Poll: Who’s Your Early Favorite To Win The US Open? Murray Is Mine!
by Sean Randall | August 20th, 2013, 5:11 pm

The draws will be out on Thursday, but before then here are my initial thoughts on the upcoming US Open men’s favorites.

1. Andy Murray
He’s the defending champion and he’s won three of the last five biggest tournaments (including the Olympics), and reached the finals at the last four Slams he’s entered. The US Open was his first Major win so despite a lousy 2-week summer swing I expect him to be fully re-energized and motivated again in New York. That said, he could have to beat Federer, Djokovic and then Nadal to defend! Wow!

2. Rafael Nadal
It’s hard to deny that Rafael Nadal is playing the best tennis of anyone this year. There’s really no one close. He’s got 9 titles in 11 events and on hardcourts he hasn’t lost since March of 2012! Of course he did miss the last half of last year with that knee, but so far so good this season. All seems to be magically clicking. And while he hasn’t played Murray this year (or really since the fall of 2011), he has wins over Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro on hardcourts! If he can avoid the long matches early on and be fresh for the final – remember it’s on a Monday so he’ll get a day off to recover from the semis – he’s going to be awfully tough to beat with a title on the line.

3. Juan Martin Del Potro
After his poor finish against John Isner in Cincinnati I thought about dropping him further down, but as a former champion I think (what I really mean to say is: I hope) that he’ll come good in New York. Delpo’s had a great year playing pre-wrist surgery tennis (though his other wrist is acting up as is his back) and the hardcourts are his favorite surface. Like Nadal, if he can stay fresh early on he’ll be that much better late in the tournament. What would really bolster his chances is if he lands in the Ferrer quadrant.

4. Novak Djokovic
The 4-time Australian Open champ has only won the US Open once, but it seems like he should have won it a few more times for someone who’s been to the semis six straight years. Djokovic has a great game for the slick surface and right now he’s as healthy as anyone. But he comes in on a shortage of confidence. Djokovic admitted to playing horribly in a loss to Isner last week and his most recent title came four months ago in Monte Carlo. The magic from 2011 is long gone, we know, but did anything else leave him as well?

5. Roger Federer
He’s the 5-time champion but with just one top 10 win this year it’s hard to see the 32-year-old doing much damage. Could Roger rev up the crowd, turn back the clock and beat a Djokovic in a quarterfinal night match on Ashe? I think he certainly could. But for him to then follow it up with two more big wins is too much to ask. Like Del Potro, if he finds a nice, soft place in Ferrer’s section, then he gets some upsets, watch out.

Tomas Berdych: Played well in Cincinnati and beat Federer at the Open last year, but in late stages of tournaments the Czech still checks out.

John Isner: Had the summer of the life but will he have anything left in the fuel tank for New York? All it takes is one 5-setter and that usually spells doom for the giant in Majors. The fast courts help his serve but it hurts his return, so expect more sets filled with breakers, drama and eventual fatigue.

Milos Raonic: Beat a substandard Del Potro in a controversial win a few weeks ago en route to his breakout Canadian final. But mentally and emotionally I’m not convinced he can duplicate that success at a Slam. At least not yet.

Jerzy Janowicz: Flamed out this summer but on a fast hardcourt has the game and the fire that the US Open crowd would get behind. Question is, can the surprise Wimbledon semifinalist give them something to cheer about?

David Ferrer: A former US Open semifinalist, he was having one of his best years until August hit. And now he comes into the US Open with little momentum. Although, he’ll be helped by the best-of-5 format so if he gets some good wins early he could reemerge as a viable threat again in week two. And he always seems to play his best at the Majors!

I’ll have more once the draw comes out but with really only Nadal playing good tennis right this very minute among the top guys (maybe Berdych, maybe Delpo also), this could turn into another surprising weekend of semifinalists as we have seen the last month or so. The days of the Top 4 walking their way into the semis appear to be over.

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143 Comments for Poll: Who’s Your Early Favorite To Win The US Open? Murray Is Mine!

the DA Says:

Oh no you didn’t! :(

Agree with all the players but in a slightly different order.

James Says:

The winner of the US Open series.

P.s.- I’d have Novak Djokovic ahead of Del Potro.

Jason Says:


grendel Says:


if one goes simply by what you have written, then Nadal and not Murray is the favourite. That’s my reading of you. And I agree with that, to throw in my one and a quarter cents.

Brando Says:

My take:

1- Novak Djokovic:

Why? I hear you exclaim immiately at my picking him:

(1) He’s the best on HC. Period. The king of HC in the big one’s until further notice.

(2) Slams are different from MS: best of 5 is a different beast to best of 3. Taking 3 set’s from this guy really is only a plausible possibility for just 3 players- Muzza, Rafa, Delpo. That’s it.

(3) Pedigree at USO: Since 2007 he has been: RU, SF, SF, RU, W, RU. So you know he’ll be there in the SF at least. Year in year out he is there.

(4) Recent slam performance on HC: From Jan 2011 he is: W, W, W, RU, W. That’s a insane 4?5 from the last 5 HC slams he has won. He lost in the 5th set in the other! He’ll clearly be there when it comes to deciding who win’s the entire thing.

So he’s my fav regardless of recent events for him.

In Joint 2nd spot:

– Andy Murray: defending champ, different beast in slams.
– Rafael Nadal: form horse.

4. Juan Martin Del Potro: The best from the rest IMHO.

The rest:

I won’t bother with since I see no one outside these 4 winning here this year.

Brando Says:

immediately > immeiately.

Another error in a day full of brain farts from your truly!

Polo Says:

I’ll still pick any of the top 4. In my book, the top 4 has not changed. Federer is still there. Federer has a good chance if Nadal gets out of his way.

Polo Says:

I didn’t really pick, did I? Hahaha! I am confused, that’s why!

Brando Says:

‘Federer has a good chance if Nadal gets out of his way.’:

The story of his career since 2008.

Would he REALLY have won:

– FO if Rafa were there in the final? NO.

– Wimby 2009? NO, if Roddick can push him to the limit then Rafa would have knocked him completely beyond it.

– AO 10′? See their AO history.

– Wimby 12′? Again i’d say NO.

Put simply:

Since 2008 Fed’s chances at winning ANY slam are dramatically linked with Rafa’s fate.

IF Rafa’s across the net to him: we ALL what’s going to go down.

IF Rafa’s out: then his chances rise.

It’s a blunt thing for me to say but: it’s the harsh TRUTH.

Deep down: his fans know that’s truly how it is!

Not knocking his wins at all: but saying it like it REALLY is for Fed!

skeezer Says:

Rafa hands down winner,,,,,,, unless he comes up lame from playing too much on the HC with his knees. Whats up with that anyways, did he get new knees?

skeezer Says:


Feds fate lies in “5 setters”, not Rafa. I would much rather him go straight set wins till he meets Rafa and think he would have a good shot against Rafa. But that is wishful thinking.

Ben Pronin Says:

“if Roddick can push him to the limit then Rafa would have knocked him completely beyond it.”

One has nothing to do with the other. I agree about the French in 09, but not about AO 2010, either. They’ve played really close both times. Maybe in 2010 Fed would’ve pulled through.

As far as this year goes? Yeah, putting Fed on a favorites list is wishful thinking.

James Says:

Federer will either fall in the first week or reach the semis (unless he’s in Rafa’s quarter).

hawkeye Says:

Fed is 0-2 in hard court majors vs Rafa (and Fed was two years younger the last time) so, yeah, likely not happening in 2013 over five sets.

In terms of USO favourites, I agree with Brando who agrees with current oddsmakers.

hawkeye Says:

As far as Fed’s fate not related to Rafa? Please.

2009 FO
2009 Wimby
2010 AO
2012 Wimby


Polo Says:

Brando re: Nadal-Federer: “It’s a blunt thing for me to say but: it’s the harsh TRUTH.”

Truth hurts. That’s how I have always felt in any tournament where Federer and Nadal are entered. If somebody else takes care of Nadal, Federer’s chance of winning rises exponentially. Otherwise, he’s doomed. And that is almost always the case.

Ben Pronin Says:

If we’re just going to name events that Federer won without facing Nadal then how about all of the slams Nadal won without facing Federer? Or at least own up and admit that Nadal owes Federer big time for the 2011 French Open title.

hawkeye Says:

Not to mention pre-Rafa years:

2003 Wimby
2004 AO
2004 Wimby
2004 USO
2005 Wimby
2005 USO

Ben thanks for reminding me!

Why would we name majors Nadal won without facing Fed? He’s been a non threat to Rafa in majors since 2007 when Rafa was just 21. 0-5 since.

And why does Rafa owe Fed for 2011? Since when did Nole beat Rafa at the FO in a best of five?


skeezer Says:

You guys act like Rafa has never lost to Fed. Last time I counted he beat him 10 times which includes Bagel on Clay, 2 GS finals…etc. C’mon ladies!
Fed took Rafa to 3 tough sets just recently @ 32. Hell yeah he has a shot, like I said if he doesn’t burn out in 5 setters in the mean time and gets through the draw.

There is no doubt Rafa is hot, favored, and playing some of his best tennis ever. Same thing happened to Djoker in 2011, hottest player on tour, then he ran into Fed on Clay and stopped his run cold.

just saying….

Peter Says:

I want to pick Djokovic (who I am convinced helped Murray along to his two slam titles), but his health seems to be off. The human body is complex – perhaps the downsides to his extreme diet are now manifesting themselves two years later? Or perhaps there’s a bit of tennis burnout?

In regards to Federer, sad seeing him a dark horse. Everyone likes a standout and he was head and shoulders above the rest 2004-2007 (you could count his losses on one hand, almost). However, such is sport.

James Says:

LOL @hawkeye, a Slam is a Slam whether Fed won it against Rafa or Almagro. They count. I don’t know why Brando had to bring up this Fed-Nadal Slam thing. I don’t see how Fed’s gonna win the US Open even if Rafa gets eliminated by another player. But in case Fed surprises us all and wins the Open, he’d have earned it imo. Legit. But won’t happen. Not this year.

Brando Says:

@Skeezer and all Fed fans who touched upon this:

By now folks are familiar here- the regular ones- with how I write most of my posts: pretty bluntly.

I’m a ‘call a spade a spade’ kinda guy.

So what I say here forth is what I genuinely believe and it’s no sugarcoated soothing story:

I respect Fed greatly. I admire his game immensely also: and I regard him as the GOAT without a second’s hesitation.

Yet his record v Rafa is a different matter.

Put simply: the h2h just does not lie.

It paint’s the picture of one guy clearly struggling with the game of another. Had they not been as esteemed, legendary figure as they are, with major fan bases, by now folks would have unanimously called it for what it is:

the clear success of one over the other.

Let’s just look at the simple facts- as they matter the most:

– It’s 21 – 10 in Rafa’s favor. That’s colossal.

But let’s look at Fed’s 10 win’s. IMHO some of those wins folks genuinely in the tennis community thought MAYBE either Rafa should have won or was expected to win.

This is NOT an attempt to discredit Fed’s wins- he earnt and DESERVED every single one of them. Rather it’s an attempt to show how even in his win’s the problem’s Rafa creates for him are apparent.

The following:

1. Hamburg 2007: On clay, Rafa was 6-2 up- obviously he was the fav here to win. Fed’s win was a surprise v a unbeaten on clay Rafa. Is it unfair to say a top form Rafa would have won here? I think not.

2- Madrid 2009: On clay, Rafa was the fav here to win also pre- match. Fed’s win was a surprise.

So far that’s 2/10 matches were Fed’s win was a real surprise or that rather most expected Rafa to win these matches.


3- Miami final in 2005: Rafa was 2-0 up and in Fed’s OWN words: he should have wrapped it up. He didn’t. Fed won. But the difficulty in gaining the W is obvious here for Fed.

4. Wimbledon final in 2007: In Fed’s OWN words on court: he was LUCKY to have won. Understandable for him to say so: Rafa won his set’s 6-4 6-2, and Fed won 2 of his set’s in very tight tie breaker’s. Add to that Rafa having BP chances in the 5th set then you can understand why Fed felt as such at the time.

IMHO: Fed was better on the day, but again: look at how difficult getting the W was for him.

So far that is 4 matches from his 10 wins that: either Rafa was expected to win, should have won or was very near to winning.

That CLEARLY underlines the difficulty for Fed in beating Rafa.

You could also argue:

5- IW SF in 2012: Rafa was the IMMENSE fav pre- match. We know that. Yet, Fed outplayed him on the day. Kudos to Fed for that.

IMHO Fed ONLY has 5 wins v Rafa were he was the fav to win or completely outplayed him or Rafa NEVER really was on his level:

the 4 INDOOR wins and Wimbledon final 2006.

So what the hell are you trying to tell us Brando?


1- When the numbers are 21 – 10 in favor of one player over the other it CLEARLY indicates that one guy really has a clear edge to the other.

2- When you look at 4/10 wins for Federer over Nadal being matches that on another day could- and MAYBE should- have gone Rafa’s way, then that just further under lines how immensely difficult it is for Fed to beat Rafa.

Fed deserved EVERY one of his wins over Rafa. But barring the indoor matches and Wimby 2006 he clearly was either 2nd fav to Rafa going into the match or was facing a Rafa who very nearly walked away with the win himself.

All of this leads me to believe:

The fate of the match whenever these 2 meet- outside INDOOR court- depends on Rafa.

IF Rafa executes him game plan to it’s complete degree and play’s his best then there is a 99% chance he will win.

He clearly has a in Federer the perfect match up for him.

This h2h could quite plausibly have already been 26 – 6 today: which is an absurd notion, yet when you look at my reasoning’s above: a clearly plausible one.

Put simply:

A guy with Fed’s game- i.e. the one handed BH- is fated to struggle against a Nadal.

Just look at Wawrinka’s h2h v Rafa: 10 – 0 and NOT a single set won by Wawrinka.

It just tells the story IMO.

Hence, why I believe what I have said:

Fed is the GOAT, but for obvious and apparent reason’s IF Rafa plays his best tennis against him then you can virtually guarantee regardless of the circumstances with Fed: that Rafa will more than likely win- BARRING indoor court’s.

And what really gives it away is the demeanor of Fed on court v Rafa: he always seems subdued, somewhat intimidated and has the look of a man who know’s he is really up against it.

Sorry for my long post: but this is my honest 2 cent’s on the matter.

I hope no Fed fan feels any offense as NONE is meant whatsoever.

skeezer Says:

Rafa turned pro in 2001

Ben Pronin Says:

Wow, hawkeye…

Gotta agree with James. The days of Federer only having Nadal to worry about are long gone.

Peter, agreed.

Polo Says:

When Nadal beat Federer in 2008 for his first Wimbledon title, I felt very sad for Federer. Wimbledon was supposed to be his the way the French Open was Nadal’s. Nadal invaded his turf and beat him. Something that Federer could not do against Nadal at the French.

Brando Says:

‘Nadal owes Federer big time for the 2011 French Open title.’:

I have always believed that:

1- Fed needs to send a cheque to Soderling for beating Rafa at FO 2009.

2- Rafa needs to send Fed a cheque for beating Novak in FO 2011.

Had neither loss not happened then you can almost say that the winner would have been someone else in those 2 year’s.

Ben Pronin Says:

Brando, I’ll be honest, this is where I stopped reading: ” IMHO some of those wins folks genuinely in the tennis community thought MAYBE either Rafa should have won or was expected to win.”

Really? Wanna go through the list of wins by Nadal that Federer should have won? Or was favored to win? Has Nadal ever beaten Federer while losing more points? No. Has Federer ever beaten Nadal while winning more points? Yes. Shoulda, coulda, woulda, as they say. Nadal wins more than 2/3 of their matches and you’re seriously going to nitpick?

Golden Child Says:

Since bowing out of the Cinci masters, I’m confident that No1e has undergone extensive hypnotherapy with his team shrinks, to re-capture his 2011 confidence, drive and mindset.

For the remainder of 2013.. some (1.) has a score to settle and will thus re-affirm his superiority over the other top guys.

My prediction is watch No1e b*tch slap all of his rivals at the US Open and claim his 2nd US Open title.. in the process shutting up the ‘non-believers’ and critics.

James Says:

“There is no doubt Rafa is hot, favored, and playing some of his best tennis ever. Same thing happened to Djoker in 2011, hottest player on tour, then he ran into Fed on Clay and stopped his run cold.”

skeezer, Fed is 32 not 50 something. He can still beat Djokovic on a fast court. But against Rafa, I don’t know. Nadal has always done well against guys he dominates, Berdych, Gasquet, Ferrer, (sorry but) Federer too. Fed played his best but Rafa still took him down. And last time I checked Fed hasn’t beaten Rafa in best of 5 since 2007. So…

Brando Says:


I FULLY know what you mean. Rafa has won matches that folks expected Fed to win.


The reason why I did that analysis of Fed’s win is because Rafa has the 21 – 10 and widely recognized match up advantage v Fed.

We know Fed is up against it when he faces Rafa.

The difficulty in gaining his wins just further underlines aside from the 21 – 10 stat just exactly how difficult it is for him to beat Rafa.

Put simply:

Barring Indoor courts, Fed really is at a major disadvantage v Fed on most outdoor courts.

James Says:

Fed played his best but Rafa still took him down.

*Fed played his best in Cincy match

Ben Pronin Says:

I don’t disagree, Brando. But who knows what might have been had Federer converted on one of those match points in Rome back in 06? Or didn’t let Rafa overwhelm him some other times? Heading into 2008, the rivalry was only 6-8. A real rivalry. But those few losses that Fed had by those thin margins ate away at his confidence while building Nadal’s. Had it been 8-6 instead, maybe we’d be discussing a 16-15 h2h instead. While Nadal’s game naturally bothers Federer, I will always maintain that it was what was between the ears that did him in.

Nowadays, these 3 losses Fed’s had against Nadal, they’re irrelevant to me. Federer’s old, Nadal is still clearly in his prime. And they were just Masters events. Not that they’re not important, but they’re not doing much on the legacy front. Nadal won’t have to worry about his record titles being over taken any time soon, and Federer gets upset at these events all the time. It’s nice when they can play a match like they did in Cincy, but it’s just not that important in the grand scheme of things.

Brando Says:


Re Cincy match:

I completely agree.

Fed stunned me with how well he played there. He really rolled back the year’s in his performance there.

The stat’s for him were just, put simply, phenomenal.

He was close to faultless and their really isn’t much you could argue that he did wrong- if at all.

And yet he still lost.

The outcome was the same as it is on most occasion’s.

Still a classic match in the Fedal catalogue.

James Says:

“While Nadal’s game naturally bothers Federer, I will always maintain that it was what was between the ears that did him in.”

That’s how I see it too.

Brando Says:


What a great post you wrote there: kudos to you for that.

Some thoughts:

-‘I will always maintain that it was what was between the ears that did him in.’:

And this Rafa fan agree’s with you completely.

At some point in time I genuinely think Fed thought: I can handle all the others, but against this guy i’m in some deep trouble and i’m not too sure I can overcome them at all.

I think mentally is where Fed chucked in the towel and it’s translated into his tennis v Rafa on court.

Similar to what happens in life: as soon as you give something up in your mind- you’ve had it!

-‘ It’s nice when they can play a match like they did in Cincy, but it’s just not that important in the grand scheme of things.’:

Again: I completely agree.

Rafa’s wins over him now do not really add to what we already know. The stat’s favoring him even more does not really alter the picture that has been painted already.

Yet: matches like Cincy just remind everyone that forget the h2h: when these 2 BOTH play at a high level near their absolute best, then the tennis fan is in for a real treat.

For me -at their best- these 2 together create the best contest a tennis court has ever witnessed since they really are 2 masters of different styles that together bring out a level of play that truly is transcendent to whatever anyone else can bring.

I think this fact sums it all up:

BJORN BORG never went to Wimbledon post 1981. He turned up once in the 2000’s for a legend parade. That’s it.

He then turned up in Wimby 2008. He was asked why? He replied:

Whenever Nadal v Federer meet I always try to watch since I love watching them play one another, and after the 2007 final I knew I had to attend this one.

Post match he called it the greatest match he had ever seen.

Fedal at their best > the rest!

James Says:

@Brando, agreed. For a few moments was like oh no I hope Rafa doesn’t lose to Fed now. Not in Cincy (you know how his fans always said Rafa’s not good in Cincy blah blah). I thought Fed would have beaten any other player that day.

Jamie Says:

Murray has been jinxed….

Nadal will win the USO.

Polo Says:

Federer-Nadal matches will always be the best matches in tennis There may be other really great matches but none even comes close because of the stature of the protagonists, arguably the two greatest tennis players of all time doing their best to beat each other. It is like watching gods at war. Each of their matches is a spectacle where one may lose yet everybody wins.

Hawkeye Says:

Long live Naderer. GOAT rivalry.


Steve 27 Says:

40 years of the ATP
Will Rafael Nadal be numberr 1 at the end of the season?

hawkeye Says:

James Says:
LOL @hawkeye, a Slam is a Slam whether Fed won it against Rafa or Almagro

Completely agreed. I was just contesting skeezer’s statement that Feds fate lies in “5 setters”, not Rafa.

Also, skeezer Says:
Rafa turned pro in 2001

Yes, I know, he was F-I-F-T-E-E-N.


Polo Says:

#CouldaWouldShoulda never happened. They are as meaningless as an unremembered dream.

Jamie Says:

Nadal will win his 13th slam at the USO this year.

The Great Davy Says:

#6 The Great Davy

A.k.a only reason Nadal has undefeated this season… he never run into me.

Golden Child Says:

@ The Great Davy

That and because he’s upped his ‘supplement’ dosage ;)

Rafa Armstrong…kinda has a nice ring to it..

Steve 27 Says:

GreatDavy, you are the truly GOAT!
Please, do not quit until Rafa can reverse the head to head with you

Debo Says:

“Rafa hands down winner,,,,,,, unless he comes up lame from playing too much on the HC with his knees. ”

What does it mean ?

A healthy Rafa never loses ???

Are we not talking about a fast hard court grandslam which is favorable to the current world number one ?

Debo Says:

Polo Says:
“If somebody else takes care of Nadal, Federer’s chance of winning rises exponentially. Otherwise, he’s doomed. And that is almost always the case.”

Grendel is right. You have become a Nadal fan. Be prepared to face the music from the gangsters.

Debo Says:

“how about all of the slams Nadal won without facing Federer?”


autoFilter Says:

“Brando Says: …Fed stunned me with how well he played there. He really rolled back the year’s in his performance there.

“The stat’s for him were just, put simply, phenomenal.

“He was close to faultless and their really isn’t much you could argue that he did wrong- if at all.

“And yet he still lost…”


As far as I’m concerned there is one and only one definitive thing Federer did wrong that caused him to lose the match: he didn’t challenge that last, decisive call. Personally, I wonder if he might’ve been more inclined to do so if not for his accumulated confidence issues regarding Rafa… concerning which I agree with Ben (and James) that “While Nadal’s game naturally bothers Federer, I will always maintain that it was what was between the ears that did him in.”

Debo Says:

“Has Nadal ever beaten Federer while losing more points? No.”

Wrong. IIRC Rafa has won around 4-6 matches against Federer while losing more points (Ex. AO 2009).

skeezer Says:


“Completely agreed. I was just contesting skeezer’s statement that Feds fate lies in “5 setters”, not Rafa.”

Just so we’re on the same page, I was referring to Feds chances in THIS USO, not past stuff. It’s clear @ 32, consecutive 5 setters ( as an example ) is going to be taxing. My assumption was based on IF ( I know, its an IF ) Fed happens to get a decent draw and doesn’t not have to get into too may 5 setters PRIOR to meeting up with Rafa. Under that assumption imo I give him a shot at beating him. That is my hope. Am I delusional? Probably. Especially with the way Mr. BullButt is playing.

Pitchaboy Says:

Nadal was pre tournament favorite for Wimbledon 2012 and 2013. He will likely suffer similar fate at USO. This Open is really open.

hawkeye Says:

Oh, nevermind then, my misunderstanding.

Well, not delusional, just wishful and sure it’s possible given the USO is faster than the AO hard courts.

So, can he do it?

Hypothetically yes, technically no.

(I know, I know, makes even less sense than when Milos said it.)


hawkeye Says:

GreatDavy, you didn’t look so hot when I was in Montreal retiring to Popsicle 3-0 down in the 1st set. What a bum.

Would love nothing more than Rafa to meet Mr. Clean’s Mini-Me at the USO.


Polo Says:

Debo said, “Grendel is right. You have become a Nadal fan.”

Have I? I will just say that I have become more appreciative of his talent. Lately, it does not even bother me when he beats Federer as much as it did before. I’d rather that Federer lose to Nadal than anybody else. Federer is permanently entrenched at the number one rank in my book.

roy Says:

i don’t think federer is mentally weak against nadal, i think it just looks that way because of his style. he has a live by the sword, die by the sword style and the price of that style is error-strewn patches. against many players he got away with it and still does. against nadal it’s come unstuck much more.

federer is DELUSIONAL and i think he believes he will win every time he plays nadal. look, even after that last match he made a comment along the lines of he ”should” have won the match. because he won one set? he thought his tactics were working. etc. the man is delusional, but that often equals MENTAL STRENGTH.

i also think nadal’s mental strength makes federer appear to crumble simply because of relativity. basically that nadal DOESN’T crumble like so many other players have against federer. this doesn’t mean that federer is mentally weak against nadal though, it just means nadal is matching him and you don’t see federer with a normal edge.

and finally people need to understand that skill-wise nadal is better than federer in all round play. he didn’t use to be, had big holes in his game early on, but has improved many things.
federer has the better serve, that is obvious. federer’s transition game is slightly better. but nadal has a MUCH better return game. his forehand is no less, his backhand is better, his defense is better, his passes are better … and nadal is tactically more astute.
so nadal is beating federer probably more so on tennis ability than mental ability.

the problem for federer fans is that they don’t acknowledge how good nadal is as a player, have spent years calling him a talentless grinder, or some kind of ”hard trier” who has had to compensate for pretty mediocre skills etc.
so if you start with that foundation then clearly you have to frame federer’s losses as simply mental problems.
because how else could such an inferior player dominate federer?

oh, the forehand ot backhand trick, right? which magically didn’t work on blake or youzhny back in the day, and never was decisive against gasquet or kohls etc., the same trick federer could have used on nadal in mirror image if nadal had a weak backhand…
yes, well, the mental excuse is still the best coping mechanism i suppose. because it means federer IS still better, it’s just he needs some ocunseling.

Pitchaboy Says:

Federer is a stubborn man who never worked on his game after he hit the top. As a result, in all these years, he has not adapted to Rafa. Nadal, on the other hand, has constantly reinvented himself. After getting his brains beaten in 2011, he adapted and is now on equal terms with Novak. Fed would have folded if he lost 7 straight times to a player. Nadal is hands down the most resilient player ever.

Pitchaboy Says:

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is Feds approach to Nadal. Borders on stupidity.

skeezer Says:

“and finally people need to understand that skill-wise nadal is better than federer in all round play”

Now that, IS delusional. But its “roy”, nothing taken seriously here.

Humble Rafa Says:


Cool it. 17, your GOD has hit the dumps. Time to get off the bus and join Humble Nation, where prosperity still reigns.

moam Says:

Nadal’s comeback has been nothing short of astonishing. With each knee injury, experts have written him only to have to eat their words.
So happy to have him back in the mix. He unfailingly brings compelling presence to this game we all love. He is a proven commodity.

skeezer Says:

And Humble Rafa farts again…..gassing the blog with smelly nothingness. Got a job yet?

WTF Says:

Final is on a Monday now? Is that only if it rains on sunday, or permanent change? Sounds weird.

metan Says:

Murray is mine!. Thank you Sean. It is tasty, no. ☺

Michael Says:

My favourite would only be Rafa to win the US Open. He is looking in ominous form and the only man who can stop him is Novak and not Andy. Novak is my second favourite to win the title and I think Del Potro too has a big chance. Andy comes fourth in my list of favourites to lift the title. His abysmal performance at Montreal and Cincinnati didn’t give me confidence that he will shine in US Open.

Klaas Says:

Interesting stat comparison of Federer in his top years in US open 04-08 and since then, 09-12. All his percentages have suffered a bit, which you would expect as the rest of the field slowly has resonded to his incredible high level. But on one facet he has really deteriorated, where everybody else has become better: his return game has dropped from 45procent winning points in his top years to 31 in his later years. Unless he improves that somehow, it is difficult to see him winning another slam. It was also his return gane in wimbledon this summer which did him in, albeit against a perfect performance from a serve and volleyer.

Polo Says:

Nadal must be the toughest minded player out there. He always fights as hard as he can to the end. He never looks dejected even when he is losing. When he loses a match, he has the look that says, “I’m gonna get you next time”. And he does. After losing so much to Djokovic in 2011, he now has regained the upper hand in that rivalry.

the biggest fan Says:

vamos rafa u can do this stay helthy please good luck

Kimberly Says:

I follow Brando and Vegas. Djokovic, co seconds of Murray Nadal, Federer, del Potro.

Giles Says:

If only fed won the 3rd set instead of the 1st in Cincy!! Fed would have won, no?? Lol.

Vvx Says:

“As far as I’m concerned there is one and only one definitive thing Federer did wrong that caused him to lose the match: he didn’t challenge that last, decisive call.”

Please!! If Federer was playing that well he wouldn’t have faced match point in the first place!

The reason Federer was beaten in Cincy is the same reason as it was back in 2004 Miami: Nadal’s game is better.

There are only two significant things that Roger does better than Rafa (in their match up):

a) Serve
b) Aggressive backhand slice

Everything else, Rafa is as good or better.

The area where Roger is significantly worse than Rafa is on the backhand side. Rafa’s backhand is technically so much better and much more solid. Roger has problems dealing with topspin to that side and he is also prone to shanking when he has to make his own pace off slow balls on the backhand side.

That is the territory where their matches has been fought from day one. Federer is trying to find Nadal’s backhand and vice versa.

Do you know how many points Federer won in Cincy on his own service when Nadal found the backhand with the return?

ONE!!! In the whole match he won only ONE POINT in that circumstance. That is where he lost the match, that is where he loses all of the matches against Nadal.

I said earlier that Federer does two significant thing better than Nadal. He also does one insignificant thing better than Nadal: plays the game more elegantly. Unfortunately this insignificant thing distracts too many observers from the technical errors on the backhand side which make him so vulnerable especially against Nadal.


Tennislover Says:

If we are talking about “early” favorites, it has got to be Raf.

Tennislover Says:

“But on one facet he has really deteriorated, where everybody else has become better: his return game has dropped…”

I agree that Fed’s return game has deteriorated significantly although this is not a very recent phenomenon. The drop is sufficient enough to reduce his ability to put his opponents’ serve under pressure with any kind of consistency and this puts his own serve under more pressure especially against quality returners. In his prime, his return game was good enough to build sustained pressure on most opponents even if he lost his own serve sometimes.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Rafa has to be favourite. How he can dominate the summer hard courts and not be the favourite to anyone is weird. His great serving and aggressive game look an awful like his form in 2010 USO.

I put Novak second, Murray third, Del Potro and Federer tied for fourth.

Nirmal Kumar Says:

roy 10:19 : I think it’s one of the most sensible post i read here for a long time regarding fed – rafa rivalry.

Skeezer Says:

…against Nadal
…against Nadal
…against Nadal

So its all about against Nadal?

Nope. Its all about against the field. As much as the Rafa fans want to discuss it, that is not the way the game rewards titles. And Fed so far has been the very best at it.

Imho Fed has either been too stubborn, unable, can’t, or won’t against Rafa. Fed has (had?) one of the best backhands ever. Rafa just knows (and has that one shot, the high ripping action Forehand ) that Fed never has an answer for that shot to his BH.
Its a bad matchup fo Fed. Plain and simple. And Rafa loves it. So does his fans ;).

Hades Says:

`I want to pick Djokovic (who I am convinced helped Murray along to his two slam titles), but his health seems to be off..`

Yes he helped him Peter,
Willfully lost in straights to assist Murray.
He’s actually part of Murray’s medical insurance plan.
But then you knew that didn’t you?

Hades Says:

Another thing Nadal has played an awful lot this year,
All of these finals entered and won. He should be a favourite but I’m not convinced he has it in the bag at all.
2013 is not like 2010 and he has not really looked unbeatable going into the US open, whereas last time when he took it, he did.
Novak and Andy have been off but there’s nothing like a slam to bring you back into form.

Vvx Says:

Against the field Rafa is better. He has a massively positive H2H against the entire Top 30! That is a level of domination that Federer never ever achieved.


Federer is five years older than Nadal and has had more time to acquire titles. I will be surprised if by the time Nadal retires he hasnt caught Federer for total number of titles and/or slams. Only injury can stop him IMO.

Ben Pronin Says:

This is just hilariously ridiculous. If you go by what the Nadal fans are saying, Federer is no better than Murray.

Federer’s technique is flawed, he doesn’t work on his game, and Nadal is the only guy he’s ever faced who gave him any competition.

Well, in that case, forget GOAThood, Federer doesn’t even belong in the hall of fame.

Vvx Says:

@skeezer. “Fed has (had?) one of the best backhands ever”

That is just silly. From just the current players, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Del Potro, Berdych, Ferrer, Wawrinka and Haas all have better backhands never mind Edberg, McEnroe, Borg, Agassi, Laver, Kuerten…. etc etc from the past. His backhand isnt even Top 20 on the all time list IMO.

Alex Says:

God, you Nadal fans are stupid. Only a matter of time before Tennis-x closes down. Cause no one wants to read this sh$t.

You people have no idea what you’re talking about.

Go have a Vamos party and look at underwear pics already. You people are like a broken record. Its garbage and I wont read it, neither will 99 percent of Tennis fans. Only the delusional underwear club that never get tired of hearing how Nadal is the best yada yada freaking yada. Worst bunch of fans I’ve ever come across.

The stupidity of these self serving, brainless comments. A new site should be made just for these sheep. Let them hang out together and talk Vamos all day, I dont care. The fact that tennis-x is no longer a place for intelligent tennis talk, just a place for the underwear club to meet and worship there Armani God., is upsetting. Something has to be done or this site will not survive.

Thomas Says:

Federer’s backhand is great…if you include the “sliced backhand” as part of the ability to hit a backhand.

MMT Says:

What am I missing here?

Isn’t Nadal the clear favorite? He actually has fewer losses on hard courts than he does on clay this year, and he’s won everything leading up the US Open, so why on earth would Murray be the favorite?

autoFilter Says:

“Vvx Says: Please!! If Federer was playing that well he wouldn’t have faced match point in the first place!”

So does Rafa not get any credit at all then or? Seriously, though, I think they both played incredibly well. Sure, they had some lapses too, but overall they played tactically sound tennis that reached some astounding heights.

skeezer Says:

“Against the field Rafa is better. He has a massively positive H2H against the entire Top 30! ”

Then why doesn’t he have 17 Slams?

Ben Pronin Says:

MMT, Sean really wants Nadal to win so he’s trying not to jinx him.

Alex Says:

Federer has more Slams at AO,Wimby and NY…But hey, our underwear God does everything better. He was injured, he has a better H2H, he was injured…Hes so Humble…Hes the best, yada yada yada nonsensical yada yada puke!

Debo Says:

“Then why doesn’t he have 17 Slams?”

Because he is not yet 32 yrs old.

MMT Says:

“While Nadal’s game naturally bothers Federer, I will always maintain that it was what was between the ears that did him in.”

Sorry, but this is a total nonsense. Tennis is not chess – it is a physical activity that requires physical ability, technique and tactics (which naturally reveal themselves when you have the technique).

It’s true that if you lose to a player over and over again they will be in your head, but that’s hardly the reason you’re losing. You’re losing because your game doesn’t match up, and you don’t have solutions.

The rest about mental this and mental that is jibberish, perpetuated primarily by reports who don’t understand the game, and coaches who can’t coach.

Brando Says:

LOL: outside the matchup, h2h you have got to give to Fed: his records are simply amazing. Rafa’s are quite obviously amazing too- let’s face it: he ain’t a pauper when it comes to having great records of his own is he?- but Fed’s are just phenomenal. Both are immense v the field, but overall Fed’s stats are GOAT stuff. The record books speak highly of both, but Fed’s are just better. Period.

WTF Says:

Ben Pronin Says:

“If we’re just going to name events that Federer won without facing Nadal then how about all of the slams Nadal won without facing Federer? Or at least own up and admit that Nadal owes Federer big time for the 2011 French Open title.”

Firstly, most of Nadal’s slams have required him to beat Federer. That includes the first 6. He won the USO and one Wimbledon without facing Federer. Most of the FOs required him to face Federer except in later years where Fed is a non factor anyway. In the events he made the finals (win or lose) without facing Federer because Fed didn’t make the final, it looked pretty likely to me that Rafa would have beaten him anyway if he did, especially those Wimbledons where he lost to people like Tsonga, and Berdych.

As for the 2011 French Open title where he owes Federer big time.. I’m not really sure how or why? Is it because he took out Djokovic? In 2012 and 2013, he proved he could beat Djokovic there, and I was one of the chief doubters of that. That and the years he’s faced him there prior to 2011.

The two have clashed 5 times at Roland Garros, with Nadal 5-0. What favor does he owe Federer? He’ll take all comers, including Soderling which he did the following year after losing to him. It wasn’t pretty…

He was definitely a big threat to him there in 2011, but I think it’s premature to say that Nole was ready to win RG that year. It’s a big limb to go on to say that he would have beat Rafa.

the biggest fan Says:

not yet skeezer not yet

Ben Pronin Says:

MMT, then why do we always hear Djokovic talk about how a match was decided by a few points here or there. And Nadal and Federer are always harping on how important confidence is.

When Federer loses a match like in Rome this year 6-1 6-3, then yeah, his game didn’t match up (and he played horrible).

But what about Rome 2006 when he had match points? And narrowly missed a forehand that he’s made 1000s of times before then and 1000s of times since? That’s mental.

I’m sure the Nadal fans will disagree (because how could they not) but Federer’s mental woes against Nadal were so so so apparent last year in Australia. At the tail end of sets 3 and 4, sets that Federer could have won, he made some of the most ridiculous errors I’ve ever seen. The shot selection, the errors, just everything disappeared for those few crucial points that ended up determining the sets and the match.

Just yesterday I read an article about a study done on why athletes choke. Why is it so easy to make 2 free throws in the middle of a game but when the game is on the line, you brick it? Even though it should be so easy? Because you overthink things and that causes you to choke. It’s the same thing here. When it’s crunch time, Federer starts to overthink and it has cost him. And, for a long time, it was only against Nadal. Considering how instinctive Federer is, overthinking even a little can wreak havoc on his game.

MMT, to say that it’s just physical illustrates a severe misunderstanding of sports and the connection between the mental and the physical.

the biggest fan Says:

hey alex relax

Vvx Says:

@skeezer: So why doesnt he have 17 slams?

a) Nadal is five years younger. Federer didnt have 17 slams at the age of 27 either.

Vvx Says:

@autofit: re Fed vs Nad in Cincy

“Seriously, though, I think they both played incredibly well.”

if winning only one point in the entire match on your serve when your opponent returns to your backhand is playing “incredibly well” ….. then Roger played incredibly well.

However that brand of “incredibly well” will never be good enough against Rafa over three sets let alone five, except possibly on a lightning fast indoor court.

MMT Says:


Having the technique to win from time to time does not mean that one’s technique is sufficient to always win or even win regularly – for example, in USTA ratings, higher rated players, although technically superior, are not expected to NEVER lost to a lower rated player.

In short, $#!^ happens.

But if a player matches up better technically with an opponent, they should win more often, which is the case with Nadal and Federer.

And I’m sure you know this, but I would remind you that a few years ago a study showed that Nadal’s shots averaged about 1/3 more spin than Federer’s, who averaged 1/3 more spin than everyone else in the game. Therefore, at the most basic level, to assume that hitting a shot (any shot) against Nadal is the same as hitting it against anyone else is a safe, but TOTALLY INCORRECT assumption.

Physically it is not, therefore problems hitting shots against Nadal is merely evidence of the technical difficulty Nadal poses to Federer (and frankly all other players, for that matter), and not some mental hold he has. Of course if you lose all the time, a player is going to be in your head, but are you losing because he’s in your head, or because you lack the technique to beat him (consistently)?

Furthermore, how confident do you need to be to beat your grandmother? You could lose 100 matches in a row to the worst players in your club, and you’ll probably still beat her, because your technique and physicality are superior, end of story, and no amount of confidence will save her. Why would it be different for the pro’s?

Perhaps because of a presumption of technical omnipotence?

Fore example, if I hit an inside out forehand that I’ve hit 100 times against others for winners, that Nadal gets back in play, then miss the next one is it because Nadal is in my head? I didn’t imagine it – he did get it back in play, right?

Or is it because if I hit it like I always hit it he’ll get it back (because he’s physically and technically superior), and I really don’t have a solution for that (since against everyone else I don’t need it) and (surprise surprise) I don’t have one except to try to hit it harder and harder, and subsequently miss it.

That’s not mental, that’s physical. Nadal gets to the ball and has the balance and strength to get it back in play AND he has the TECHNIQUE to do something with it. There’s nothing mental about that – it’s actually happening, and most importantly he doesn’t really have an answer for it.

I think the problem is that when Federer plays as well as he can, he appears to be technically omnipotent – capable of doing whatever he wants, whenever he wants, so when he comes across someone against whom he doesn’t have it so easy, you assume, “Well, he’s omnipotent so it can’t POSSIBLY be technical or physical, so it MUST be mental.”

But no player (including Nadal) is omnipotent – all players do somethings better and some things worse, and sometimes what your opponent does well just happens to align with what you do poorly. That’s the case with Nadal and Federer – the key to overturning that is technical solutions – but they don’t grow on trees.

You’ve pointed out Rome 2006 as a prime example, but I’m wondering why you assume he should have won that match, rather than ask yourself how Federer was even that close? Let me put it to you this way, had Federer before, or has he ever since, been further out in front of the field technically than he was in 2006?

That’s a better explanation for why the match was so close, rather than searching for an invisible force (confidence) that governs all and determines whether you win or lose.

Of course a player who is technically superior is more confident – why wouldn’t they be, they’re technically superior. But are you winning because you just magically woke up more confident, or because you’re technically superior, have more solutions to problems and are thus more likely to win, and THUS (after all that other stuff) more confident, or have belief, or whatever snake oil the Chris Fowler’s of the world are trying to sell us?

Recently Toni Nadal dialed back the importance of sports psychology, stating here (http://www.tennis.com/pro-game/2013/07/uncle-toni-i-talk-rafa-during-matches/48355/):

“Toni Nadal added that he sees little value in using sports psychologists, and added, “In the tennis world, those who are mentally stronger, are also technically stronger.”

I’m guessing if you asked him, what matters is the technical, and the mental follows it. I’m not saying players who get better results are more confident, either in the abstract, or against particular players, but what is the source of that confidence?

It’s technical and tactical solutions to technical and tactical problems – nothing more, nothing less.

Polo Says:

Re: Federer vs Nadal

Federer is clearly the more accomplished player.
However, Nadal is better than Federer.

When Nadal wins his 17th major, all this talk comparing the two will end. But until then, the debate continues but Federer remains the best tennis player based on his lifetime achievement.

hawkeye Says:

What difference does it make?

I happen to agree that tennis is as much mental strength as it is physical talent.

At the end of the day though, if Fed missed points he should have made, it really makes no difference because he could not execute the mental strength required.

Rafa has that strength against the Top 36 over the long term. He adjusts more than just his shorts, no?


hawkeye Says:

Vvx, skeezer is not one to let all the facts stand in the way of some good ol’ cherry picking.


josh Says:

I agree with the list for the most part. But let’s be honest, it’s going to be tough for Federer, most of his fans are in denial like he is. He can no longer hang with the top tier players, like Nadal, Murray and Djoker. My feeling is that he’ll lose in the quarterfinals. I believe Nadal is the favorite, along with Murray. If Nadal stays healthy and keeps his early matches short, he’ll be tough to beat. Even Murray won’t overcome a healthy Rafa. Djokovic has to prove himself at the USO. He’s been mentally out of it many times this year, and has seemed tired by the time he reaches far in the tournament. I feel he’ll be upset.

MMT Says:

I take your point about pressure and choking, and actually I agree with you – but my conclusion is not that choking comes from the pressure of the moment revealing your technical failings. It’s like if you “sort of” speak French, and speak it with someone else who “sort of” speaks French, you may fool yourself into feeling fluent.

But step off a plane in France, and you’ll discover just how little French you speak. Amongst real francophones we discover exactly how limited your french is.

It’s the same with pressure imagine that same analogy, but now put a gun to your head with the knowledge that the trigger would be pulled with each grammatical error.

I don’t think we disagree on what happens, we just disagree on the cause, and since tennis is a physical activity, to assume that the main reason is mental is falling for the “post hoc, ergo propter hoc” fallacy.

You definitely lose confidence when you lose, but you don’t necessarily lose BECAUSE you have less confidence. I think you lose because you lack the technique and tactics.

hawkeye Says:

A good example of poor mental strength is Milos Raonic. His strength is obviously his serve.

His weakness is ROS and the ability to rally consistently.

However, I’ve seen him occasionally rally extremely well, sometimes over an entire match or two so he has the physical mechanics.

Over the last year, he has gotten progressively worse. It is so bad now that even his first serve percentage is dropping.

That is mental.

Similarly, why does Isner do so well on American hard courts than in Europe and Asia? With that serve, he’s never gone past the second round at Wimbledon?

That is mental.

MMT Says:

The second half of that first sentence should read, ” – but my conclusion IS that choking comes from the pressure of the moment REVEALING your technical failings.”

Vvx Says:

Excellent post MMT 12:03

one more stat from the Cincy match:

on the backhand side Federer hit two winners and made 45 errors, playing ‘incredibly well’ according to some.

that isn’t a mental problem, that is a technical problem. if it were a mental problem, the forehand would be just as bad.


MMT Says:

hawkeye – it matters because if you want to reverse a trend, and you think the cause of that trend is mental, then you address the mental. But if you think it’s technical/tactical, then THAT’S what you should address.

It matters if you want to get a different result. It matters if you’re paying someone to coach you, and they give you this pseudo-psychological drivel about belief and confidence and no technical solutions.

As a matter of fact – if you want to reverse a losing record to another player, and you spend your time trying to figure out why you don’t “believe” you can win, that’s likely to make you even more crazy.

You’d be better off adding shots, then adding tactics, all in the context of one’s overall strategy, then wasting time and effort, and possibly making things worse, by trying to figure out how to “mentally” improve.

You’ve heard of the sophomore slump – do you think that’s mental, or do you think the field has your figured out and you haven’t sufficiently improved to stay ahead?

I think it’s the latter.

Perfect fan Says:

Hey u guys…wats the matter..wats all this whinning about…huh!
Well I have to say this..”FED is GOAT”. Period. :)

Ben Pronin Says:

MMT, we’re just going to have to disagree.

1) Remind me what sport Toni Nadal dominated? Oh right, none. Not credible enough to make a call on sports psychology.

2) From what you’re saying, Nadal should never even lose a point to Federer, which makes no sense. If sports were as simple as who’s superior technically then we’d never get close games or matches. Who’s better between Nadal and Djokovic? One school of thought says Djokovic is a bad match up for Nadal and yet Nadal has the superior h2h. Most interestingly, their last 2 matches have gone down to the wire. Nadal winning 9-7 in the fifth and 7-6 in the third doesn’t sound like he’s technically superior, he was able to step up more in crunch time. That’s mental.

3) I completely disagree on what happens when you choke. I guess you didn’t read the article, but the reason you choke is because you overthink. Your muscles have their own memory and they know how to shoot the ball, they know how to hit the forehand. But when the pressure is on, your brain starts to take over and things don’t flow as naturally as they should. That’s not revealing a technical flaw, that’s creating one on the spot. That’s mental.

Tennis x Hippy Chic Says:

Brando@ 10.59am One the most sensible posts ive read all day.

Tennis x Hippy Chic Says:

This sites turning into trash talking again.

MMT Says:

Come on, Ben. Toni Nadal doesn’t have to have dominated tennis in order to have insight into Rafa’s success. Harry Hopman was an average player who produced great champions, and Jimmy Connors was a great champion who is turning out to be a crappy coach – this is not insightful at all.

And item #2 is a strawman of the first order – I gave you the example of USTA ratings specifically to illustrate that technical superiority does not guarantee victory – it just makes it more likely.

Finally, for #3, just name me a single free throw shooter in the history of the NBA who had fundamental flaws in their shot, but still had a good free throw? But I can’t point to quite a few “clutch” free throw shooters who have good technique – the reason they’re clutch free throw shooters is because when under duress (from stress or fatigue, or whatever) their technique saves them – but shooters like Shaquille O’Neal cannot be saved by their technique – so it fails them in the clutch.

But yes, we’re going to have to agree to disagree, because I know this “belief/confidence/mental strength” thing is like a religion – despite all evidence to the contrary, and common sense, it’s heresy to suggest that the difference between the best and the rest is NOT in the mind.

Ben Pronin Says:

Just because Toni has produced a great champion doesn’t mean he understands sports to a tee.

Ok for 2.

The point is that a guy like Ray Allen has botched free throws when the game was on the line simply because the game was on the line. (Shaq is a horrid example of this, he was simply a bad FT shooter regardless of pressure or lack thereof).

How about the 2007 US Open final between Novak and Federer. First set was the best example of this. Novak is free flowing, going for his shots, outplaying Federer. All of the sudden he has set points and he gets tight. Starts making horrible errors that he wasn’t making before. And you could see it in his technique. But the reason his technique started going wonky was because he knew he had a set point and thought too much about it.

All of the evidence is not to the contrary. If Nadal wins a set over Federer 6-2, then ok, he’s just better. But when it’s 6-6 in the tie breaker itself, these points are completely mental. Humans have a hard time NOT thinking about this. Has this just never happened to you? I had this happen to me just yesterday. I know how to solve a Rubik’s cube using some algorithms. At this point, it’s purely muscle memory for me. I can’t tell you the steps, but if you put the cube in my hands I’ll just be able to do it. However, there’s a step now that I’ve completely forgotten because when I was trying to do it I thought so hard about it that I completely messed myself up. I haven’t done it in a while so my muscle memory was shakey. However, the weirdest thing is that I did it once in the morning, and then when I tried doing it again, I kept messing up. At this point I don’t know how to do it at all. But when it started happening, it was because I kept thinking about it when I should’ve just let my hands do the work. Mental!!

autoFilter Says:

“Vvx Says: if winning only one point in the entire match on your serve when your opponent returns to your backhand is playing “incredibly well” ….. then Roger played incredibly well.”

This is entirely disembodied. The fact you cite does a wonderful job of illustrating a place where Federer does not match up well with Nadal, but for Federer playing well means letting this happen as little as possible and creating opportunities to take advantage of areas where he does match up well.

But, hey, if you are bent on insisting that a guy who has won 9 of 10 finals in 11 tournaments this season and just became one of the few in history to complete this hardcourt double was stretched to 3 by such horrible competition, don’t let me stop you. Come on, though, even Nadal himself said Federer played awesomely in that match (and poorly against Haas).

Vvx Says:


I came into this debate because you wrote this …..

“As far as I’m concerned there is one and only one definitive thing Federer did wrong that caused him to lose the match: he didn’t challenge that last, decisive call.”

….. implying that Federer played the perfect match and was just unlucky on the final ball.

All I have tried to do ispoint out where I believe Federer lost the match, which was his impotent backhand throughout the match.

2 winners and 45 backhand errors against Nadal was never going to be good enough and IMO is what he did wrong.

Federer has still an amazing serve and one of the best forehands that tennis has ever seen. Add in outstanding movement, great hands that can turn defence into attack and massive ,ental strength on the big points and we understand why he is an amazing player and why he has had so much success.

He just isnt technically as good a player as Nadal. There is no shame in that, hardly anyone in history would have done any better than Federer against Nadal let alone the current Top 40.

hawkeye Says:

MMT, the sophomore slump in tennis can be either.

If there is little mental aspect, why do many players tighten up and get broken or serve more double faults when serving for a set or match?

MMT Says:

This will be my last comment and then I graciously give you the last word. I agree there is a mental component to sports – tennis included, but at the end of the day, they are irrelevant to the improvements and changes needed to get better results.

I just can’t stand all this business about mental strength because I don’t think it helps anyone that needs help, and I honestly believe that it is a symptom not a cause. I also hate the way certain coaches, broadcasters and reporters exaggerate the imporance of mental strength because, let’s face it, we’re all amateur psychologists while it’s much harder to come up with a technical explanations than a mental ones.

Ben Pronin Says:

Well, that, MMT, I fully agree with.

MMT Says:

Full disclosure, Harry Hopman was actually an above average player. He won multiple majors in doubles and mixed doubles – particularly at the Australian Championships, but certainly not as good any of the 10 best Australians he captained in Davis Cup.

Okay, that’s it – I promise.

Tennislover Says:

“There is no shame in that, hardly anyone in history would have done any better than Federer against Nadal let alone the current Top 40.”

That is a huge assertion you make there. You seem to have taken Raf’s stats vs the current Top 40 a bit too seriously. Since they are ruled out, what about the current no. 41 or no. 45. ;)


hawkeye Says:

Nadal said through a translator,” I don’t care at all.” “Frankly, what words could I find to tell you? I mean, what else can I say? I try and play my best tennis, and the least of my concerns is to know if I’m favoured or not. These are words that will be carried away by the wind”.


Dan Martin Says:

I’d put Rafa as #1 or the Form Horse however one wants to explain it he is entering playing great and with a ton of confidence. Murray is interesting for 2 reasons: 1 Lendl told a young Sampras all that matter are the slams and that he wished he had learned that sooner so maybe Murray is sandbagging a little. I recall Lendl getting rolled by Noah only to destroy Noah a few weeks later in the Aussie Open semifinals. 2. We’ve yet to see Lendl’s game plan for Murray facing Rafa – I want to see that! Nole also has a strong case. These are the top 3, Delpo is probably 4th but double faulting when up match point is not boding well for his mentality at the moment. Those are the 4 players with a 5% or greater chance of winning the event. Roger is a wildcard, but he will need a nice draw to win 7 matches so no one should totally discount him especially if he plays the way he did for 2 sets against Rafa in Cincy. Jerzy is in some sort of swoon.

Skeezer Says:


Agree;mental. Oh wait…what did hawkeye say about that? LOL.

Teeg Says:

Rafa/Novak/Andy are joint favourites in my book. IMO, Rafa needed a stronger showing in the summer events over Nole and Murray to ease the sting of his showing at Wimbledon. Those wins catapulted him to joint favourite. Murray seems to only play well in the Majors and Novak is the best on hc so all in all its sort of evens out. I just think who ever half Murray lands in (Rafa or Novak) is gonna have it tough to come back and win the final. Impossible: no. Extremely difficult: yes. Anyway, looking forward to a great and exciting tournament and hoping for a Rafa win!!!

Nina Says:

@Ben Pronin. In this game, everything is mental.

By the way, heart says Novak, head says Nadal. We will see what happens.

I am one of those few who think Murray can’t stand the Nadal test? They haven’t played in two years but as i remember Rafa always had the edge on him in a big way.

Kimberly Says:


Lets do it everyone! Bracket challenge. Sign up for group. Chat, compete in a friendly manner and be merry!

Humble Rafa Says:

I hope I don’t get jinxed by Sean again. That’s my biggest worry.

The Great Davy Says:

Amazing news everyone.

For one time, I have landed on Nadal side. Away from the Tennis God…

…He is still ranked #1, right? Or…

Ram Says:

Draw is out. Djokovic and Murray are landed in the top half. Nadal, Ferrer, Federer are in the bottom half. Nadal meets Federer in QF.

Top Half QFs (Projected)
Djokovic vs Del Potro
Murray vs Berdych

Bottom Half QFs (Projected)
Nadal vs Federer
Ferrer vs Gasquet

Teeg Says:

Yeah, possible Nadal/Davydenko 2nd rd.

Rick Says:

Sean, you picked Murray. Because you hate Rafa! But, you’re a jinx! And why are you sure that, Fed would not had early exit like he did at Wimbledon?

skeezer Says:

^lol and who is not?

Oh yeah…that Sean guy….

skeezer Says:

Tiggy doesn’t count.

nadalista Says:

Tiggy picked Novak to win, that does not count?

Slice Tennis Says:

What happened to our world no.1 who is a hardcourt specialist ?
Why is he not the favorite ?
Is he not capable of standing up on his favotite hardcourt against the clay courter ?

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