I'm happy for Roger Federer but I'm going to be bummed if he gets blown away in Sunday's French Open final. Can he hold his own?
I honestly don't know what to say or what to feel. What the f*** happened today? If you've been following along, you know I didn't think Federer had a fighting chance in this match. Oh, but he did, and did he ever. Federer's 7-6 (5), 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5) victory over Novak Djokovic is almost as shocking as Djokovic's 43-match winning streak itself.
And now, the two (the streak and the match) will forever be linked in the annals of tennis.
We saw a version of Federer today that we haven't seen since I can't remember when. When was it? Can anybody remember? Of course, we should have expected this from Federer — he of the 16 Grand Slams and the utterly regal game. We should have known.
But poor poor Nole. Talk about crying on the inside...the guy wins 43 matches in a row and while he's doing so he demolishes two of the greatest players to ever play the game, and this is his reward? He gets out-maestroed by the maestro? With the crowd going bananas for the other guy?
It was a wonderful day for Federer, a wonderful day for tennis, but there is one thing that has been weighing on me about today: I think Nole's absence from the final has made us (obsessed tennis fans) vulnerable to the very real possibility that Nadal will crush Federer brutally in the final. In other words, the final could be a total snoozer, and I'm not happy about it.
Federer and Nadal's last French Open final was flat-out appalling. Federer won only 4 games and he was so morbid it made me want to switch my television to reruns of Thirty Rock. Is anybody else permanently scarred by that match? It was just so weird seeing Federer lose that bad. Especially then, in 2008, when we were still unsure if he was really from this planet.
On Sunday we will see a Rafa who is rounding nicely into pitbull form against a Federer who always seems to vanish when Rafa is on the other side of a net (8 wins in 24 matches for those of you scoring at home).
Far be it for me to put anything past the Maestro, but the Nadal match up is just not looking good for him anymore. Even Federer's most loyal devotees will tell you that. It's common knowledge that Roger is Rafa's boy toy these days and that's the way it has been for a long time.
It's just so hard to picture this being anything but a one-sided final. Rafa's put his stranglehold on the rivalry both psychologically and tactically, and it will take some serious heavy lifting for Fed to take the power back.
Federer hit a lot of waist-high backhands today, but on Sunday he'll be hitting a lot of head-high backhands. Nadal will also be serving to that backhand on the ad-side, and that is also a tough shot for Roger to play. In general, I think it's safe to say that Roger prefers to shoot from the hip, but Rafa never let's him do it.
I hope I am wrong about my belief that we are going to get an anticlimactic final, but I've seen so much of Federer getting trumped by Nadal of late (8 out of the last 10 if you're scoring at home), that I'm almost sure it's going to happen again. To quote Justin Gimelstob (while commentating the match for Tennis Channel at 7-6, 4-1 in the second set): "Rafael Nadal has just won his sixth French Open on Sunday if Roger Federer wins this match."
I kind of feel the same way and it's bumming me out.
But what do I know? I picked Djokovic today and look where that got me.