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Nadal defeats Federer Cincinnati

Relentless Nadal Defeats Federer in Cincinnati

Well what a match that was as Roger put in a great performance to just fall short as Nadal defeated him 5-7 6-4 6-3 to extend his unbeaten run on hard courts even further and put himself in the driving seat ahead of the US Open.

I personally didn't give Roger much hope based on his own form and how solid Nadal has been looking since Wimbledon but he definitely surprised me with his level and had he been that little bit sharper on a couple of points the result could have been a lot different. Of course though Nadal was relentless as ever, he never gives an inch and plays hard right to the final point which is what won him this match as he kept slowly building pressure and eventually took his chances when they were presented to him.

Even though the match has a big L in the column for Roger I still think it's a step in the right direction considering where he was just a couple of months ago and this hopefully holds him in good stead for the US Open. Losses are never great and I'm sure he's annoyed that he again let Nadal get the better of him but he has to at least see some good signs in how he performed especially on the serve for most of the match.

Quick Match Analysis

Nadal def Federer Cincinnati

The first set was always going to be key from Roger's point of view as I'm not sure he has it in him to come from behind to beat Nadal so it was imperative he got off to a good start if he was to have any chance.

Fortunately Roger did start well, pulling out a great hold to level at 1-1 despite being at deuce 3 times. He then created his first break point on the Nadal serve but Nadal saved it with a nice first serve.

Both guys began to settle into a rhythm on serve as neither player really got much on the return, I think Roger held to love or 15 for 3 games in a row and Nadal was able to hold just as easily.

At 5-5 it got interesting however as at 30-30 Fed hit a huge forehand winner to setup break point which he took advantage of immediately hitting a cross court forehand. The pressure was now on him to hold and he came up with a brilliant service game, hitting a great volley, 2 big forehands and a ripping backhand to take it 7-5. Allez!

I always felt like Roger had to get this done in straights if he was to win so getting the first set was a real achievement, if he was able to maintain a level throughout the second then he just might have been able to take it. It looked he would for much of it as he played a great game to save two break points and level at 2-2 but at 5-4 behind he gave the Spaniard his chance and he broke to level things up.

It was a disappointing game really as Roger had 2 game points to level at 5-5 but blazed a forehand into the tramlines and despite saving the first set point couldn't do so on the second. I guess it just shows how relentless Nadal is and how dialled in you need to be yourself to keep him at bay. A couple of loose-ish points cost Roger where he wasn't quite as focused as he could be and the scoreboard became all square.

Winning the second set definitely swung things in Nadal's favour as he was improving more and more as the match went on whereas Roger was seemingly slipping backwards. The Spaniard broke in Roger's first service game which was the worst possible start. Roger had that almost resigned look on his face after getting broken which was a little disappointing but the main thing for me was he kept in touch and didn't just roll over.

The pleasing thing was he actually did and made 2 really ballsy service holds despite getting into deep trouble, of course he had little to lose but it was nice to see him save break points and keep a little bit of pressure on Nadal.

At 5-3 Nadal moved to 40-0 and 3 match points in no time but then Roger went gung ho off both wings to make deuce. Roger then saved another match point with a huge inside in forehand and then on Nadal's 5th match point he failed to challenge a ball that would have been out which brought a disappointing end to the match.

I'm not saying Roger would have won the match had he decided to challenge but this was criminal from him here. A lot of fans said he did it out of respect and Nadal did something similar in 2010 at the World Tour Finals but that is ludicrous. You must take advantage of the available technology when it is on a serious point.

I remember a match involving Roger's fellow countryman Stan Wawrinka once where he asked the Umpire whether he should challenge on a seriously important point, the Umpire said no and Stan took his word for it. Stan of course have won the challenge and he went onto lose the match. Terrible. This from Roger wasn't quite as bad but he still should have challenged. The match, although the scoreline looks quite comfortable in the end for Nadal, was actually a very close and played on extremely fine margins so things like that can easily make a difference.

Match Stats

Fed vs Nadal Stats

Point of the Match

My Thoughts on the Match

Federer vs Nadal Thoughts Cincy 2013

Overall I see the match as a positive because Roger played much better than I expected and certainly showed signs of life out there. I wanted the Fedal matchup to happen because I wanted to see what the difference between the two men was, Roger has been slumping all year, people are saying he's done and of course barring Wimbledon Nadal has had a great season so they couldn't be at more opposite ends of the scale for 2013 so far.

I wanted to see if the gulf had widened and the good news is it doesn't look like it has. If anything Roger was pretty close to winning, just a couple of points and lack of mental sharpness cost him. That's always been the case vs. Nadal however so it might be too late in the day for him to ever change that but there were certainly some pleasing signs and had he not donated the break in the 2nd set it could have easily been a different result.

The main takeaways for Roger were that his serve and forehand were able to dictate a lot of the points, that's the shot combination that has brought him success 5 times at the US Open so he must feel like he is on the right path to at least improving on his performance at Wimbledon :P.

The other pleasing aspect was he definitely aimed to be more and more aggressive in all areas especially on the return, he was a little defensive at times but the drilled backhand return made Nadal have to think out there, it sent him a message on several occasions just yet again his intensity and relentlessness pulled him through. And we're still yet to see Roger play Nadal with newer equipment, that one could be interesting ๐Ÿ™‚

I guess this match just showcases the differences between Fedal and how tiny margins can be in tennis. I'm certainly not pleased that Roger came out with another loss vs his rival (21-10 now H2H) but he put in a good performance and is a much improved player from the one we saw at Wimbledon, Hamburg and then Gstaad.

Hopefully he can maintain this forward momentum, not let the loss hurt too much and keep progressing for a good run in New York and then for the indoor stretch. Roger did look rather annoyed at the net as though he felt like he should / could have won so that should serve as motivation for him.

Slightly off topic but I also heard prior to the match Roger has lost 6lbs (around 2.7KG) to take pressure off his back. Interesting and I'd imagine he can get in even better shape for when the USO open starts which makes me feel a little more upbeat about his chances.

What did you guys think of the match? Let me know in the comments.

About 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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83 comments

  1. Thrilling match, one of the best matches Federer has played in a long time. Shame he couldn’t win it, but there are a lot of positives coming out from this loss. It proves how he is still able to challenge (and almost beat) a prime Nadal. I believe even though he lost, it is a good sign he can do well in New York. There were some vintage Fed points here (my favourite the backhand cross court winner at set point). Looks like returning to the ProStaff wasn’t a bad idea.

    • Yeah, I am glad he didn’t just roll over and continue the slump. Still plenty of rebuilding work to do.

      Jonathan

    • I find the focus on the racquet very strange. Theory is one thing but he won 17 GS with that tool, what are the chances that he did that having a disadvantage due to choice of racquet? This racquet fits his type of play. Why not celebrate that instead?
      I think Rogers only problem is Rafa. It made him question his style of play which is why he hired Paul Annacone. Instead of accepting that that particular match-up doesn’t fit him, focus on his fitness and consistency of return of serve on the ad court to the backhand side, they tried to make a different tennis player of him. They should just identify the weakest spot and work on that and make the best out of it.
      We saw a good Roger tonight, not the Roger at his very best. The backhand let him down entirely I would say. Still, the match was close. Most importantly, I think Roger played within him self, or on his own terms and it was more than good enough. Rafa is such a shot maker which makes him look invincible but somehow people don’t pay attention when he shanks the ball. When Roger does it, it’s such a big thing and he looks vulnerable.

    • There has to be a good reason why no other player on the tour uses a racquet head so small. You are disadvantaged playing with it for sure.

      I think with the prototype we get the best of both worlds. Fed’s skills with added power and better ROS.

      Jonathan

      • I think you are over focusing on power. Federer is not a power-oriented player. There is a power focus in tennis today but I don’t think many would say that Djokovic is a power player. Nobody suggests that he should play with a 110 racquet to get more power or larger sweetspot. The three other top contenders are defensive players first and foremost, maybe that’s why they are better served by 100 sq inch frames (or about that size). I don’t know. What I do know is that it is not that straight forward as to say that bigger is better. I’ve tried many frames but until I switched to the Pro Staff 90, I couldn’t consistently hit my single backhand (it was really really bad) and my forehand stroke was deteriorating because I could not never find the right feel or contact or whatever it is. There simply are subtleties in the stroke and the game it self that I don’t think can be characterized simply by head size.

    • YESSS, that’s a beautiful point. Just Nadal and everyone watching were expecting a dtl, he hit that cross-court with such beautiful angle. That’s how tennis should be played!

  2. Although this was one of the better matches from Roger this season, and certainly an improvement over what he showed in Hamburg and Gstaad he again fell short of winning in the typical Fedal fashion. If he can’t get through Nadal on the fast courts of Cincy (in best of 3), how can he beat him at the open in the best of five ๐Ÿ™ . And of course there is a very good possibility of them meeting in QF, which would produce yet another disappointing slam result. If Fed avoids Nadal, I am confident he could have a very very good USO (even win it).

    PS

    If Nadal wins Cincy he will climb to No.2. We can forget about Djokovic stopping him before the final if that happens.

    • Hey Leon,

      True, if you look at it from that perspective then you are right, again he fell short vs. Dull.

      I wasn’t expecting him to win though, so I am glad he put in a decent performance and there were positives.

      The only bad thing is slipping to #7 in the rankings!

      Jonathan

  3. Really don’t understand why Roger keeps coming over his backhand during the rallies, with that unforgiving racquet head it just got him nowhere in the deciding set. During the final game he finally mixed in the slice to get the low ball from Nadal, and then stepped in and ripped his backhand off the lower ball, which is so much easier than trying to take on the full looping forehand shoulder height. It clearly worked well in the final game and is a perfect ploy when he’s not feeling his topspin backhand that much, on this faster court I really thought he would do it more, shame…

    • If you watch the final game from 40-15 onwards, the shot that allowed Roger to hit inside in forehands was the top sin drive backhand. He didn’t slice one ball in the rally.

      Changing pace is a good idea, but his slice will get eaten up if he keeps doing it. Gotta take risks on that wing. As we saw, he nearly broke back.

  4. Hi Jonathan,
    Great post and analysis as usual. Let me just start this by saying, this the first time I watch Fedal match with neutral emotion. @ some point of the match I really hoped fed would win it!!
    I told sid in other post that he might be right this time, roger really came with decisive plan. He went for every shoot, was aggressive in some returns, his footwork was excellent and good BH returns @ some points. The last game showed exactly how to beat nadal. He should be happy with his performance and should give him the required boost.

    • Cheers Shamtoot,

      Well I hoped all the way through Roger would win it ๐Ÿ˜€

      Hope he has a good USO now. He did play well, but Nadal was too clutch again.

      Jonathan

  5. All the best of luck to Roger in the U.S. Open. For now, Cincy belongs to Rafa ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Althought I’m happy Fed made it close and won a set it’s always the same between these two: Either Fed gets destroyed when he doesn’t show up or, when he finds his range and is close to winning, he chokes the decisive points away and Nadal wins eventually in three/five sets. And that makes me sad, because it’s far too often one these two scenarios.

    • It’s an over rated matchup Suifed, Djoker vs. Dull is much more exciting.

      • roger doesnt think so. he proclaims that his rivalry with nadal is the best in tennis history and LEGEN…. wait for it DARY!!!

      • I think he just says so to the press to appease them ๐Ÿ™‚

      • why exactly is djokovic vs nadal more exciting than federer vs nadal???
        cuz the h2h isnt as bad???
        id enjoy watching fed play vs. watching nadal lose to someone else.
        as rogers career slowly comes to an end we fans of his should enjoy every moment of it rather than turn into ugly nadal haters.

      • Because it’s not one sided and produces quite high level matches. It’s just a more interesting rivalry, they both go toe to toe. Sometimes the tennis drags but they both leave it out there.

        Fedal have had some good matches but also some quite average ones.

  7. Oh boy what a fabulous match! I’m so pleased I stayed up to watch it. A little apprehensive beforehand because if if ended something like 6/3 6/3 Nadal then I would have found it a bit depressing because this would be on a hard court at a tournament Roger loves, so another ass-kicking to Nadal would have been bitter. But I had a feeling Fed would be out to prove a point, he proved it and reminded us all of what a player he is. Sure, in the end he lost, but lost fighting his heart out and taking it to Nadal and trying things at will he hasn’t dared to in the past. His level was incredible and the really exciting thing is we all know he can get much better still. The loss hurts but he must be just so fired up now, and angry. I think he’ll win the US open and I really hope he finally gets to play Nadal on Ashe….FINALLY!

  8. Happy with his form, slowly getting back his confidence. Proud that he put up a good fight and just in time for USO. Perhaps he is right trying to keep things simple – sticking to what he knows best. He still needs bigger racquet but since its a prototype maybe needs a little more tweaking. Now we just need to pray he has a good draw and avoid all those bogeymen

  9. Hi Jonathan, did the replay really show the last shot by Nadal on match point to be out? I was only paying 1/2 attention after the point ended but when I was watching live I though it looked a bit out. Very curious why Fed wouldn’t challenge.

  10. It was defintley a great match from Roger and a good sign of his back being better again and thatยดs the really good news because that has caused him so many troubles this season. And the fact he can push Nadal that much and being close to victory is more than I had hoped for, especially after the Haas match.

    But itยดs good to hear you also want Roger to continue with the new stick, he must continue with that after US open. I firmly believe it will do him good especially against Nadal it will help him on the backhand side by controlling the heavy spin from Nadal with the single backhand.

  11. So guys, who do you think other players were supporting last night?

    Also did you see Ivo’s comment on Nadal:

    @ivokarlovic 14h
    Rafa’s pick and smell routine before his serve seem to work pretty well. ๐Ÿ˜†

  12. Hi Jonathan and everyone, my thoughts on the match, gonna be a long one:

    I was also very pleasantly surprised by his performance. He’s been playing so badly this year, but suddenly he came into form against Nadal. This was why I thought this match would be good regardless of the result, because a match with a familiar foe would hopefully remind him of the level of tennis he used to play against Nadal. He looked pretty settled in and confident of his range from the first ball, as if his body is remembering it.

    To my eyes, this match was a very fresh match from both guys. It’s like they have forgotten how they used to play against each other. Jonathan, you said Nadal was relentless from the get-go; I disagree. He looked like he had no clear gameplan in the first set against Federer. Normally he would keep hitting a barrage of forehands to Federer’s backhand, but in the first set he was hitting to the forehand about as often as to the backhand. That allowed Federer so much breathing room; once he gets a ball to his forehand he was pretty much on top of the rally. Nadal also looked very rushed, it’s like he’s shocked by Roger’s fast game, as if it’s new to him. He made so many unforced errors in the first set, about as many as Federer, uncharacteristic of Nadal. I think it’s because he’d been accustomed to playing Djokovic. His winning tactic against Djokovic was to pressure Djokovic’s forehand more than the backhand. In his other matches, he’s also been trying to attack other players’ the forehand more, presumably as practice against Djokovic.

    Roger also looked like he forgot how he used to play Nadal, but in a good way. He used to stay way back behind the baseline and chip back returns. Today, he stood very close to the baseline and drove the backhand return practically every single time. Yesterday you guys were complaining that Roger sliced his return too much; I think today you guys would be really happy regarding that. Also, he showed no mental scars against Nadal whatsoever. He was hitting through the ball confidently. His net play was rock solid; in the past he used to be really wary of Nadal’s passing shots, there was no trace of that today. And when he was making so many unforced errors, he didn’t look bothered at all. He kept plugging away at Nadal, whereas in the past it would get to him.

    I think this shows that both guys have been preoccupied with other guys this year that they havent thought much about playing each other. Nadal wasn’t playing his anti-Federer game, and Federer looked like he forgot about all the hurt Nadal inflicted on him. I guess they’re not foremost on each other’s mind anymore, which is kinda sad too…

    Now the negative: although forgetting about past hurt is great, it looked like Federer also doesnt remember how to handle Nadal’s shots to his backhand. He was making so so so many unforced errors from his backhand. He was driving his backhand returns, but OMFG he missed so many of them, more than half I’m sure. That was his downfall in the match IMO. He was gifting Nadal way too many free points from missed backhand returns. When the topspin return lands in, especially to Rafa’s backhand, he was always able to boss the rally. The problem is so few landed in. I remember in FO2011 and WTF2011, his backhands were rock solid against Nadal. He’s totally lost it. This is where you wonder whether the bigger racket could give him more margin for error in the backhand returns, which would help so much against Nadal.

    Well I’m quite positive about this loss. Roger himself was upbeat. He said he had a clear idea what he needs to work on in his game for the next 10 days. I hope that includes his topspin backhand return ๐Ÿ˜€

    • The bigger stick will defintley help him against Nadal by controlling the heavy spin, and just helping him over all. And good thoughts about the match. Iยดm defintley more excited about the upcoming US open than before this Nadal match.

    • Good analysis Johan. I think you are pretty much right.

      One thing is for sure though Roger still hasn’t forgotten the times Dull has beaten him before. He still lets that effect him in some moments and lost clarity of though.

      0-30 at 3-3 I think he had on Nadal serve in second set? And was 40-30 at 4-5 when he got broken.

      Jonathan

    • Yeah thanks for pointing that out Jonathan, that tenth game second set was criminal. Roger lost clutchness there and slackened mentally. Perhaps some mental issue because of Nadal there. I guess I didn’t remember because there were very few of these moments in the match. And he was able to forget those moments completely after some time. Midway through the 3rd set he was playing very well again. Actually, I didnt feel much emotional investment from Roger in this match. There were no loud come-ons; he didnt get frustrated by his errors, didnt look bothered at all. It seems to me that he was only focused on the physical execution of his game, very cool, very logical, unemotional. I love this mental state. If I were to guess, he didn’t have any expectation in this match and just wanted to see how much he can do against Nadal.

    • Yeah I think so Johan,

      I think after losing the 2nd set though he was effected by it, hence why he got broken in his first game of the third. He needed to reset in his mind there, easier said than done of course but had to take care of his service game and failed to. So I liked his attitude for most of the match, but showed a lack of adaptability in the third and then in the final game when he failed to challenge.

      Jonathan

  13. The real Fed turned up to play tonight, which was sooo encouraging – but against Nadal his best still may not be good enough. As much as I dislike Nadal, I truly admire the guy’s resilience – he just refuses to lie down! But back to Fed – at times it was vintage Roger out there, hitting crisply and with aggression. It’s a pity he couldn’t get it done in straights – when Nadal battled back to take the match into a decider, and then forged ahead with the break, I knew it was curtains. However, Fed’s tenacity was very impressive, esp in the last game. Part of me thought he might just extend the match but it just wasn’t to be. Hopefully Fed won’t be too down-hearted by his performance, and take the positives from this match (eg the cross-court backhand, forehand combo), incorporating them in future encounters. Eventually it will click into place for him vs Nadal, but he will also need some ‘help’ from Nadal too.

  14. Hi Jonathan

    So pleased he came out fighting and when he won the first set my heart soared, there were definitely moments of the federer of old – watched the 2nd set thought he was going to do it – but you know what I did not even mind that he lost – because he did not roll over and some of his shots were amazing – I am now looking forward to the USO – hopefully this will have given him confidence so we will just see how far he can go –

  15. I wish it was a 1-set match, the 1st set winning point reminds me the days in 2008 Wim Final.
    As we all Fed fans had been hurt by his poor performance in 2013, this match reminds us, it ain’t over yet.
    Judging today’s performance in all big 4 (I’m not counting Ferrer as part of it) , Fed could be capable beating Murray or Djo. Let’s see how things tuned up in USO.

  16. Well at least Federer’s back is better. But who should stop Dull from winning the US Open?

    Federer is not going to do it. 2:8 in Slams. 10:21 overall. There is no way to beat Nadal in a best of 5 setter even if he plays perfectly. A few bad points and Nadal gets all over him.

    Djokovic? He has played poorly recently. And Nadal gotin his head after the French Open.

    Murray might find his form. He seems to peak at Slams and he doesn’t give a s*** about Masters anymore.

    Delpo has the game but he is not fit enough. Atm Isner has turned the match in Cincy. How should Isner beat Nadal in the final? He got no backhand but at least he fights and goes for his shots.

    Berdych has the biggest game on tour but small balls. He lost more than 10 matches in row against Nadal.

    • I only see a nobody stop Nadal. Depends reall on the draw, maybe someone in the first three rounds.
      If he get’s to the quarters I don’t see anyone stop him. It would have to be a sort of “match of his life” match ala Darcis, Rosol, Stakhovski or a Delpo in some kind of God mode ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Good question Michael. Nadal is clearly favourite for the USO now.

  17. Sid TheCookieThief

    I’m sick to my guts that Roger works so hard to build is game and it is not enough against Nadal who gets his doctors to do the hard work so he doesn’t have to.

    Well, I have decided I will not follow men’s tennis anymore unless the ATP introduces a biological passport and conducts a minimum of 8 blood tests a year (outside of other tests). Sounds like that is not going to happen for another year or so and Roger may have retired by then.

    I’ve been disillusioned with the doping scandal in MLB (Major League Baseball) where a star player from my beloved team, the Yankees, was caught. Needless to say, I’m devastated. I feel cheated. Duped. Played. At least the MLB had to guts to chase down the culprits, unlike the eunuchs at the ATP who could care less so long as they are raking in the money.

    Those who still remain deluded that tennis is a clean sport, to them I say, “Good for you!”. There is a reason a about 25 French and Spanish players are in the top 100. That’s 25% of the ATP top 100 from two countries.

    I’ll check your comments once in a while but the enthusiasm I had for watching tennis died last night. Take care everyone!

    The Cookie Thief
    P.S. I’ve resigned from my position of, “Director of Rankings Permutations”. Jonathan has my two week notice. Who wants to take up that position? We are interviewing candidates right now. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Please don’t go Sid! The situation depresses me, but we have got to hang in there.
      I’ll buy you a million cookies and send it to you electronically!

    • You take care buddy, will miss your sarcasms and valuable analysis ๐Ÿ˜‰
      And just FYI, I donโ€™t believe tennis is clean, but till itโ€™s proven otherwise, Iโ€™ll try to enjoy it.

    • Sid, I don’t think I am the only one enjoys your comments as much as the blog, so don’t be silly ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for the match report, Jonathan. Couldn’t see it live but caught up online. Good to see him play with a clear purpose. His footwork seemed to improved therefor his game was much better. Some of his shots were just breathtaking especially the cross court BH followed by the deadly FH! Shame he lost. Hope he can give us some magic in New York.

    • Sid, you’re over reacting… Don’t stop watching Rog because you believe nadal to be doping. That’s too stupid…

    • Nadal is on a high now, but Fed will rise again. Their careers always been like that.

    • Sid, I know it`a tough, but that what champions like Federer are for. To do the imposible. To be true and win, even if his opponent is a cheater.
      My late father (God rest his soul), who was a Fed fan, allways use to say watching Fed play. To beat your opponent you have to bea twice and a half better.

      We need to be there for our champ.

    • come on Sid, the US Open looks very interesting this year!!

    • Missing you already Sid! Fed is looking better and needs all our support that tennis can be cleaned up! Nadal looking so suspiciously knee injury free on those unforgiving hard courts!!!! Here’s hoping Fed avoids Nadals half for once in the USO! Murray will drop to 3 if he wins Cincy and if he is in Nadals half can kiss his title defence gd bye! Top 10 looking very different. Ferrer also off form and running out of steam this second half of season. The times, they are a changing!

    • Sid TheCookieThief

      Folks, thanks for your encouraging comments! Ever played a game of Texas Hold’em, with the knowledge that your opponent plays with a rigged deck? No matter what you have, you won’t win. You could be holding a King high straight flush for crying out loud and still end up losing. That’s how I feel. Something needs to be done, and very quickly. Even after that Spanish doctor trial, nobody in the ATP cares about taking measures to ensure these athletes are clean. It’s really frustrating. No player in the history of the sport has come back so many times from an injury or absence and immediately gone on a tear. No player in the history of tennis switches surfaces with hardly any competitive play and doesn’t lose at all. It’s just not possible. It takes months to truly come back from a break and get into the competitive rhythm. This guy simply shows up and hits peak form faster that I can say, “You cannot be serious, man!”.

      It’s hard because being a fan is also emotionally draining, wouldn’t you agree? And at the end of it, you feel short changed by the Spaniard and the likes of him. Anyways, I’ll try to enjoy as you suggested and hope Roger does something good at the US Open. They need to announce surprise drug tests. But they won’t. They could end up losing several millions, no?

      I’m simply requesting the ATP to take some measures, however small they may be to clean the sport and stop the cheaters from stealing titles from others.

      • Though I feel it would be a loss for the comments on this blog if you left, I have to say that I feel you are not entirely fair to Nadal (and I really hate to defend him). His comeback (this time at least) was not exactly smooth. He lost his first two tournaments to much lesser players. It is possible that as much as Federer is unique in his grace and all the other stuff that we Fed fans love him for, it is possible that Nadal is equally unique in the mental approach he has to matches (and perhaps training but I understand you have another theory for it). Nadal is full of procedures which is taught by coaches you should have to maintain (shall I say) your mental acuity (sorry for my English, its not my first language, rather my third). Just watch the procedures before his serve. Briefs, nose, hair nose hair. He follows a procedure even when switching sides and arranging the bottles when going back to court. All that maybe easier to do with performance enhancing drugs, I don’t know, my tennis is not worth the dirt under Rogers shoes on a hard court, but I cannot exclude the possibility that Nadal is a mental phenomenon in the same way as Roger is with respect to grace and technique.
        I really hope Nadal is clean because tennis would probably not be able to survive if an icon like that would turn out to be a cheater. It is possible that he is “to big to fail” and we will never know.
        Your argument above about the shear number of French and Spanish players is not persuading I think. They are not all exactly hunks like Nadal. It would require a very special drug to produce such a range of players with quite different qualities and builds. Also, look at Sweden. A country of 9 million that during the 80’s produced such an overwhelming number of fantastic players and I don’t think drugs were involved. I just happens. It’s sort the the opposite what now happens in both Sweden and the USA.

      • Sid TheCookieThief

        Londo, everyone agrees without a doubt that Nadal is neurotic when it comes to on court behavior and rituals. He is methodical, no doubt, like a perfectly trained dog. There is no spontaneity in his game.

        I don’t know if you read the article titled, “The curious case of Rafael Nadal”. Please Google it if you haven’t, I implore you and please read it with an open mind. The author lays out a convincing case that Nadal is indeed a doper. In the end, you can believe what you choose to.

        You’re right, Nadal is way too big to fail. Exposing him will be a disaster of monumental proportions for tennis. I’ll rephrase you and say that right now, “tennis is too big to fail”.

        Now, let’s look at your argument that, “not everyone is a hunk”. First, you don’t have to be a hunk to reap the benefits of PED’s. Then, not everyone has the financial resources to access the same benefits Nadal does. And more importantly, none of them are “big” enough, to use your owns words to avoid being punished should they go too far with their results. Haven’t you seen how blatantly the Spanish government protected the names of the players on Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes’s list? Fuentes made some serious allegations about the 2010 World Cup winning Spanish soccer team. Did you hear Toni Nadal say that, “I don’t believe anyone dopes intentionally”. Stress on the word, “intentionally”. What makes you think that those Swedish players weren’t doping? Were the testing procedures good enough during those times? Did they even exist?

        I’m pretty sure nobody believe Lance Armstrong doped. How did that turn out? He came clean on national TV here! The testing procedures in tennis are beyond a joke. You can skip schedules test. You can mask the steroids. You can even hide in your panic room to avoid them. It’s all fair game. But that’s a completely different topic we can discuss about later.

  18. Sid, I don’t think you should stop contributing to the blog. Doping is in all sport,corruption in all politics. A-Rod isn’t the best Yankee. My fave, Jetter.
    Roger can go to bed at night knowing he’s the better person…more important than tennis titles. He needs your support!
    Apparently, Roger has been working harder than ever on his leg strength and core according to Godsick.

    • Agreed, we need a Bring Back Sid Campaign.

      • Sid TheCookieThief

        Thanks Jonathan! I’m sure there are countless people like me who have gone through similar emotions and decided to not follow the sport. The great man makes me love this sport and because of him we will have to put up with these cheaters.

        Sue, Alex Rodriguez is not my favorite player at all but he is on the Yankees team and that is what is killing me. I’m content with what my favorite tennis player ever has achieved. But I can’t see him losing to those who cheat. It’s just not fair.

  19. He lost once again even that he improved his game it is not enough, I am waiting for another similar result at USO, I hope I am wrong, but isnjust what I think.

    Definetely a change of raquet will help him with the returns, cause I think he really needs to improve that part of his game.

    I think we are seing the last of Roger, I dont want to see him falling apart in the rankings.

  20. At the age of 32 and after 21 miserable defeats in the past 10 years, if some one says that ‘my tactics are working’, it’s a joke. First, they ‘WERE’ working in the first set, but Nadal had an answer to those tactics very quickly which mattered most. So, will he go to USO with the same ‘tactics’ which didn’t work to play Nadal in 5 sets? At least, Djokovic had tactics against Nadal at early stages of the career and dominated him in one year completely and still shows that he can win matches against him, but not Federer who got used to losing against Nadal for the past 10 years. He is not a teenager to say that his tactics will win matches against in Nadal in the future, as if he has a long future left over in Tennis.
    In the beginning of the year, when Federer was at no.2, I said in this blog that losing matches against the players outside top 5 often means not going to stay in top 5. That remark was not well received by then. Roger feels ranking is not very important, but he should feel that ranking is also important then only he will try to win matches which will fetch him titles. That’s how he could win 7 titles last year. Being not interested in ranking, he could defend nothing this year.

    • Chill out Ramesh! You have to look at the match in perspective: Only third hard court match, has been playing bad since aussie, and the match up against nadal is terrible for him. So given all that, that he took a set off nadal, and came close to beating him, is a good improvement over before (Rome anyone?). and there were tactics: he played to his backhand a lot more than usual, serve was hit with more spin rather than just hard, a lot of volleying, and most important, he hit OVER the return rather than under.

      So all in all, there are a lot of positives to take from this match.

    • I agree with you both.

      Ramesh you make some good points, the one area Nadal trumps Roger is that he can adapt mid match. Roger is more of a persist and hope you can make something happen kinda guy. So I don’t see how Fed beats Nadal at USO, he would have to get out of his comfort zone and play exceptionally clutch.

      And I agree with Simon too, this year has been a joke for Fed so gotta look at this match in perspective. If he had an amazing year and then lost to Nadal in Cincy I’d be more worried. So there are positives just came up short.

      Jonathan

      • Good points Ramesh. On paper it certainly looks that way. I think what Roger meant by tactics were working was that the new aggressive gameplan he followed against Nadal was working. No doubt influenced by Annacone. This is one of the few times Roger stuck to it and not abandon it when things are not working so well. But I agree with you in that he’s found a great way to play Nadal, which is to play very aggressively (drive backhand returns, play hard to Nadal’s backhand etc), but that gameplan requires him to be at a very high level to work. Otherwise he would be making too many unforced errors, like in this match. And also he has to be mentally very cool and not be affected by the errors. I think he had implemented this gameplan back in Rome too, but in that match he was way too cautious and intimidated by Nadal, and look what happened. Roger has got the gameplan right I think, but he’s still missing the plan on how to get to that level and stay there for 5 whole sets. He hasn’t made much progress in that regard, has even declined this year as he got older. One wonders why he hasnt worked on that more

  21. Nice analysis again Jonathan, and what an exciting match it was. I am assuming that most of you do not get The Tennis Channel. If you had, you would have heard all that Roger had to say this week regarding his HEALTH. Finally, he has admitted that he is human and does have injuries. In fact, he has been playing with injuries for a long time. He said he can “handle” quite a lot of pain as he plays and does. He admits now that it was a mistake and it caused him to actually not be able to play his game as he was always “protecting” his body. He said it is taking him some time to stop that habit he has developed. He always felt he didn’t want to discuss his injuries in the past as it would perhaps sound like “excuses”. Guess he finally realized it was backfiring on him with all the comments that he has “lost his game” “needs to retire”, etc. He has taken notice of what the long rest period did for him! You all know how many times he has played “for the fans” when he wasn’t close to 100%. Now finally he may be thinking of himself first and will take long breaks when injured to get totally healed before coming back. Commentators, press and even his “fans” have been brutal in their comments about his losses. All throughout the match, The Tennis Channel commies were saying it was reminiscent of Wimbledon ’08 in this high level play of Roger and yes, a point or two would have made the difference to a win for him but I’m so proud of him going full out against Rafa and now his confidence is greatly increased. Keep believing in Roger….he still has it.

    • I hadn’t seen that Kat so cheers for the info. Fed is Mr Reliable of the ATP Tour.

      Although Wimbledon 08 is one of Roger’s lowest levels of play on the grass in his prime in my opinion, he was struggling with mono and bad back that year. Media hyped up that match no end. It was dramatic because of the rivalry and because it finished in darkness, not due to the overall level of play. Plenty of stunning shots but Dull could have won it in 3 sets.

      Jonathan

    • Thanks, Kat, no, I hadn’t seen that either. Hoping his performance will have boosted his confidence.

  22. I’m proud of Federer despite losing to Knucklehead. I hope for a great showing at the U.S. Open and believe that he will find away to get back to his winning ways. Nadal knows that Federer can and will defeat him again. I can’t wait for that day to happen. Onwards to bigger and better things.

    • Haha Knucklehead made me laugh.

      I hope so too Dave. Nadal is rising right now though, Fed is still slumping somewhat. The roles will reverse I’m sure.

      Jonathan

  23. Hi Jonathan and others,

    What could be your closest guess on Federer’s year-end ranking and the number of titles he wins this year?

    This bolg seems to have a lot of intelligent readers and Tennis analysts and critics; but I’m curious to see your best guess on the actual (raw) figures to compare with by end of the year but not on the analysis of Federer’s ‘can’ or ‘capable of’.

    To start with my guess is: Year end Ranking: 5 and Titles: 2 (including Halle)

    Thanks, Ramesh.

    • Hi Ramesh,

      I think maybe 2 titles – Halle and Basel. Any more will be a bonus although he’s always a threat at WTF if he qualifies!

      Year end ranking – 5 as I think Ferrer will slip.

      So same as you ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • I’m gonna go for YER: 5 Titles: 3. I think Halle, Basel, and Shanghai.

  24. Omg, watched Sky Sports re run of 07 USOpen final v Novak. Quite honestly Fed was God of tennis at that point in his career! His BH return was awesome, really comes over the ball! And his speed! Absolutely extraordinary! What a treat to watch! Did not realise Novak played with Wilson then! His serve was v poor then! And his stamina! So different at age 20 to today! Feeling happy but sad to think he will not reach those heights again! Ps agree with u re Ferrer! My pick to hv a rough next 6 months! Think Fed cld make semis at US, and If he does, then wide open!

  25. The length on his groundstrokes in both of those finals, especially given how windy it was, was just insane! If he does play Rafa at the USO this year, I think a windy day will help him.

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