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Nadal has Federer exactly where he wants him.

Posted by tennisplanet on September 10, 2010

Federer is flying high sending expectations to a new high in full glare of the radar. In contrast, Nadal is swimming incognito virtually undetectable on that digital screen further heightening the status he enjoys so much specially going into matches against Federer: The underdog status. Translation: Federer is the clear favorite. He may have been there from the get go based on his recent flourish at both Toronto and Cincy but Nadal was not too far at that point denying Nadal an unblemished underdog stature. But the Soderling demolition has pushed Federer to the brink of the edge Nadal seems most comfortable operating under.

The performance under difficult conditions in terms of both the opponent and weather Federer produced was so over the top that even the easier draw Nadal is left with today failed to move the needle in terms of Nadal matching that new position Federer gained.

It’s an irony if you look at who Federer has faced until now and who he will be facing next compared to Nadal. It’s also a testament to how Nadal’s camp has utilized Federer’s most potent weapon against him to not only release added pressure on Federer but to also navigate through the nerves in his brain.

Based on not just the stats, the degree of difficulty Federer has tackled and his clearly superior unforced ‘errorless’ play of late, he is by far a better player specially when placed next to Nadal’s ordinary showing against far inferior competition. I mean just the last match the two have played speaks volumes of where each one is considering everything that’s in play.

Bottom line: Federer is playing at much higher plane but that dynamic is not new, is it? There have been too many instances now where Federer has moved through the draw with ease and with superior play only to falter when facing Nadal in the finals – on hard courts.

Before reaching the ’09 AO final, the closest match to this potential final here (hard court, Slam) Federer had not lost a set except two to Berdych (five setter). He had even bageled Del Potro – TWICE  with the score of 6-3, 6-0, 6-0. AND had eliminated his punching bag, Roddick in the semis – in straight sets – in two hours and five minutes – to be fresh for the final showdown against Nadal.

Nadal, on the other hand, had a gruelling five setter against Verdasco in the semis that lasted …………. wait for it………… five hours and ten freaking minutes (that’s more than twice the time) draining him of the most decisive component called ‘fuel’ in his armor. Conclusion: Once again, on paper, Federer was considered a unanimous winner, just like he is today, only to play ‘just enough to lose’ and hand over the title to Nadal based on stuff that cannot be pinned to paper.

See any similarities with the current scenario? Federer is leading on ALL fronts – from ‘time on court’ to unforced error-winner ratio to aces to BP conversion to higher seeds dispatched to having won here five times already to possibly reaching a record 7th straight final to you name it.

All this BS boils down to this: Federer now has the onus of winning against his biggest nemesis with very little to gain and ‘are you freaking kidding me’ lot to lose – comparatively. Nadal has tons to gain with a win and relatively nothing to lose in a loss in the face of Federer’s persona getting bigger than life by the minute.

This is all a product of shrewd manipulation from Nadal team in being able to use Federer’s most potent weapon – his success – against him to leverage Nadal’s limited tennis skills in comparison, to where you arrive at a combination which not only nearly guarantees a win it makes every win that much bigger while limiting the damage from a loss to its minimum. It’s a formula so carefully crafted from the start that it provides Nadal the shortest route to being a GOAT one day – if everything pans out.

Will that old trick work one more time or has Anaconda’s addition invaded the innermost recesses of Federer’s ‘inners’ to begin the reversal? Time to find out.

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22 Responses to “Nadal has Federer exactly where he wants him.”

  1. Haya said

    EXACTLY.. he even played way better than nadal in the AO and still lost to him.. sigh!

    I’m so not in love with nadal’s hard court game.. and will surely not like it if he wins.. too bad when pure talent succumbs to sheer power.. not the tennis I came to know and love.. and another sigh!

    • wuiches said

      what a beautiful sport tennis is, even if you are not a natural skilled player you still have a chance to be successful, that brings balance to the game, not only the “chosen one” will be ruling the game!!!!!

      • Haya said

        But I’m not a player who desperately wants to win no matters how, I’m a tennis lover who wants to be entertained by nice play 🙂

  2. Claire said

    Nadal just runs his opponents down and then makes that “awesome” angle shot – doesn’t that happen again and again? It’s getting so boring!
    It will be interesting to watch how obvious coaching from Uncle Toni will be tomorrow!
    Nadal will do anything to win regardless of it being on or off the court! Hopefully Federer will make it to the fianl and just ooze of confidence, maybe surprising Nadal??

  3. Haya said

    BTW, how could nadal be the GOAT with “limited tennis skills in comparison”?

    • claire said

      Hi Haya,
      I thought the same thing! Yea, seems every Nadal match I watch now there is mention of coaching during the match! Didn’t someone say that one commentator said something to the effect oh, it’s Nadal(getting coaching from Uncle Toni) it’s o.k.. Why when there is so much talk about the coaching the officials don’t keep a closer eye on them? It’s even more amazing that Nadal and Uncle Toni continue to do it with all the talking about the coaching!
      Actually didn’t one of the lines people go talk to the chair umpire in a recent match? The announcers mentioned it but it wasn’t confirmed that the lines person was talking about coaching.

      If Nadal and Federer meet on Sunday, I will be upset if the coaching goes on and nothing is said!

      • Somebody Else said

        “Actually didn’t one of the lines people go talk to the chair umpire in a recent match? The announcers mentioned it”

        really?

      • Bettyjane said

        Well as this is the tournament of notorious foot fault calls, perhaps the less enforceable coaching penalty will not be far behind.

      • claire said

        I know it happened cuz announcer said the lines person was talking to chair ump, mentioned could be coaching issue. but announcer said it was just speculation on his part!

      • Haya said

        This is ugly 😦

        I remember in one of his matches 2 years ago(prior to him taking the #1 ranking), the commentator furiously said “If you want to be #1, you have to start acting like #1 and stop looking at where your coach sits …” too bad I forgot who the commentator was and what the exact words were.. and guess what, the incident was a challenge! He wanted to know whether to challenge a call or not! His uncle told him to go for it.. he did, and he was right!

        In another match, he had a problem with his serve, the camera was on his uncle for few seconds giving him instructions! It was not a certain agreed gesture that a cam wouldn’t spot, but few seconds of coaching! My brother and I were so much surprised of their audacity.. and that no action was taken!

  4. O said

    A lot of Federer shots that beat others have been analyzed and exploited by Nadal. For example, a run-around shot is always quickly returned to the open court, a power shot and net rushing will be returned for a more deadly pass. Nadal has used very effective strategies against Federer.

    Now that Federer has a new coach, he would definitely kind of clean up his game. He will need to be more aggressive, decisive, try to keep Nadal off balance. Move the feet on the return games to break Nadal more often, while minimizing errors on the service. I am sure he has figured out a lot these month and is now a lot more confident.

  5. whiterose said

    If Nadal wins the US Open he will have achieved almost everything. For the sake of the sport I really hope that they now force Team Nadal and his protege to play within the rules. His timewasting and tendence to take medical timeouts whenever he is in difficulties is a disgrace to the sport.
    Federer was to dominant, that is why a rivalry at any cost has been built up to the disadvantage of tennisplayers who play fair.

  6. Growltiger said

    Am I the only one bored with Nadal-Federer. Maybe tennis should just assign them the finals in every major and let the real competition be for third and fourth. In other words, a match between Djokovic and Youzhney might be much more fun to watch since we haven’t seen it countless times. Tennis could award extra points and $$$ for the third place finisher giving them incentive to do their best and we the fans could watch a different match than the one we’ve seen countless times.

    • Jenny said

      I’m not really bored with the two R’s. As I said on a previous thread, love both guys, but I like a change, a little unpredictability as far as tennis is concerned and why I enjoy watching some of the smaller tourneys and the not so well known players beyond the top 5. There are some very fine players out there, we’ve seen them perform magnificently at the US already, eg Wawrinka, Ferrer, Youzhny, Verdasco, Melzer, Llodra, Simon etc. In others words, I’d like to see some of the ‘lesser’ lights getting some big silverware and witnessing their celebrations, okay they may have to beat the top three to get there, but I’m okay with that now. I admire Sampras, he won Wimby so many times and it tugged at my heartstrings when he lost in the 4th round to Fed in 2001,[I was there] but I was more than happy to move on and embrace a new era.

  7. Joy said

    If–as it’s so often read here– it’s time to stop the supposed rot in today’s tennis, where ‘pure talent succumbs to sheer power’, perhaps the ATP should change its rules such that the overall goal would instead be aesthetic perfection–achieving a playing form as close as possible to an established ‘ideal’, judged by a panel of known experts on what is ‘beautiful’. No more boring matches that risk ‘ugly’ play, but instead only performances attempting a perfect ’10’.

    Sounds more like a gymnastics meet, but hey, if that’s what fills a stadium of spectators, then why not, for the sake of the sport?

    I may be in the minority here, but tennis excites me because its athletes come in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments. I admire the spirit of the Open Era: that each person’s different style of play can be constantly tested against myriad others, on changing surfaces & in weather that could vary from day to day. Occasionally one style will dominate the rest, until it’s overcome by another. At times there’s no clear leader, and we’re left in want of a hero to inspire us. It’s tough, in turns exhilarating or heartbreaking. But how each competitor deals with the ups & downs–that’s part of the beauty of the sport too. The gladiatorial drama of this ‘arms race’ keeps the sport vital, & riveting.

    By all means, cut out MTOs, call for stricter rule enforcement, throw out old norms that keep the game stagnant. In the end, though, maybe what’s really needed in all facets of tennis (including its fans), is an openness to change.

    • Jenny said

      Well said, Joy.

      “tennis excites me because its athletes come in all shapes, sizes, and temperaments”

      Also agreed 🙂

      Actually, I think all the guys have talent in different ways, or they wouldn’t be where they are and make a darn good living, obviously Fed and Nadal make super bucks, but they’re more the exception than the rule. Even players like, eg Bjorn Phau are probably making a decent living on the challenger circuit, but he’s good enough to ruffle a few feathers on the main tour. Most of us know the ‘natural talents’, there are a number of them, but they don’t always go on to achieve great things, eg Slams and Masters winners. When one thinks about it, there are just a handful of players who have won a Slam since 2000. Federer, Nadal, Roddick, Safin, Johansson, Ferrero, Djokovic, Del Potro, Gaudio, Kuerten. Just 10 [have I left anyone out?] of the 100’s of really good players out there.

      • Somebody Else said

        “Federer, Nadal, Roddick, Safin, Johansson, Ferrero, Djokovic, Del Potro, Gaudio, Kuerten.
        Just 10 [have I left anyone out?]”

        Hewitt, Agassi, Ivanisevic, Sampras, Costa

        Hewitt is part of the Federer generation of players (age group):
        — Federer, Hewitt, Safin, Nalbandian, Roddick, Ferrero, Gaudio, Blake, Davydenko, Gonzalez, Ljubicic, etc.

        The other four guys are ’90s overlappers, of course.

        I’ve been considering the generation groups, and I’m gathering up the current group as follows:
        — Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Berdych, Soderling, Gasquet, Monfils, Tsonga, etc.

        Would this be an accurate assessment of age groups?

      • Jenny said

        Thanks, SE – How could have I forgotten those illustrious names, duh! 😳

        I’m not sure what age category Soderling fits in, he is older at 26 than those other guys you mention. Plus others of that age, eg Verdasco. Then you have the other 27/28yr olds who are current title holders.

        Would this be an accurate assessment of age groups?

        Basically, yes! Good Luck, sounds like hard but rewarding work, I’m looking forward to a possible future Wanna Post.

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