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Analysing Federer’s loss to Nalbandian. How did he freaking lose?

Posted by tennisplanet on October 21, 2007


OK, granted Nalbandian was on a roll. But it’s not like he suddenly turned into a 20-year old Djokovic.

He barely scraped by Clement and Berdych in the opening rounds, both in three sets. Even Del Potro was not such a blow out, considering what he did after that.

Clearly the lopsided win over Nadal, resulted more out of Nadal’s previous match against Murray. And also because of Nadal’s stupid decision to play, despite not being match ready, physically.

Although Nalbandian had never played Nadal, there is no way he could have won, based on his performance up until that point, with a 100% Nadal across the net, even on a hard surface. That win, placed Nalbandian high enough, for him to ‘see’ the trophy.

With Djokovic, it was a similar scenario, with Ancic taking away a lot of energy in the previous match. But it wasn’t as bad as Nadal. But by then, Nalbandian’s belief had taken a serious quantum jump, to bring the equation of this match, to the level of his match against Nadal.

Whatever extra fuel Djokovic had over Nadal, was more than made up, by the spurt in Nalbandian’s conviction and faith, going in. Not to mention, the much lesser time he spent on the court with Nadal, compared to Djokovic.

But the match against Djokovic, who beat him in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3 at Montreal, just a month ago, proved to be a turning point. It was a close match, despite what the scoreboard said. It raised Nalbandian’s confidence level, to an all time high this year. The fact that Djokovic had just defeated Federer, added fuel to fire.

Federer and Nalbandian go way back. Even when Federer had won all the recent encounters, Nalbandian had more often than not, felt the frustration of Federer, in dealing with his style of play.

In fact, of all the eight matches, Federer has won against Nalbandian, Nalbandian has been able to take a set off in all, but two of them.

So, in his mind, he wasn’t up against an insurmountable mountain. With Federer admitting that he used to be scared of playing him, it was easy for Nalbandian to connect the dots, to pump himself for the title of his life, with an incredible run.

Federer has to feel absolutely disheartened with this loss. A loss to Nadal and even Djokovic, could have been more acceptable, specially considering the other losses he has had this year.

Federer was on the verge of righting the ship, with straight wins at Cincy and the USO, after the Montreal loss. In his mind, he took a step back, after taking two steps forward, with this loss. And loss to a new player this year, only exacerbates the pain.

How could he go down so tamely and without a fight, after pummeling Nalbandian in the first set?

It felt as if the players suddenly switched roles in the second set. Federer was made to run from side to side, tasting some of his own medicine. Cleverly disguised drop shots, added to the physical toll of being constantly on the run.

Maybe the sudden spurt in physical activity, threw his tired body over the edge, to put him on the proverbial ‘slippery slope’.

Federer failed to convert two break points in the set, whereas Nalbandian converted the only one he was offered. Ace count fell to just one, compared to three in the first set.

Third set saw the same running from side to side. It was apparent that the fuel needle was close to empty, specially when Federer was not able to make an offensive shot from so many defensive positions, a staple of Federer’s arsenal.

When the legs go from under you, the extra zing needed to be creative with a defensive shot evaporates, giving the opponent ample time to run you ragged with the next shot. Federer is known to stop that bleeding right away, by turning the tables instantly.

But it appears, the body felt a step slower than his mind after the first set, primarily due to the physical play of Nalbandian.

If that really is true, getting further down that ladder, by participating in any event, just because it is your home event, just because you need more money, just because, just because, just because….., it’s like shooting yourself in the foot, like Nadal just demonstrated.

I have already picked the goat, in case my prediction on the injury backfires, but I am, let’s say, ‘milking’ it to the last drop. But if Federer continues, with his ways, I might be running myself ‘wild’ for no reason.


6 Responses to “Analysing Federer’s loss to Nalbandian. How did he freaking lose?”

  1. Lucy said

    I really think you’re over-indulging in your penchant for melodrama here! Sure, Fed lost, but hell, he had a bad day. No need to pronounce the death of the king as yet. Watching the match made me realise that when Fed loses, he makes unforced errors more on his FOREHAND, than on his backhand as one would imagine. I think Fed just wasn’t into the match today. And Nalby played excellent tennis. I think, on the contrary, this will keep Fed interested and alert for the rest of the season. Besides, after all this, Nalby doesn’t even get to play in Shanghai. You know Fed is going to kick his ass in Basel, if it comes down to that.
    I’m with you on the body tiredness stuff…Fed shouldn’t play Paris, but he seems to have an excellent instinct for scheduling, so I imagine he knows what he’s doing.
    On the brighter side, I’ll take Nalby’s shot-making over Nadal’s endless ass-picking anyday.


  2. Dee said

    David nal really beleived that he could win against Nadal,Djokevic and federer.I think thats the difference.Federer is human too,before the finals, the similarity of how Djokervic won and Nalbandian had already beaten #2 & #3 must have played a part in his mind.Any way I think it’s more than converting breakpoints it’s federer’s errors and serve that let him down.It would have been a much closer match if not.Federer always acknowledges the better player.I don’t think he actually cares who he is losing to untill he losers.That’s when it gets to him.He will bounce back.May be he wants to sack his trainer.Thats what he did before he sacked roche. trainer

  3. Jenny said

    Sorry TP, I’m rather inclined to agree with some of Lucy’s comments. He had a bad day.

    IMO, the last thing Roger would have wanted was to lose to Djokovic or Nadal on this surface, [different with Nadal on the clay, he’s proved himself] would I want to lose to a 20yr old who has yet to prove himself consistently, no way Jose! Look at Roger’s post match face in Montreal! Okay give it another year down the line for Djokovic to defend his points won or win a slam,[that’s no disrespect to Novak, he will win a slam] or be beaten by an old adversary with well known all court skills.

    I don’t agree with this ‘energy’ thing either. To be a truly great player, you have to be fit for purpose and win the next day following a brutal match. Injury is different. Federer was exhausted in Halle last year following the FO, he fought fatigue, won the tournament and flew to London and won his 4th Wimbledon trophy.

  4. Anand_101 said

    Fed will have the #1 locked up by Basel.

    There is no question of ending the season without playing the TMC. Next to the Slams it is the one event he really looks forward to, a prestige event to excel at. Remember the treat he gave us in last year’s final vs Blake? Also, the record is 5 TMCs by Sampras and Lendl; Fed is still at 3 now.

    The question is, should he play Paris? I say he should still play Paris. He needs a little bit of a lead so he doesn’t lose the #1 early next year. Remember Nadal, Djokovic & co have a lot of points to gain at AO while Fed is already maxed out. And he is not scheduled to play a tourney till AO. He does have a week to rest for TMC.

    So I would say if you’re in Paris and wondering whether to buy tix for this year, go ahead and do it! No guarantees of course, just my crystal ball ;).

  5. Jenny said

    I agree Anand, and at least Paris and Basel aren’t too far apart geographically so jet-lag won’t be a problem.

  6. cms said

    His extremely low break point conversion percentage in the previous two matches may have screwed with his head. When his serve did not carry him through so completely, he may have panicked a bit knowing how tough a time he’s had breaking. Who knows? I also wonder if he let his focus go after the big first set win, thinking it was going to be a walk. And by the time he woke up, he was down a break.

    Still, he can’t win every time — on to Basel!

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