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Federer-Nadal reaction around the Web

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Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

Roger Federer (left) was no match for Rafael Nadal on Friday. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Here’s a sampling of the media reaction to Rafael Nadal’s 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-3 victory over Roger Federer in the semifinals of the Australian Open on Friday:

Steve Tignor, Tennis.com: It was apparent from the start, in case we had forgotten, that Rafael Nadal is not Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Nor is he Andy Murray. In the first set, the forays to the net that worked for Federer against those two weren’t working anymore. By the middle of the second set, Federer was struggling to get to the net at all. The player who had come in looking to take back the forecourt was stuck behind the baseline retrieving Nadal’s diving and hooking sidespin, exactly where he didn’t want to be.

Jon Wertheim, SI.com: [W]hat Nadal plays on the court is not always tennis. It’s akin to some kind of tribal dialect. Yes, it bears a resemblance to the court game involving a racket, balls and a 78-by-27-foot grid of boxes. But it is wildly different from any other player’s game — past, present and, we can safely say, future.

Greg Bishop, New York Times: As far as rivalries go, theirs is remarkably consistent, and has been for almost 10 years now. Take Friday. That was Federer-Nadal, match 33, in the semifinals of the Australian Open. As has been the case since 2007 whenever the two have squared off in Grand Slam tournaments, Nadal won and Federer lost and the dialogue about their places in history shifted yet again. The match played out with Nadal in front, with Nadal in control, with Nadal stinging Federer with backhands and slinging Federer around the court. For nearly two weeks now, Federer had played like the Federer of old — but Nadal beat that Federer, too, for the most part.

Greg Couch, FoxSports.com: Nadal, not Federer, is the greatest player of all time. And Nadal is in his prime. We can talk about that on Sunday, after Nadal beats Stan Wawrinka to win the title and become the first man in the open era to win each major twice. For now, the issue is that Federer has rewritten his reality these past two weeks. He’s not going to be No. 1 again. He’s not going to regain the step he has lost. He isn’t going to be able to beat Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray all in the same tournament again, either. It’s going to take the perfect storm for Federer to win another major or two, but that can, and does, happen in tennis. And to get this far, this fast after making changes is actually amazing.

Matt Wilansky, ESPN.com: Despite a disappointing ending for him, this tournament as a whole had had an eminently different feel for Federer, who came into Oz with a new coach, new frame and, most importantly, a new frame of mind. There was no indecision on his part on what he needs to do to keep his career moving forward. We emphasize “moving forward.” Federer swarmed the net all tournament long, including 66 times against Murray in the quarterfinals. For a number of years, as his contemporaries have powered past Federer, there have been a lot of people asking for some sort of reform in his game. At this point in his career, that moving-forward approach might be the 17-time major champ’s only salvation if he wants to remain competitive with Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Murray, whom he went 0-8 against last season. In Melbourne, Federer had more than a flashback to his Slam-winning ways. We’ve seen him toy with new game plans and equipment, but it’s clear that he now has full trust in his tactics.

Chris Chase, For The Win: This was the biggest legacy match in the Federer-Nadal rivalry since their famous 2008 Wimbledon final. The win gives Nadal a 23-10 overall record and a 9-2 record in Grand Slams. If Nadal wins the Australian Open on Sunday, he’ll have 14 Slams to Federer’s 17. Barring injury or an act of Soderling, Rafa will make it 15 at Roland Garros. Even a FedFan’s favorite retort to claims of Nadal’s head-to-head dominance — “it’s skewed because of all the matches on clay!” — is moot, as the record still favors Rafa when clay matches are excluded. (He leads 10-8 off the dirt.) Even so, the clay argument has always been silly. “Rafa’s so good on this surface that it shouldn’t count.” How does that make any sense? (For what it’s worth, the far better argument is that Federer’s prime came before Nadal’s emergence as an all-court threat. Then, as Nadal hit his prime, he beat up on Federer in his twilight.)

Simon Reed, Yahoo! Eurosport UK: I always find it difficult to accept that Roger Federer can be the greatest player of all time yet have been second-best to someone for so much of his career. I would not say that Rafael Nadal is quite ready to be proclaimed ‘the GOAT’ – he needs to at least match Federer’s 17 Grand Slams to settle the argument – but I find it increasingly difficult to accept that he could be rated beneath Roger.

Peter Bodo, Tennis.com: The outstanding feature of the 33rd meeting between rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal was the terrible inevitability of the outcome. For those hoping for a new and perhaps final twist in this saga of mutual greatness, it was less like watching a clash of titans than a B-grade horror movie. With each passing moment, it unfolded with a dispiriting predictability.

Alix Ramsay, Australian Open: Every time he has played Nadal at a Grand Slam tournament since 2007, the result has been the same. The old Federer could not beat Nadal; the new Federer cannot beat Nadal. While the Swiss goes away to work out another plan of attack against his old rival, Nadal keeps on winning.

Melissa Isaacson, ESPN.com: Nothing like a match with Rafael Nadal to punch a hole in two weeks of newfound energy and confidence for Roger Federer. But as so often has been the case in their 10-year series, Friday night’s Australian Open semifinal was much more about Nadal’s brilliance than Federer’s failure.

  • Published On Jan 24, 2014
  • 23 comments
    evan.buntoro
    evan.buntoro

    1. Federer is 32 and he is still challenging slams, can we all wait until Rafa (and for the sake of comparison, Djokovic) reach 30 and see how they compete with the next generation (Raonic? Dimitrov?)


    2. Just because Federer has a terrible record against Rafa doesn't mean he is not the GOAT, just because Rafa owns a superior winning record against Federer doesn't mean he is the GOAT. If someone has superior record against Rafa, will that player be the GOAT? Geez...


    3. Federer is approaching the twilight of his career and Rafa is in his prime. Don't even talk about how they would fare if they had the same age because it's pointless discussing it. It's just a fact and although they are professional players, age does matter sometimes, doesn't it?

    jay0337
    jay0337

    You don't become a GOAT by having a better head to head against Federer. 10-20 years down the lane no one will remember head to head stats as much as they would remember grand slam wins. For that matter people might even not remember Federer's 20 odd straight semis. SO those stats even though are fantastic are still irrelevant stats for me.  Both NAdal and Fed are great but the question of GOAT remains because they are not done with their careers yet. So there is no point tagging one of them as GOAT given that once we call one of them GOAT, the other suddenly starts winning titles..For that matter I would also throw Djoker in the mix.....He has the talent to better Federer and Nadal's records.....Its great for the sport that all of them are playing in this era and competing with each other

    ShahidMZubair
    ShahidMZubair

    I personally think both Rafa and Roger are two of the greatest men to have played this game. And when I see these 'comparisons', I cannot help but see the hypocrisy of the comparators. It takes everything you have to know it in your heart that you cannot regain what you have lost and still make changes to your game to try to win it back. It also takes the same to battle a career-threatening injury and come back to pole even after half your ex-supporters and fans have given up on you and the other half don't know what to expect. If you look through all the numbers these supposed 'experts of the game' throw at you, you will see that, in their own way, these two have brought millions closer to the game of tennis; and according to me, that is what counts.

    Also, a word to all those who predicted an outright Rafa win today (especially Mr. Greg Couch) while suggesting that he is greater than Roger: You are so blinded by your bias against Roger that you failed to even consider the 'remote' possibility that Stan could win today. Do everybody a favour and stop commenting on tennis from now...

    maria_pashova
    maria_pashova

    The real match was Dimitrov-Nadal. Nadal is absolutely puzzled by the different types of shots which Grigor is giving him and hence the mistakes from Rafa's racket. Grigor is giving him everything - short balls, slow balls, short slices down the line (from there Nadal made numerous mistakes), big forehands, topspin forehands, deep balls with a lot of hight and weight. Nadal is struggling against him - 4 matches, 4 difficult wins for Nadal. But Grigor is developing now and he is getting closer and closer. He just lacks experience and physics but he will acquire that. One thing is for sure Dimitrov knows how to play Rafa and he knows it ever since he was 17 y.o. and made Nadal run for his money in Rotterdam. Djokovic and Dimitrov are the guys with the game to beat Nadal and they are brave enough and never go to the court beaten. That is a fact. Roger is totally beaten psychologically and it is very sad to watch him against Nadal. 

    kent_dorfman
    kent_dorfman

    I've never been a fan of Nadal and seldom watch his matches. I only tune in if I think his opponent has a good chance of winning - in other words when he plays Djokovic or Murray. Otherwise, I have no interest.


    I find Nadal's matches boring and his behavior offensive and intimidating - not unlike a predatory animal stalking his prey. This is fine if you're in the boxing ring but it's excessive on the tennis court. Nadal also displays little regard for the rules by taking an eternity between points, receiving illegal coaching from his uncle and taking questionable medical timeouts. Such tactics are not in the spirit of the game and suggest he cannot rely on tennis ability alone to win matches. 


    I've never thought much of his tennis - in fact, his style is a visual assault that is dull and unpleasant to watch.  His game is all about grinding, grunting, moonballing and chasing everything down. If this game plan isn't working he calls for the trainer. He'll complain of something extreme like a broken foot and then proceed to run around like a spring chicken for the rest of the match. I can't stand it and neither can his opponents. All too often, they let Nadal's tactics get under their skin and ultimately they lose focus and the match. 


    I don't like Nadal off the court either. In interviews he sometimes comes across as a socially awkward but likable guy and other times a complaining brat with a sense of entitlement. I find his 'likable' persona  phony and disingenuous and the complaining persona more true to who he really is and more consistent with what we see from him on the tennis court.


    That said, his style of play is as valid as any other, just not to my taste and has no bearing on GOAT status. GOAT status is determined by how successful the player was/is. Nadal is well on track to overtake Federer's slam record. A calendar year Grand Slam isn't out of the question. Either way, Nadal will end up the undisputed GOAT on paper.

    ReymondoLeon
    ReymondoLeon

    Putting aside the GoaT debate, for the last 6-7 years Nadal hasn't played the same Federer as everyone else. When they play each other Federer is nervous, touchy and plays terribly regardless of what Rafa does. Rafa completely owns Federer mentally now, and there's nothing Federer can do about it.

    Federer doesn't play to win, he plays not to lose - and that's fatal against Nadal. On top of which he shanks balls, nets balls, hits wide, his first service percentage drops away, etc. etc.


    Here's some things he could have done to try and negate Nadal's game, and improve all round:


    1. Come in to the net earlier.

    Nadal's big, looping topspin shots from way behind the baseline could be plucked out of the air and volleyed away before the usual destruction begins.


    2. Stop hitting volleys straight back to players. I don't know if Federer is terrible at predicting where players will go, or if he's arrogant enough to think that his volleying will win the day - but it was depressing to see him repeatedly hitting it straight back to his opponents and giving them another chance to win.


    3. Stop hitting topspin, groundstroke-style volleys. That's the kind of shot that most modern players want. Whereas a sliced, skidding volley robs your opponent of time and ball height.


    4. Against Nadal, play more junk balls. Short balls, slow balls, high looping balls.


    5. More serves at the body. When Federer's serve starts missing, he's usually trying to get it out wide. He could improve his first serve percentage and create difficulty for Nadal's big, looping strokes by jamming him up.



    aeschylus0628
    aeschylus0628

    The most revealing thought to come out of this Australian Open is Federer's observation that Nadal is changing his style of play for each round and for each opponent. In some ways, it confirms my suspicion that that is exactly what Nadal has been doing since his reemergence from injury last year. It totally surprised Djokovic and cost him the USO especially. Taking painful lessons from consecutive losses to Djokovic before he was sidelined by injury, Nadal and his team must have come up with strategies and gameplay that would make figuring his tennis as elusive as the next point of play. The result? Djokovic enlists a new coach—and that after Federer did. Given this, it's intriguing how the next grand slams and minor atp events would play out after all these developments.

    OgnjenDrljan
    OgnjenDrljan

    I still can't believe, after all this years, people are still debating who is the best ever. Facts are not needed in this debate, because this is clearly subjective thing, and all you need to ask is two questions: Who is most loved, and celebrated player? And why? But still, for someone this is not enough and they need to pull up some numbers to prove something. And what they do? From all the numbers, they pull most insignificant, out of the context, beside the point numbers, like 23-10. If we take this number in consideration than everything that tennis is, and is played for, becomes trivial. It only proves that Federer's style doesn't match up well with Nadal's and nothing more. Those who followed tennis over the years, know what is the hardest thing to achieve, the holly grail, so to speak, in this sport. That is, to become number 1, and even harder, to stay number one, objectively, is there anything harder in tennis? So I'm amazed that experienced journalists and analytic's fall in this hole of head to head records. Guys, the name, HEAD TO HEAD, sums it all up, what this numbers represents. Finally, if we are going to dig up some numbers, how about 302-120, or 237-56, well, those numbers mean something. If anything, that 23-10 record, proves just the opposite, that in spite such a poor record, Roger manged to achieve stats like 302 and 17. At the end, it's not even about 302, it's about how he got there, and that's the answer to those two questions from the beginning of the comment, and that's the answer to the question: who is the best ever?

    OgnjenDrljan
    OgnjenDrljan

          I still can't believe, after all this years, people are still debating who is the best ever. Facts are not needed in this debate, because this is clearly subjective thing, and all you need to ask is two questions: Who is most loved, and celebrated player? And why? But still, for someone this is not enough and they need to pull up some numbers to prove something. And what they do? From all the numbers, they pull most insignificant, out of the context, beside the point numbers, like 23-10. If we take this number in consideration than everything that tennis is, and is played for, becomes trivial. It only proves that Federer's style doesn't match up well with Nadal's and nothing more. Those who followed tennis over the years, know what is the hardest thing to achieve, the holly grail, so to speak, in this sport. That is, to become number 1, and even harder, to stay number one, objectively, is there anything harder in tennis? So I'm amazed that experienced journalists and analytic's fall in this hole of head to head records. Guys, the name, HEAD TO HEAD, sums it all up, what this numbers represents. Finally, if we are going to dig up some numbers, how about 302-120, or 237-56, well, those numbers mean something. If anything, that 23-10 record, proves just the opposite, that in spite such a poor record, Roger manged to achieve stats like 302 and 17. At the end, it's not even about 302, it's about how he got there, and that's the answer to those two questions from the beginning of the comment, and that's the answer to the question: who is the best ever?

    BritGirl
    BritGirl

    Can Roger Federer play astonishing tennis?  Of course he can.  Is he a gracious loser?  Of course he is not.  He comes across as churlish, arrogant and self-conceited.  Roger sounds like a sore loser.  With nearly all the top group of players now taking on what I call 'trophy coaches' (literally and figuratively), Federer may have expected Edberg's influence/coaching to have turned he, Federer, into a Nadal-slaying machine.


    Now Federer is complaining about Rafa's grunting.  After 33 meetings, is he only now aware of it?  Would it have been a problem if Federer had been winning?  Probably not!


    His comment about their rivalry is extremely revealing.  Federer is quoted as saying he loves to play Rafa because the matches are always on centre court, and there is always a great build-up to the matches.  Indicative of the man:  he loves attention.  Rafa would have probably said that he loves the rivalry because of the inherent challenges, because each man forces the other to dig deep and each man brings out the best game in the other.




    independentincc
    independentincc

    The inconvenient truth to those hanging on to the myth that Roger is the best ever is that Rafa is the best ever.  Further Rafa is so much better than Roger is and ever was that it ain't even close.  Get over it.  At 27, Rafa will continue to break all previous records right after he wins this Sunday.

    FredFlintsone
    FredFlintsone

    Having added a 123mph fastball to his serve game Nadal is now doing on hard courts, not his fav service in yrs past, whats he always done to em on clay. 4 grand slam titles  being served up by the spaniard this year is very realistic 

    kent_dorfman
    kent_dorfman

    @ReymondoLeon 


    I'd like to suggest that Federer stop trying to run around the backhand to hit forehands as often as he does. He is a step slower these days and can't get set for the shot and either frames, shanks, hits the net or sends 'em long. If he does make the shot, he gives up a lot of court. I'd like him to back himself rather than give Nadal and others the impression that he isn't confident with the backhand and therefore they should continue to exploit that weakness for the duration of the match.

    kent_dorfman
    kent_dorfman

    @ReymondoLeon 


    You obviously play a little tennis and know what you're talking about. 


    I've always thought that Federer doesn't employ any of the tactics you outlined, particularly the junk and moonballs because doing so would be stooping to Nadal's style of tennis which of course, is beneath him and not part of the beautiful game. It's as if Federer would rather lose on his own terms with his usual brand of tennis than win or at least be competitive by changing his tactics and playing a few ugly shots here and there to stay with Nadal and potentially force him to make an error.


    I don't know, but I cannot stand watching Federer v Nadal - it's a known result and it's getting embarrassing.

    mangstadt
    mangstadt

    @aeschylus0628 I agree. Nadal also made adjustments in the summer of 2010, right before winning his first US Open, and after losing to Djokovic at the US Open the following year they knew (they meaning Toni and Rafa Nadal) that changes were needed if they were to take on Djokovic and stand a chance of winning. Those changes were made prior to Australia 2012 and we saw a great match, acknowledged by Nadal as one of his best matches ever--even though he lost.

    In spite of Nadal's warrior-like appearance, if you dig down a bit you'll find that he is probably the most adaptable player out there. His hard court skills are not something he was born with but rather they have been honed over the years. In terms of intelligence (emotional intelligence, if you prefer) and strategy, Nadal is second to none.

    Djokovic is another player who has made changes over the years, including what types of food he eats (gluten-free diet). Federer really hasn't changed much, playing the same game once and again. Now in Australia, with the change of racquet and more frequent net shots, we can actually say that Federer has made substantial changes in his gameplay.

    mangstadt
    mangstadt

    @OgnjenDrljan  "Who is most loved, and celebrated player? And why?" To me this sounds like tennis is a judge's sport, like figure skating, gymnastics or synchro swimming. If it were up to the judges, Federer would be the Nadia Comaneci of tennis (or Nijinsky with a tennis racquet), even though he became who he was at a later age. 

    If you compare their achievements over the years in equivalent years (the best measure, in my opinion, is their age at the end of the year), you can clearly see that Nadal, who is five years less two months younger than Fed, is ahead of Federer in most areas and at the end of 2008 (RF) and 2013 (RN) they each had 13 slams to their name. As far as weeks at No. 1 and ATP WTFs are concerned, Roger excels in those two chapters. Nadal can continue adding up weeks at No. 1 and he might take it past the 200 barrier but that is hard to say right now. And he still has time to win the year-end finals but the fact that it's played on his worst surface, hard court indoor, makes it a very difficult task for him. I thonk he will eventually manage but this is probably wishful thinking on my part.

    Fed was a late bloomer, having won his first slam in the year he turned 22. Nadal started sooner, winning his first French Open just after turning 19 (his birthday, June 3, is always during Roland Garros, whereas Roger's, August 8, is always after Wimbledon and before the US Open). Federer has five multiple slam years: 2004 (3), 2005 (2), 2006 (3), 2007 (3), 2009 (2), whereas Nadal only has three of those so far: 2008 (2), 2010 (3), 2013 (2). On the other hand, Nadal has won at least one slam every year since 2005, with a win any time this year extending that stretch to an unprecedented 10 years in a row. 

    In 2009, which is Fed's equivalent year to Nadal's 2014, Roger won two slams, taking his overall tally to 15. Let's see what Rafa does this year. I've mentioned on other occasions that this is the year--this is the year when Rafa can win the calendar slam. After 2015 he'll be too old to accomplish such a feat. We'll see what happens tomorrow against Wawrinka. Rolnd Garros is Rafa's stronghold but that is not a guarantee. Wimbledon will be the biggest summit this year, in my opinion. 

    davejohnson14
    davejohnson14

    @OgnjenDrljan2 hard courts vs 1 clay court. 4-5 clay super 9s vs 15 hard court super 9s. Enough said. GOATs like Hewitt (2 slams), Roddick (1 slam), Safin(2 slams) as the main rivals for 3 years. 302 weeks is nonsense. @150 lucky weeks. With Nadal at the age of Rogers first slam win, the record is ordinary slam wise, weeks as no.1 wise and head on.  Roger is not a GOAT, he's Nadals toast. If he is a GOAT than Nadal is the WOLF that eats GOATs for dinner. Case rested.

    Darling_Lisa
    Darling_Lisa

    @BritGirl I first read that as "gracious lover". Hmmm, I'd like to find out and report back.



    laurafont
    laurafont

    @BritGirl

    Completely agree with you and am outraged at some of the things I read on this thread about Nadal. Some people are just vicious and blind!