Roger's tough year has drawn to a close with a loss at the hands of one of his biggest rivals as true to form Nadal defeated the Swiss 7-5 6-3 to make swift progress into the final where he'll meet either Djokovic or Wawrinka who face off this evening.
As usual this one came with a lot of hype but disappointingly followed the same pattern of most Fedal matches – Roger with early chances, failing to take them and Nadal using his intensity and smart tactics to prevail.
The big disappointment was that Roger looked very flat after a promising start, missing a lot of forehands which I believe were due to being a step slow and not preparing quick enough. Looks like the Del Potro was a drain on his energy and his emotions too which meant he couldn't really handle Nadal's speed of shot or model of consistency.
As usual Nadal played a tactically smart match without really having to do anything out of his comfort zone. I thought he served very well when he needed to and backed it all up with his forehand.
Quick Match Recap
Both players made a fantastic start by holding serve comfortably with Federer rifling down a high percentage of first serves and looking to play first strike tennis.
In the fifth game which proved to be hugely important in the outcome of this one Roger created a break point chance but over cooked a forehand that he should have made. One more break point came his way but Nadal snuffed it out and then made him pay to break at 4 all and serve for the set.
Roger has made a habit of hitting back when he's broken this week and did the exact same thing here, producing a stunning forehand winner after a 30 shot rally to move 15-40 up before a Nadal error gave him the break back.
Again the momentum changed instantly with Nadal breaking to lead 6-5 and this time Roger couldn't respond as the Spaniard served it out to love. Criminal really to break back and then get broken again. Big drain on his self belief.
The chain of events in the first set put that resigned look on Roger's face and he looked extremely flat in the second, dropping serve at 2 all and then again at 3-5 to hand Nadal his 14th victory in their last 18 matches. His footwork got progressively sloppier and he began to hesistate on quite a few shots which created a flurry of errors.
The match point summed it up perfectly as Roger moved in behind his serve, hesitated a little and drifted the volley long. A tame finish to a tame match.
|Stats||R. Nadal||R. Federer|
|1st Serve %||77%||66%|
|1st Serve Points Won||32/43 (74%)||27/39 (69%)|
|2nd Serve Points Won||9/13 (69%)||8/20 (40%)|
|Break Points Saved||3/4 (75%)||0/4 (0%)|
|Service Games Played||10||11|
|1st Return Points Won||12/39 (31%)||11/43 (26%)|
|2nd Return Points Won||12/20 (60%)||4/13 (31%)|
|Break Points Won||4/4 (100%)||1/4 (25%)|
|Return Games Played||11||10|
|Total Service Points Won||41/56 (73%)||35/59 (59%)|
|Total Return Points Won||24/59 (41%)||15/56 (27%)|
|Total Points Won||65/115 (57%)||50/115 (43%)|
Federer will not defeat Nadal unless he hits more winners than errors.
Shot of the Match
Not the sort of rally he wants to get into all the time but what a way to finish it 😛
Thoughts on the Match
A slightly disappointing match but I made Nadal the pre match favourite and he lived up to that billing. I did expect it to be closer than it was though and it's pretty obvious Roger wasn't physically at his best making far too high a number of errors on the forehand wing.
Usually it's the backhand that costs him and whilst that play was still semi profitable for Nadal today he really had quite a lot of freedom to hit to the Federer forehand knowing full well the reply he was going to get wouldn't really penetrate his defences.
We saw some glimpses of what Roger can do, winning an epic 30 shot rally and holding serve comfortably in a number of games but he just couldn't avoid his 2013 trademark lapses to not drop serve at key moments. The 30 shot rally was a nice reminder but it was never going to win him the match, he had to play first strike tennis and although I think he tried to the execution wasn't quite right.
It doesn't help either that he knows Nadal will track down most balls as this causes him to hesitate and get caught in two minds hence the joke approach shots and poor shot selection. Sometimes you get the feeling he thinks that Nadal plays anti-tennis and just gives in rather than have to hit one more ball. He should probably respect him a little more, it might work in his favour.
As usual it was just a case of Nadal being opportunistic and sticking to the plan. He served at 77%, always to the backhand and made the most of his chances. Roger still hasn't really got a definitive plan against him but I think he did at least show some signs of what he needs to do. Nadal can make Roger look pretty amateur at times and he always manages to out think him and anticipate that little better. Roger's mind get's cloudy vs. Nadal make no doubt about it.
I don't think the match really got into a mental battle today though like some of their encounters have done, ok there were a few moments where Roger was looking a little despondent and folded under pressure but in the main he just made too many errors on both important and not important points. There wasn't really a tipping point. Perhaps the break point in the first set he wasted could have given him an adrenaline shot and made the legs less heavy but it's impossible to say whether the outcome would have changed.
The reason for the lack of intensity from him most likely boils down to the match vs. Del Potro yesterday, it was a pretty tiring encounter and with Nadal having an extra day off he was always going to be fresher of the two. As I said in my prediction, Roger looked emotional after the wins vs. Del Potro which is never a good sign as that drains you even further.
We saw it with Murray in his 2012 Wimbledon semi final and it helped Roger win. And we also saw it with Djoker too when he played Del Potro at Wimbledon this year, he was emotional winning his semi final and then looked flat in the final. You have to keep it in until the tournament ends.
Regardless of the result today I don't think we can beat up Roger for his performance, he's had a pretty good week considering a few weeks ago his World Tour Finals place was in doubt. As usual fans get carried away and think Roger is reborn and will dominate all his matches based on one good match but they need to understand he's going through a process and right now the positives far outweigh the negatives.
The guy has basically sucked since the Australian Open so isn't suddenly going to plays lights out for 3 weeks after playing poorly for the last 40 odd. Roger is human after all.
In some ways the defeat today is a plus as let's say for a minute he managed to win the World Tour Finals, that in my opinion would have been a fluke. He had one fluke this year really winning Halle and look what happened at Wimbledon.
If he had won the Master Cups for a 7th time he might have gone into the off season thinking all is well and good in Federer-land and cruised his way into 2014 and been in for a shock.
The way I see it now is that his job is only half done, he made some good progress after the US Open but he must continue that in the off season and get himself in great shape raring to go.
Whether that means testing a new racquet and getting a coach I don't know but he's gonna have to put some hard yards in for sure to make sure 2014 is more successful than 2013.
This is the final match review for 2013 but I do have some posts planned for the off season, with Sid also firing up his typewriter there will be plenty Christmas reading 🙂