Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Roger-Rafa: 10 Quick Thoughts

Roger Federer defeated Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-0 today in London. Here are 10 quick thoughts on the match.

1. It just occurred to me that Rafa's period of dominating Federer might be coming to an end. I didn't consider this to be a possible byproduct of the drop in confidence that 2011 might have caused Nadal, but it makes sense. Is it happening, or was today's result a one-off?

2. One possible implication of Roger having more success against Rafa (assuming that it actually happens) is that Slams come back to the table in the short term. Federer's match-up problem has been Nadal, not Djokovic. If Fed proves that he's capable again of beating Rafa in a Slam, we could see No. 17 as early as February.

3. I can't quite put my finger on what is missing from Rafa's game right now. How is it that Roger is hitting him off the court? Has Rafa lost a step or has Roger gained another? Today's winner count: Federer, 28 Rafa, 4

4. Federer is playing perfect tennis right now. But you know what? There were a lot of other losses to Nadal where Federer played perfect tennis. Rafa had an answer and then some back then; today he's got nothing but confusion.

5. This is what I love so much about tennis: There is always another chapter, another set, ANOTHER GAME. Anything can happen and quite often, when it does happen, it will be when you least expect it.

6. Flashback to Roland Garros, when Federer broke Djokovic's streak to set up a final date with Nadal. I was not happy at the time because I felt (knew?) that Rafa was going to demolish Fed in that final. If it happens again next year, I will not assume that Rafa is going to demolish fed -- even on clay in a Slam.

7. How is Federer -- at 30 -- looking more sprightly than Rafa, who is 25? You have to hand it to Federer here for being healthy when everybody else is in walking wounded mode. Hey, staying healthy is a big part of the sport, and Federer gets the "check" in that column every time.

8. Did you know that today was the first time that Roger and Rafa have met where neither player was ranked No. 1 in the world? It truly is a new era...

9. Is it safe to say that there is no dominating force in tennis anymore? Maybe Novak Djokovic will have something to say about that, but my gut tells me that Djokovic will drop a level and Rafa and Roger will both come up a level next year. That's a three-way dogfight at the top with Muzz and Tsonga and maybe a few other courageous souls creating major chaos at the Slams. I welcome that wholeheartedly.

10. Food for thought: True or False? The "Annacone effect" is playing a large role in Roger's recent rejuvenation.


  1. My take is that Nadal's neither completely healthy nor completely motivated at the moment and Federer's playing very well. I don't think we can call this match the start of a trend any more than beating Djokovic in Paris was the start of a trend. In addition to being 6-0 against Nadal, Djokovic was 4-1 vs. Fed last year.

    If Federer can beat Nadal on a slower hardcourt like in Melbourne or on clay, I'd be surprised. Not shocked, but surprised. On a fast indoor hardcourt, you always have to like Federer to beat Nadal.

  2. London is not fast, but the bounce is lower than say Melbourne or many other outdoors places.

    Roger has played very, very good tennis against Rafa and lost, but not this perfect. Rafa always makes him hit way too many unforced (and forced) errors, when Federer loses, because Rafa forces him to hit that extra winner (and has that mental edge most of the time).
    Today, on an indoor court with a true and low bounce, no wind, etc. Federer could attack and take the ball early and hit it big with less risk. His backhand didn't fold. Hey, he hit 8 errors to his 28 winners.
    When have you ever seen that few errors against Rafa? And a winner-error ratio like that? Shanghai 2007 perhaps but that surely is about it.

  3. Lappen -- this was definitely a good one for Roger. We all know he can play like this (espesh indoor) but I think he needed to have the confidence to do it. Evidently he has it now.


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