Well what a fantastic day of tennis that was. First there was an epic battle between Nadal and Murray which Nadal finally won 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-6(6), and then there was an absolute master class from the GOAT as he wiped the floor with Djokovic 6-1, 6-4. You could not have hoped for a better day’s viewing. In the first match it was a battle between the two fastest players on tour, slugging it out from the base line in lengthy rallies. The second match was the opposite. If there was nothing in the first match, the second match was utter dominance by the greatest player the world has ever seen. It was a masterful display of offensive tennis the likes of which we haven’t seen from Roger in a long time. Utter devastation. But first things first. I predicted that Nadal would beat Murray, but never did I think it will be that close.
Especially not after Nadal won the first set. The first set was a close affair with Nadal winning the tie break with his usual clutch tennis. I thought Murray would get down on himself, but he caught fire midway through the second set and broke Nadal twice, which meant he started serving in the third. The momentum was fully with him, but quite expectedly he choked it away with some terrible tennis. Nadal had the break in the third, and at this point I really believed it was over. But shockingly, Murray broke back as Nadal was serving for the match. It went into the tie break where Murray lead 3-0 at one stage with two mini breaks. But I knew Nadal was far from done at this point. Nadal got one mini break and they changed sides at 4-2. I knew Murray needed another break for insurance, but could not manage it.
Nadal then proceeded to to get the other break back on one of Murray’s next two service points to bring it back on serve. At 6-6 Murray went for the forehand winner into the open court, but just missed. Nadal held serve and it was all over. At least this time Murray went down playing an attacking shot, instead of waiting for his opponent to falter. Therefor I can’t blame Murray here. And besides, I wanted Nadal to win. I wanted Roger to have the chance to beat Nadal in the final. This match reminded me a lot of the Nadal/Djokovic semi in Madrid ’09. It was very similar, and the fact that Nadal came out on top of both these matches is no coincidence. He is just that clutch. When it gets that close he always wins. I really expected him to close it out earlier, but a win is a win all the same.
Murray did his job by softening up Nadal and showing that he is vulnerable. As far as Roger’s match goes, there was always only one winner. The first set was JesusFed at his best. Djokovic did nothing wrong, because in this mode no touches Roger. It’s really breathtaking stuff. At the start of the second Roger played two disappointing games in the second and third game. He dropped serve in the second game, but had chances to break right back in the next game. He wasted at least four break points there and Djokovic took a 3-0 lead. I was mad that Roger did not at least break right back when he had the opportunity, and so was he. Or at least so it appeared to be, because after that he allowed Djokovic only one more game. He locked right back into JesusFed mode to even thing up at 3-3. He then wasted some more break points and allowed Djokovic to take a 4-3 lead.
But he finally took advantage of another break point in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead, after which he comfortably served out the match. There was some fantastic rallies in this match, especially in the second set. Djokovic put up a spirited fight, but Roger is simply unbeatable in this mode. He takes the ball so incredibly early and hits it so hard that no one can live with him. Towards the end he teed off with his forehand on the ad court when Djokovic was serving. His forehand was simply deadly. There was some wicked backhands down the line as well, not to mention volleys. If I can find any fault with his game, it was the break points that he wasted, but 4/11 still isn’t the worst that you’ll see. It was pretty much a perfect match as far as I’m concerned. It was exactly what was needed before a crucial final.
Roger is the overwhelming favorite to win tomorrow in my mind. I don’t give a rats ass about the head-to-head or what happened in the past. The people who think Nadal actually owns Roger are deluded. I have been over the reasons for this before, but 14-7 isn’t owning someone anyway. Owning is the 16-0 h2h that Lendl had against Gilbert, or 20-2 that Roger has against Roddick. That is what you call ownage. Roger has reminded Nadal many times that he doesn’t own him, and tomorrow he will do so again. I am 99% sure of that. Surprised? I bet you probably are, and you are feeling nervous about tomorrow’s match. Well I’m not. I believe this will play out very much exactly like Madrid ’09. Nadal won’t be 100% fresh tomorrow I think, but it doesn’t even matter. I think Roger will be too good anyway.
If he plays like he did against Djokovic I can’t see how Nadal has any chance here. I believe Roger will prove once again tomorrow why he is in fact the GOAT. At his best he will be too good, even for his so-called nemesis. He will go out there and play like he did in that Madrid final, putting Nadal under immense pressure with attacking tennis. The stage is set. Murray has done his job by tiring Nadal. It is now up to Roger to go finish him off. You may protest that the same thing happened in Australia last year, only for Roger to go choke it away in the final. This is however a different situation. Nadal has dominated this year, just like he did up until Madrid in ’09. If you can remember, at some point before Madrid Roger said that he can still rattle Nadal. Well he said something similar after the US Open this year.
I don’t know exactly when it was, but he said something along the lines of thinking it’s about time to beat Nadal again. I think it is happening again tomorrow. This may well be another pivotal point in the Fedal rivalry. If Roger wins tomorrow, which I believe will happen, you may see something similar happen what happened after the ’09 Madrid final. Roger went on to dominate while Nadal slumped. This is just the ebb and flow of the Fedal rivalry. It is bound to happen. Nadal has been dominating for a while now, and it is likely that Roger once again take over the domination tomorrow. These two guys are just so evenly matched that neither one of them can keep dominating indefinitely. At some point the tide must turn. I believe tomorrow will be such a moment. This was what should have happened at the US Open, but it wasn’t Roger’s time yet.
He was not ready for Nadal and would undoubtedly have lost had he made the final. But this time he is ready, as evidenced by the way in which he destroyed Djokovic. If Roger was in this form in the US open final, he would have destroyed Nadal too. But Roger needed more time to build his confidence back up, and he is now supremely confident. Nadal is in trouble here. There is no doubt about it. I predict Roger will win this is straight sets, and remind the tennis world that his time at the top is far from over. If he does win the title, it will mean that he equals the record amount of five Masters Cup titles set by Lendl and Sampras. It will also mean that Nadal still has a big fat zero MC titles. I think Nadal wants this title badly, but for once I think he is going to be denied. He may win it in the future, but I seriously doubt it is happening tomorrow.
And Roger has to make sure that Nadal can’t just take whatever he rests his eyes on. If Nadal does not win this title this year it will frustrate him. Knowing that his main rival, who is supposedly way past his prime, has just won the fifth slam for the fifth time, while he has done so zero times, will hurt him. It is all about adding to his legacy and making it harder and harder for Nadal to ever catch him as the GOAT. Make no mistake about it. Tomorrow there is a lot on the line. But I think Roger has this one figured out. All he needs to to is put Nadal under constant, immense pressure like he did in Madrid ’09, and he has got this in the bag. In fact this will be even easier because it is on hard court and not in Nadal’s backyard. OK, I think I have hyped up Roger’s chances enough to jinx him, so if he does lose you are welcome to blame me.
Just kidding! I don’t think Roger is losing this thing. But if the result was certain there would be no need to play the match. Nothing is ever certain in tennis, but you have my prediction. Now let the final showdown begin…