Hey guys, well what a big disappointment that was as Roger was comprehensively owned 6-1 6-3 by Nadal who took down his 24th Masters 1000 title in another solid display that sadly found Roger wanting and looking completely clueless out there.
I said in my prediction that I gave Roger a 10% chance but on today's performance I was being more than generous. Sometimes I'm not bothered whether Roger wins or loses and this was one of those type of matches, I felt like he had zero expectation and could play freely but the manner of this defeat has annoyed me. He got schooled out there, showed zero fight and virtually gave up. Very disappointing.
And before we go any further there will be no point or shot of the match today for obvious reasons 😛
Quick Match Analysis
I tweeted before the start of the match that the first game is usually very important for assessing Roger's level – he hit 4 first serves, served and volleyed twice and held to 15. Sadly if you'd have taken my word as golden you'd have been very wrong as after that he fell to pieces and failed to hold serve again in the first set losing it 6-1.
He was serving at 82% first serves but as soon as the ball came back over the net he was losing pretty much every point with wild errors and really poor shot selection. He is like a different person out there when he plays Nadal, like a small child unfortunately and today he appeared on court extremely early and put up zero fight.
Nadal basically walked his way to the first set, looking completely untroubled on serve and no doubt thinking this was his easiest match of the week, which let's face it, it was. And that's even with Berdych playing a very weak match against him too.
The second set didn't get much better the only difference was Roger had his once chance to get his foot in the door but pussyed out like a big girl. At love 30 in Nadal's opening service game he missed an absolute sitter of a backhand volley into the open court, it was almost Roddick like from Wimbledon 2009 actually and a huge choke at that. He missed it for 2 reasons – Nadal is in his head and he wasn't ready to play it, he was slow moving in behind it when he should have been on his toes.
Even though Nadal got back to 30 all Roger got his first break point of the match yet made another schoolboy error by hitting a forehand long. I knew that was his one chance to actually build some confidence but the chance went begging and with it so did that match.
As expected he was broken in the very next game and soon fell behind a double break as Nadal moved into a 5-1 lead. 1 break was recoverable, as we saw in the very next game as he broke Nadal when he served for it, but 2 was a bridge too far as Nadal eventually served it out comfortably to take his 7th title in Rome.
Wasting break points early and then failing to hold serve at 4-1 was just criminal and if you ever needed evidence that Nadal is in Roger's head it is right there. If he'd broken serve he'd have got back into the match, and if he'd managed to keep the gap to one break, when he broke back they'd have been back on serve giving him another shot at getting back into it. He failed on both counts.
The stats don't make pretty reading.
Thoughts on the Match
I have 2 thoughts on Rome really, the tournament as a whole for Roger was a success because he made the final, but final itself was an absolute disaster as he didn't even try to win.
It was painful to watch really after the 1st game onwards and I'm kinda ashamed to say that Wawrinka put in a better performance in the Madrid final than Roger did today. Just zero fight, no real gameplan and he just gave up which I found pretty wimpish.
Nadal turns him into a complete wet lettuce on court. He can't even make simple forehands, the backhand turns into a cricket shot where there's more chance of the ball going out the stadium than landing within the lines and that volley at 0-30 in the first game of the second set, well, the less said about that the better.
As a fan I wasn't bothered if he lost today, but I am bothered about how easy he made it for Nadal, I thought he could at least make it go 3 sets and make him really earn the win by tracking down lots of balls but really he only had to come up with 1 or 2 ridiculous passing shots and the rest was just going through the motions for the Spaniard.
I think one shot probably sums up the entire match and that was an attempted slice backhand Roger hit at 40-30 up, and 1-4 down in the second set. It practically went straight into the ground. Of course he got broken and the double break meant he had zero chance of getting back into the match. If he had held there then when he broke Nadal it would have been back on serve, not 5-2. Tsk!
Positives? Well from this match there are none, it's just an unacceptable performance and a match where he completely failed to turn up. Who knows where the real Federer was, hiding in a corner somewhere from his nemesis I think.
The only good thing is the tournament as a whole seen as though he made his first final and gained some ranking points which could prove useful come the end of the year. He at least goes into Roland Garros with some level of form, but the big problem is that he's not going to beat Nadal if they meet. It's a foregone conclusion sadly and probably time we accepted it for what it is. It's up to the Djoker to take care of Dull, this his is role in tennis.
Now a couple of things I'd like to clear up that I saw getting tweeted a lot during the match:
First – back issues. Spare me the bullshit. Yet again deluded fans spouting complete speculation about Roger's back, oh he's changed his service motion. Give me a break, he just got owned today, simple as. He served at 82% in the first set and managed to win 1 game. That isn't due to a bad back. Even if has a niggle, it's up to him to tell us and he's been fine all week and stepped on court today so why invent excuses?
Second – Annacone. I saw some fans questioning Annacone's role as though he's got it wrong or he's not the right man for the job. Do me a favour, he's not the one out there on court spraying backhands into the tramlines.
All Roger's problems against Nadal stem from Roger's mental frailities that turn up as soon as he steps on court, he is constantly doubting his game and his abilities against this guy. Annacone has little control over that, it's all psychological. Even if he puts in place the perfect strategy, Roger needs to execute it and today I give him 0 out of 10 for execution.
He managed to serve and volley twice in the opening game but I don't think we saw him do it again, more evidence his mind becomes jumbled against his nemesis. So no doubt what Annacone says prior to the match goes in 1 ear and out the other by the time he's on court. So to say he should look for a new coach is just short sighted and basically stinks of looking for excuses or trying to put the blame on anyone but Roger. I don't like that.
Basically if Roger makes an early unforced error against Nadal he gets scared and freezes like a rabbit in the headlights and the match is over, simple, no coach can sort that unless he starts playing matches on his behalf.
Back to today's match and I'm not feeling too bad about it after writing this, we've seen this happen countless times so there's nothing new here to get too downbeat about, this match followed the script.
The thing with Roger is he can make you forget what the outcome of a match is supposed to be just because that's who he is, he's never not got a chance. But on clay, with modern equipment, against a guy who can run all day then you kinda just have to expect a loss. And fair play to Nadal, he plays from 20 feet behind the baseline and doesn't make any errors and it works. Hell he was even quite aggressive today which kinda just proves just how poorly Fed played I guess but he very much deserved the win.
Basically, it is what is it, Nadal is the antithesis of Roger, good vs.evil almost and Roger doesn't quite have it in to defeat him, not on clay anyway. That's all there is to say on the matter.
The good news is Roger played some solid matches this week and can definitely do some damage later in the year if he maintains this kind of form. Obviously clay is a bit of a write off for him in terms of titles but who cares? It's the slowest surface and favours the grinders. Nothing we can do about that.
Finally I thought I'd share with you a comment I read on Ru-an's blog from a guy names Steve who was responding to someone saying Nadal is a tremendous shotmaker:
I wouldn’t call it shotmaking. Shotmaking entails taking risks, trying to hit into small areas of the court with relatively low margin for error. That is not what Nadal does.
Nadal has squared the circle. With the aid of whatever magic potions his team has dished up, he can hit error-free winners by pounding the ball with a combination of raw power (to overwhelm the opponent) and spin (for safety). If you hit with that much spin, the ball will always clear the net by a healthy margin and dip down at the last minute and never go out, so you never have to hit a risky shot.
So what is the point of watching, then, if it is impossible for him to make mistakes? It is as interesting as watching a buzzsaw cut through a stick of wood–a purely mechanical process whose outcome is a foregone conclusion.
And if you have so much raw strength and speed, you can stay way, way behind the baseline and still hit with pace and depth, and still run down every ball.
The difference between Federer and Nadal is the difference between a master martial artist who defeats unarmed opponents with skill in hand-to-hand combat, and someone who defeats unarmed opponents by shooting them with a gun.
Now, because he is shooting unarmed opponents, the gunman need not be a good marksman (indeed, he might have very poor aim) nor does the gun have to be well-made; it could be even be a BB gun. But if you give the gunman unlimited ammo, he will always bring down his opponent. All he needs to do is fire in the opponent’s general direction for long enough. As long as he has the modicum of intelligence needed not to shoot himself in the foot, he’ll always win.
Sometimes the gunman could, by chance, hit an opponent’s vital spot early on, at which point it’s over quickly (like today), and other times he might fire wildly and the opponent might last a while longer. But either way, the opponent will go down eventually, through sheer attrition.
It would be a complete misunderstanding, and total abuse of language, to call our gunman a master martial artist, and it would be very silly for people to give him trophies for martial arts tournaments in exchange for his shooting down a series of unarmed opponents. Yet that is exactly what people do with Nadal.
What Nadal does wins tennis matches, just as what our gunman does defeats opponents. But that does not mean he is a great tennis player–he is like our gunman, very poor at some other activity that happens to win tennis matches as a corollary.
Now what is amazing about Federer is that he can beat the “gunman” from time to time, using nothing more than his tennis skills. If he could do that at RG, that would be a really amazing thing, and a proof of supreme mastery.
I thought it was a nice analogy and a good assessment, as well as making me laugh.
Anyway, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the final.
Of course the next stop is Roland Garros, I'll be previewing that soon and we can guarantee Djoker and Nadal will be in separate halves of the draw!