ATP Masters 1000Roger FedererShanghai Masters

Champagne Federer Outclasses Nadal to Win Shanghai Rolex Masters

Title Number ninety-four and second in Shanghai for the GOAT as he put in a stellar performance to defeat Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-3 in 71-minutes.

It was an utterly dominant display as Roger took advantage of the fast conditions to prevent Nadal from having any say in proceedings as he bagged his 27th Masters 1000 title without facing a single break point and he's now won his last five meetings against his long time rival.

Quick Match Recap

Federer Nadal Shanghai

Nadal won the toss and elected to serve. Immediately Roger was all over him moving up 0-30 and then 15-40 with some clean early ball striking off the bat. Nadal fought back to deuce but couldn't fend off a third break point as Roger passed him with a backhand down the line for 1-0.

A hold to 15 put Roger 2-0 up and his game was firing on all cylinders throughout set 1, sending back everything Nadal had with even more on it as he held for 3-1. Check out the rally at 15-15 πŸ™‚

In game five Nadal fired down an ace to hold for 2-3 and give himself a little breathing room but Roger held serve in 50 seconds, firing down what I think were four aces in a row (did Nadal frame one?) for 4-2. The Swiss dropped just one more point on serve after that as he held his next two service games to take the set 6-4.

Into set two and Nadal got a much needed easy hold for 1-0 and looked to be cranking up his service speed as he held his next game to love to lead 2-1.

However in game five he wasted a game point as Roger created a breakpoint, it was saved by a big serve but after Fed hit a stunning volley to get a second bite of the cherry Nadal went wide with a backhand into the tramlines to drop serve.

A love hold put Roger 4-2 in front and a hold to fifteen then put him up 5-3 with Nadal saving to stay in it. That game got off to a terrible start for him as he slipped to 0-30 as Roger gave him no time on the baseline. A missed smash off a high lob then summed up his day as he slipped to love 40 and Roger converted his second match point to win title number 94.

Match Stats

Rafael Nadal Roger Federer
Aces 4 10
Double Faults 0 0
First Serve Percent 74% 68%
1st Serve Points Won 28/45 (62%) 25/30 (83%)
2nd Serve Points Won 8/16 (50%) 11/14 (79%)
Break Points Saved 4/7 (57%) 0/0 (0%)
Service Games Played 10 9
1st Serve Return Points Won 5/30 (17%) 17/45 (38%)
2nd Serve Return Points Won 3/14 (21%) 8/16 (50%)
Break Points Converted 0/0 (0%) 3/7 (43%)
Winners 12 28
Unforced Errors 20 11
Net Points Won 3/5 (60%) 7/10 (70%)
Total Service Points Won 36/61 (59%) 36/44 (82%)
Total Points Won 44 61
SABR 0 0

Highlights

Thoughts on the Match

Fed-Shanghai-Final-2017

A top class performance here from Roger who just played sublime tennis from the get-go. As I learned last night this was the quickest hard court of the year as per Hawkeye Data which is a big advantage for the Swiss. This kind of smooth, fast and low bouncing surface marries with his game perfectly whereas it takes Nadal out of his comfort zone.

That showed from the very first game, Roger just gave him absolutely no time to play his shots. He gave up zero ground on the baseline so even when Nadal looked like he was about to take over the rally the ball just came back with something extra on it for a clean winner or drew error. Check out some of those forehands in the highlight reel that leave Nadal signalling to his camp that it's too quick πŸ™‚

As for Nadal, his unbeaten run on the hard courts comes to an end but he's had a very good run since the losses in Montreal and Cincy. I guess you can argue he's not faced top class opposition of late but the fact he's making finals on surfaces that don't lend themselves to his game style is a testimony to his adaptability. He beat both Dimitrov and Cilic here who should really have a huge advantage on quicker courts but Rafa just finds that way to win even when he's not got a hot hand.

So a peRFect return for Roger post US Open and a high-quality tournament where he got better round by round. The win also makes the Race for Year End Number 1 a bit more interesting now he's bagged 1000 points. I'm not sure on the permutations as I don't track the rankings but it's certainly closed the gap and the next stop is Basel for both Fed and Rafa which starts next weekend. Will they both play? Nadal was sporting tape on his right knee and Fed also had this to say…

I was thinking about Number 1 going into the Montreal finals and hopefully Cincinnati and the US Open but I mean it just all didn’t work out the way I was hoping – so no problem there. I’ll just try to be healthy now, go back to the drawing board when I go back to Switzerland tomorrow with my team and we’ll decide what I’m going to play – Basel, Paris – one of those tournaments or both or none – before I go to London because that’s my priority right now.

Federer vs. Nadal Shanghai Rating 2017

Serving
Returning
Net Play
Winner to Unforced Error Ratio
Break Point Conversion

TOP CLASS

Instinctive play on a quick court from the GOAT as he took apart Nadal to win his second Shanghai Rolex Masters title.

User Rating: 4.78 ( 18 votes)

Jonathan

Huge fan of Roger Federer – I’ll pretty much try and watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I’m not watching or tweeting about tennis I play regularly myself and use this blog to share my thoughts on Fed and tennis in general.

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181 thoughts on “Champagne Federer Outclasses Nadal to Win Shanghai Rolex Masters”

  1. This is insane how much he’s got into Nadal’s head now. It’s like Nadal has a mental block now πŸ™‚ 30 consecutive service game holds since the 3-1 down in the AO final I believe πŸ™‚
    The Fed forehand has always been aggressive against Nadal, but now he is just ripping that backhand so well for a winner whenever he finds an opening.

  2. What a lovely sunday, with our lovely Roger Federer holding a very beautiful trophy.. sublime tennis.. perfect forehand, perfect serve. Dang…. 2017 was really amazing!!!! πŸ™‚

  3. Great win here for Federer. It was good match here and I enjoyed him outplaying Nadal.
    I hope he keeps playing like this and maybe get closer to Nadal in the race.

      1. Basel and WTF are his priority, he said it. There is still a big gap between him and Nadal but if Nadal skips Basel he may have a shot. It’s not a really a big deal if he didn’t end as N1 but it will be great if he does.

  4. Can hardly believe it. We’ve got 100% Roger back.
    Everything worked. Even The Backhand is back.
    Thanks for your really quick posts on this tournament, Jonathan. Much appreciated.

  5. Your post on this match was almost as fast as the court! It was so much fun to see Roger play this well. I hope he does play Basel, if not both Basel and Paris.

    1. Easy to find the motivation to write about a win πŸ™‚ yeah I hope he plays Basel too, guess it depends how he feels next week. Did look quite tired after the final actually.

  6. Roger’s serve was superb and he dramatically reduced the number of errors from earlier in the tournament; great match for FedFans!

    1. His serve been so good all week. I guess it has to go down as one of the best of all time now. I know Isner and Karlovic bigger and more aces etc. but in terms of timely deliveries its untouchable.

  7. Roger is in Rafa’s head…. who would have thought that….

    I just hope Roger doesnt play too much just to come close to the nr 1.
    Hope he keeps up with winning tours and then…. the nr 1 will come itself.
    We do have to win AO, etc. I am already thinking about next year πŸ™‚
    I don’t want him to be tired in the beginning of next year.

    But for now… wow…. what a match. Congrats to us all πŸ™‚ Go Rog Go Goat πŸ™‚

      1. Hi, I think he wants to make this his biggest priority. No Djoker, no Andy, no Stan, no Kei…. there are others that cannot be underestimated, but I also sooooo hope he gets it this year

  8. He looked rock solid, doing his disembowling Maestro game. But afterwards? I think he was a bit tired, maybe had pain, judging from his expression on the after-match-bench, waiting through all the jacket-suits. (And where’s his family? Having fun time time with Ivan?)
    So I wouldn’t be much surprised, if he skips the Basel. Pity though.

    1. Family are at home as usual with Shanghai, aren’t they?

      Delighted to see him win this, and in straights. Wasn’t sure if the difference in recovery times and the 3-setter against Delpo might have evened up the score somewhat.

      Oops – just realised I hadn’t hit “Send” several hours ago!!

      LOVE that photo! ^

      Match even made it onto the BBC News this evening, which is rare. Guess there wasn’t much football on?

  9. Didn’t get to see much of Fed this week, caught the end of this one. Great tournament, great result really. Number 1 I think is done, but winning more titles is very much on when Fed is playing like that. I think he’ll play Basel, I kinda hope he skips Paris. I’d like him to win the WTF and I feel like he’ll have a better chance to do so giving that a miss. We’ll see I guess, he knows whether to push it or not.

    Thanks for the great writeups Jon.

      1. The City of Light being a shithole is a new one on me. Perhaps it’s changed in the decades since I’ve been there πŸ™‚

  10. If I were to put aside the court speed aside (which is certainly a big factor). Rafa waa playing red hot up until nlw and Federer sp far looked like he wanted to play like he did the first part of the season but just felt like he wasnt there. And suddenly here we go. Finals again, Rafa looking ominous to finally beat Roger but not only Roger punishes him, he makes him look clueless (notice the forhand smash Nadal missed at the end almost a smile on his face) – he knowa he ll have to come up with something special + hope for a bad Federer play to win against Roger on a non clay court , otherwise I only their HTH close even further which makes it even more interesting.
    Yes Rafa looks a sure shot for the year end No. 1 ranking but it doesnt feel like he s the best player of the season to me so far to be honest. Its just that Federer hasnt played too many tournaments this year. Who cares!
    Here s hoping Federer plays Basel and WTF.

    P s I thought Federer s backhand in that final is truly back. Are we satiated? Me ? Nope. Its scary what he can do in the indoors season now.

    1. Yeah I would say Fed’s season just edges it so far for me. I think if Nadal had beaten some tougher oppos at the US then he’d be in front. Still a few events left to play though. See who adds to the trophy cabinet if either of them.

    2. I actually thought Roger was the favourite for the final after watching the SF vs. Del Potro. Imho he played an excellent match there vs. a very strong, in-form opponent, just the one loose service game, no other BPs offered, else very aggressive, few errors, definitely a step up from the previous matches.

      Nadal otoh seemed on the downswing to me starting from the Dimitrov match, already more pronounced in the Cilic match. I didn’t see the much-talked about aggression, his ROS/ general court position was still very deep. It’s just infuriating that nobody seemed to be able to exploit that on a HC. Except Roger.

      Of course making Roger the favourite in my mind only served to make me extra-nervous before the final. πŸ˜€ Especially since the odds favoured Nadal for some reason that I didn’t quite understand. Fortunately I got it right this time! πŸ™‚

  11. ‘Champagne Federer’ with 5 stars for the every department, hah! Totally agreed Jonathan. What a great win, if not a bit surprised how easy it was πŸ˜€ Thanks and well done for the excellent writing whole week.

    1. Indeed, what is even more surprising is Murli has not played much tennis and somehow got a prediction right!? That shouldn’t be possible. Where is PRF? πŸ˜†

  12. Just a fantastic performance. And really highlighting how the injury and lack of preparation affected him (perhaps slower courts too) at the US Open. Oh, what might have been….. But no regrets, just awe and ecstasy. Number one is not really an option, unless Rafa pulls out or has zero wins at the O2, with Roger winning every match to the end of the year. He might need to beat Rafa three more times this year and that still wouldn’t be enough.

      1. Bit under a couple of thousand, I think? Tricky, but not *totally* impossible. And yes, I do feel it’s been Fed who’s been player of the year, and assuming he doesn’t get YE No. 1 it will feel a bit unfair. Especially given the joke that was the USO.

  13. Champagne indeed! Thanks Jonathan for your stellar coverage. This win was that much sweeter because it was against such an in-form Rafa. Like so many others here, was really pessimistic about this one. But sublime Roger, all speed and light and perfection, proved us doubters wrong.

    In retrospect, am regretting Montreal and the back setback even more now. Without it, Cincinnati and USO and the No.1 ranking were all so much possible……Oh well, just being greedy.

  14. A happy day! Our Goat is back! (I was worried after Montreal and USO…) Thanks for the quick post. Rogers own Rafa now. I love seeing nadal’s “I don’t know what to do” look! 🀣

    1. Yeah in much better form now. Nadal had no answers, I’m not really sure what he can do on a quick court. Same story for Fed on clay I guess, just gotta say too good as has been the case many a time.

  15. Yes ROGER! He is back!!! Chum Jetze!
    Very good match for Roger, he was really intense but light as a butterfly on the court. Took good decisions and made great shots as well. Sadly, I could also say that this final was a bit disappointing because Rafa didn’t seem too well and I would have preferred to see a tighter final where the two would have been in good form.
    On a final note, I am really happy that RF has now beaten Rafa 5 times in a row for the first time!
    Cheers

    1. If you look at the numbers, it’s not a carve up really. Nadal actually served very well but Fed was just on top and won the big points. I think the opening service game played a big part, if Nadal gets out of that he can work his way into the match a bit more but instead it gave Fed a ton of confidence.

  16. Great win, Roger was very sharp from 1st point and didnt give Nadal any look or rhythm at all. I am on cloud 9 right now, 5 match wins a row. Dont really care if Roger gets to no 1, I only have one wish for him – to win WTF again. Came so close a few times.

  17. I said after the Delpo match that he wld win if he played fast, furious, and instinctive tennis. And he did!
    Fab match, fab write up.
    Title no 94 and the great year continues.
    I hope he plays Basel ( & wins), not sure Nadal will, and it all comes down to the WTFs which ofc he values above all else except slams. Paris is a coin toss I suppose ( my least fav Masters)
    I actually can’t believe he is giving us this year of continued greatness. Just incredible. Enjoying it as long as he can play.
    Thks Rog, and thks Jonathan for giving us a platform to say that!

    1. Good call.

      Yeah just too good, in the twilight of his career but still so damn good. I like what Nick Lester said if all courts were like Shanghai would he ever have lost a match? πŸ˜†

      1. It’s funny but I always tend to think what would have happened to the tennis world and to Fed’s records if the courts were actually the same conditions as they were years ago. I mean Fed would have probably be even more dominant. I mean Wimbledon doesn’t merit to be called a proper grass court.

  18. First of all….DON’T FORGET TO VOTE FOR YOUR FAN FAVOURITE!!!

    Secondly, a big thank you to Jonathan. You do an amazing job match after match.

    Thirdly, a big thank you to the fans here who are so inspiring (mostly). Ha.

    Lastly, to Roger, who continues to create beauty on a tennis court all over the world.

    1. Hey Sue, I already voted for Roger and…. this year you can only vote once πŸ™‚

      But…. lets face it guys…. Roger is NOT going to win Stefan Edberg Sportmanship Award this year. I think they will vote for Rafa, afterall… didn’t some players get mad because Roger doesn’t control the crowd to tell them to be quiet?? πŸ™‚

  19. Right now, Nadal is a tiny speck of fly’s poo in Roger’s rear view mirror.
    But even so, what this shows above all is that the younger players in the field are just not up to the level, and will never be, not even close, of these two monsters. It will take decades, many of them. There is no such thing as that mumbo-jumbo nextgen crap talk, baby this, baby that, yadda-yadda, blah-blah-blah. Yawn.
    Between the two, what percentage of majors and M1000 have they bagged so far this year?
    Zverev took 2, is that all you kids can do?

    1. I couldnt agree with you more. On a second thought , its gonna take a superhuman effort from someone to even match half of what the “Big 3” has done.
      P.s I am enjoying the Renaissance 2017 where the two remarkable athletes have put the rest of tour down on their knees. As far as ai am concerned I dont see them being dethroned. I mean look it took Djokovic superhuman 6 years to put them down only to see them comeback.

      Zverev? Yea two masters 1000 one against Djokovic with a severely troubled elbow and confidence amd against a Federer whose back froze up during the finals? Pardon me for being rude on him but he has flushed out slams too early for me to be convinced of his mettle.
      He can be a champion – but Murray is one too. The question is vouching for someone like the Bug 3 “. I dont see that happening anytime soon.

    2. Indeed they certainly is a big gap in quality. Kind of a lost generation really, Dimitrov, so much in his arsenal but just not up to it. Zverev improving fast but not got the most rounded game.

      1. Dimitrov was promising and can have a good game but he is so inconsistent… At times one could think that he is wasting his talent.

  20. Roger gets really psyched up now when he plays Rafa. I almost feel like he plays better against Rafa than against other players because he is so confident and focused.

    Also, with #94, Federer could very well pass 100 tournament wins by the time he decides to …(won’t say it)

      1. Yes! That’s the ticket!
        BTW did anyone see the photo of the guitar Federer was carrying in the airport on his way out of Shanghai? I wonder if he is practicing for another BackHandBoys performance?

  21. I woke up at 3.30 am to see the game and was it worth it!! Roger absolutely fabulous precise acute vigorous strategic and Nadal just couldn’t cope.
    Go Roger! You own the peRFect game !

  22. This is just what we needed to wash away the bittersweet taste we were left with after the US Open. It seems like Roger is the only one capable of stopping Nadal at the moment. It’s only a pity that there aren’t more fast courts like Shanghai. Will be interesting to see what AO will play like next year.

    1. Yeah maybe Basel and London can offer a different speed of court this year. Other than AO most of the hard courts have been slow. I’ll post the CPI ratings soon, Shanghai in the fourties.

  23. Thanks for having matched Roger’s speed and pace today, Jonathan πŸ™‚ . What a pleasantly shocking performance from the Maestro! I thought that the Bull just needed one mediocre service game to threaten Roger but the Maestro turned it into a serve show πŸ™‚ . It was such clean and awesome performance πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ ; boom, boom, and boom, done. Ahwal!

  24. In my book, Roger is already the true World No.1. Two slams, three Masters 1000’s, playing two fewer tournaments, and beating Nadal in all four meetings this years trumps Nadal’s two slams and two Maters 1000’s. Of course, that’s my alternate reality. I don’t think Roger can achieve the year end No.1 unless Nadal decides to call it a year for whatever reason or has a terrible dip in form.

    As for the match today, Roger’s plays with total disdain against Nadal these day. I hope the AO courts maintain their 2017 nature. Suddenly, I feel like he can pick a slam next year. AO might be the best opportunity as Djokovic tries to get back into form. French looks like a lock for Nadal again. That may be the only one he wins and I don’t see how he gives it up. I mean, to who?

    I get the feeling that next season Roger may play fewer tournaments than this year and his primary objective would be to match Djokovic’s 6 AO titles.

    What do you guys think?

    1. I don’t think he’s that concerned about matching this or that players numbers. It may come as a bonus, sure, but his main goal will be to play well whatever tournament he enters. And sure enough he will need to put more resting time between each two. It has proven to be the right strategy. It’s an age thing and you can’t go against that. This will also mean going down a bit in the rankings but who cares?

    2. Sid, I’ve been fantasising for years πŸ™‚ for Roger to lead the USO title count, which Roger almost did it. I believe that this is easier to take the AO titles. Indeed, matching Nole’s six AO titles will be great but six USO titles will be even better. Either could happen; I don’t think that we are being greedy here πŸ™‚ .

    3. I’ve not really thought about next season yet. Still a bit left this year then Hopman to get an idea of what we can expect. And even then who knows, as who thought he’d win the AO.

      In terms of best player of the year, I think Fed just edging it so far with what he did at the Aus Open then Sunshine Double. Wimbledon and USO kinda similar in terms of things falling into place for the winner, Nadal La Decima x 3 as well on clay was pretty big.

      1. Yes, which is why I’d really have liked him to end up at No. 1. Mind you, he’s just missed out on that quite a few times already, and I can’t see that this year will be any different.

    4. I think it’s a really weird paradox for me. I think Nadal deserves to be number 1 purely because playing and losing is and always will be a greater achievement than not playing, so I agree that points for losing finals should be a thing. But if you asked Nadal whether he’d trade years, I think he in all honesty would – Wimbledon is still the holy grail and Fed is looking good for WTF too.

      Next year I think the AO will be difficult. Assuming they normalise the court pace to its previous years, Roger must find it tough to do the same thing again. Reckon it’s really the usual story with Wimby and USO the best chances. Roger really has unfinished business with New York given all that’s happened over the years, and his game is almost maturing for grass. Nadal winning the French is almost always a given, but I don’t much think he or Fed will keep up their standards as much as this year – can see a struggle to hold onto 1 and 2. Definitely one will fall out of it.

    5. Should the courts be the same as they were this year, Fed will be the AO favourite in my book. But the big question for that tournament is where Djokovic, Murray, Stan, and Nishikori fall in the draw, assuming they will all be playing. Given their lower rankings, they could be big roadblocks for Fedal in the R16/QF.

      1. I will not think that the AO organisers would even think of tweaking it. If they do, that would be travesty and downright stupid. The last year’s AO was one of the most successful GS, though it had everything to do with Roger’s heroic performances. If I were them, I would make courts even faster than last year.

    6. I think Fed can win any of the Grand Slams but I think it would also depend on the players who were absent (especially Djokovic).
      I mean, I don’t think Fed actually wants to match anybody’s titles but I believe that he aims to stay competitive and win grand slams.
      Although, the best scenario would actually be Roger winning a French Open. I guess, it’s just a dream.

      1. Vik, I think that you will be wrong; the ‘elastic’ Djoko had gone for good. When he returns as a 30’s something, Nole could never reach the same dizzy heights as he did before. His games, similar to Rafa’s, more or less rely on pushing his body to the limits. No doubt, he might try but I don’t think that he can last a few big tourneys without injury. What you are thinking of him is the one at his peak, which I am convinced has long gone.

  25. There’s something wonky going on in Rafa’s head
    Something planted in there by this guy called Fed

    Though Fed maybe led to believe otherwise
    Even on clay too he can cut Rafa down to size

    B’cos once you are in someone’s head
    On any surface you can knock him dead

    2018 French Open anybody ????

      1. Ha Jon, you will be coming back on your words WHEN (not IF) Roger does win MC, Rome, RG…. and a total of 25 GS πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    1. Just a fantasy on my part: I would really like Roger to play Nadal on clay and have a crack at the French Open in 2018. Yes, even at the expense of the grass season. Skip Miami or even IW to prepare well for the clay season. Why not? After what he has achieved in 2017, Roger really has nothing to lose. Why not do something bold?

      1. It could be, Minn. He likes new challenges. But if the specialists are right that clay is hard physically, I rather like him to stay away and saving his beautiful game for grass and hard and win tons of trophies still. At least I cannot get enough of his wins. But it’s not me to store them of course, fortunately

    2. FO… I would be so happy if Fed can get a 2nd one just because if he wins a 2nd FO then he will have won all GS at least twice. Sadly, I believe with his age, and his back and knees, the clay won’t be really nice to him. No wonder he skipped the clay season this year.

  26. Β 
    Good evening everybody !
    A strange and somewhat “funny” event happened this morning in my living room. As the Fedal match was just starting, while we were preparing a tennis- brunch,Β  my husband accidentally let a glass jar fall down on our living room floor. Inside the jar, there were 500 grams of liquid acacia honeyΒ  mixed with turmeric, a spoon of whichΒ  I eat every day to try and numb the pain in my back. I first said to myself : “SHIT for the honey and the sticky floor” … but as I believe in signs from above, I thought : ibreaking white glass HAS TO BE a happy omen for our champion. Today,Β  he will play a magic and majestic game, and – contrary to me – he won’t have any back painΒ  and the latter will bear him to victory… He will jump like a springbok all over the court …and Alleluia ! you know the result :
    One hour and twelve minutes later, the win was there !

    A few minutes ago, I had a look at a few tweets posted before, during and after that Fedexpress win… Here are a few of them, some of which I translated from French to English.
    Β 
    “It is the first time I enjoy watching mass on TV…
    It’s true it is mass celebrated by two popes.”

    4 aces in 50 seconds : “you just go and get something in the kitchen, and RF has already won a game”.

    “The way he plays is so beautiful, that we can hear angels singing”.

    “Congratulations Roger Federer to add one more gem to your crown…”

    “Good things happen to good people. Roger is one of them”.

    … and there surely are many more.

    As Pharrell Williams would singΒ  (adapted by me) :

    “(Because I’m happy)
    Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
    (Because I’m happy)
    Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
    (Because I’m happy)
    Clap along if you know what Fed’s tennisΒ  is to you”.

    Swiss dreams to you all. πŸ™‚ and MANY THANKS to Jonathan for your quick and high qualiry posts !

  27. So incredibly soothing to see Roger Federer finally play like Roger Federer against Rafa Nadal. Wimbledon 2008 will always be a memorable, heartbreaking loss, but thinking about it is suddenly bearable.

  28. Well I got the score right in my pre-match prediction but for the wrong person, because I had Nadal down for a 6-4,6-3 win. So glad to be wrong!

    Rog was fantastic, reminded me of the only time I got to see him live when he thrashed Nadal at the WTF. Serving was great, backhands and forehands hitting the lines, and on a few occasions Nadal could only stand and watch as Fed flicked squash-style shots past him from the baseline.

    Does make you wonder what each players respective GS win total would be if Fed had gone to the bigger racquet a few years back. However if they only play a few more times and Fed wins a some of those, then I think people will remember the end of their rivalry more than the beginning. Certainly this late run of victories gives the head to head a much more favourable look for Fed, even if he is on the wrong side of the numbers.

    1. I don’t think moving to a bigger racquet earlier means he wins more slams. The 90 was perfect for his game back in the day. Now he’s adapted his game to suit his current age, skill and the conditions and it’s paying off. Had he done that tactical change a bit earlier then ye prob wins something else but who knows.

      The racquet deffo helps to a degree, maybe it’s even psychological. But it’s not some huge change. Have you ever held a 97sq” racquet over a 90sq” one? The difference is barely noticeable.

      1. [Have you ever held a 97sq” racquet over a 90sq” one? The difference is barely noticeable.]

        The difference in feel is phenomenal. I’ve done it all the way from 85 sq. in. to a little over 100 sq. in. Actually, with a 90 sq. in. I was somewhat competitive with NTRP 4.5 players (a level above what I am, a solid 4.0) but never beat them. Switching to a 95 sq. in. frame allowed me to consistently beat them after a few months, including one that hadn’t been beaten in nearly two years by anyone. Today, I’m close to a 4.5 after switching back to the 90 frame. Sure, that sounded like a brag but I was trying to get my point across.

        Are you willing to tell me that if Djokovic and Nadal were to switch to a 90 sq. in. racquet, it will make no difference?

      2. To be honest I haven’t held a racquet in quite a while, my playing days are probably behind me at this point!

        There are probably a number of factors in his resurgence, the racquet being a key one, but as you suggest apart from the technical advantage it provides it may have helped him mentally too. The coaching from Edberg onwards has been obviously crucial as well.

        I have seen some scurrilous articles about why his fitness/form seems so good at this stage of his career but I am going to trust Fed on this one! And if there is something untoward then I would say he’s only put himself in a level playing field with his competitors.

      3. What do you mean by the difference in feel? The bigger head size actually sacrifices Federer some control. But it does make him more solid on off centre hits thanks to the larger frame (increases rotational stability). That’s going to make much more difference for club players like us than it is for Pro’s, as how often do they make contact with the ball off centre? It’s rare. Certainly, helps if you’re not as quick as you once were though and a second late on the ball.

        I know Fed said a lot of stuff about easier power on serve, less shanks etc but I think this is just very psychological. It can’t really purely be from headsize. Like I said, if you overlay the racquets and compare you will see that if you shank a ball with a 90, then it’s also going to be a shank with a 97.

        The one thing that could relate to easier power on serve and less shanks, is a change in the weight of the racquet when he switched. Which is obviously the biggest factor when it comes how a racquet plays. But we don’t really know if he has? String setup identical that we do know.

        If Nadal and Djoker switched to 90sq” and kept all the other specs the same from their current frames, then it wouldn’t make as *big* a difference as you might think. If they played with Fed’s old 90, then yeah Nadal is struggling big time as it’s way heavier than his frame.

        For me the racquet has clearly brought some technical benefits but perhaps moreso it was a piece of the puzzle that facilitated the tactical change? When I was a kid and you got new trainers, you always felt like you could run faster in them the first few times you wore them. Fed is returning way more aggressive, less passive on break points and just generally trying to take his chances rather than wait for them. That’s why he won the AO.

      4. [But it does make him more solid on off centre hits]

        That’s my point. That makes all the difference on Federer’s backhand. No way he is able to achieve all that with that 90 sq. in. with which he was pushing from the backhand wing. Yes, the 90 has allowed him to win what, 17 slams and that small frame along with the weight/balance synchronized made it a ridiculous weapon on grass too. But the game has evolved. There’s more speed and power from the other side of the net. A slight difference in sweet spot makes all the difference.

        How often do pro’s hit off center? Agree, and that’s why even a slight improvement in the sweet spot can garner them those crucial few point. How many points does typically Federer lose by in a tough match against Nadal? A few points, said Pete Sampras.

        I agree that moving the weight/balance around makes a huge difference to. You can’t just put a racquet frame on top of another and say, “Ah! Not much difference!”.

        Nadal would struggle mighty with the 90 even if he was to change the other specs to adapt. So would Djokovic who fetches so much by stretching especially on the backhand that a larger sweet spot is imperative.

        It would be impossible for Federer to play as “freely” as he does with the larger frame, particularly on the backhand. Let’s just say we differ in our opinion on frames. πŸ™‚

      5. Pity we can’t give Fed a 90 sq” that feels identical and looks the same as the 97″ and see how he plays πŸ™‚ I don’t think it’d be so much different.

        The biggest change you can make is weight. But we don’t know what he changed if it all. But I agree it’s helping him to a degree, the problem is we never saw him step in on the returns or try hit the backhand as aggressively as he has done with this new frame. So you don’t really have a comparison there. As he never tried.

        My conclusion is that it definitely helps on off centre hits, but the psychological impact is pretty big too.

      6. [the problem is we never saw him step in on the returns or try hit the backhand as aggressively as he has done with this new frame. So you don’t really have a comparison there. As he never tried.]

        Precisely. Return of serve is one area where you want to connect as good as you can and the extra sweet spot makes a huge difference. The racquet allows him to make a confident connection, and that translates to that psychological advantage you are referring to.

        I think he may definitely have balance it more towards the head for extra power, lost a bit of control in the process (happened when I used the Blade 98), but has now adapted to it perfectly. His movement is definitely better that say 2009 AO where he was more concerned about connecting well than actually making something out of his backhand.

        So yes, a lot of factors but the bigger frame is the biggest contributor.

    1. He hasn’t shaven because Mirka is not around πŸ™‚ But I like this Bearderer sooooo much more than clean shaven Roger. Bearderer looks bad ass !!!

      Eventhough WTF Final 2015 against Djoker was awful and hell, Roger never looked more handsome (to me anyway) πŸ™‚ There is a pic of him after MP sitting on the bench and he looks disappointed, but OMG soooo soooo handsome πŸ™‚

      1. I love Federer Cleanshavenerer. But now when I see Stubblererer it thrills me!

        As long as he doesn’t go full Paire on us. yech..

      2. He hasn’t shave because Gillette no pay enough money. Shaving cream and razors very expensive. πŸ™

      1. I work at the Gillette Company at the French HQ in Paris. I may ask my colleagues to give me some razors and shaving foam to send him with a kind message from us all for the 2017-champagne year if you wish so !?

  29. Can somebody teach me to count? In ranking race Rog is told to have played 14 tours, but I can only count to 9 or 10 or 11 if Hopman counts. ((Hopman) AO, Dubai, 2 Gold Swings, Halle, Wb, Montreal, USO, Shanghai. Has he partaken in some hidden without our knowing? Or do they count in his first planning (later changed/reduced) as well?

    1. You’re right. I checked ATP World Tour and found that he has played only 10 tournaments. Nadal has played 16. Looks like they count withdrawn tournaments too. That doesn’t make sense at all.

    2. I believe, they count the penalties as well, i.e. a few zero-pointers for RG, any mandatory MS1000 that he had skipped already in 2016 (Cincinatti, Madrid) + a penalty incurred for no 500 played after the USO (Tokyo or Beijing) = 14 tournaments.

      1. @Muser I was talking about the race too. The ATP rules say that a commitment player who reached all milestones (>600 matches, 12 years + on tour, 31+) qualifies for complete excemption from ATP 1000.

        Except: . “A player may not use his commitment reduction to withdraw from an event if he withdrew in any manner (including a late withdrawal or an on-site withdrawal) from the
        same event the previous year.”

        So Roger incurred a penatly for skipping Madrid and Cincinnati because he has skipped them for the second year running. He is also penalized with a zero-pointer for a missing ATP 500. He has played 2 (Halle + Dubai) with only 1 remaining and a commitment player must play 4 (1 can be replaced with Monte Carlo).

        These zero-pointers (penalties) will be counted, i.e. they will be counted among his 18 best tournaments used to determine his ranking. Of course this isn’t relevant for Roger because he hasn’t played any minor tournaments to be counted instead of the zero-pointers. But that’s the explanation why they count 14 tournaments.

      1. That’s not true, really. Fed has won employing mostly serve and volley. He has done it by winning purely from the baseline. He has done it by mixing it up, which is usually the case. Nadal is nowhere close to spanning that broad spectrum, either in terms of a balance of the types of slams won, or all court adaptability.

        “Winning 40% of your titles on a surface that hosts only 25% of the overall tournaments” tells you that he has barely adapted to non-clay surfaces.

        What happened to adaptability when crashing out early at Wimbledon on so many occasions, as well as other slams to players ranked nowhere near Nadal. We didn’t see that happen to Roger, did we?

        We can argue that Federer has won 8 titles at Wimbledon. Fair enough. But he has also not won there nearly half the time. That tells you that grass is a lot more fair to the overall field than clay, and hard courts are even more fair. Compare that to Nadal’s clay record (participating to winning).

        This is a debate that will rage on forever, so let’s just agree to disagree.

      2. I wasn’t really meaning adaptability across the different surfaces. But Nadal has won all 4 Slams anyway so he’s not done too bad.

        I meant more in general across the game – match by match, equipment etc. Nadal proved he can be quite adaptable in terms of how he plays, his racquet choice i.e. weight. Whereas Fed was historically quite stubborn in how he played. Now he went full-blooded into this new change by returning very aggressively and it paid off.

      3. To be honest, I don’t see much of a difference in Nadal’s game except for him changing to more powerful strings, flattening out his shots somewhere (which actually works against him to be honest as it takes away his overall preparation time), and improvement in serve speed and location. Well…his serve was always horrible so there was already room for improvement.

        Then, all those “treatments” he gets after which he runs around like crazy and fetches balls.

        He is too good a player to not win four hardcourt titles. Those opportunities will come by in a career that long. I’m alluding to his miserable performances on grass for example where he barely changes things up, is clueless when things aren’t going his way and crashes out. We are talking a Nadal who is well under 31 years old.

  30. Katyani is the ultimate Fedoptimist !!! And why the hell not ?????

    No more ‘close shaves’ for Fed. Only clean wins.

    Hope Fed plays Basel and Rafa doesn’t. Not that Fed will lose to Rafa ever again ( Katyani mode ) but from a points aspect in order to narrow the lead.

      1. Katyani rocks! I’m hoping for #1. Feeling Fed got ripped off earlier. USO a joke for Nadal.

        Whats his name in Basel must be sweating bullets right now. Would if Fed and Nadal don’t show.

        What I don’t like about Paris is the camera angle. Seems like the court is ten meters long.

      2. “Katyani Wisdom”, “Katyani Mode” πŸ™‚ Hey sweet people, don’t take me or my comments too seriously, except…. those where I say that Roger will win 25 GS, because I am DEAD SERIOUS about that πŸ™‚ Roger will win 25 GS πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

        Nr 1 seems not possible, but I don’t mind it at all, let Roger focus on winning WTF and after that on the tours in 2018. Nr 1 will come itself πŸ™‚

      3. Hey Muser, I am going for 27…. or as you put it “atleast” 27 πŸ™‚

        10 Wimby

        7 AO

        7 USO

        3 RG (or if the Goat is up to it….5)

  31. About “outclassing” Nadal. Yes, he completely dominated the game. But must not forget, Nadal had some knee problem and could not run as usual and as was necessary of this worst surface for him on tour. Given this, it’s a big achievement for Rafa to come to the final (beating in-form Dimitrov and Cilic and running much in both matches. IMO Rafa was even not dreaming about winning the final and have played in “safe mode”. I don’t want to diminish the worth Fed’s win and I think, Roger was perfect both in strategy (look this fine stats analyse http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/news/federer-brain-game-shanghai-2017-final) and execution.
    About chance for no.1. We don’t know, how bad it looks like with Nadal’s knee. I can imagine, Nadal closes his season and eventually plays only WTF, but without big success. Nadal probably withdraws from Basel, so it’s only Paris and WTF on the line. If Nadal still plays, his chances to go deep in Paris are modest. There will be, as every year, a big finish fight for Race to London and end-of-the-year ranking any (almost) everyone comes there. Some will go for everything (Dimitrov, Goffin, Anderson, Delpo, still having chances for London. Paris is also a good place for upsets and underdogs coming deep. The chance for no.1 may be tempting for Fed, but should he not start to think about 2018 right now and go for the risk of start 2018 not completely fit and fresh? He has so much to defend next year . I would like Fed to skip Paris, win Basel and WTF. Not enough for such a stellar year? Well, if he knows, he has still lots in the tank, of course he should try. But it will depend so much on the draw. If Delpo is on the way and he is fit, he will fight wildly, so if Roger gets him early in the draw, it could be either over or risky to hit once more balls coming with power from the height. Delpo is for now bigger threat for Roger than Rafa. Roger tells now, to have no more any fear before Rafa. But maybe against Delpo, who is hitting that hard and this from the heaven. Tough task even for Roger to find the right strategy for an easy win.

    1. Roger himself said that he felt that Nadal was moving as per usual. So maybe Nadal had a knee problem, but it didn’t impair him – they were probably a little sore, I think. Or at least Roger felt that way and I think he is in the best position to judge. Of course you could say he isn’t exactly objective, but at IW he freely admitted that Nadal was somewhat off (presumably because he had suffered from an infection recently).

      Nadal’s main problem was the pace that his shots came back at him. Most every player will look slow in such fast conditions when faced with a guy that can take the ball as early as Roger and put them on a dime, especially a player like Nadal who likes to have more time on the ball.

      As for the No. 1 chances – they are slim unfortunately. Even if Nadal skips Basel and Paris, Roger would have to win both only to take it back into his own hands. This isn’t gonna happen. Too many matches in too short a time.

      1. I have no doubts about Roger’s objectivity, but Roger told about what he felt, this was not a statement about facts. If you are Federer or an expert or experienced fan, you should be able to differentiate: Roger was there not to observe, how well Rafa moves but to play and win. Maybe you have heard or read players (including Fed) not being able to recall their own special shots or errors. They are that focused on the game, that it’s impossible to act as observer at the same time. I would rather ask some knowledgeable expert (say Mats Wilander), who watched the match. I have seen Nadal’s match against Cilic, where Nadal was made to run a lot and he was able to win the match. I think. Roger would win the match even if Nadal was 100% fit and fresh. Nadal has played a lot more this year and run more (especially on clay), so it’s normal to have tired legs at this time of the season. My impression was, Nadal was not running that well as against Cilic and earlier in Shanghai or Beijing. If both are comparably in form, fit and fresh, Nadal has still no chances against Roger on such a fast surface. Nobody has. Delpo had more because of the possibility of overpowering, which Nadal has not. I think, Nadal also didn’t want to risk too much, knowing, he would lose in any case, and now Nadal thinks about pulling out from Basel because of tiredness. Shanghai is definitely Roger’s terrain, like RG is Nadal’s. Yes I agree, even players having faster game than Rafa would not feel comfortable against in-form Roger. And Roger had perfect strategy and executed it superbly. This or other way – there was no chance for Nadal to win or make the match more even.

      2. I just wanted to say, why don’t ask Rafa? And this is a short story about that.
        http://metro.co.uk/2017/10/15/rafael-nadal-speaks-out-on-knee-problem-v-roger-federer-as-he-considers-skipping-basel-7001559/
        My understanding is, both things are true. Federer played so excellent game, Rafa had no chance to win in any case. But Rafa was not playing (for any reason) bu probably partly because of knee issue) with his usual intensity . Everyone can interprete this differently.

      3. With the performance of this kind, what condition Rafa was in did not matter. Even if Rafa were 120% fit, Roger would still have beaten him πŸ™‚ .

      4. @PRF Well, Nadal is a bit of a hypochondriac. He probably had overstressed his knees by overplaying though and he was on the downwards path in Shanghai. Fatigue set in, his fitness wouldn’t hold up any longer. But – that is nothing players don’t deal with on a daily basis.

        As for Basel, I expected him to skip it, since he doesn’t need it to secure YE No. 1. In all likelihood Roger won’t even play Paris, practically forfeiting his chances for the top spot. Even if Roger wins Basel + WTF (undefeated), all Nadal needs to do is to win a single match in London. Unless he is much more beat up than I suspect, he can easily do that.

        In that situation it simply makes no sense for Nadal to play an ATP500.

      5. Remember, we are on the finish of the season and while Roger has still 2 goals: Basel and WTF, Rafa has only one – to stay no.1 at the end of the year, which is almost 100% secured. I agree about Roger skipping Paris. Paris is always a big last battle about places in London and this year additionally in Milan. Not interesting for both Roger and Rafa. Rafa cannot expect to win WTF but maybe another R+R final? Would be nice and of course Roger with big chance to win and add another one to his growing big titles record. So the big rivalry is over for this season. It’s time to take care of health and fitness for 2018 πŸ™‚

  32. The moment Rafa cannot run he cannot win. That’s because his game is based on running and making his opponent run, till one can’t run anymore.

    I think what Rafa plays should be called Runnis. The GOAT of Runnis.

    No alternate strategy, no tactics. Carlos Moya where art thou ?

    1. Not really, no. At least not from what I’m seeing recently. He’s been doing a lot of stem cell shit with those knees.

  33. “Rafa better on clay” – said Roger, when pressed about his H2H getting better against the Doper.

    That’s Roger’s way of reminding us that if it weren’t for the lop sided 2-13 clay H2H, and the fact that he consistently kept running into Nadal on that surface, he would’ve had a winning H2H. We hear you Roger, and we know it. πŸ™‚

    Add to that the 0-4 H2H in 2013 when Roger has no business facing Nadal at all, and which also happened to be a two-slam year for Nadal? Yet, he kept showing up and losing. Finally, it occurred to Roger that maybe…maybe he should only face that asshole on hard courts?

    Remember how Nadal stopped facing Djokovic for a bit after going 0-7 against him, then finally re-ignited that rivalry on clay with three straight wins? Turns out even that wasn’t enough to stop Djokovic from cruising past him.

      1. Nice article, setting things in order. To lose in final vs Nadal is alright. To lose vs Federer in hard court final is alright. Both to admire. Thanks for this article, Wanda.

      2. A few months ago, I made a statement that Nadal winning the French Open along with two other Clay 1000 Masters only diminishes his legacy, and makes Federer GOAT case even better.

        Nadal did win the US Open (beating 5 players ranked 50+, and 2 ranked 20+), and did win Beijing, and did reach the Shanghai final. He is nowhere close to matching what Federer achieved on clay during that 2004-2009 stretch though. And let’s not forget, Roger Federer is 36. He is 36 years old! He should be coaching one of these NextGen posers. To put things in context, Ivan Ljubicic is 38. If Federer – and thank God this didn’t happen – had retired after that miserable 2013, Nadal would’ve fired his Uncle and hired Federer as his coach.

        So, while I agree with the author for the most part, I disagree that Nadal’s recent hardcourt successes match Federer’s clay successes then. And I’ll say this again, even if Nadal were to somehow win 19 slams, Roger Federer would still be the, inarguably, the Greatest of All Time!

      3. Yes, Sid. Agree πŸ™‚ ! But still, the relation between those too very different rivals is worth watching!

      4. “I disagree that Nadal’s recent hardcourt successes match Federer’s clay successes then.” – That’s what I wanted to hear. Yep, nowhere close, Sid!
        Good conversation here, thanks guys πŸ™‚

      5. Many thanks, Wanda, it is such a beautifully written and moving piece, Awol πŸ™‚ . My favourite line – “He has once again expanded our sense of what is possible in life. ” is simply inspiring! I guess that this is why we fedfans love Roger πŸ™‚ .

    1. Sir,exactly,roger had no business facing nadal in 2013,rafa was in god mode and roger wasn’t 100 percent still he kept playing him and then when roger was finally getting his game back ,from 2014 aus open to 2016 aus open they met just once.Now look at his losses in 2013,no way he would have lost in cincinnati and London wtf. Now both of them are playing 100 percent and it is roger who is the winner.i feel the h2h would have been 21-17 because no way nadal would have beaten federer on the fast courts of cincinnati and WTF(fed is 6-1 indoors,that one loss in 2013) and suddenly the h2h looks even. That 2013 and clay seriously screwed the h2h and by the way if 2015 nadal would have played a dominant roger like rafa was in 2013 four times,the h2h might turn out to be even.
      The h2h is totally screwed

      1. Yes, I said at the time that I reckoned that if the two of them had played between AO 2014 and Basel 2015 Roger’d probably have another 4 or so victories to his name by now. But they didn’t, and he doesn’t πŸ™ Just as annoying as the fact that Roger would almost certainly have taken YE No. 1 if he’d played Cinci. But then, he’s been unlucky in the past with the YE.

  34. Hey all, I actually would like Roger to play Paris (even instead of Basel). That way if he wins, it will be a 1000 Tour. But then again, doing that, he might be too tired to play WTF and I and we all want him sooooooo badly to win WTF. He has been unlucky there like Jon said and hope that he takes it this year.

    But…. What is it all about all the players calling it quits this season?? Now Nick and also Berdy….
    Again a trend started by the Goat??

    1. and Milos too? Well Paris has a nasty crowd, nobody except French people has a fair go there. The no. 1 for now is less important than our hero going well in wtf (and Basel!)

    2. Everyone realizes the world doesn’t end if they pack it in. Maybe Paris should be discontinued? Makes for a shorter season. What do you guys think?

      1. Seriously….. this will happen…… after Roger does the r-word…… I am telling you…. there will come a Grass 1000 Tour πŸ™‚ Just watch and see, with Roger’s luck, that will happen πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  35. I know most of the courts have slowed down, but does anyone remember when Paris was a quick court, or am
    I making it up?

    1. Yup it was quick when the surface was Gerflor.

      The WTF used to be quicker too, then it slowed down and Paris tried to match the speed with Gerflor. But struggled so switched to Greenset Grandprix like the WTF uses in 2012 I think.

  36. Another great moving piece of writing for a rainy week-end (take a cup of coffee and a Lindt choco while reading it… It is quite long).Β 

    Β https://nadiabulkin.wordpress.com/2017/08/29/running-up-that-hill/amp/

    1. Thanks, Butterfly, skimmed the article. A very personal and clever writ, discussing in a sound way, what is worth most in sport (and other race-pressuring life aspects)? The killing (the opponent) or the loving (the ball)?
      We all know who’s who, and of course this is an un-allowable simplification. But surely it’s a choice: do you play out of aggressive fear or love? Love can withstand all, it’s said somewhere. And seeing it proved is very inspiring.

    2. Thanks so much for this. Yes, it is long but worth the read. If we are willing to observe the life and career of Roger, we can learn so much. With every win and agonizing defeat there is something to learn. Love the bit about his not trying hard enough.
      “Everyone on Team Federer lives on the precipice of heart attack”. So true!

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