Nadal, Federer Face Off to Start Tennis New Year in Abu Dhabi Finals
by Sean Randall | December 31st, 2010, 2:13 pm

After meeting just once in about 18 months, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will play for a fourth time in 40 days tomorrow in the Abu Dhabi exhibition. ADHEREL

Earlier today in the semifinals of the money-rich exo, Federer topped Robin Soderling 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-3 and in a US Open rematch Nadal beat Berdych 6-4, 6-4. So in the Saturday New Year final it’s Federer v. Nadal, once again.

“It is extremely hard to do all the right things and not taking many chances in the big tournaments,” Federer said to the Gulf News. “So this is an opportunity for me to try out some different things and go after my shots and just play a bit more relaxed and get a clear picture of really what I’m trying to do.”

“It is always special to play Roger who is probably the best player in history of the sport,” Nadal told the paper. “For me it is a big challenge and I hope it is a good match and the people enjoy it.”

And similar to the previous two charity matches the two legends played last week, this too is an exhibition, although I don’t have a sense of who’ll take the win tomorrow (Nadal). And really, the outcome is virtually meaningless – the match equates to practice sets, really. But it is a nice way to start the 2011 tennis calendar. Let’s just hope no one gets hurt!

The match is scheduled (I believe) for noon local time. The winner takes home an extra 250K on top of whatever appearance money received.

As for TV coverage, Tennis Channel was recently showing a rerun of the 2010 event, so I can only assume they’ll broadcast this year’s matches on tape later in January.

I’ll have a full preview of new season this weekend. Have a good New Year!

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77 Comments for Nadal, Federer Face Off to Start Tennis New Year in Abu Dhabi Finals

Kimmi Says:

dari – i know what you mean. we/i should embrace fedal matches as it is a chance for federer to reverse the H2H (though tommorow does not count) But dear oh dear me, i feel sooo nervous..i guess all those federer loses has left a big scar on me.

go federer, exhibition or not, go get him. i hope he plays better than today…he was a little bit rusty today against soda i thought :)

Kimmi Says:

nadal hit 5 million fans on face book. federer 5.6 million. wow!

bobby Says:

Happy new year to every one.I hope that Nadal and Federer both will play at their highest level for many more years.

dunbar Says:

Kimmi, I thought Federer was typical. He started off as if everything was so easy he could barely be bothered, endless break opportunities which he casually (it seemed) let flow by. It’s an illusion, I think. There’s something about the style of Federer’s play which, when he happens to be hitting the ball well, makes everyone else look like a sweating beginner – and that includes Nadal. But he never keeps it up. For years, I was convinced there was something perverse going on, nothing else could account for this contrary behaviour.
But it wasn’t that. It’s just that Federer can have spells like nobody else which just go off because noone, not even Federer, can possibly keep them up. But somehow, one always gets taken in, and is always surprised to see him struggling in the normal way.

Kimmi Says:

dunbar – i also thought he was struggling on his serve, especially on the side the sun seem to be on his eyes when serving.. he was always struggling once they changed sides to that side. shanked few backhands too..the tie break was the worst as he lost a lot of points on that sun side. once the sun shades moved to the court he started to serve better and seem to be under more control on the baseline.

dunbar Says:

That’s true, Kimmi. Sun didn’t seem to bother Soderling. A weird thing about Federer’s first serve (to me)is that he can seem to lose his rhythm on it and yet still pull out some good uns when it matters – and it’s not as if he’s blasting it. you can imagine a Karlovic or Roddick or Sod for that matter whose serve is off but who still gets some unplayable ones in simply because they’re hit so hard and now and again one happens to go in the right spot. But Federer has to get his in on guile and placement – how does he manage it when he can’t get consistency on it? I have a feeling that even when his serve percentage was poor – as you say, it picked up – he had more aces than Soderling.

Kimo Says:

Happy new year everyone!!!

What better way to kick off the new year than watching Rafa vs. Roger?

Kimo Says:

Roger’s backhand is clicking today.

Kimmi Says:

was trying to be too aggressivenon that back hand. great play to get a break point though..

Kimo Says:

Roger is holding serve easier, but Rafa is not easy to break. I think Roger’s a little bit sharper than Rafa today.

Kimo Says:

Roger is playing a lot of touch shots today, coming in whenever he can, serving and volleying too. He looks good.

Kimo Says:

WOW. 3-0 in the TB and Roger is simply killed Rafa the last three points!!!

Kimo Says:

And then he got too cute :@

Kimmi Says:

grrrr roger lost both both that he worked hard to get on the tie break :(

Kimo Says:

3-3. Roger got careless.

Kimmi Says:

craaaazy! roger!!

Kimmi Says:

now rafa was the last 4 point..c’mon roger wake up

Kimo Says:

TI’s like after being 3-0 up, Roger decided he didn’t wanna win!

Kimmi Says:

make that 5 points grrrrr

Kimo Says:

Oh he cannot be serious. He must be joking!!!

Kimmi Says:

and an error to give rafa a set…aaagghhh!

do you realise that roger wins points with great play and rafa just gets errors from roger on big points…

dari Says:

Good morning, happy new year!
I second what you said kimo. No way.
Anyhow, it is an exho and maybe he can get that crap out of his system now.

dunbar Says:

And there you have it. Nothing has changed. Nothing will. Federer manouevres into an easy lead with two breaks, and then instantly gives one back with a nothing shot. Then, he has the court at his feet, he can do anything, sets up to smash the ball away – which would have been simnple – decides instead for cute slice – out. That’s it. You know it’s over. More important, Federer knows it’s over. Deep shame suffused his countenance for the rest of the tie break – which became dead as a dodo. The most gifted player of his generation by far – including Nadal – just cannot cope with the mind of Nadal.
For the record, it was nice to see Federer moving around his bh to take the ball on the forehand – very effective today, not always.

Dear oh dear. I don’t think I could bear a Fedal AO final. Come on, Djokovic and Murray, do your stuff.

pro rafa Says:

agree with dunbar… hope djoker wins AO this time

dari Says:

Way to go for fed to fight off that break point

dari Says:

dunbar, can we put off the end-all comments just yet?! It’s 01/01/11 in an exhibition. I don’t wanna be doomed already! I know these matches can mean something, but they don’t HAVE to.

Kimo Says:

Well said dari. I think players play these exhibitions to experiment and come up with good strategies for real matches. Whether they win or lose is irrelevant. Fed may lose today, but he might have picked up on something from a single point that he can later use against Rafa when the going gets tough.

Kimmi Says:

there he was trying to take the backhand early but error..good try roger. next time they will go in. keep fighting!

Kimo Says:

And I stand by what I said earlier. Rafa is not as sharp today as he usually is. Fed is playing better, except for that joke of a tiebreak.

vrael Says:

federer should be winning this….he is unlucky to be behind

Kimo Says:

I already see a few changes in Roger’s game. He’s slowing down his first serve when he’s trying to come in. His problem with S&V in the past few years is that he was trying to come behind strong serves, and by the time they come back he’s not close enough to the net to hit an easy volley.

Kimmi Says:

do we have another tie break? c’mon

Kimmi Says:

oh well

Kimo Says:

My thoughts exactly Kimmi.


Kimmi Says:

unfortuately too many errors cost roger :( congrats to rafa

Daniel Says:

Well losing two tiebreaks is never good. Nadal won a bunch of tiebreaks latelly, I mean in the last 4 months.

dari Says:

There was more laughs in that exho than there was in zurich!
Neither played super today, I’m not gonna think too much about this one.
I’m going back to bed, happy new year!

dunbar Says:

Again, in this tiebreak (early) Federer takes a chance and goes all out – just misses. In the circumstances, you have to say it was a rash and slightly panicstruck attempt for a winner. That’s the break – and match. Nadal shows exactly how to play when a break up – keep it tight, don’t let your opponent back in.
Yes, it’s “only” an exhibition, but it’s the manner of Federer’s loss against this particular player which, imo, is significant.

Kimmi Says:

anyways..its a new year. lets see how things pans out from now on. there is a big chance they will play again in Doha (gulp!!) i dont see anyone beating them at doha.

lets see how roger does then. he was not broken today which is good. he was trying few things though some did not work well especially in the tie break.

good luck for the rest of the year rog.

dunbar Says:

All your points (the two Kims and dari)are strong ones, but I think there is one thing which is not changed by the exhibition factor – that is, how you play at the crunch. There’s a good reason for this, because the problem here is mental.
My suspicion is that in these clutch moments, the player reverts to type – regardless of the nature of the match. And the more he does this, the more he reinforces his self-belief – or lack of it. Federer’s self-belief is obviously huge – except w.r.t. Nadal.

madmax Says:

Well, I enjoyed the exhibition in Abhu dabi. Thought Roger was relaxed and calm. This is the only time he can really be like this, okay so there’s doha next week, a 250 point tournament which we know he will take a lot more seriously….but…

I actually felt that Roger was holding back on many of the points. When he was hitting those cross court back hands, wow! Roger is doing fine and the confidence is there.

All I think of is how he played 4 weeks ago at the WTF. Just amazing. Roger is incredibly astute. Who was the one who was sweating profusely at the end? Rafa. He doesn’t treat an exho as an exho, he treats them for real and that’s up to him. He was the defending champion.

I saw roger making a few more drive volleys and volleying on the second serve, which is a high risk shot, but overall,I thought he played wel and again, another good benchmark for him to see where his game is at.

I wouldn’t read too much into this.

I would be interested to read what he says in his interview. I would imagine, he was very happy with his game today.

This was a kick around for him. For sure.

Federer has plenty of self-belief.

Well done Roge! Congratulations rafa.

Happy New Year everyone.

jane Says:

Happy New Year all. Didn’t see the match but it sounds like a close one.

gonzalowski Says:

Happy new year, I love this foro. Go Rafa!

madmax Says:

Hi Jane! yes, it was close.

I dont think fed was outplayed at all, especially considering Federer had break point in the first set and lost on tie break.

A couple a points here and there to Federer and he could have won. Not to be today, and what a lovely picture of the both of them at the end laughing like two schoolboys!

I love it at the end of a match with the both of them together.

Nadal was more aggressive and wanted it more – he was the defending champion after all! Federer was almost in cruise control.

Both players know each other so well now, it would have surprised me if federer showed rafa all of his tactics in an exho – he wouldn’t do that.

Federer at the WTF was the federer who knew he had to win, who did win and has now silenced his critics – that he can beat rafa in a final – with some style, after having played so many matches in 7 weeks, beating No.1,3,4,5 player in the world.

I think Fed will be a greater threat with his new tactics (slow/wide serve to nadal’s backhand). I believe Annacone’s influence is filtering through his game just nicely right now. He is just more aggressive with the forehand, like how he used to be, but on a more regular basis.

Come on Roger!

But he’s not going to expend all his energy at this moment.

dari Says:

Yes, dunbar, and its frustrating isn’t it/ roger’s talent will get him close and will get him chances. Well then, what?
And as Kimmi pointed out, roger is mostly givong away the point on the important ones- often making errors instead of getting out played. Not to mention that leading up to that big moment he probably had a string of solid plays. Pretty convincing that its all ment which is rather hard to fix.
So, that’s why I didnt want to get into this on ny day from an exho. He will be fine, he can do it, I know! He can surprise us. Goooo Rogerrrr!

Kimmi Says:

“For both of us, these are the first matches of the season. So it is special for us,” said Nadal. “This is the perfect place to start the season here in Abu Dhabi.”

Federer, who defeated Robin Soderling in Friday’s semi-finals, lamented, “I never lost my serve, but I still lost the tournament, it’s kind of tough. Rafael and myself must have played so many times and so many times it has come down to a few shots here and there. He is an amazing shot-maker. Me as well, but today he got the better of me.”

Kimmi Says:

Goooooo Roger indeed dari!!

Nina Says:

Hey guys! Happy new year to everybody!
And the season starts… great. :)


The Doha draw is out. The 1st few rounds will be against low ranked/unknowns. After that Rafa is looking at Gulbis then Davydenko or Kohlschreiber. Fed will probably meet Troicki then Tsonga or Garcia-Lopez.

Dr Ivo is in the draw

madmax Says:

Federer is in a good place right now.

Roger Federer believes the upcoming Australian Open – the first Grand Slam of the 2011 season – will be a “special’ one as he goes in search of his 17th Grand Slam crown.

While the Swiss maestro is the defending champion at the tournament, Rafael Nadal, who he lost to in the final of the Mubadala Tennis Championships on Saturday, will make it four consecutive Grand Slam successes in a row if he emerges victorious.

And as a result, Federer is expecting fireworks down under: “It’s a special Australian open coming up. Me being the defending champion, Rafa going for his fourth so obviously the focus is going on the two of us.

“Tennis is really going to be exciting down in Australia. There can be someone else coming and break through but obviously players like (Andy) Murray, (Novak) Djokovic will give the run for the money.

“You never know you could have a new Grand Slam champion. That’s what is good and tough about tennis in such tournaments where you have just a knock out system.”

Federer, who beat old foe Robin Soderling in the semi-finals in Abu Dhabi before succumbing to Nadal 7-6 7-6 in the season opener, is now headed for Doha next week to continue his preparations and where a re-match with Nadal could be on the cards.

“I played some very good tennis here,” Federer remarked. “I have to start Doha from scratch. Rafa is there again so it’s not going to be easy to win that one.

“We will see how it goes in Doha and then we have enough time to rest and get ready for the Australian open. I hope I get some wins in Doha to boost my confidence.”

Meanwhile, Federer has expressed his delight at how things are progressing under new coach Paul Annacone, who was appointed at the back end of last year after a disappointing run of result for the world No.2.

Annacone made his name in the game working alongside Pete Sampras and Federer admits his experience has been invaluable over the past few months – adding certain facets to his own game.

“He is a great guy. We share a good work relationship. Obviously the key for me is spending a lot of time with him and travelling the world I need to get along well with my team and coach.

“That’s the case I have great harmony in my team. He has brought a few things to my game and I’m very happy about it.”

Kimmi Says:

NELTA – so Dr Ivo is back..havent seen him for a long while. i wonder what was his injury that kept him out for so long…

good to see him back, the guy who nobody likes to have him in their draw.

doha draw seem fair, guys like troicki and Garcia Lopez who gave rafa a hard time in indoors are on federer side. Gulbis, davydenko who beat roger earlier last year are on rafa.

The draw seem to be top heavy maybe…??

Kimmi Says:

great draw in brisbane. soderling, roddick, verdasco, baghdatis, Fish…

Looking forward to some great matches. Roddick has it tough to defend his title.

dunbar Says:

madmax says:”I don’t think fed was outplayed at all” and then adds:”A couple a points here and there to Federer and he could have won.”

For the bulk of the match, Federer was not outplayed at all, agreed. On these sorts of surfaces, especially, you would certainly expect him to be toe to toe with Nadal – if they meet in Doha, the score line will probably again be very close. But “the couple of points here and there” is misleading, I think. The crucial “couple of points” were actually at clutch moments – here, Federer failed, and failed dismally it has to be said whilst Nadal held his nerve. The old cliche “a miss is as good as a mile” really is appropriate here. When two great players are very nearly equally matched, the outcome does indeed tend to boil down to a point or two at SPECIFIC, TELLING junctures. Here is where a cool nerve is called for. It is not easy to forget the spectacle of Federer being caught in two minds to give the break back (in the first tiebreak) – he actually changed his mind, quite pointlessly since the put away winner was straightforward, and consequently his attempted slice went long. His face for the rest of the tiebreak told us exactly how he felt about it. (Later, when the pressure was not so intense, he did exactly the same stroke WITH CONVICTION, and won the point with ease). That kind of thing is not untypical, imo.

I do think, personally, that Nadal will be much better prepared at the AO than he was at the WTF, and he will be very, very hard to beat. If anyone does beat him, I think it is much more likely to be Murray than Federer. Needless to say, I hope I am wrong.

dunbar Says:

Yes, Brisbane looks intriguing. Given Roddick’s upbeat attitude recently, I guess we can expect a return to form. So a 2nd round encounter with Dolgopulov looks tasty. But a Roddick/Soderling final is really one to look forward to. I’m still unconvinced Soderling can defeat an in form Roddick.

Kimmi Says:

very true dunbar, i dont remember nadal making any unforced error on both tie breaks. he was VERY solid. but then nadal style of play is more concistent than federer.
federer game is aggressive. he is expected to make errors here and there but makes a lot of winners too. tie breaks are tricky though, so this is where he needs to be extra careful (i dont know how) coz is not easy. he could do better by breaking rafa to take the set (if he can) than going to the tie break imo.

marron Says:

Every time I see Fed wearing his watch while playing, I don’t take the match result seriously AT ALL. Yeah, it was nice, as a Rafa fan, to see him win this exho, but c’mon, people. Fed had his watch on.

dari Says:

OMG, marron, you took the words right out of my mouth with the watch bit! Sooooo true!

Kimmi Says:

rolex watch!

Catherine Says:

Like some already said before me, whenever Roger keeps his watch on during a ‘match’, he’s not being serious.

This match does not tell anything about whereas both of Fedal stand right now – I am looking forward to Doha, as that MIGHT do so…

Best of luck to both the fellows, of course, and even more – A HAPPY 2011 to EVERYONE!!!

Skeezerweezer Says:


I wouldn’t take is exho to much to heart. I think your analysis should get be re visited after AO. Remember the WTF finals, which had a lot on the line as well as points, Fed had resolve. With the new game, If he continues to fold in TBs will know soon enough.
Remember we all were harping on Feds lack of converting BPs during the spring / summer of 2010, and then he turned that around in the fall….. Fed also has so many options with striking the ball compared to others, sometimes me thinks he over thinks it because of the arsenal he has and at times comes up with nothing, surprising himself and his fans with a dud result.

Skeezerweezer Says:

Apologies for the typos…getting used to my gifted iPad :)

madmax Says:

dunbar, happy new year to you, same to you skeeze :)

your point:

The crucial “couple of points” were actually at clutch moments – here, Federer failed, and failed dismally it has to be said whilst Nadal held his nerve.

But dunbar, there were no breaks of serve for both sets. they were toe to toe with each other and as a federer fan, fed did NOT expend any energy at all. I saw him play those drive volleys, testing that shot out in particular. He did what he had to do. Now if it were two 6:1 sets, then I would be having a different conversation with you. But when Fed was down, I think two break points. He saved them both – when fed is down, he doesn’t give in.

Yes, last year (seems strange saying that, only a couple of days into the ‘elevenses’), he had 4 tournaments where he had match point and lost the match, baghdatis, berdych, tsonga and djokovic, BUT, the exho, there were no breaks of serve and fed held his own. Rafa wanted to win that exho. And he did.

Now, moving onto Doha, I still expect fed to be trying out shots, some may be riskier, and hope fully he will go on to win. If not, then he’ll work on it in order to try and defend his title.

I do think that rafa, of course, will be the favourite to win AO. I think that will fire federer up even more.

madmax Says:

of course dunbar, I think the last ‘proper’ tournament where you should be looking at where Fed’s game is at was the WTF, a mere 6 weeks ago -that is where he is at. He was absolutely brilliant then.

I’ve watched the match again and federer was awesome.

Mg Mg Says:

I think the dead surface of indoor courts plays a factor in Fed’s backhand.

van orten Says:

happy 2011..great start to a new exciting tennis year..
what can you read into exhibition matches like this not much i guess…
but i can already see the news counting federer out if he doesn´t win doha with nadal taking the title. federer winning and nadal fading on the other hand – no one would dare to count rafa out…why should they but dont underestimate el maestro !!!

van orten Says:

yesterday his backhand was just as solid as it can be..we saw a great exo match ..and i hope all matches they ll play this year will be as tight as this one..even though it´s goin to be sos heart attack everytime they play each other

dunbar Says:

“sometimes me thinks he over thinks it because of the arsenal he has and at times comes up with nothing, surprising himself and his fans with a dud result.” – Skeezer. Nicely put. That’s no excuse for hesitation, though, at difficult moments. o.k., this was an exho, so he wasn’t fully focused. madmax says Nadal chooses to be focused in these situations, others prefer to take it easier, harbouring their strength for more important occasions. I suppose this is true, but I can’t help wondering: is it easier to maintain a cool nerve when things get very tight if you practise focus all the time, so that it becomes second nature, or is it more practicable to turn it on and off according to the importance of the match? No doubt this varies according to temperament, but I think it is telling that Federer himself was mortified – forget about press conferences and things, that’s after the event, when there has been time to construct a story. The truth was etched on Federer’s face.

I take the point about the WTF, but – and I know this is contentious – I don’t think Nadal was in as good a shape then as you can expect him to be in at the final of the AO. On the other hand, the pressure on Nadal – to get 4 in a row and counting for God’s sake – is huge, and therein may lie the opportunity for others.

van orten Says:

yeah but how many times federer wasn´t at his super A – shape performance level when he played nadal and lost because of some points here and there..there is no can never tell how your day form s going to be no matter its an exho or a final of a 1000 or GS …one can say federer wasnt at his best yesterday but nadal was ..or you can say nadal is the far better play and will crush federer everytime they ll play because he won yesterday..that would be wishful thinking…it is just too hard to tell and i understand why nadal fans tend to be more chill out about their rivalry because he got away with tight wins many many times vs fed ..but that all can change in the near future..

Skeezerweezer Says:

Check out Fed’s Facebook page, Rafa and Fed doing a promo for ATP world tour. Pics of them hitting on what seems like a “floating tennis court” on water. What will they think of next? Help Tennis X?

dunbar Says:

A tight win does the same job as a rout. And so in a sense, its “tightness” can be illusory. Federer himself said yesterday:”Rafael and myself must have played so many times and so many times it has come down to a few shots here and there”. But those “few shots” are strategically situated, not just “here and there”. Maintaining form, or raising it, where it matters – that’s the key. Federer himself is a master of this – think how he nearly beat Djokovic at the US Open – just not against Nadal.

jane Says:

For once though it was Nole who raised his game when it mattered and so he won. I think tight losses can be worse on the psyche than routs. In a rout, like Nole vs Fed @ WTF, or Fed vs. Rafa at the FO 08, the vanquished can say his opponent was just “too good”, but in tight losses, like Nole vs Rafa @ Madrid 09, Roddick v. Fed Wimbledon 09, etc., the loser knows he was within a hair of the win. Those losses, I would think, must haunt the player who didn’t come through but who knows that he could have.

madmax Says:

dunbar, yes, I am reading your posts ever so carefully and you speak sensibly but I feel still a bit unfair on the fed.

Firstly you raise novak at the USO. Come on Dunbar! Since then, for fed, so many, many successes with Annacone on board, brilliant tennis from federer at the time when most other players were winding it down a bit, he was playing it up, he added stockholm to his schedule – (I went to watch him there!), he was brilliant.

Federer since the USO, with basel, stockholm, WTF has played incredible tennis and surely he would be more tired than any other player – he was playing pretty much back to back tournaments with little rest in between, stockholm, basel, shanghai – at the back end of the tennis season Can you imagine how tired he must have been feeling? – but knowing that if he added more tournaments and secured more points (the pressure in his mind must have been pretty high), then he could secure a no.2 position prior to the AO, remember novak was 120 points ahead of him at this point.(I think start of November?).

Then moving to the WTF he was playing the top 5 players in the world, in the space of a week, DUNBAR! in the space of a week, we are talking about soderling, murray, djokovic and nadal, one after the other. Federer was amazing. He was the only player until the final, who didn’t drop a set – he didn’t lose to any of them in any of the round robin stages.

Can you imagine the pressure he must have been under in the final against nadal? Federer had to win that match. He put it all out on the line. I felt really proud to be a federer fan for many reasons. He has been skewered by the press so many times and he silenced them.

Federer needs to be given a huge amount of credit here. After the WTF, he had a week off before starting practice for his charity events.

Going back to the WTF, and for a number of reasons: 1)can you imagine the pressure he must have been under (aside from the final), to beat murray – murray had beaten fed in two previous tournaments – masters finals before, was it Toronto and Shanghai? and then the pressure to beat novak, even though he had beaten him in their last tournament, was it Toronto? Pressure, pressure.

Federer does deal with pressure, I just dont think he is given enough credit for it. And also, remember those players both baggy and berdych, whom he lost match points to earlier in the year, he beat both players since then, so his confidence is pretty high I feel.

I didnt expect Federer to pull out all the stops at the abhu dabi exho, I really didn’t because I always see these tournaments as opportunities for him to practice his game. And that’s what he did.

With Annacone now, I dont expect Federer to have those blips at match point. I just feel he has worked on that so hard since the USO that he will be more aware of those moments and be able to deal with them in a really positive way.

Dari Says:

skeezer- thanks for the heads up. saw more pics at the atp website and that looks INSANE. just the two of them on an island tennis court, with wet feet. there’s funny one of fed trying to hit a ball off the bounce and though he is smiling, it all looks a bit dangerous cause you can’t move too much on the slightly submerged court. no good for the back, that move. glad no one got hurt!
anyway, the atp did their job, as i am thinking and talking about it quite a bit.
but… fed and rafa been spending a little bit too much time off the court together lately, hope fed’s not gone soft (we know rafa won’t/don’t!) the only way to be sure is for me to see fed beat rafa and sooooon!

Skeezerweezer Says:


Crazy, eh?

Yeah they are gettng a bit too chummy now. Time to turn on the competitiveness. IMO Fed is trying to soak it all in now, being that he has fewer years left than more. He has been quoted many times how much he loves the whole tour/tennis thing. Ya gotta give them both a round of applause thought for working together on charities and promo of the tour.

dunbar Says:

madmax, I agree with you, Federer absolutely had to beat Nadal at the WTF or it was kind of curtains time so far as ever beating Rafa again was concerned. So the pressure was intense, and he handled it. Even so, he was kind of let off – uncharacteristically, Nadal did not take his opportunity at the beginning of the third set, and I think from then on, the match was over. Nadal was a beaten man, and he wasn’t really there any more. I very much doubt Fed’ll get any gifts like that at the AO. Having said that, of course he’s one of the big favourites. I think we can safely say this, whoever’s going to beat Nadal (realistically, only the other top 3) is going to have to serve very well indeed for long, long stretches. I had the feeling – but this is only subjective, I may be quite wrong – that Nadal was getting much more into Federer’s serve than the other way round. And even when Fed returned aggressively (thereby earning the iniative, one might have thought) Nadal tended to come back even more aggressively.

jane, in the end – when actually Federer was playing pretty well – Nole did raise his game at the crucial moments. My point was that Federer had put himself in a position to win even though he hadn’t deserved to. As it was, justice was done (unfortunately…). I agree with you that it is the tight losses which must haunt the player. And yet, there can be an element of illusion about the tight loss. In the Nadal/Djokovic Madrid ’09 which you bring up, I thought Nadal looked the stronger and always likely to win. In the Roddick/Federer match, you have to remember that Roddick blew the 2nd set. He should have taken it, and he had only himself to blame for crumbling at the critical moment. In that long 5th set, I personally thought Federer was always going to take it – it wasn’t going to be him who cracked, that’s how I saw it. No doubt his record against Roddick was very helpful here – and it’s precisely because his record against Nadal will not be helpful in the decisive moments that I sense a fragility which might be hard to overturn.

madmax again – w.r.t. your final paragraph, I certainly hope you are right. I’m a little sceptical, but then, I always was an old misery guts.

Swiss Maestro Says:

At this point in the fedal rivalry, we knoe everything about them.

nadal dominates on clay.
fed dominates indoor.
grass/hardcourt comes down to the day.

it is easy to keep saying fed does not pull it out in the clutch, but take into consideration that fed has always been playing catch up in this rivalry. nadal had a 6-1 lead over fed before you could blink. 4 off those on clay. since then it has been 8-7 which only shows fed’s mental strength. how many players have come back from a 6-1 down H2H against other players, not to mention, perhaps one of the top 3 mentally tough players ever.

throw this in with how fed turned the 2-7 H2H against, probably the 3rd most mentally tough player this decade ( after nadal, fed) – hewitt and you would realise, fed is no mental pansy. Fed, might be 2nd to nadal in mental strength but it is not as huge a mountain as people here are making it out to be. besides, mental strength can be in different ways. how can you argue that the ability to pull off shots in the clutch is a better indicator of mental strength than the ability to hit back from a 1-6 H2H deficit and keep things from running away to 20-3 or something?

tennis is about match-ups and as is the case with a lot of things in life, a little bit of luck. when you talk about greatness at the fedal level. luck plays a crucial role. nadal might not have had that 6-1 H2H cushion if he played sampras in the sampras era as sampras would never make it to those 4 clay meetings. sampras might have most likely played nadal only on the fastest 2 slams – wimbledon and US and won their 4 or 5 encounters there. so would that make sampras more mentally tough than nadal? i would say, arguable at best.

sampras being 4-0 against rafa at slams wouldn’t be too far fetched. consider this. sampras has a 6-3 advantage over agassi. but the truth is, sampras’ lack of versatility meant 6 of the meetings sampras won were on his favorable surfaces – wimbledon/US open. agassi won all 3 meetings at french open (1) and australian open (2). if sampras was versatile like agassi and made more french open/aussie open meetings and if agassi was less versatile and made only french open or aussie meetings, agassi might well have had a 3-0 or even 5-0 H2h against sampras @ slams.

my point is, when you compare all time greats, you really are nit-picking. very little to choose. each has their x-factor and media and immature fans stereotype nadal as the personification of mental strength and fed as a mental pansy or fed as a super genius and nadal as a one-dimensional player. even when i said agassi is more versatile than sampras, the versatility gulf is not really much.

dunbar Says:

I don’t think anyone is suggesting Federer is a mental pansy. My feeling has always been that the most sincere form of praise for someone you admire includes noting the “frailties”.

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