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.