Short answer: No. Longer answer: No way.
There is a caveat, however. Roger Federer’s only chance will be if Nadal is not 100% healthy today in the Madrid Tennis Masters final. Nadal’s physical condition will be the focus following his nail-biting 3-set masterpiece yesterday over Novak Djokovic. During the win Nadal was having trouble wit his right knee.
But for me, I think Nadal will be more than ready, willing and able to take down his chief rival on his home soil in front of his Spanish fans. Would he really lose to Federer in Spain, on clay of all places? I don’t think so.
Nadal of course has had Federer’s number winning five straight meetings against Roger (Rafa leads 13-6 overall), many in such devastating fashion that the mighty Swiss was reduced to tears afterward.
I don’t think there will be any tears of pain today, only perhaps, tears of joy.
But in many ways, it’s another virtual “can’t win” situation for Federer. Much like his “asterisk” victory over Nadal at 2007 Hamburg, which ended the Spaniard’s 81-match win streak, the situation is somewhat similar today.
Should Federer win fans and critics will make the case that he earned victory only because Nadal was exhausted from Saturday. Or Nadal’s knee flared up and hindered his ability in the title bout. Perhaps it will be the case.
But that said, I think these days we are quick to give players an out. “Well, he played 4 hours yesterday, how can he possibly recover within 24 hours?” My answer, why not? If he’s knee is okay then Nadal should be fine. And if he is emotionally drained the Spanish fans should help get him back up.
For Federer though, this may very well be his best and perhaps last chance at a win over Rafa on clay. And Roger is playing well this week. Despite a hiccup against Roddick, Federer’s been playing some of his best tennis of the year and he’ll obviously need to continue that and serve well today against Rafa.
If you read the recent Sports Illustrated piece, much was made of Federer’s unwillingness to change tactics against Rafa. Well, if Roger can conjure up a new plan of attack against Rafa, maybe employ the drop shot more, run around the backhand and be aggressive on Rafa’s serve, then who knows.
But as we all saw yesterday, Nadal simply refuses to lose. It’s Nadal in straight sets.
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