Federer, Nadal Win Grasscourt Titles; Destined for Wimbledon Final?
by Richard Vach | June 15th, 2008, 3:37 pm
  • 21 Comments

World No. 1 Roger Federer and No. 2 Rafael Nadal won grasscourt titles Sunday a week after Nadal blitzed Federer in the French Open final, painting a likely scenario of both players again being present for the final Sunday at the All England Club.


Federer shook off his Roland Garros disappointment by returning to his familiar stomping ground at the Gerry Webber Open in Halle, Germany, where he claimed his fifth Halle title with a 6-3, 6-4 win over German Philipp Kohlschreiber. The Swiss improved to 10-0 career in grasscourt tournament finals, and tied Pete Sampras’ Open Era record of 10 grasscourt titles. Federer also stretched his all-time grasscourt win streak to 59 matches.

“I am really excited about the way I played, never dropped a service game throughout the week,” Federer said. “I couldn’t be more happy. I beat quality players and also my level of play was very good.”

Nadal’s statistics were equally impressive, becoming the first Spaniard to win a grasscourt title since Andres Gimeno in 1972, defeating Novak Djokovic 7-6(6), 7-5 in The Artois Championships at the Queen’s Club.

Can you imagine Andy Roddick coming into Rafael Nadal’s house at Roland Garros and stealing a match? That is exactly what Nadal did at Queen’s, beating the four-time winner and defending champion in straight sets, as well as toppling the serving machine Ivo Karlovic in three consecutive tiebreaks during the week.

“The tournament here was very, very tough, best players of the world,” Nadal said. “I can’t imagine I would be here with the title before the tournament.”

After losing in last year’s Wimbledon final in five sets to Federer, who has nowhere near the confidence he did last year, it’s not so hard to imagine Nadal holding up the trophy at the All England Club in early July. The truer, higher bounces of today’s grasscourts have given the Spaniard a Bjorn Borg-like chance of winning the French and Wimbledon back-to-back for the first time since 1980.


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21 Comments for Federer, Nadal Win Grasscourt Titles; Destined for Wimbledon Final?

JCF Says:

Federer should play Queens next year. Then it will be Wimbledon Jr.


Pat Usher Says:

Nadal’s playing really well, and as a Federer fan, i’m seriously worried for Federer. Nadal’s game has improved tremendously and i don’t see anyone who can beat him at Wimbledon, unless he’s up against Djokovic in the Semi’s. Djoko has a chance. But even then, Federer would still have to deal with Djokovic who’s also an inproved player who’s hungry to prove he’s better than the best. Sigh!
However, this is ROGER FEDERER!! On any given day, if he plays his best, no amount of Nadal muscle or mental strength can beat him. He’s still only 26 and has a few more yrs left in him, provided he remains injury free, and the desire to play the game remains.
C’mon Roger!!!! The wimbledon trophy awaits u!


jane Says:

As Vach’s title suggests, there does seem to be a sense of “fate” or “destiny” hanging around Rafa these days. Or maybe it’s just momentum from his monster clay season. But I think the fact that he has Novak on his heels and he’s not hugely distant behind Roger he must be motivated to “just do it” on the grass of SW19, and finally grab number 1. I know he’s all humble in interviews, but there can be little doubt that Rafa’s tired of being no.2! One gets the sense that this might be his year.


Skorocel Says:

Pat Usher said: “However, this is ROGER FEDERER!! On any given day, if he plays his best, no amount of Nadal muscle or mental strength can beat him.”

I guess you’re not talking about their clay matches here, are you? :) On grass and hard surely, but not even close on the dirt (assumed Nadal’s not having an ultra off-day, of course)…


Chris Monroe Says:

Ok whatever, you can pretty much say that about anybody…”On any given day…” The main reason I believe Federer is doing so bad is because he is losing a lot of his confidence. There is a lot of doubt circulating around and I believe it is taking its toll. It is quite the opposite for Nadal and Djok, however if I had to choose between one of the two I would prefer to see Nadal take the Wimbledon title. I love the Nadal-Federer rivalry, and I think it is alittle too early for Djok to interfere with that. Plus I think Djok is really cocky (after hearing some of his off court comments to the press).


bobby Says:

Rafael nadal is a great ambassador for tennis.He is ultracompetitive on court,but off court he is one of the most graceful and humble athletes in the world.He deserves to win many wimbledon titles and become next no1 and be among the greatest to ever play tennis.


Gordo Says:

These are men, not machines. Sometimes it seems improbable for them to succumb to injury or illness but recently we have seen Federer derailed by an illness which derailed the first half of the year.

Now he seems to be back in form and back at “home” on grass where even though the ball does bounce higher it nowhere reaches the height that it does on clay. As Federer feasts on hitting the ball quickly soon after its bounce he should have another Wimbledon title to help ease the demolition he suffered at the hands of Nadal in Paris.

Two surfaces – two champions:

Nadal – 4 Roland Garros titles (and counting) – losing a grand total of 7 sets (3 to Federer)

Federer – 5 Wimbledon titles (and counting) -
losing a grand total of 8 sets (3 to Nadal)

I agree that Novak Djokovic will present a headache for whichever of Nadal or Federer he meets in the probable semi-final match, but barring injury, or possibly Roddick running into Rafa and playing the grass game of his life, we are going to be treated to an exciting Rafa-Roger final, and this time the loser (hard to call a Finalist at a Slam a loser) should win at least a set – certainly more that the 4 games Federer won in Paris.

I can’t wait.


Chris Monroe Says:

I agree with Gordo – however, i don’t really feel Roddick (as much as I support the guy) has much of a chance.


zero Says:

This will be the most difficult ever Wimbledon for Roger. If Nadal can ease all matches in earlier round, he will make an exciting match.
Now, many can say Roger will never match Rafa in Roland Garros. Wimbledon 2008 may be the biggest chance for Roger to claim the no.1 at the end of 2008. If Roger lose in London, we will see a new no.1 and probably it will be Rafa Nadal


FOT Says:

I still have my confidence in the man who has a 59 winning streak on grass. He has battled through all kinds of challenges and has prevailed on grass. A couple of years ago he was said to have had one of the toughest draws (on paper) starting with Gasquet (who had just won a grass court title; then Henman (at that time no slouch on grass), then Ancic, etc. – yet he sailed through that tournament. So bring on the challenge. I think Roger is up to it and wants to prove that he still is the best on this surface.

Fans are fickle. Go back and read post regarding Nadal before this clay season. He was ‘done in’… he was going to lose the #2 ranking fast; he can’t win, blah, blah, blah… Then he almost run the tables on clay and wins Queens.

Fans don’t really know what’s going to happen! We’re all just guessing! But I still would put my money behind the 5-time Wimbledon champion before I would anyone else until someone knocks him off the title. He’s still the #1 player and in spite of all the odds of new players coming up, him meeting all kinds of servers, baseliners, all kinds of players from 2002 – no one has beaten him on this surface yet, so he must know what he’s doing! lol!

So I’m sure he’s saying… Bring it on…


JCF Says:

Nadal’s serve is what cost him the final last year. He had to work a lot harder to win his points than Federer did. Federer got cheap points off serve, something Nadal can’t do. He is at a big disadvantage already.

The fact that he almost won despite not being able to hit aces like Federer, is a testament to how much harder he fought than Federer. Federer was able to come up with big serves to save those break points. Nadal has to do it the hard way. No cheap, and easy points. He faces more pressure on serve than Federer.

I don’t know who would win if they met again, but I think the more difficult task for Nadal is getting to the final, rather than beating Federer. The former is harder to do than the latter. Federer is off his game this year. Due to his illness or competition stepping up. I am not confident he would have won in Queen’s this year if he played that instead of Halle.

“Fans are fickle. Go back and read post regarding Nadal before this clay season. He was ‘done in’… he was going to lose the #2 ranking fast; he can’t win, blah, blah, blah… Then he almost run the tables on clay and wins Queens.

Fans don’t really know what’s going to happen! We’re all just guessing! But I still would put my money behind the 5-time Wimbledon champion before I would anyone else until someone knocks him off the title. He’s still the #1 player and in spite of all the odds of new players coming up, him meeting all kinds of servers, baseliners, all kinds of players from 2002 – no one has beaten him on this surface yet, so he must know what he’s doing! lol!”

You do have a point here, but as they say, ‘anything can happen’. I’m sure no one would have denied that Pete Sampras would win Wimbledon in 1996, the same way no one denies Nadal will win every clay tournament he enters. That was the year he was upset by Krajicek, despite being a 4 time defending champion.


TD (Tam) Says:

Why does Roger avoid playing Queens where all the good grass players are I’d like to know that?

Federer said “I beat quality players.”

Berrer, Vacik, Kiefer, Kohlschreiber in the final, Really now? Nadal beat a much tougher field in Queens than Roger (Karlovic, Roddick, Djokovic in the final.)

I think Roger’s reign at Wimbledon ends this year.


Joker Says:

“Why does Roger avoid playing Queens where all the good grass players are I’d like to know that? ”

Maybe it is a case of the top players avoiding Roger so that they can get one grass-court title in their bag? How many grass court titles would roddick have if he played halle every year?

NADA!

Halle is a more intelligent choice for a top player looking for grass-court warm up! Same points as queens, more money and a covered stadium implies no rain delays and lesser risk of slipping and getting injured like murray or fish.


Glenn Says:

Tam,

I’ve only been a Tennis fan for a little over a year, so what I say might not mean much. From what I’ve read, it seems Federer and Nadal purposefully avoid each other before Wimbledon, and play different tournatments. The question is not, “why does Roger avoid playing Queens?” Rather you could just as validly ask, why don’t these “tougher” players like Karlovic, Roddick, and Djokovic not play in Roger’s tourney?

It’s just a matter of perspective.


jane Says:

I think some of the players play Queens simply because it’s in London, so less travel – not to avoid Roger. Roger plays Halle, in part because he has a strong and loyal fan base in Germany; he’s always played there since I can remember.


Joker Says:

http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?id=3446552

This guy has some better ideas than the present ATP heads. Though his knowledge of present day tennis doesn’t seem to be great (another borg mcenroe? what about agassi-sampras or the present trivalry)

Anyway, the biggest reason why tennis is not popular in the US is the general xenophebia towards any person that is not “americanized”. The NBA, MLB have tonnes of foreign players – they are all seen as “american” players. Cut to a global sport like soccer and no one gives a damn. Same is the reason for tennis not being more popular than golf. Tiger is american. If he were a South american or an asian or eurpean, golf would be in the same condition as tennis. How does golf Vs tennis play in the remaining 5 continents? Any one from antarctica? hello….

That said, the life span thing is a serious issue. That is the reason that the atp/wta need to take care of injuries and the racquet/string technology that causes these!


Joker Says:

“Roger plays Halle, in part because he has a strong and loyal fan base in Germany;”

Also because Germany is more like “home” to him than UK. Rafa is going to take a 3-day break to get back to mallorca before he gets back to Wimbledon. Roger can avoid this shuttling back and forth. Whatever works. Why fix something that is not broken?

Remember Nadal is the one who is chasing Federer on Grass not the other way round. If nadal doesnt win wimbledon this year it might not be a bad ploy to go to halle and see if he can upset roger’s usual rythm. If Roddick was really gutsy, he should have already tried this. Instead we have Roddick fans claiming Federer is avoiding the bigguns?

FedFed gave up his favorite hamburg in 06 because he played MC and Rome to get enough shots at Rafa. If nadal/roddick want the Wimbledon title, they need to change their schedule not the 5-time champion!


Daniel Says:

“Fans are fickle. Go back and read post regarding Nadal before this clay season. He was ‘done in’… he was going to lose the #2 ranking fast; he can’t win, blah, blah, blah… Then he almost run the tables on clay and wins Queens.”

The same applies to Federer: Everybody was saying he was done and will lost his number one ranking, and I find it was bo…! We are at Wimbledon now and Fed has more than 1000 points over Nadal. Things will only change after the US OPEN, IF they change. Fed get back to his normal “straight finals” period, and I believe he will keep it longer!


Gordo Says:

One additional thing to remember – Federer does like his patterns in tournaments and workouts to stay the same, and only recently have they begun to return to normal. Let’s not forget that the same players pretty much go to the same grass warmup tournament every year – Federer and a lot of the German/Eastern Europeans to Halle and Nadal/Roddick/Hewitt/Nalbandian and the South Americans to Queens, so the level of competition is relatively consistent.

Let’s also remember that last year Federer did not play Halle and went into Wimbledon cold, without playing a match on grass beforehand, and he still won the tournament, despite dire predictions beforehand.

The year before (2006) at Halle Federer faced match points against him twice playing Berdych, and he lost sets in every match he played, though he still won the tournament. He went on to Wimbledon and had his most dominating tournament there, dropping only one set (to Rafa in a tiebreaker in the final) and losing a total of only 68 games in 7 matches (His previous best was 2004 – 78 games).

This year at Halle? 5 matches – 5 victories without even being broken once – only the second time in any tournament Federer has done that.

Federer feeds on confidence. You get the idea that sometimes he is trying to pump up his attitude and enthusiasm with his comments and they occasionally sound a litle hollow, but right now there is no denying that the stars are all aligned for him to have a very solid run and try and win that 6th consecutive title.

As a side note – I always find it humorous in these blogs how people keep on predicting things without rhyme or reason – I remember a bunch of contributors saying Federer’s win was a fluke in 2003 and that he would never repeat. Again in 04 and every year since. When Federer finally does lose Wimbledon, and who knows it could be (although I doubt it) this year, they will come out and brag how they “called it right.” Ain’t short term memory great?


Andrew Boyers Says:

Fair play to Roger Federer – you have to commend him for winning Halle for a fifth straight year. Does anyone else think though that he’s shirking away from the prospect of a high-quality field at Queens to maintain his record on grass?

I guess it is a warm-up tournament to Wimbledon, and playing Halle almost guarantees that Federer has three or four matches preparation. But I don’t consider playing Philip Kohlschreiber in the final as a test for Roger, especially when Nadal and Djokovic are battling it out at Queens.

Federer is definitely still the man to beat on grass – you can’t have his record on the surface and not go to Wimbledon as favourite – however, Nadal and Djokovic have demonstrated that the gap is far closer than before. I think having seen the Queens final, Roger would have struggled to beat either of them out there.

It’d be fantastic for Federer to play Queens next year; however,loyalty, and the fact that Queens has lost its sponsorship and therefore might not be able to offer the same prize money as previously, may dictate that Roger stays in Halle. But to be the best, you have to beat the best, and Roger can’t say that he’s done that this week.


Skorocel Says:

To Andrew Boyers:

Fed’s not gonna play in Queens for at least another 2-3 years. If I remember it correctly, last year, he signed some kind of deal with the Halle organizers to participate in their tournament in the near future (I guess it was a 3-year deal)…

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