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Slowdown: Federer vs Nadal.

Posted by tennisplanet on September 16, 2010

Federer, on his way down, is still able to battle through the draw to eek out a couple of titles, finals and semis – even in Slams. Federer was clearly hit hard with the quarterfinal exit at Wimbledon with Nadal adding another coat of salt in the wound by beating the guy who beat Federer in straight sets in the final.

Result? Federer came up for air one more time. It’s not a coincidence that the tournaments immediately following Wimbledon proved to be his best outings for the season. He reached the final at one, won the title at the other and reached the semis at the last one. On his way to all that he, more importantly, reversed losses to three clowns from earlier in the year – Berdych, Baghdatis and Soderling – two of them in straight sets.

That’s massive progression considering where the train was headed prior to Wimbledon and the clowns he lost to AND how. Heck, he even lost in the opening round in Rome – to Gulbis who hasn’t done much since to validate that win over Federer.

In short, this may have been the BEST he can come up with today given the Wimbledon backdrop and hiring of a coach who can double as someone who can relieve him of some ‘baggage’ he has been carrying since 2002. Even this best wasn’t enough to restore the magic he once produced routinely, having to barely win a title at Cincy – against Fish and Turtle.

In Nadal’s case, there is a mountain of evidence to reasonably expect a swift strike that will knock him off the face of the sport virtually instantly. Nadal’s second best is so far removed from his top form as was demonstrated in ’09 that it will make his stay on the tour absolutely painful and embarrassing.

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12 Responses to “Slowdown: Federer vs Nadal.”

  1. wuiches said

    I took this from the blog of an american journalist:

    “Unlike Sampras, who popped up after nearly two years of mediocrity to scorch the field at the 2002 U.S. Open, Federer isn’t likely to make a late-career run once his star truly starts to dim. Sampras relied on brute serving power and short bursts of unexpected all-court brilliance, a style that wears well on an aging athlete (as he proved in his exhibition matches against Federer a couple of years ago). Federer, on the other hand, needs all of his senses to play at his highest level. Even when he’s on, he hits more public-court-worthy shanks than anyone else on tour. So when he loses a step, he’s done”

    I suppose to make Roger to “relied on brute serving power and short bursts of unexpected all-court brilliance” was anaconda’s job, did he make it??? can Rodge make a “late-career run”???

    One of the obstacles that Sampras never had was a thing called “Nemesis”, and I mean inside his mind. I still think that Rodge has the best serve on tour. If he is serving big he still has a chance to defeat Nadal on a fast court. In that Joker’s match his serve totally abandoned him. But the thing is that Nadal has a huge influence inside Roger’s mind. And now has even more, after this new achievement that totally overshadowed Roger’s CGS of last year. It’s not like Nadal’s CGS is more important than Roger’s, but keep in mind that the last time a guy got the same thing was 10 years before Federer, and now Nadal comes and says: “ok, you can make it!!! so I can make it too but 4 years younger than you and just a year after you!!!”.

    To overcome this situation inside his mind must be a very hard thing to do for Roger. But he totally deserves at least the benefit of doubt.

    Lets wait and see…

    • Bjornino said

      Indeed, let’s wait and see. Good post, and interesting comparision Fed/Sampras. Maybe Fed needs Sampras to coach him 🙂

    • Sol said

      Those are good points, Wuiches.
      But I disagree with that American author. Pete did rely almost solely on his serve to win matches later in his career, and his opponents feared his powerful serve. But Fed is a more talented player, imo, than Pete was. And even when his serve is off, he has enough weapons to still beat the best. He can’t do it on a regular basis anymore but he can do it better than anyone else. The semi against Djoko proves that, he was one point away from winning that match, twice. With all those UEs and the bad serve %. The only one that won’t work with, as you point out, is Nadal. Fed needs his very best tennis to beat him, because it’s all in his head.
      There’s a French author who wrote an article about Fed (pre-USO, right after his Cincy win) and he seems to think Fed has back problems that he won’t talk about. He says it’s probably the reason why his serve sometimes completely disappears. I hope he’s wrong but if that is the case, then obviously that’s bad news for him. A bad serve means having to enter rallies and spend more energy on court, something which Fed can’t be doing at this stage of his career. Also, I think Fed was always an impatient player who wanted to make that winner shot (which is probably why clay wasn’t his favourite surface, he’s no grinder). And he’s becoming even more impatient today, especially with that new brand of players who stay at the baseline, play a very defensive game and keep bringing the ball back. Which is why, imo, he takes more risks and makes more UEs. He’s trying to play very agressive but it just doesn’t work as well as it used to. Thus, the shanks.

  2. M said

    “In short, this may have been the BEST he can come up with today given the Wimbledon backdrop and hiring of a coach who can double as someone who can relieve him of some ‘baggage’ he has been carrying since 2002. Even this best wasn’t enough to restore the magic he once produced routinely, having to barely win a title at Cincy – against Fish and Turtle.”

    Improvement takes time, and I am thrilled to see Roger on the upward swing you described in those first paragraphs, TP.

    I know you remember all those people writing Rafa off last year – “he hasn’t won a title for 11 months”, blah blah yada yada. And look where he is now! 😀

    I look forward to seeing Roger build on his current trajectory in the oncoming tennis year.

    “In Nadal’s case, there is a mountain of evidence to reasonably expect a swift strike that will knock him off the face of the sport virtually instantly. Nadal’s second best is so far removed from his top form as was demonstrated in ’09 that it will make his stay on the tour absolutely painful and embarrassing.”

    I’m … not sure I understand this at all. 😕

    • Zorana said

      When Rafa’s cart starts to go downhill one day, the fall will be so steep that he will retire after a very short while, because he will be losing to cucumbers and tomato cans.Am I right, TP?

  3. Bela said

    What’s written in favor of Federer, and against Nadal to me seems like biased opinion. The best of athletes in all sports go through a gradual decline (except for injuries that shorten their careers) in skill level, reflexes, speed, and critically mental toughness, desire and the nerve. The only aspect of the game athletes gain as they grow older is experience, which is useful, but not paramount. A player like Federer who is getting older is showing all signs of eroding skills, which in tennis results in a gradual decline, if not rapid. The same player in team sports is a valuable component because of his experience, left over skills, and adequate contribution for shorter periods during a game. whether it is Federer or Nadal as he also gets older, what made them dominant in not everlasting, but prone for inevitable decline. When we all have our favourite player, we tend to hate and be biased against others who beat our favourite player, and for Federer fans, the emergence and reemergence of Nadal must be a nightmare ! Rafa has not only beaten Federer at his best, but is only getting better, and the future for Federer must look bleak with Nadal, del Potro, Murray, and others in the way. Sorry, the thrill of Federer’s best years have to be accepted with his decline, if Federer fans are objective loyal fans !

  4. claire said

    “…and the future for Federer must look bleak with Nadal, del Potro, Murray, and others in the way.”

    I don’t know – I have my doubts that Federer will win even 1 more GS for reasons Bela stated above. Of course I could see Federer winning only if he has an amazingly easy draw!

  5. Sir Vibhudi Aatmapudi said

    Federer has a few slams to win, yet. I am convinced he will win them. Despite his ‘gradual decline’ and other reasons. Every professional sports champion – Federer included – knows when the smooth stroll becomes an arduous climb. You have to credit him and his team with the intelligence to realize this. And you can be assured that he is already at work, subconsciously or otherwise, to improve and to execute in match conditions. He has a few fundamental areas to work on as we saw in his last tennis match. Most of it could be mental, but we can only sit behind our keyboards and speculate.

    Least we can do is recognize that a 16-slam champion is far from washed up at just 29. Look out for him to come back sharply and yearn for a winning encounter or two with the world’s best player, Nadal. That will do him a world of good and it will do the tennis world a lot more good. Think forward my friends. Before you even talk of writing him off again, think again at what he’s won. 16 grand slams. With the exception of Nadal, whoever has beaten him in the slams, has paid the price of exhaustion / injury. Djokovic is the recent example and before him, Berdych and even before him, Del Potro. All of whom paid the price of playing a level of tennis that they were not accustomed to, in beating federer. The reason is that even a slightly sub-par Federer is good enough to exact nothing but the very best performance from his opponent to pip him at the finish line. I was watching the highlights of the Djokovic-Federer semis and watching Novak’s reaction after the final point, you could just tell he had given it his all in winning the battle, but he was also done, mentally and physically. Imagine facing Nadal in a final of a grand slam in that spent condition! And what about Federer? he continues like it was just a bad day in the office. All said and done, give him some credit folks. And remember to thank Nadal for setting the bar higher for Federer’s resurgence – later this year and early next.

    • banti said

      Thanks Sir. My sentiments exactly. Fans always seem to write him off prematurely. I see him winning a few more. If his game peaks at the right time in a slam (soderling match at US Open) he can beat anyone including Rafa. He needs to get through the early round hiccups somehow and than perform to his capabilities in the latter! He’s due for a few more, count on it. Lastly, nothing gets the GOAT more motivated than losing, that in itself gives me hope.

      • Sir Vibhudi Aatmapudi said

        Human nature, good Banti. it is said every sportsman is only as good as his next performance; it really has all to do with sports fans, critics, experts and anyone who can spell ‘tennis’, who raise their heroes to the skies and also relegate them to damnation in the blink of an eye. We are all alien experiments, I swear.

    • jett09 said

      Well said Sir V.

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