Why Is Federer Beating Nadal Now? He’s Not Scarred Anymore
by Tom Gainey | October 15th, 2017, 2:58 pm
  • 76 Comments

After today’s title in Shanghai, Roger Federer has now won five straight matches over rival Rafael Nadal. But Federer acknowledges, he’ll never catch Nadal in their head-to-head which the Spaniard leads now 23-15.

“It’s not going to happen,” said Federer of levelling his series with Rafa. “We don’t have enough years left on the tour, and we’re ranked too good that we play each other only in finals at the moment. It looks like that’s going to stay like this for a few months more. So can’t win them all against Rafa, to be honest. He’s too good of a player.

“I’m just excited I’m on a good stretch right now. Head-to-heads? Yeah, sure, I would like it to be different, but I have utmost respect for Rafa. It’s been a tough matchup for me, and I tried my best. I have played him a lot on clay in the beginning of my career. No problem. I tried. I was close on many occasions, but he’s better on clay. I try to win the other ones that I can, and this year has been great so I’m happy about it.”

Federer also explained why he’s suddenly able to beat Rafa, and he’s done so convincingly of late winning the seven sets without Nadal reaching five games in any of them. But, he revealed, tough losses would linger in the past.

“I just think I’m not so scarred like maybe I have been in the past, not that I was horribly scarred in any way, but I did lose against him sometimes, a lot of the times especially on the clay courts,” Federer said. “I do believe I still lost that Wimbledon final in ’08 because of the French Open beatdown he gave me. It just affected my first two sets when I played him at Wimbledon.

“But, yeah, I think I have also played him well. Clearly avoiding him – not playing him on clay has helped,” he said. “So I’m able to stay on the hard courts or on faster courts against him, but I have been playing very well when I have faced off against him.”

Federer and Nadal could meet again in just a few weeks in Basel, then in Paris and also at the ATP Finals.


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76 Comments for Why Is Federer Beating Nadal Now? He’s Not Scarred Anymore

Margot Says:

No, I don’t think Rog’s “scarred” or even “scared.” Does no-one proof read any more? Or did Daniel’s phone write this headline?


RZ Says:

@Margot – actually Fed himself used the word “scarred” in referring to his losses to Nadal. “I just think I’m not so scarred like maybe I have been in the past.” In the article above and also on the ATP site.


Okiegal Says:

@Margot……Good one….the Daniel remark…….loved it!! There is no proof reading going on anywhere! Our local newspaper goofs up all the time. It’s getting hilarious………Maybe Roger was scarred from the lop sided H2H and got scared to play Rafa……now he’s got 5 in a row against him and no longer scared………Whatever…..lol!


Giles Says:

Maybe he’s upped the dosage of the magic potion


Pamela Says:

whatever the reason is, I am enjoying it to the fullest. I think he played really well yesterday and it was a pleasure to see. I love that he had many 3 setters to get to the final, but beat Rafa in 2 sets. It appears the tables have turned and I do think Rafa is starting to dislike playing Roger these days. It is always a pleasure watching these 2 play each other….


lylenubbins Says:

My take is he adopted an “I’ve got noting to lose”, mentality at the 2017 AO and that opened the mental door for him. Good on Roger! Plus it helps that Rafa gives opponents more middle of the court balls than he used to.


SG1 Says:

Rafa’s forehand still has a tendency to come up short at times. Guys like Kevin Anderson are hard pressed to make him pay for that. Federer has altered his game (and his approach to hitting his backhand) to make Rafa pay for those short balls and take away his time. The other reason Federer has handled Rafa a little better this year is Rafa’s serve. It’s better than it was last year but it’s not as nasty as it’s been in the past which gives Roger a chance to get into every point. Combine all of these circumstances with Roger’s new racket (which is a little more forgiving), a new coach and I believe this is why Roger has turned the tables on Rafa.

In 2018 (or perhaps earlier), it will be up to Rafa to counter Federer’s strategy. I remember in 2011 when Novak beat Rafa something like 7 times in a row. Rafa found a way to adjust and reverse the trend. He’ll have the same challenge next year assuming that 2018 Federer is similar to 2017 Federer.


SG1 Says:

At 23-10, Rafa did own Roger. 23-15 is considerably more even and respectable. It basically equates to Rafa winning 3 out of 5 matches. Not outright domination when you consider that Rafa played Roger on clay a lot early in Rafa’s career.

The feather in Rafa’s cap is that he’s beaten Roger on his best surface at a slam in what many people consider the best match ever played. Roger has been unable to beat Rafa at the finals in the FO despite quite a few chances to do so.

As for those saying that Federer is ducking Rafa by staying away from the clay court season, this is hogwash. The guy is pushing 37 years old in a sport that is more physical than it’s ever been. He’s not going to forego chances to win USO’s and Wimbledons because he’s drained by the perils of an FO run. I doubt that Rafa will even be competitive at the FO in 6 years from now. You have to compare apples to apples. Federer didn’t stay away from the FO in his early 30′s.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Backhand first.
Mental “un-scarring” second.

Roger would never have been in a fifth set in the AO final without the improved backhand.

it’s impossible not to be impressed by the resiliency Roger showed in that comeback. The truth is, he HAS been scared of Rafa, and he has choked before. Their previous AO final is the prime example. But the BH has done the heavy lifting, and it is that BH that Rafa will need to gameplan around for the future. Not that it is Roger’s greatest threat, but it takes away the pattern Rafa used relentlessly.

Rafa is a much more multifaceted player than Fed fans like to admit. He will find new ways to play Fed.


Willow Says:

I Always get the impression that fans tend to prefer rivalries where their favorite player has the monopoly, Rafa fans loved the Fedal rivalry because he did, probably not so much now though, Federer fans were not keen, but seem to be enjoying it more now,Novak fans were always raving about him playing Rafa and Andy as he was schooling both ….


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Willow, as a Fed fan I don’t mind a fairly even rivalry as Fed has had with Novak and Andy. I didn’t like being on the receiving end of a beat down rivalry.

Fed vs Rafa have given us some of the greatest matches of all time, particularly the last two Wimby finals. But its also given us some periods of pure Rafa dominance. No, that is not fun as a fan!

Even after this streak, I would NEVER anticipate a Rafa match as Fed being a big favourite, as I would before a Stan or Berdych match.


Frank frankovich Says:

The 23 to 15 in rafa’s favor could have been only 21 to 17 if roger had a little luck. Roger is still the GOAT


Daniel Says:

SG, interesting take on turning the tables, but where was it that Nadal was able to turn the table agaisnt Novak? On clay in 2012, precisely in MC after Djoko’s grandfather passed. He won another match and than in RG 2012 was ready and pumped up again.

Clay shifted that trend in their rivalry.

Nadal won’t have clay to buold his confidence and tactics against Federer. The mnatches are played on Fed’s terms and pace these days and on surfaces better suitted for Fed.

Whats is against Federer is father time, he will be 36 and a half next year and eventually he will have more bad days. Of course, with them rakned higher they will play less each other, only in finals.

Nadal may beat Fed again, but I think at least till end of 2018 the trend will reverse and Fed will win every 2 out of 3 matches.

They will probably play one more time this year in London. Nadal will 90% miss Basel and hard to see they playing another finals in Paris (that would be great, but don’t think so).

Also Nadal is getting older and hard to see him playing at his fullest level past 35.

His knees is already in douebt after a long season with 70 plus matches played already.


Willow Says:

Tennis Vagabond thats true, i was always irritated by some of the Novak fan base saying how amazing the Novak / Rafa rivalry, or the Novak / Andy one was, because my two favorites Rafa and Andy were always on the recieving end of beatdowns, so it wasnt alot of fun for me, and having to hear the over bearing cliches, of it been high quality tennis, where the matches couldve gone either way, and the sets have always been tight, when they still lost time and time again, a loss is still a loss whichever way you cut it ….


Giles Says:

Daniel. Fed is a chicken! Doesn’t want to face Nadal on clay, wants fast surfaces which the tourneys lay on for him. Pfffft.
Rafa is not afraid to face fed on his preferred surface!!


Daniel Says:

Giles,

Ask Nadal to play Halle?! But it won’t matter because he won’t make finals on grass anyway…;-)

Federer doesn’t need to play on clay anymore, he needs smart scheduling at his age and its paying off.

It’s like Fedal have an arrangement of lately, Nadal keeps the Number 1 ranking to improve his #1 records which are not worthy of a wannabe GOAT and Fed improves his HxH with Nadal, which always was what the antiGOAT debated ad nauseum. So, all sides win! peace out.


leo Says:

“Fed is a chicken”. Chicken beats the Bull! :-D

Don’t be hatin’. Be celebratin’


skeezer Says:

Giles is just showin his jealous hate, 5-0 @36 lol…


Okiegal Says:

@Giles 1:26…….That was a good stat to digest……..thanks for that reminder!…Rafa still owns him, for the time being! We will see what the future holds for Fedal……hopefully no bad knee probs for Rafa…..and a healthy back for Fed!! Win lose or draw….still enjoy their rivalry….hope they are able to play a long time!!


Giles Says:

Daniel. “ at his age” !! When it suits you guys you bring up his age . Pfffffft.
Rafa and grass are done due to his knees. At least he plays the grass tourneys and doesn’t hide in the woodwork like
fed has done avoiding the clay tourneys. # 🐣


Giles Says:

^^^ Just in case you’re not in the loop, Rafa’s contract with Halle ended a few years ago. It’s one of the inferior grass tourneys anyway.


skeezer Says:

“.. at his age” !! When it suits you guys you bring up his age …”

His age IS relevant now…he’s 36….not even close to his twenties anymore. He’s closer to 40 than 30. You just can’t handle that he is beating up on his main rival at 36.

I think it is AWESOME he is not playing Clay anymore. Good riddance on that surface. He has his 19 Slams including a GS on Clay. He doesn’t have anything else to prove, it’s all gravy baby. LET the others chase. What a ridiculous argument to make..

Okie,
Rafa is 13-2 on Clay. He owns Fed on Clay, and Fed knows it. All the other surfaces? Just sayin….


Humble Rafa Says:

Can’t spell “scared”. Does not understand the proper utilization of important words like ownership.

It’s all downhill.


Humble Rafa Says:

When I have to correct someone’s English, it is their worst day.

Any more mistakes and I am calling the Kia Motor guy from the Australian Open to correct your mistakes.


Tennisfansince1976 Says:

@Giles perhaps you are right and Fed has upped his dosage of magic potion to match the quantity that Rafa imbibes😉


Okiegal Says:

@Skeezer 5:12…..yeppers I am aware of that. Question??? But why doesn’t the GREATEST OF ALL TIME….excel on that surface? Just wondering….,,I think with GOAT status he should eat that surface up too. And of course you want GOOD RIDDANCE TO CLAY and I want GOOD RIDDANCE TO HARD COURTS……we’re at an impasse here……it seems! Lol


skeezer Says:

Okie,
Errrr you’re forgetting grass, HC fast / slow? Ahem..


t4t Says:

Giles @11:31am
Fake goat can down magic potion with impunity as ATP/ITF are his lackeys. I heard that tests are done only by prior appointment! So much for surprise tests!


Okiegal Says:

Skeezer…I haven’t forgotten about those other surfaces. My argument here and now is strictly about GOAT issue……why isn’t Fed better than Rafa on clay if he’s the greatest player of all time?? I won’t reiterate what I said at 9:11……


skeezer Says:

Why isn’t Rafa better than Fed on Grass, HC, indoor, at #1? There is NO other player that has the most, and the most slam wins on ALL surfaces. Not rocket science.


Margot Says:

RZ: it was a bit of a joke at the expense of a bit of hyperbole. I would love Daniel’s phone to write some headlines… …..;)


Daniel Says:

Margot,

That would be somehting, writeing as it comes out, Be aware!

Oki,

Federer doesn’t need to be better than Nadal on one particular surface. Nadal game is perfect for clay and eve Djoko who has the most wins agaisnt Nadla on clay will probably end his career with a 1 out of 3 ratio of clay matches won agaisnt Nadal. Nadal placed a standard so high for him that is almost a no metric at this point.

Federer has to be better than the whoile field on several differnt venue all year long. And that he proved, all the records shows it.

Not beating Nadal on clay has nothing to do with being GOAT, yu don´t have to beat all the players, all the time, in all surfaces. It´s not like it works.

You can’t have it all, GOAThood is about records and leats gaps. And the one with the most records and the leats gaps / flaws is federer.

all other past and present tennis players and all time great have flaws and gaps in their resume.

You don’t need to be perfetc to be the GOAT. Of course, it woudl be easier, if a players have a perfect resume: Slam record, #1 records, weeks and YED, WTF, MAsters, hxH agaisnt all field, Reocrd Slasm in all surfaces.

But than we would need a player with the followying:

- 29 Slams (Federer currently leadr with 19)
- 8 Wimbledons (Federer)
- 5 USO (Federer/Sampras)
- 9 RG
- 6 AO (Federer second)
- More than 302 weeks as #1 (Federer)
- 6 Year end #1 (Federer 2nd)
- 6 WTF (Federer)
- 30 Masters (Federer 2nd)
- 109 titles (Federer joitn 2nd)
- Positve HxH agaisnt all players he ever played on his career. (Negative ahgains NadaL)
- Olympic Gold (Federre has silver single and gold doubles)
- Davis Cup (Federer has a title)

If you looks at this least Fed is #1 or top #2 in all categorys, excpet RG and HxH with Nadal.


Giles Says:

Daniel. I remember a couple of years ago you were flaunting joker’s achievements, counting slams he was yet to win, counting Masters he was yet to win, declaring him the GOAT blah blah. Eventually joker had to bow out of the tour for several months not achieving any of the great stuff you forecast for him. I call that jinxing!! And now you are doing exactly the same thing to fed!! JINXING. Lol.


t4t Says:

Daniel, What is the significance of 29 slams, did you mean 19?
Assuming you meant 19 , even then the list is inconsistent:
You lay out the requirements that the hypothetical player must fulfill to be the GOAT.
He must EQUAL the best today in 8 parameters i.e # of slams, number of total titles, titles at Wimbledon, USO, AO, WTF, # of Masters titles and number of year end # 1s.
He must be BETTER in 2 i.e. # of weeks at #1 and h2h
He must be WORSE in 3 i.e. RG, Olympic gold and Davis Cup.
Nadal has 10 RG, Murray has 2 Olympic Golds and Nadal has at least 3 Davis Cup titles.

Incidentally, Fed has negative h2h against BOTH Nadal AND Djokovic. Also, at least one insignificant negative h2h against other players ( eg Delbonis).


t4t Says:

I agree with Okie. Fed must beat Nadal’s record at RG to be in the running for GOAT.
Also he must stop getting the benefit of “lucky” draws, favorable scheduling and courts speeded up “just so” to suit him (eg Australian Open).
A level “playing ground” must be created…..before Fed can stake a claim to be the GOAT.


Daniel Says:

Giles,

I always said Djoko has the potential to be GOAT, yet to be seen.

Always said Fed was the GOAT, don’t distorce. Right now, after this year, think is imposible for Djoko to catch Federe, but he still has a cnahce to catch Nadal. first he has to ctach Sampras first;-)


skeezer Says:

“Fed must beat Nadal’s record at RG to be in the running for GOAT.”
t4t expressing her/his tennis knowledge. Goes right along with “getting the benefit of “lucky” draws, favorable scheduling and courts ..” LMAO.


Daniel Says:

t4t,

that list is what a PERFECT player would need to be GOAT with todays actual records, hence a player will need 29 Slams. That is the only way this hypothetcial player could be #1 leader in all Slams.

If you do the exercise I did for any othe rplayer, they wouln´come near Federer. Let´s do it for Nadal:

- 29 Slams (Nadal 2nd with 16)
- 8 Wimbledons (Nadal not even top 5)
- 5 USO (Nadal is co-5th joint with Lendl)
- 9 RG (Nadal leadr with 10)
- 6 AO (Nadal not even top 10)
- More than 302 weeks as #1 (Nadal 6th, not evn 200 weeks)
- 6 Year end #1 (Nadal has 3, going for 4, would be in 4th place)
- 6 WTF (Zero for Nadal)
- 30 Masters (Nadal co-leader with Djoko)
- 109 titles (Nadal 6th)
- Positve HxH agaisnt all players he ever played on his career. (Nadal with no flaw in His HxH, no bad record agaisn any player)
- Olympic Gold (Singles medal)
- Davis Cup (Nadal has a title)

So, it’s clear for evryone to see, Nadal has only positive results for HxH, Davis Cup, Olympics, leader in Masters, leader at RG and second Slams Total.

Every other metric, the most important ones, Slams and #1 he is not in top 3. Individual Slams his best is 5th, #1 he is not 5, Year end #1 he is 5th, no WTF.


t4t Says:

Daniel, there is an obvious attempt by you to discount the achievements of Nadal and Murray. So to be considered the GOAT, you have to equal or exceed Federer and Djokovic’s achievements but you could be behind Nadal or Murray’s? What kind of logic is that? Incidentally Murray has TWO Olympic Singles Gold and Nadal has at least THREE Davis Cup titles.
#PatheticFedCultLogic


t4t Says:

In other words, Daniel, you consider titles at RG as not important. So while the hypothetical GOAT must equal or exceed the titles won at AO, USO and Wimbledon, he need not exceed it at RG. Incidentally how are 29 slams and 9 RG arrived by you as the criteria for GOAT?
The glaring biases you show in setting out the criteria take away any credit you might have otherwise received for compiling the GOAT list.


Giles Says:

Nadal not playing Basel.


t4t Says:

correction….instead of “he need not exceed it at RG”, it should read as, “he needs to win less at RG”.


skeezer Says:

HR needs to chime in: “I am really good at one thing. That is why I have 10. All other things not as much as RF.”
—-
Why is DC & Olympics a part of the GOAT discussion? Never heard that criteria was a critical factor, like, ever
—-
“The glaring biases you show in setting out the criteria take away any credit you might have otherwise received for compiling the GOAT list.”
This sounds like t4t.


SG1 Says:

I never imagined two players would blow by Sampras’ 14 slams so quickly. And there’s another player on the proverbial doorstep. Pretty sure that even Pete is shaking his head.


Daniel Says:

No t4t,

I am not discounting RG. I am saying that the Perfect player would have to be the leader in all categories, incluidng 10 RG.

But we know this is impossible, so my argument is the GOAT is the one closer to all these parameters. And right now is Federer, way above. Actually is Federer since 2009.

My point is empirical, records, amount of records, ranking inside those records and by elimiantion to achieve a result.


Willow Says:

They should re-name this site GOAT-X, each to their own, but i think people are too invested in it, why not just enjoy your own favorite and the tennis they play and all their achievements, but maybe thats just me ?


Daniel Says:

Sorry t4t, I typed wrong 9 instead of the 10 RG Nadal benchmarked.

29 Slams = 8 Wimby + 10 Rg + 5 USO + 6 AO.
This is the total Open era records set by differente players. Whihc, Fed is leader in 1, co-leader in another and second (1 away) in a third one..


Okiegal Says:

@@Daniel…..As we say in Oklahoma you better lick your calf over…….Fed 29 slams?? That would be correct if he had Rafa’s ten……..you wish! Did I read that wrong or were you meaning to convey another thought??? Confused??? Oh don’t forget Fed’s weak era that the commentators have been known to bring up?? Lol I make it clear I think the era was loaded……Rafa Nadal would be it!!

They’re both champions in their own right but I don’t like the greatest of all time status……. all time could be 500 years from now and we don’t what future holds for tennis…..someone could surface better than Roger……I think greatest of an era would be more fitting.


Daniel Says:

Smart move by Nadal to not play Basel.

He can rest and recharge 2 weeks before Paris, where he can clinch #1 depedning on how Federer perfoms in Basel and Paris.

With these news pretty sure Fed will now play Basel. Depednign on what happens there he can quit the race or not, and focus on WTF.


Okiegal Says:

Oops…..slow getting my post on……Daniel discovered the error of his ways……goody goody gum drops!! I thought grandma had lost it for a moment…….


Okiegal Says:

@Skeezer….I never claimed to be a rocket scientist…..glad I’m not….that has nerd written all over it!! Lol


Okiegal Says:

@Willow 12:45 Sometimes I wake up in a argumentative mood……please forgive! But I get so sick of the GOAT talk I could hurl! Redundant and obnoxious! Oh and regarding Novak…..I dare to think how things would be had he been healthy body wise or mentally….don’t have a clue what his problem is but just as quickly as he was the man on top of the world he went away….. I was looking at H2H last night and Roger and Novak all tied at 21-21 as and Rafa 24 Novak 26. I wonder when Novak gets back into the mix how he will do. Should be interesting. Anxious for Andy too. Rafa skipping Basel….no surprise there. The number one thing and how Rafa finishes the year makes no difference to me…..crap I’m tickled pea green he’s even playing…. who’d a thunk it with all of his prior problems. May the force be with the big five….. I included Stan as he’s won slams lately………but not Cilic…..Have a great day Willow!! Oh enjoy our chats on FB!


Okiegal Says:

@t4t….Thanks for agreeing with me…..not many do! Lol


Willow Says:

Okie i love your posts, weve been mates now for years, so theres nothing to forgive, i dont know what will happen regarding Novak, and people here seem to talk about him being out injured like hes the only one, they seem to forget Andy and Stan are also two all time greats going through the same thing, thats my personal irritation, Rafa and Roger have both had amazing years, so i believe both fan bases can sleep easily in their beds at night with their achievements, i loved their speeches at the trophy presentation the other day, and what good friends they are now, and actually as Van Orton pointed out the other day, the fan bases seem to be more cordial with their favorites rivals, err shame that lasted about five minutes though lol ….

BTW Also love our chats on FB, and i err told him to skip Basel, think he was listening ;-) ….


Daniel Says:

OKI,

the 29 Slams will be the hypothetical number a player would havbe if he had the max Slams in alls ingle one: 8 Wimbe + 10 RG +5 USo + 6 AO.

Not Fed’s tally. What thsi player will need to be perfect in all Slams accordingly to Fed´s, Nadal’s and Djoko’s numbers.


Okiegal Says:

@Daniel. Uh, ok….clear as mud! Nice try anyway…….🤔🤔🤔 I’m not a rocket scientist….LOL!


j-kath Says:

Nole ready to appoint additional coach.


Okiegal Says:

@Willow 1:42……. Thank you!! Love FB private messenger… great visiting venue!!


Willow Says:

Okie not a rocket scientist lol, no me niether, im not the most intelligent person either, and my tennis knowledge isnt the best either, but i enjoy the game and chatting about it, but im not obsessed to the point that it rules my life, thankfully i have alot going on in the real world, tennis is just a game after all ….


Humble Rafa Says:

I never imagined two players would blow by Sampras’ 14 slams so quickly.

You need to work on your imagination.


Willow Says:

SG 1 Much would depend on how Djokovic fairs when he comes back on tour, but theres a rather strong possibilty, personally im hoping Andy and Stan get another 3 GS to tie in with Becker, Villas, Edberg, and Guga, i think it would be awesome to have Stan win a W so theres another player with a career GS, same with Andy winning the AO and FO at some point, but i want Rafa to win another AO for a second career GS, all wishful thinking though right now ….


Anton Says:

Nadal 5 – Davidenko H2H


Anton Says:

Sorry Davidenko 6 – 5 Rafa


Willow Says:

Anton yeah i doubt Rafa is losing much sleep over that somehow, i mean 16 GS to nil, thats why ive never pontificated too much over head to heads ….


SG1 Says:

Humble,

You’re actually 100% right. I do have to work on my imagination. I also could never have imagined the GOAT Owner being taken to the woodshed by the GOAT 5 times in a row.

Seems I have quite a bit of work ahead of me to be as imaginative as you :P


Willow Says:

Own the GOAT owner lol ….


Okiegal Says:

@Giles 1:49…….Wow….love his note too! Andre admitting how tough it is to win the FO just one time………and alas, Rafa has won it 10 times!! Obviously, a tough task!! Thanks for this link Giles, loved it!


Willow Says:

Thanks for the link Giles ;-)


gonzalowski Says:

hehe Giles, nice, didactic and funny article.

Toni Nadal 3 days ago:
“I was more surprised by Federer’s performance this year than Rafa’s; I think he has made a very intelligent change in his game, to be even more aggressive and not giving rhythm to any opponent, you are always in the hands of his shots.
He is the top favorite for the Masters, although Federer himself says the court is not so fast. It is a good opportunity for Rafa, this year.”

and again asked about Goatitude Toni says: “You have to know the history of tennis, and put a clear criterion. I think Federer is the best in history, by numbers. Also Sampras, by week numbers, or Laver, still having stopped participating during his better years.”


gonzalowski Says:

(Also Sampras or Laver are there in contest)


Willow Says:

Awesome link Giles many thanks ….


Giles Says:

^^^ You’re welcome.


Roger is CLASS Says:

stupid arrogance HR


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