s parents brought him up just too well. In the end I am just so proud that he did not retaliate, kept his dignity and let his racket do the talking. That’s why he is the best, a REAL gentleman and THE real champion. Nadal and Djoko have got so much to learn before they can even be mentioned in the same breath as Fed.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well said Veronica. I sometimes wonder if he should not retaliate in some way, like complaining to the umpire that Nadal takes too long to serve. But I guess it’s like you say, he is focusing on his own game and not much bothered what the other guy is up to.

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    Chris Reply:

    Here is a little perspective: As a tennis fan, I really enjoyed watching the final between Isner and Federer, no matter the outcome. Isner was a joy to watch, with occasional smiles on his face, the body language of a sportsman enjoying the game and trying his best, with lots of positive vibes. In the price ceremony, he was showing emotions of joy, respect and disappointment in a very nice way. It looked like a gentlemans sport with these two players. Unfortunately, some other players have made be doubt that I am a tennis fan. The AO open was my anti-climax, I stopped watching after the second set. At times I felt this blog was too biased, too anti-Nadal, and my first comments were full of admiration for Nadal, defending him from bitter comments. But then I took a bit of perspective, I took an objective look, and I started to truly dislike the person and personality of Rafael Nadal. But you are right, Michael, we should ignore him more and not pay so much attention to him, he does not deserve it. Instead, lets watch and talk more about the potentially worthy heirs, like Raonic, Delpo and Tsonga. There is more to cheer about than only Federer.

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    onefly9 Reply:

    Chris, I share the same feeling as you in that, I always enjoy watching certain players play tennis: Roger (of course!), Del Potro, Tsonga, Isner, even Roddick, etc. They are all good sportsmen, with pleasant personalities, and most importantly enjoy the game and respect their opponents. Win or lose, they always seem to take it more ‘humanly’ and with dignity. I really enjoy seeing the players showing occasional smiles, jokes, etc. during or after a match.
    By the same token, I am tired of over the top fist pumps, yelling, shrieking, ripping of shirt, etc. No, one does not have to behave that way to intimate your opponents or win a match.
    I don’t even want to talk about more extreme behaviour such as rule breaking, role bending, timely MTO, toilet breaks, etc. These are non negotiable and totally not acceptable to me. It just show the true character of the person.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Scumbag actually came from a fan that was there live when Nadal took the bathroom break. Do me a favor and go read the comment. It was two posts ago, the one where Roger beat Nadal near the bottom.

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    Gary Reply:

    How did yourself 2 thumbs up? Nadal is a scumbag,,,,deal with it. G

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    Michael Reply:

    Well done, your comment added much to the debate. Deal with it.

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    veronica Reply:

    Michael,I understand what you mean. It always looks different when you look on the outside. Sometimes we are so caught up on the inside, we forget how bad we can look by others looking in. Still, this is a Federer site, and you must expect some fan-boyism with some horrible things said about Nadal. Afterall he is Fed’s nemesis and we would not be human if some bitterness does not get through in some posts and comments. A little “passion” and “spice” (eg scumbag – ha!) must be expected and actually adds to the appeal of this blog. Yet, I like to think we are different from the typical Fed fan site. We aren’t too blind or unfair. Nadal’s gamemanship this time is so blatant, pathetic and shameful, hence Ru-an called him out. At least whatever we call Nadal, it is backed up most of the time. Check out other sites and you wouldn’t wanna read what they say about Fed or Nadal without much backing at all. You say you come here because this is no ordinary Fed blog and Ru-an gives good, indepth analysis and you can’t stand other Fed blogs that often go into mean spirited rant. I would say save for a few posts in the past where Ru-an did maybe rant on unnecessarily about Nadal, I think he still keeps everything relatively objective, level headed and fair. One thing’s for sure, you won’t find too many level-headed Fed blog sites – they are either too mean, one-sided, blind or dull. This blog is solid and nicely balanced, it won’t suffer if the blogger is too loose with his words sometimes; and it can take knocks from unhappy readers every now and then. Having said all that, I hope you stick around Michael. It is wonderful to see all kinds of readers here.

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    CWATC Reply:

    I really don’t get the fixation on Nadal’s trip to the bathroom. People are writing as though he caused a delay or time-out in the match, but my understanding is it was during the 90-second changeover. Did he even take any extra time? If not, who cares? If he took significant extra time the ump should have penalized him but I don’t believe that was the case.

    Where Nadal really gets my goat is the on-court coaching because it is clearly cheating and he has openly admitted to it.

    Still, I have to say I’ve never gotten the “Fed-as-Moral-Hero” part of this blog, though I often agree with its tennis analysis. Yes Fed plays by the rules and good for him but so do many other players. And I doubt at this late stage of his career it would help him to have Annacone signing him from the stands – he’s not used to playing like that.

    I’m glad he developed good habits early on when it comes to the rules of tennis, but have never felt he was a saint or in some special category compared to many other players.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thing with Roger is he is very honest and that appears as arrogance to some, but it is just not true. He is actually very humble. Nadal on the other hand appears humble and innocent, and that is just not true either. He is the opposite of that.

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    veronica Reply:

    Yup, it’s no big deal if you ignore Nadal’s history of doing this at strategic times when he is losing in his matches. Yup, Fed is no saint (arrogant, smug, egoistic, sore loser)and there are many other players who are just as honest and plays by the rules like him. But because Fed is a champion, naturally he is singled out. And the fact that he has also represented tennis well as a top player, is very grounded and is a good family man all add to his appeal as moral hero.

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    Michael Reply:

    Veronica you make some very good points. It’s nice to find someone so level-headed and objective on the Internet in this crazy age.

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  20. GO FOR GOLD ROGER!!!! Here I am a full blooded U.S. Citizen, and I will always pull for Federer, even in the Olympics. Ruan, thanks for the fantastic blog. Always enjoy reading it. I don’t make long analysis of everything, but just know, I see it when he’s struggling, and when he is on. Right with ya pal. TTFN, G

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  21. Great comments, everybody! Ru-an, what a lovely post! Love so many of your words, don’t know which ones to quote here! You could not have said it better! How long does it take you to do a post? There is such clear-headedness in your writing; nothing muddled; orderly, straightforward, beautifully summarised and your criticisms and comparisons of other players to Roger are just classic – you express yourself so well and makes me laugh sometimes. Keep it up! WHATEVER, Ru-an, Roger WON, that’s all! Imagine if he had lost, we would be talking very differently now. Bottom line : Roger has been humbled (a very long journey for him) and has starred truth in the face; hence all these little but concrete progresses we see in him now. He is on his way, no worries.

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  22. Liked your post. I am a bit more optimistic that this match was maybe some kind of turning point. For one thing, I feel that Roger is finally figuring out Nadal’s game, thanks to Djokovic. Basically he was pulling Nadal way out wide and attacking his backhand. It’s a strategy Djokovic has used very well and Roger did it very well. It reveals that Nadal is in many ways a very limited player, at least technically. He is very effective at intimidation and psychological warfare (the bathroom break was the epitome of this) but when truly challenged in the game he has many more limits than Roger or Djokovic. I think Nadal’s aura is beginning to fade a bit and each victory against him, whether from Roger or Djokovic will speed the process. I wouldn’t be surprised if Isner or someone else takes him before the semis in Miami. He’ll try to regroup at the French, but the new balls have changed the game there and I give Roger a fighting chance at the FO.

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  23. Michael, I agree with you that calling people nasty, dirty names is counter-productive. That’s why I have always used the following, more civil terms to describe Nadal: boring, grinding, moody, sullen, dour, hypocritical, unsportsman-like, immature, cheating, selfish, disgraceful, condescending, brutish, muscular, uninspiring, childish, chest-thumping, arrogant, macho, falsely humble, swaggering, contemptuous, disrespectful, shameless, brazen, notorious, scandalous, bewildered, obsessive-compulsive, discourteous, unrefined, gruff, surly, ruthless, scowling, ungrateful, petulant, resentful, envious, amoral, improper, insulting, scornful, sanctimonious, and finally, pretentious. I hope these terms are more to your liking…. Believe it or not, I’ve also thrown a few compliments his way, mainly dealing with his incredible defensive skills and unbelievable strength and stamina. But on the whole, the negative impressions always seem to win out. Some of these may be due to my own biases, but many spring from a cold, objective analysis of his on-court behavior.

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    veronica Reply:

    “Balthazar’s thesaurus” – ah! What wouldn’t I do to get a copy of it?!! Well said, Balthazar! As always!

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    Pratik Reply:

    Well, chest-thumping? really? Nadal?

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  24. There is so much to discuss. Indian Wells was a very interesting tournament in so many ways.
    I’m hoping, Ruan, you will comment on other aspects of the event. To be quite honest, the Nadal debate is getting stale. It reminds me of that movie, “War of the Roses”.
    When I was there, I spoke to the medical team at the stadium. They were treating over 100 people a day on site for that nasty virus. It took out a lot of players, media, volunteers, ball kids, etc. Amazing that Fed made it through the first match. He looked so ill on court.
    What about the Raonic match, Nalbandian’s run, Murray’s early exit.

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  25. I could not help citing the lines that appeared in Midday, an Indian daily by Ranjona Banerji, particularly the last sentence:

    “As the tennis world moves from California to Miami, the whole circus starts again. That’s one more title for Djokovic to defend and one more final for Nadal to reach. Federer, who has not won a grand slam title since Australia 2010 and lost his No 1 ranking to Nadal who then lost it to Djokovic, is now only about 800 points behind Nadal. The man who was practically put on life support appears to have dismissed himself from the ICU — without the permission of the obituary writers.”

    GO FED GO. MIAMI IS YOURS TOO!

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    veronica Reply:

    Gee! Jiten! Thanks for the quote! LOL the last sentence – just lovin’ it! After a tiring day, I’m grabbing this last sentence as my pillow tonight and laughing all the way to my bed! LOL! LOL! LOL! Gee! I’m getting fits!!!!!

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    Pratik Reply:

    Wait, what? Since when does midday contain good(and original) articles on tennis?

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  26. Now what we learned from IW is that you can’t be sure wheather the top4 will make the final in Miami but you can be sure of Federer.the GOAT.

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  27. NEWS ALERT, read where Brad Gilbert tweeted that the courts in Miami have been change and are much faster this year. This should be good news for Roger.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes I saw that Susan. Great news if true!

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    veronica Reply:

    Yay!!!! Go Feddy go! Thanks Susan!

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    V Reply:

    Yeah Gr8 news if true indeed.

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  28. Great analysis. Nice comments. I could not read through all. I think that Roger used a good tactic against Nadal. He attacked Nadal’s backhand constantly. That was good to watch. Basically he used Nadal’s tactic against him. Fed was not to stubborn to hit 3-4 balls on Nadal’s weaker wing. And wait for a ball to attack. He didn’t attack the net on weak shots and gave Nadal good looks on the passing shots. Such shots make Nadal aggressive.
    Roger returned very well almost like Djokovic against Nadal. Nadal played a good game at 2:5. He went for three good winners. But he could make all the winners as we all saw at 5:4 30:30. Even the beast misses sometimes.

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  29. Some of your readers may not realise how far back Nadal has worked his gamesmanship on Roger and how successful it was – and I blame Roger for letting it be too! I remember in Hamburg – can’t even remember which year it was – Roger was up 5-1 in the first set. After signals from Uncle Toni Nadal took an injury time out. He even looked sheepish about it. The break messed with Roger’s concentration and he lost the set and the match.

    It was a carbon copy of what happened in the French Open final last year – Roger never learns! It’s just amazing the rules Nadal has got away with breaking for years! I remember, also at Hamburg, I think, Roger called out to Uncle Toni about his coaching and got criticised for critising him!

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  30. I enjoy reading your blog from time to time.

    But – sometimes you have way too little faith in Roger. Saying that Nadal would win it with 99 % certainty if he made it to 5-5 in the fifth is just ludicruous to me.
    It echoes the Nadal fan boys, who say say their boy will always win, no matter what.

    Yes, Nadal has a special strangehold on Federer. But Federer does win from time to time and he does not always choke. And when he’s playing well, usually, Nadal cannot compete. So this 99 % certainty – at 5-5 in the second with Roger leading a set is, to be frank, just bulls…

    I’m stating this as you have been proposing this line of thought earlier, i.e. it’s good that Roger lost in the US semi’s so he wouldn’t get beaten by Nadal in each and every slam. If you truly are a Roger fan – which I believe you are – you would want him to face up to any challenge, Nadal included, and you would not expect him to fold meagerly – perhaps except at Roland Garros. But even there, you would expect him to put up a decent fight.

    Not this – oh – we are, almost, 1-1 in sets. I’ve lost this match, kind of thinking as you are more than indicating.

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  31. howzit new on the blog and enjoying it,now down to commenting i think Federer can win Miami and overtake Nadal in the rankings ,why,because this year he is defiying the odds [age,prime],no one gave him a chance in Dubai and he won then again at IW and won again now at Miami and he’s gonna win again.go Roger.

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