I certainly didn’t think we would get another Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal battle before the French Open. While I pegged Federer to reach the final, I really believed Nadal would either withdraw or get knocked out en route to the title match.
Credit to Nadal, with his game already in prime form, he showed up in Hamburg and made the best of it running his streak to 81 straight on clay after a harrowing win yesterday over Lleyton Hewitt.
Today, though, I think Federer will have his best chance of beating Rafa on the clay, a feat he has never accomplished. Hamburg is a slower surface than Rome or Monte Carlo, and much less slippery, which should give Federer better footing, something the Swiss relishes given his excellent footwork. Federer has also won Hamburg the last two times he’s played.
On the other hand, Nadal says he’s 100% content with his clay preparation this season regardless of the outcome of today’s match. He adds that he’s got nothing to lose against Roger. Says Nadal:
“I feel good, it’s always a special, interesting match. I have no pressure, win or lose I will go to Paris with the best of confidence.”
No pressure? Sorry, Rafa, I don’t buy that. You have all the pressure. You know that. Thevery last thing you want to do is lose your last match before the French to your biggest rival. So there is pressure, in fact, it’s all on you! Federer is the one with little pressure because based on his results during this clay season and his recent Roche sacking I think few people, myself included, give him much of a shot today. Hence why Roger finds himself as the biggest underdog odds-wise in a match in recent memory.
Speaking of his clay season, Federer has a new explanation for his Rome setback to Filippo Volandri:
“My confidence is okay now, again. I was maybe not confident in my match against Volandri but because of some reasons. It was a hard decision [getting rid of Tony Roche] and like I say, it did play a little bit of a role in my match against Volandri. But I was disappointed in my own performance, that I couldn’t block it out for just another week and then maybe talk to him after Rome. But I couldn’t kind of keep it together, so that was kind of disappointing.”
Well, Roger, I can’t totally buy that either because if your confidence is now back on track what the heck you doing going three sets with Monaco, Ferrer and Moya this week, all guys you should be beating in straight sets.
It’s post time…We shall see!
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