Hello folks. You are probably waiting to hear what I have to say about this match, and there is an awful lot to say. It is my off weekend so I will take my time too. In my last post I said I didn’t really know what to expect in this match. But in hindsight it was petty obvious what was going to happen here. I say that because when Nadal won his last clay event in such convincing fashion, I already had the thought that there was another shift of power happening in the Fedal saga. Nadal was on the rise, and Roger have been slumping. That is just the way it has always been with Fedal. When one falls the other rises. Last year at Indian Wells Roger won by the exact score that he lost here and not long after that Nadal took the fall at Wimbledon, while Roger won his 17th slam there. If you go back into their past you will find this scenario playing itself out time and time again.
With this win from Nadal his rise has sort of become official. He did well in the South-American clay events but had not yet proven himself in an event where all the top dogs were present. And Indian Wells was hard court as well. He had an impressive win over Gulbis who was on a 13-match winning streak. I knew this result spelled trouble. Nadal was looking like the old Nadal who always comes through in the tough matches. But now he was up against the defending champ and world #2. A win here would prove that he is well and truly back to his best. Personally I still held out some hope that Roger could win this. Obviously as a fan you are gonna believe in your player. But like I said in hindsight there could only really be one result here. With Nadal being on the rise and Roger falling, it was inevitable.
So in a sense that gives me peace because that explains a lot about what has been going on of late with Roger. I just could not figure out why he took such a dive after the Australian Open. He was in such great form there, playing like the Roger 3.0 we know. After Rotterdam I speculated about a back problem but I could not be sure. After Dubai I thought it was still a hangover from last year’s grueling season. Now I’m not saying these things doesn’t play a roll. They are all part of it. But the main thing is just the ebb and flow of the Fedal saga and the shifting of power. After all these years they are still right there at the top of the game and they affect each other deeply. Nadal’s hiatus from tennis since Wimbledon last year deeply affected Roger’s tennis. There is no denying it. When he lost in the second round it effectively opened the door for Roger to win the title.
It is just a big mental boost for Roger knowing that his nemesis is not in the draw anymore, and he took full advantage of that to win his 17th slam. It was like it was destined to be. At the US Open Roger lost to another player who I would rather call his bogey man than his nemesis. And then in Melbourne there was once again no Nadal and Roger played with a certain freedom and assurance. I think people underestimate the mental impact Nadal has on Roger. Nadal does not own Roger but it is pretty damn close. The only reason I say Nadal does not own him is because Roger has had some key wins over him, some of them which was petty damn routine as well. No doubt Nadal has the upper hand in the rivalry though, which now stands at 19-10. One more win for Nadal and Roger becomes his turkey, which is not exactly and honor.
So what I am getting at is that their fortunes keep fluctuating. I am not gonna go into the past now but for anyone who has followed tennis for some time this will be clear. Nadal is back with a bang now and don’t be surprised if he stays back for an extended period, while Roger doesn’t really shine during that period. That doesn’t mean Nadal will all of a sudden start winning slams again. Even though Fedal is still right at the top of the sport, they are not the dominant force they once were. There is a new dominance in town called Nolandy. So even though Nadal is back it doesn’t mean he will even win the French Open. He is definitely a very strong favorite to win a ridiculous 8th Roland Garros, but this may just be Djokovic’s year. In fact I think he is primed for it. After 2012 where he was under the pressure of expectation from 2011, he is now back to his devastating best.
He has not lost a match yet in 2013 and we could be looking at another long winning streak. I think he will be really targeting the French Open this year to try and complete the career slam. So I am quite looking forward to the clay court season for a change, where it will be interesting to see who gets the better of each other between Djokovic and Nadal. You better believe Nadal can’t wait to get back on his favorite European clay court swing, while Djokovic will be looking to turn around what happened last year as well. But let me get back to Fedal. Roger came out looking good and served some really nice aces. But at 3-3, after being up 40-15 on serve, he lost the plot and got broken. Really you should hold serve when you are 40-15 up, so those were ominous signs. Roger was a break point down at 3-5 again but fought back well to at least make Nadal serve for the set.
Nadal had no problem serving it out though. That was pretty much the end of that. Roger had come back from a set down against Nadal before(the Hamburg final comes to mind), but it was not gonna happen here. He was not mentally into this match. There were moments of attacking tennis where Roger took the initiative, but it was few and far between. Nadal broke to love in the first game of the second set just to make his dominance clear. He was doing his usual Superman-like defense which put Roger under loads of pressure. So just for fun he broke Roger in his next service game again to take a 3-0 lead, and it looked like there could be at least a bread stick in the making. But again Roger fought back admirably to break right back. He also held serve to remain in fighting distance and avoided the bakery products.
Nadal then reeled off the next 3 games to progress to the semis where he will meet Berdych. I think in the end Roger did well not to get humiliated, but he was thoroughly beaten nonetheless. Now I already know what has been on your mind the last few minutes as you have been reading though this post. Why did Ru-an not mention Roger’s injury?! Surely he is not overlooking that all important point?! And you are right; I am not overlooking it. I am fully aware that Roger was not feeling comfortable out there and that his injury affected his play. It was clear for everyone to see. But since he decided to play I have to treat this match as if he was 100%. To make excuses would be unfair to his opponent, no matter how much I may dislike his opponent. That is not my style anyway. If Roger did not feel physically ready he should not have played.
But he did it for the fans I hear you say. Fair enough point as well and that is admirable. But like I said I must report on this match as though Roger was fully fit. What else am I supposed to do? Say Roger was injured, that he did an admirable thing just to show up for the fans, and just keep worshiping him like he is God? I’m sorry, that is not my style either. I’d rather give credit to Nadal who played a terrific match and look if there were any areas where Roger could have improved. I am just not that biased as a fan where I just write the match off as though it counted for nothing because Roger was injured. That would be completely unfair to Nadal and I refuse to do it. And yes, there were areas where Roger could have improved. If you took a close look at the match you would have noticed that there were moments where Roger took the initiative and dominated the points.
So my question is; if he can do it on one or two points then why can’t he do it on other points too? Now notice his whole mental demeanor throughout the match and you will start seeing what I’m getting at. Without a doubt the injury affected his movement. I am not discounting that. But I felt he could have shown more positive body language and self-belief. Even after winning some points with beautiful attacking tennis he hung his head. What’s up with that? I think if you decide to play a match you should at least try and act like you are into it. Instead of fist pumping or an”Allez!” he hung his head after winning an important point. Everyone noticed the injury but did anyone notice the body language? I just felt that he could have at least acted like he is more into the match, and that would have helped in turn to forget about the injury.
Now I am also fully aware that I won’t be the most popular writer after saying these things, but that has never been my priority. My priority has always been to be objective and honest. I could easily have made a post saying yes Roger was injured and a hero for even playing, thereby saying what everyone wants to hear and being popular for it. But then I would have lied to myself and I just have more integrity than that. If you say this match is all down to injury you are lying to yourself because we have seen plenty times where Roger was physically fine, and lost having the same negative demeanor against Nadal. In the end I was not disappointed by this result, just a little disappointed with Roger’s demeanor. I know this is just the ebb and flow of the Fedal rivalry and this was bound to happen. I also know that Roger is still mentally good.
He is just not exceptional in that department like Nadal or Djokovic is. As far as talent goes I would give Roger 10/10, for physicality 9/10, and for mentality 8/10. And that is still good enough to be the GOAT. So I have nothing to complain about, but I am not gonna act like he is a perfect God who can never put a foot wrong either. That is just not me. I have said this many times and I will say this again; I am Roger’s biggest fan but also his toughest critic. Honesty is one of the reasons I like Roger and it is exactly because I am honest myself. Roger now goes on a two month break which should do him some good. I hope he comes back refreshed and makes a big impact. But I can see the clay court season being dominated by Djokovic and Nadal, with Roger and Murray playing second fiddle. The grass court season should be more interesting from a Roger point of view.
I am also not that disappointed that Roger lost because it looks like we will have another Djokodal final and I never get tired of that rivalry. It is even more interesting than the Fedal rivalry for me. In the Fedal rivalry Roger tends to lose and since the rise of Djokovic 2.0 he tends to be the winner in the Djokodal rivalry. I just love it when he beats Nadal, and since he is back close to 2011 form I can see him give Nadal some more good spankings in the coming months. This makes me excited for what lies ahead. I know some Fedfans are not excited by this, but fortunately I am not just a Fedfan but also a fan of tennis in general and I do enjoy watching other rivalries and matches too. Roger will still be around anyway, and he will rise again. He always does…