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Rafael Nadal blows past Roger Federer to advance to Australian Open final

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Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal improved to 23-10 against Roger Federer. (Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, Australia — Thirty-third verse, same as the first.

No. 1 Rafael Nadal’s quest to become the third player to win all four Grand Slam tournaments at least twice continues after he withstood an early challenge from No. 6 Roger Federer and rolled 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-3 in the semifinals of the Australian Open on Friday. The 13-time major champion on Sunday will face first-time Slam finalist Stanislas Wawrinka, who will replace Federer as the Swiss No. 1 next week.

In the 33rd meeting between the two best players over the last 10 years, Nadal pulled out a 59-minute first set and rolled from there to improve to 3-0 against Federer at the Australian Open.  As Rod Laver and Pete Sampras sat in the crowd, Nadal showed once again why his now 23-10 record against Federer is no fluke.

Federer, contesting his 11th consecutive Australian Open semifinal, had been riding a wave of confidence after big wins over No. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the fourth round and No. 4 Andy Murray in the quarterfinals. Armed with a new racket and new coach Stefan Edberg, the whispers around Melbourne Park were that Federer was primed to snap his four-match losing streak to Nadal and beat his rival at a Slam for the first time since 2007.

Nadal snuffed out that belief quickly. Federer didn’t earn a break point until the third set and his hyper-aggressive start to the match subsided quickly in the face of Nadal’s impenetrable defense.

Here is game-by-game analysis of how Nadal weathered the early pressure to run away with another win over Federer:

Third Set

6:18 a.m. ET | Rafael Nadal defeats Roger Federer, 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-3 to advance to his third Australian Open final. 

The rain is coming and Nadal is racing to close this out before it hits Melbourne Park and they close the roof. He gets into a tricky spot at 30-all but two backhand errors from Federer and he holds. This has definitely been the sloppiest set of the three from both men.

I don’t think you ever want to teach kids to return serve from 15 feet behind the baseline, but if you did you would cue up this return game from Nadal. He’s swatting return winners from impossibly deep positions. Federer, meanwhile, is on autopilot. Once again he tries to approach to the Nadal forehand. Once again he gets burned badly and Nadal has his first match point.

Federer saves it with some good attacking play. He attacks the net again but again approaches to the forehand and Nadal bananas a passing shot down the line. Match point No. 2.

Game, set, match Rafael Nadal. Federer sends his 50th unforced error long off the forehand and that’s it. Another impossibly ruthless performance by Nadal. That was a butt-kicking display. A thumping. It wasn’t as close as the scoreline indicates. This will hurt Federer, especially given how much confidence he had coming into the match.

Final stats:

Federer: 8 aces, 1 double-fault, 66 percent first serves, 50 percent second-serve points won, 1 of 2 on break points, 23 of 42 net points, 34 winners (only two on his backhand), 50 unforced errors.

Nadal: 3 aces, 1 double-fault, 65 percent first serves, 73 percent second-serve points won, 4 of 14 break points, 3 of 10 net points, 28 winners, 25 unforced errors.

Nadal 105, Federer 86.

6:06 a.m. ET | Nadal breaks, leads *4-3.

Nadal holds at love with his easiest service game in a while. That should settle him down.

And surely he is. He breaks Federer as the Swiss is the one who is still unsettled. He hits three straight errors and hands over the break. Disappointing.

6:00 a.m. ET | Federer breaks, leads 3-2*.

Federer gets his first break point of the match and sends the forehand return long. But he finally gets a break on his second break point when Nadal hits his fourth unforced error of the game. Shocker of a game from Nadal. New life for the Swiss? There’s also a report that rain might be coming …

Two bad forehand errors from Federer and he’s down two break points right off the bat. But he saves them, lets out a “Kom’ jetzt!” (that would be “Let’s go!” in German) and reels off the next four points. Huge consolidation to get things back on serve.

Stefan Edberg looking concerned for his charge.(Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Stefan Edberg looking concerned for his charge. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

5:46 a.m. ET | Nadal breaks, leads *2-1.

Easy holds from both men to start the third set.

Federer is starting to spray his shots and he’s down two break points. “Exhausted might be a strong word, but he’s definitely fatiguing out there,” Patrick McEnroe says. “I think it’s more mental.”

Sure enough, Nadal breaks with a forehand pass that Federer puts into the net. One-way traffic.

Here’s a good look from ESPN at the not-so-secret matchup problem that Federer has faced from the minute Nadal arrived on the scene:


Second Set

5:39 a.m. ET | Rafael Nadal wins the second set and leads 7-6 (4), 6-3. 

Easy hold from Federer, but Nadal will serve for the set.

Nadal falls into a quick 0-30 hole with two unforced errors, but he reels it back in in quintessential Rafa style. At 15-30, he wins a 21-shot rally that Federer tries to break open with a big, heavy cross-court backhand, only to see Nadal scurry over and slap an insane forehand down the line for a winner. Nadal holds and takes a two-set lead.

Watch that point:

Here’s the second-set stat line:

Federer: 2 aces, 0 double-faults, 69 percent first serves, 56 percent second-serve points won, no break points, 8 for 12 at the net, 12 winners, 11 unforced errors.

Nadal: 1 ace, 52 percent first serves in, 92 percent second-serve points won, 1 for 5 on break points, 1 for 1 at the net, 13 winners, 6 unforced errors.

Federer has lost nine of his last ten sets against Nadal. (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

Federer has lost nine of his last ten sets against Nadal. (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

5:29 a.m. ET | Nadal breaks, leads *5-2.

Nadal earns two break points thanks to an absolutely insane get. Federer actually wrong-foots him and puts the volley behind him. Nadal runs back, tracks it down and flicks it barely over the net and it stuns everyone. Federer barely gets his racket on it.

Watch the point here:

Two points later, Nadal breaks with a big forehand winner after — again, I can’t say it enough — Federer’s passive play. He’s just not getting enough stick or depth on the ball anymore and neutral balls are being sent back without much on them.

Nadal breaks. I’d be shocked if Federer gets a set in this match. Federer looks like a man with no solutions and he knows it.

Nadal consolidates the break without any drama.

5:22 a.m. ET | Nadal holds, leads 3-2*.

While I’ve been quietly laughing at Federer complaining about Nadal’s grunting — has he not noticed it the last 32 times they’ve played? — Federer finds himself down a break point. He saves it with a service winner. But Nadal gets another one after a perfectly played point, pulling Federer wide to his forehand with a backhand and then firing a backhand down the line into the open court. He saves that, but again, Nadal earns a third break point with a backhand pass. Federer saves it with a nice forehand approach down the line that lands as a winner.

It’s an eight-minute game, but Federer holds with the help of his good friend Hawk-Eye. A forehand was called wide and, as it turns out, it landed right on the line.

Nadal responds with a hold at love.

5:09 a.m. ET | Nadal holds, leads 2-1*.

Federer bounces back to earn 0-30 on Nadal’s serve to start the second set, but at 30-all he leaps into a forehand swing volley and nets it. You could hear Fed Nation groan. Nadal holds and calls the trainer for his hand.

After the brief break, Federer comes out and holds at 15, loudly exhorting himself after ever point. He’s trying to send a message to Nadal that he still believes he’s in this and that he’ll keep coming. But Federer needs to put his racket where his mouth is. Nadal isn’t exactly one to get intimidated by any verbal messages being sent his way.

Nadal holds at love.

Federer complaining to umpire Jake Garner about Nadal’s … grunting? “That’s not something new,” says Garner. No kidding. But the complaining clearly shows Federer is on edge.


First Set

4:51 a.m. ET | Rafael Nadal wins the first set 7-6 (4).

After a strong, aggressive start from Federer, it’s Nadal who reels him back in and takes the set. We can talk about form and confidence and new coaches all we want, but the bottom line is no matter how good you feel about your game, you can’t forget 22 losses to one guy. As that set wore on, you could see the doubt start creeping into Federer’s game and by the end of the set he was back to his mortal self. Nadal has the power to do that. Hence a 22-10 record against him.

Here’s how the tiebreaker played out:

1-0, Nadal: Mini-break to Nadal after a 16-shot rally ends when Federer hits a cross-court backhand that ticks off the net cord and lands wide.

1-1, tied: Nadal loses the mini-break with a regulation backhand wide. Surprising miss from Rafa.

2-1, Nadal: Oof. Ugly, lazy backhand miss wide from Federer. Almost looked like he didn’t know what he wanted to do with the ball so he tried guiding it and floated it wide.

3-1, Nadal: Federer approaches and puts a forehand volley into the net. His foot slipped a little bit as he hit it.

4-1, Nadal: More passive play from Federer and Nadal is completely on top of him in the rally.

5-1, Nadal: Nadal is standing on the baseline, Federer is playing behind the baseline. A recipe for disaster for the Swiss, who isn’t the confident guy he was 40 minutes ago when he was blasting the ball.

(Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

(Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

5-2, Federer: Nadal slings a forehand wide after Federer sends the return right at his feet.

5-3, Federer: Finally Federer steps in and rips two massive groundstrokes, one backhand and an even bigger forehand. He finishes the point at the net with a backhand volley.

5-4, Federer: Service winner from Federer.

6-4, Nadal: He snaps the run of Federer points and has a set point on his serve.

7-4, Nadal: Federer sails a backhand long and after 59 minutes Nadal has the first set.

Here’s the stat line on the first set:

Federer: 3 aces, 1 double-fault, 63 percent first serves, 69 percent second-serve points won, no break points, 9 for 15 at the net, 10 winners, 24 unforced errors.

Nadal: 1 ace, 0 double-faults, 70 percent first serves, 67 percent second-serve points won, 0 for 3 on break points, 2 for 7 at the net, 6 winners, 15 unforced errors.

4:41 a.m. ET | Nadal holds, tied 6-6*.

First point of Nadal’s service game: 33 shots. It didn’t work out for Federer. He plays it a little too passively. When Nadal sends a high looper to his backhand, Federer lets the ball drop instead of stepping in to hit it on the rise; he puts it into the net. On the whole, it’s surprisingly passive game from Federer. You’d think he would have stepped in and taken some big rips to try to get the break for the set.

Nadal holds. Tiebreaker. Nadal has withstood the early barrage of offense from Federer and it feels like the match is being played on his terms now.

It's quite cool outside in Melbourne, but of course Rafael Nadal is dripping sweat. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

It’s quite cool outside in Melbourne, but of course Rafael Nadal is dripping sweat. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

4:35 a.m. ET | Federer holds, leads 6-5*.

Nadal starts off well with two service winners to build to 30-0 and he looks on his way to an easy hold before two loose errors make it 30-all. Federer sends a forehand unforced long. He’s frustrated. He can’t take advantage of some of these short backhands that Nadal is leaving for him. Nadal holds with an impossibly angled ace that I’m not sure anyone can believe landed in. It did. This pro-Federer crowd (is there really any other kind when he takes the court?) barely applauded that service hold from Nadal.

Easy hold for Federer. Headed for a tiebreaker?

4:27 a.m. ET | Federer holds, leads 5-4*.

It’s amazing how much better Federer is moving this year compared to last year. In the longest rally of the match, a 21-shot scrambler, Nadal finally gets the better of Federer with a lunging forehand flick that he sends impossibly deep on the baseline; Federer puts a forehand into the net. But that was great tennis from Federer and he remained on the offensive even as Nadal kept yanking him all over the court. Then again, will the fact that he’s playing so well and yet still level frustrate the Swiss? This set is huge for his confidence. He needs it.

Rafael Nadal has won the last four matches against Roger Federer. (William West/AFP/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal has won the last four matches against Roger Federer. (William West/AFP/Getty Images)

Darren Cahill said yesterday that he thought Federer needed at least 15 aces to win this match. Through four and a half service games he has just one and he just threw in his first double-fault. Then he follows it up with his second ace.

The ball is absolutely leaping off the court. Nadal directs a heavy forehand to the Federer backhand (reusable description) and the ball gets too high on Federer and he dumps it weakly into the net. But Nadal can’t convert his third break point of the match and Federer gets a little more luck, as a forehand ticks the net cord but goes over and he eventually wins the rally. Federer holds.

4:18 a.m. ET | Federer holds, leads 4-3*.

Nadal responds with a love hold.

On Federer’s fourth service game, Nadal makes his move. Federer opens the door with a forehand error. Two points later, Nadal rifles a backhand cross court return past him. At 15-30, Federer makes the ill-advised move (again) to approach to Nadal’s forehand. The Spaniard makes him pay with a down-the-line pass.

But Nadal lets him off the hook. He has a look at two backhand passes and he fires both out. Shocking. It takes two deuces, but Federer finally holds. He really dodged a bullet there.

4:08 a.m. ET | Federer holds, leads 3-2*.

Big opportunity for Federer to break. He gets to 0-30 thanks to a fantastic pick-up volley that sets up a forehand volley putaway. But Nadal slams the door with a great backhand pass down the line and then gets two unforced errors from Federer to earn game point. On Nadal’s first second serve of the match, Federer runs around it and cracks a forehand down the line for a winner. This is all-out aggression from Federer. He’s attacking the net and he hasn’t hit a slice backhand yet, coming over the top on every ball.

From deuce, Nadal holds. Federer responds with a love hold.

(William West/AFP/Getty Images)

Roger Federer has not made a major final since Wimbledon 2012. (William West/AFP/Getty Images)

4:00 a.m. ET | Federer holds, leads 2-1*.

Nadal gets to 30 on Federer’s serve but the Swiss snuffs it out with a nice one-two punch, pulling Nadal wide to his backhand and hitting a forehand down the line for the winner. On game point a net cord pulls Federer into the net and he delicately executes a drop shot. Nadal races forward and smacks a backhand cross court, but Federer holds his ground and puts away the volley.

Nice to see Andre Agassi is watching at home:

3:57 a.m. ET | Nadal holds, tied 1-1*.

Clean hold to start for Federer. Nadal can’t get get three backhand returns in play and loses the game at 15.

Now we get a look at the Nadal serve. His hand isn’t as taped up as it was in his last two rounds, and Toni Nadal says the blisters are better. Here’s a reminder of what he’s dealing with:

Rafael Nadal 's broken blister. (Andrew Brownbill/AP)

Rafael Nadal ‘s broken blister. (Andrew Brownbill/AP)

“I feel that with the tape I can lose the racket when I serving,” Nadal said after his win over Grigor Dimitrov. “That’s a terrible feeling for a serve, because then when you have this feeling you are not able to accelerate at the right moment.” The blisters only affect his serve, he says, and not his forehand.

So far, so good. Nadal holds at love.

3:51 a.m. ET | Warm up

There’s a slight delay for the match to start for two reasons. First, the women’s doubles final, won by No. 1 Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, went a full three sets and just wrapped up. Second, there’s RoofGate! The roof over Rod Laver Arena was closed when today’s session began due to early rain, and when they tried to open it for the women’s doubles final, it got stuck. It looks about 30 percent open at the moment, and despite the dark clouds and dropping temperatures, they want it open for this men’s semifinal.

Fans prepare for tonight's blockbuster match. (Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Fans prepare for tonight’s blockbuster match. (Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

The players are on court and it’s that rare sight of Federer walking out before Nadal (the lower seed walks out first). Brad Gilbert is picking Nadal in four tight sets.

During the afternoon, Pete Sampras came in for a press conference. Here’s what he had to say about tonight’s match and the sport-changing rivalry between these two stars.

“Roger is 32,” Sampras said. “Rafa is in his prime, 27, 28. So, sure, it’s not going to last forever. You have to appreciate this match tonight, so much so that you just have to sit back and enjoy it. These are two of the greatest players of all time playing in the same decade. It’s one for the ages. Let’s hope it lives up to the expectations. Certainly it’s not going to last forever. Everybody gets older and we all retire at some stage.”

“Today is a very difficult match for us and I hope it’s a difficult match for Roger, too,” Nadal’s coach Toni tells Pam Shriver. He says “the hand is better.” We’ll see.

The roof is finally open, which means with the wind and cooler temperatures, the conditions favor Nadal as this match begins. The clouds are dark and rain is expected in Melbourne  tonight, but the hope is that it won’t hit Melbourne Park.

After a bit of a struggle, the roof at Rod Laver Arena is now fully open. (Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

After a bit of a struggle, the roof at Rod Laver Arena is now fully open. (Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

So can Federer notch just his second win over Nadal on outdoor hard court? They’ve played on the surface nine times, with Nadal leading 7-2. “I’m looking forward to speaking to Stefan, because when we spoke together when he came to Dubai and we spoke about the game, we clearly spoke about playing Rafa, as well,” Federer said after his great win over Andy Murray in the quarterfinals. “He thought he had some good ideas, so I’m looking forward to what he has to say. Clearly with Severin, he knows him inside out. I’m looking forward to hear what the boys have to say. We’ll prepare. I hope I can get a win. We’ll see.”

We’ll see indeed. Federer will serve first. As he toes the line the crowd at Rod Laver Arena let out a monstrous roar.

Ready? Play.

Pre-match

No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 6 Roger Federer will meet in the semifinals of the Australian Open on Friday. The match is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. local time (3:30 a.m. ET). ESPN will televise. The winner will face No. 8 Stanislas Wawrinka in Sunday’s final.

This will mark the 33rd meeting between Nadal, a 13-time Grand Slam champion, and Federer, a record 17-time Grand Slam champion. Their decade-long rivalry has been a boon for tennis fans, who have had the luxury of watching two of the best ever clash time after time on the biggest stages when the stakes are highest. Of their 32 matches, 28 have been in semifinals or finals, with one more on the way. They’ve battled 10 times at Grand Slam tournaments, 16 times at Masters events and five times at the prestigious season-ending ATP World Tour Finals.

Nadal has the upper hand: He’s 22-10 against Federer, including 2-0 at the Australian Open and 8-2 overall at Grand Slam tournaments. Federer has not beaten Nadal at a Slam since Wimbledon in 2007. Their most recent meeting at a major was Nadal’s four-set victory in the 2012 Australian Open semifinals.

“He’s been tough to play against, no doubt,” Federer said. “I’m happy I get a chance to play him in a Slam again.”

Federer earned that chance by beating No. 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the fourth round and No. 4 Andy Murray in the quarterfinals. A four-time champion, Federer has made 11 consecutive semifinals in Melbourne. He’s pleased with his form and fitness after struggling with both last year.

“I am back physically,” Federer said. “I’m explosive out there. I can get to balls. I’m not afraid to go for balls.”

Federer will need that assertive approach against Nadal, who has overcome a blistered hand to beat No. 16 Kei Nishikori in three tight sets in the fourth round and No. 22 Grigor Dimitrov in four sets in the quarterfinals. Nadal, the 2009 champion, is two victories from becoming the second player in the Open era to win all four Grand Slam tournaments twice.

  • Published On Jan 24, 2014
  • 27 comments
    dorado
    dorado

    enough of this analysis, it's very basic.  nadal is in federer's head.


    nadal hits high topspin balls to fed's backhand until the unforced errors start.  then his first serve starts breaking down due to losing confidence.  that's the rivalry in a nutshell since 2008.

    tennisbro
    tennisbro

    IMHO not enough changes in Rogers game – he does make some great shots but not consistently or fast enough – he likes a slower match – however Rafa can think on his feet faster and continuously make tough angle shots when he needs to. Wish Roger could/would make a powerful straight down-the line shot more often – fast and powerful and unexpected. Wish Roger didn’t make so many bad net shots. Wish Roger wouldn’t make so many pingpong shots directly to Rafa before he makes his move to the corners. He’s been doing these things for years now and for a different result these bad habits need to change.


    MichaelC
    MichaelC

    Rafa has NEVER had any problems beating Fed. First match - straight set victory on the hard-court in 2004 when Rafa was a relatively unknown 18-yo and Fed was world #1. In fact, Rafa beat Fed the first six of seven H2H matches. It's just contrasting style and also as the years wore on, more mental for Fed. Fed believes he can beat Nole and Murray and other top players. I don't think he has that much confidence (or even half that) against Rafa.


    One weird tid-bit: Daveydenko is 6-5 career against Rafa and 6-1 on hard-courts. Federer is 19-2 career against Daveydenko and 14-2 on hard-courts. Style makes a huge difference.


    I don't think there's ever been - in the history of tennis - a single shot that has had so much historical impact than the Nadal forehand to the Federer backhand. Just crazy.


    6marK6
    6marK6

    There has never been another tennis player that plays at the level of Rafa Nadal. He is physically superior to all that has ever picked up a racket.

    Bussie
    Bussie

    Best of all time between Nadal and Federer?  It's easy to say Nadal will most assuredly pass Federer, but....  By age 26 both had the same number of Majors (12).  Federer has just 5 since turning 27.  A lot can be said that was around the time Nadal and then Djok started to hit their stride, but reality is that 27 is the magic age. [For those keeping score, Sampras had 10 before age 27, and 4 after). The question of best ever will be answered by how many Nadal will get now that he is past the peak 20-26 years.  I'd like to see Nadal do it, but there's no given that he current trajectory will continue at the same pace.

    UncleGruesome
    UncleGruesome

    Rafa stomps "The Greatest Player of All Time"  AGAIN!


    The greatest player of all time -to date: Ricardo Alonso "Pancho" Gonzales. Hands down.
    Did I hear someone shout "Twinkle-toes Tilden!”? Not even close. (Go away; cute bothering the nice people, fool!")

    I definitely heard someone shout "Laver!" Cute little fellow; has everybody all gaga about winning two (Gasp!) Grand Slams. Better choice than 'Twinkle toes' but, nope.

    In the end? It will be Rafa. Why? Well, before you can say KramerBudgeandMartina, he will have passed Bitter Beef Face Federer in the majors department and, oh, by the way for that eraserhead who just called out "Roger!” Rafa has been eating his lunch for a decade now, 2 to 1; five in a row now. Anyone calling Federer the greatest, even of this decade is besotted with his grace. Great backhand, but The greatest...?

    The only reason he's still trying is because Rafa will only be three away when he wins here; and he's trying to win more. But the competition has stiffened, and so have his muscles.

    If he had guts as well as talent he would have faced up to Rafa; stolen Rafa's lunch; and ended up the greater; but Rafa has skill AND guts. He has more majors than anyone but Roger (For now.), and Sampras. (Sampras will fall soon. Great skill, he; but all the charisma of a pancake.)

    For all the others our there shouting, which I cannot hear for the cacophony: take the Edbergs, Borgs, Connorses, McEnroes, and so forth et cetera ad nauseum and pack them away in your little, fuzzy yellow hearts, because that is as far as they will ever get in the ‘greatest’ commentary.

    For those of you two young or limited to remember Ricardo Alonso "Pancho" Gonzales, well, fortunately, you can look him up on Wikipedia: just do the numbers.

    Bye!

    shelley
    shelley

    It was so much fun to see Roger pouting and whining and scuffing at the court and waving his hands in dismay as Rafa laid another thumping on him.  Vamos Rafa!!!!

    WangIvana
    WangIvana

    Nadal had already destroyed Federer physically and mentally in 2009 AU, Federer never recovered from that kindergarten crying baby episode.

    Nadal won this match already, well before stepping into the court.

    mangstadt
    mangstadt

    Blister? What Blister?

    Business as usual.

    dami1
    dami1

    Average time between serves for Nadal during first set: 27 seconds. If you measure it, you will notice that it goes many times over 30 seconds! Points that HAD to been given back to Federer. Can someone explain me what this guy, yes, this american tourist (sorry, referee) is used for? 'cause if he's here to make sure players will not cheat, which by the way is not a necessity when Fed is in the place but becomes one when it's the Nadal Clan (I'm talking about facts here, not assumptions), then they didn't choose the right guy. No authority, "no balls", how can you appoint a guy like this for this job???

    trishaagarwal134
    trishaagarwal134

    #Wawrinka "Roger texted me last night & said he was really happy for there to be 2 Swiss guys in the semis. I said 'for you it's normal.'"

    BobJackson
    BobJackson

    @MichaelC 


    Thanks for your "weird tid-bit"!


    I don't follow tennis much, but I DO like Roger.  Always gracious, always class.

    Hope he is able to win another major.


    dami1
    dami1

    @6marK6 I guess you have never heard about Lin Dan?

    Because contrary to you, there are 4 billions Asian people who know him very well...

    JBub
    JBub

    @6marK6...except for perhaps Bjorn Borg, who had a style similar to Nadal--and I would love to see that match! Then again there was John McEnroe, with a very different "control" game who could vary speed, spin, depth, and angle using both serve and ground stokes to make even a stallion like Borg look silly at times. The same I think would go for Nadal. But again, I would love to see that match!   

    6marK6
    6marK6

    @Bussie I don't base it on aggregate # of grand slams, that is not the best measure. You have different eras, quality of competition, health, longevity.... It is not about longevity. Heck, Borg was the most dominant in his era. I look at who is just pound for pound the best. Nadal is an absolute freak. Take any player from any era and put him against Rafa in his prime and Rafa beats all. Nadal is the best.

    UncleGruesome
    UncleGruesome

    @shelleyBitter Beer Face couldn't stand up to him again!  Gifted yes; great logo, yes; guts, no so much.


    Aside from Rafa's absolutey-out-of-his-mind shots, he has the one thing Roger which will never have: Heart.


    As soon as Djokovic got his head together,his heart started beating up on Federer.


    Murry will always be a head case.

    mangstadt
    mangstadt

    @dami1 Excuses, excuses. They oughta rule pounding Fed's backhand time and again as an illegal play. The thing is, I saw Nadal making Fed run quite a bit from one side of the court to the other, not only abusing Fed's backhand.

    maria_pashova
    maria_pashova

    @6marK6@Bussie Take Rafa out of his era and he would be lost in the world of rackets with small heads and fast surfaces and no topspin and special strings for Rafa and his physics wouldn't outshine the techniques and skills of all those players. This era allows physicality to take over the technical and smart tennis which is the purpose of this game. Something must be done because tennis is heading towards something which it has never been - physical sport and that is awfull! 

    cleopatra209
    cleopatra209

    6MARK6       AS I SAID BEFORE, THAT IS CORRECT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    AjaySingh
    AjaySingh

    @mangstadt @dami1 Why is everyone making such a big deal about Roger's backhand. It's graceful, for sure, and was occasionally devastating last night. But on the whole, it was his weak point, which, I gather, is why Nadal kept feeding balls to Roger's backhand. Makes me wonder if the one-handed backhand is generally inferior to the two-hand one in terms of power. (It has speed, yes, but not quite the penetration.) Appreciate any comments.

    dami1
    dami1

    @mangstadt @dami1 I am not trying to find excuses, Nadal was clearly the best player, as he has always been against Federer for the last 7 years now! 

    I'm asking for a fair competition. There is someting rotten in this sport, on both men and women's side. Rules are not respected anymore. That is a shame. If you let the bullies take all the space they want, they will always distort the competition at their own advantage. 

    JBub
    JBub

    @maria_pashova@JBub@6marK6@BussieIts a power game now and not much variety. But even so, one statistic has remained the same: He who controls the net wins more of the points. Wish more played serve and volley, particularly the boring "grind it out" game the women play.

    maria_pashova
    maria_pashova

    @JBub@maria_pashova@6marK6@Bussie Agree, there is no point in comparing different players. We can compare them only by their records in their eras. For me tennis was more interesting in 90-s and 2000-2004. There were many styles and the versatility was bigger. When this generations retired Federer was the star. I like his style of play. But when they started to change surfaces and technologies of the rackets tennis became too physical. Federer adapted his game but it wasn't enough. At the beginning he was serving and volleying a lot but then the changes forced him to play from the baseline mainly. I admit Nadal is a great champion but I just don't like this kind of tennis. It is becoming too predictable and therefore you have the same players for so many years in the top without a change and the rest of the players practice very boring baseline game that is too easy to read - look at David Ferrer, just constant grinding. There is no surprise. 

    JBub
    JBub

    @maria_pashova@6marK6@BussieHere is what is CORRECT and what is not to be confused with mere opinion. EVERY generation tends to think that its crop of top athletes is the "best ever" in a particular sport.  Logically, it is not possible that all opposing claims be true, but it is possible that opposing claims can all be false! Nadal (or Tiger) just may be "best ever", yet the next generation will soon be along to claim the same. And so on we go: Borg could beat Nadal, Nadal could beat McEnroe, McEnroe could beat Borg...