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Final Thoughts 11/28/2010 - 5:59 PM

Hp 

by Hannah Wilks, TW Contributing Writer

On the protracted journey to North Greenwich this morning (London transport is laboring under major engineering works and facing a tube strike), almost every conversation I overhear is a discussion of Federer and Nadal. It makes me so pleased that on a weekend when the first Ashes test is underway, England have taken on South Africa at Twickenham, and the usual round of high-profile Premiership football clashes are on—Spurs v Liverpool being today's hot ticket—tennis can still fill the O2 arena.

It also makes me feel slightly ashamed of myself for not being more excited. As far as I'm concerned, the greatest rivalry in sport—as I understand we're now obligated to call it—reached its zenith at Wimbledon 2008 when Rafa carved out the heart of Roger's empire and more or less devoured it, and since then it's basically been one-way traffic. Rafa is the best player in the world right now, Roger has had one of the greatest careers; these things seem obvious to me. They don't even play each other that much—twice in 2009, and this their second meeting in 2010—meaning that their rivalry is mainly played out in records and statistics, and on their behalf in forums and blogs across the internet by their fans.

If I'm not excited though, I'm clearly the only one. The crowd applauds politely during the doubles final, a straight-sets victory for Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic; the trophy ceremony resembles a game of musical chairs as all four players acknowledge the end of old partnerships and the forming of new ones. It's good fun, but it's not what everyone's come for today.

Never has the O2 arena been so full of flags, Swiss and Spanish, and signs, some painstakingly-sewn and impressive, others scribbled in felt tip on what looks like scrap paper. The reach of the Federer signs is impressively global: 'Lugano Greets King Roger!', and more bafflingly, 'Namibia Loves Roger.' The Nadal supporters' signs read 'VAMOS RAFA' or simply 'RAFA!!!!', as if the man needs no introduction, just punctuation. It's a breathtakingly international crowd, too; in the past few days I've met people—not journalists, just fans—who have come from all over the world to be here. For every estuary voice which howls 'come on, Rog!', there's an 'allez Rafa!' or an authentic 'vamos!'

I've heard enough serious discussion of the crushing psychological blow that one opponent can inflict on the other by making him wait at the beginning of the match to note down how events turn out. This time, Federer manages to stay seated, visibly twiddling his thumbs, until after Nadal has got up to join him at net for the coin toss. It's either a minor miracle or a bold statement of dominance, but Nadal strikes back immediately by being substantially late in rising for play. In the chair, Mohammed Layani is already holding his head in both hands, like the mother of two squabbling siblings on a long car journey.

By the time the first three games have been played, it's obvious that we're not going to see any huge tactical surprises; nobody's come up with a masterstroke since the last time they played. Federer is going all-out aggressive, ending points quickly wherever possible; Nadal is trying to break down Federer's backhand. Not earth-shattering.

Stationary, Nadal looks squat and chunky across the net from the lithe Federer. That impression all but disappears once they both start to move. Nadal's feet scuttle across the baseline like a beetle; it's better to watch the unbelievable speed with which his racquet whips around his head as he delivers each forehand like a grenade. Despite that, it seems to have been all Federer so far, bounding on to every short ball like an eager puppy to smack a forehand winner. More impressively, his backhand doesn't seem to be leaking errors; indeed, more often that not he finishes a protracted exchange by finding an acute and unexpected angle off that side. The same shot gets him the first break, his fifth forehand winner the first set, 6-3. He hasn't lost a point on his first serve yet.

Federer is playing great. Nadal isn't, quite. Whether it's the remarkable speed with which Federer seizes his opportunities or not, the Spaniard looks a step slow, and his shots don't have the same penetration they did against Murray. Time and again his balls have been landing short and Federer isn't giving him a second chance at any of them. At the changeover, he sits miserably with his hands in his lap, looking between coach and umpire as if unsure who to expect a telling-off from first. His is the only long face in here; Maradona, Princess Eugenie, Thierry Henry all get big cheers from a happy crowd. Boris Johnson gets the biggest, proving once again that the fact that people in this city have the good sense to fill arenas for tennis doesn't mean they display the best judgement in all areas of their lives.

Nadal, inevitably, regroups. A return winner at 1-2 lets him fist-pump and strut, predatory for the first time, and he breaks on Federer's first significant forehand error. When Federer slips and falls in the next game trying to reach a bounce off the net cord, the Swiss is starting to look a little frantic and Nadal firmly in control. One weak service game and the set is gone.

The crowd at least are pleased about it; everyone would have felt short-changed if this one finished in straights. It feels almost like the match proper is starting now, and the rallies are growing ever more spectacular; the tennis that these two men can produce on pure instinct, playing on their veins, is breathtaking. Nadal is hitting much deeper than he was at the beginning of the match, but Federer's serve—after a brief vacation in the second set—is clicking beautifully, time and time again leaving Nadal stranded by the wide serve to the deuce court. He's still finding those angles off the backhand, giving him a toehold on Rafa's serve at 1-2 down. When that toehold becomes break point, the roar from the crowd is earsplitting. Lars Graff would have barked 'Please!' down the microphone as if having to restrain himself from adding 'stop embarrassing yourselves!'; Layani, on the other hand, milks the moment, drawing out the words 'aadvaantaaage Federer!' Federer manages to box Nadal into a corner until his attempted passer flies wide and consolidates the break despite alternating service winners and groundstroke errors, and is suddenly looking rather impregnable at 4-1. When he breaks again, the Federer fans are ecstatic and the Nadal fans are putting on their jackets. It's a cold day outside.

There's a slight oddness to the end of the match, as Federer's winning forehand looks out to seventy-five percent of the stadium. The fans sitting behind that line are the first to cheer, then as Nadal shakes his head and starts walking to the net, Federer is next. He's actually won, even if it's taken everyone a moment to realize it.

During his speech, Nadal's voice creaks with fatigue. In a possible Freudian slip, he thanks the crowd for their support 'in Wimbledon.' Federer quickly reiterates the mention of Wimbledon in his own victory speech. Deliberate or not, both of them know that the real battleground is elsewhere. This has been an extended trailer for Roger and Rafa, 2011; coming soon to a Slam near you.

Watching the confetti and camera flashes, I think about the significance of this victory. I'm starting to share some of Pete's skepticism about the format and implications of this event. Nadal may have been defeated, but no-one can deny it's been his year, and a rocky one for Federer by his lofty standards. I doubt that this defeat will impact Nadal for long; and I don''t know what Federer's victory can give him in terms of motivation and confidence for next year that the champion doesn't already possess. The Fedal numbers may have shifted a little, giving the hardcore fans fresh ammunition in their ongoing battles, but I'm not sure it means much more than that.

But it has been a week of great entertainment, of tennis that's encompassed the entire range from execrable to exceptional. It's given the ATP a chance to showcase their product, and London an opportunity to demonstrate another facet of its nature as a tennis city. On a personal level, it's been a week of staying up until 3 a.m., trying to find the right words for the best players in the world; a week when taking longhand notes during Nadal matches left my fingers blistered, and Djokovic's smile distracted me enough that I left my mobile phone in his press conference. (He didn't call.)

It may not quite be the 'fifth Slam' just yet—but it's been a bloody good week all the same.


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Posted by Middle-age man Fed/Puny server Rafa fan 11/28/2010 at 09:55 PM

Tim the moonpie man, Fed is a midage man, I've said it after today's match. Stop calling him old man. See my name, my boy? And have you seen this midage man totally destroying 5 year younger kids at YEC? I will bring back the old man when and if the midage man loses before QF at a major. And the only chance of that happening would be by that ranked 800 or something laser Delpo.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 09:57 PM

TMFunk,

that depends on definition of "one-way traffic", no?

You mean to say 4-0 is one way traffic...for me, 6-2 is close enough. But, strictly speaking, you are correct.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 09:59 PM

geez there's a lot of drama queens on this board :)

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 09:59 PM

The Fed has a lot of defending to do at AO...he better not lose form. He has to defend 2000 points.

Rafa has a lot to gain.

But once clay season starts, tables are reversed. Its Rafa defending all the way to September...and the Fed can gain at various stops.

Still, not much chance for a rankings change before Sept, is there?

Posted by Middle-age man Fed/Puny server Rafa fan 11/28/2010 at 10:00 PM

Leslie Nielsen of 'Naked Gun' dead at 84 today. Now he WAS an old man. He was also funny. What a shame.

Posted by crazyone 11/28/2010 at 10:00 PM

TMFunk, I was thinking something similar. If we disregard 2008, which admittedly is a huge disregard, in 2007-2010 Fed's H2H with Rafa is 3-2 (2007), 1-1 (2009), 1-1 (2010). Not bad at all.

I do miss the days of the h2h being 8-6.

Similarly, I don't think of Muzz's 8-6 h2h being terribly commanding over Fed. There was a time that people would say, "oh, how can Fed be the best ever if he has losing head to heads against TWO of his rivals, Nadal and Murray", but honestly I think the only one that is at all troubling if you're into that sort of thing is the Rafa one, the Muzz one was always not as consequential since it was skewed towards the later end of his career, and Fed seemed to win the most important matches anyway, and now it's 8-6, which isn't *incredibly* commanding.

Posted by TMFunk 11/28/2010 at 10:01 PM

ladyjulia - No, it depends only on the definition of "Since 2007". Since 2007 means 2007 to present. In other words, it means it has been a one-way traffic in 2008, 2009 and 2010. That is simply not true. It has been a one-way traffic only in 2008. In 2009 and 2010 they were 1-1 each year

Posted by Carol 11/28/2010 at 10:01 PM

Middle age man Fed, nobody is doing a "drama" at least not the Rafa's fans, maybe you and someone else are the ones doing the drama talking about Nadal again and again
OK, Federer has beat Nadal, and????? nobody is going to die, no big deal.
Enjoy now that you can the victory, later we'll see what it happens

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 10:01 PM

Fred lost 3rd round at both IW and Miami lots of points to pick up there

Posted by crazyone 11/28/2010 at 10:02 PM

TMFunk, I was thinking something similar. If we disregard 2008, which admittedly is a huge disregard, in 2007-2010 Fed's H2H with Rafa is 3-2 (2007), 1-1 (2009), 1-1 (2010). Not bad at all.

I do miss the days of the h2h being 8-6.

Similarly, I don't think of Muzz's 8-6 h2h being terribly commanding over Fed. There was a time that people would say, "oh, how can Fed be the best ever if he has losing head to heads against TWO of his rivals, Nadal and Murray", but honestly I think the only one that is at all troubling if you're into that sort of thing is the Rafa one, the Muzz one was always not as consequential since it was skewed towards the later end of his career, and Fed seemed to win the most important matches anyway, and now it's 8-6, which isn't *incredibly* commanding.

Posted by GB 11/28/2010 at 10:02 PM

Tim: was BG me? At first I thought you were having one of your out of context conversations with Brad Gilbert:)...If it was me then if the technicality can make you feel you're not part of the group Fed was talking about, it's probably a necessary rationalization.

Posted by MJK 11/28/2010 at 10:04 PM

Carol, where did you get that quote from? Is Rafa's presser available now?

Posted by TMFunk 11/28/2010 at 10:07 PM

C1 - I was just smarting a bit at the narrative I saw here and in a couple other places that recently it has been all Rafa over Fed. Well fact is 2008 was the only year that happened. I don't take that away from Nadal - The H2H is what it is, but don't make it what its not - A complete whitewash by Nadal since FO 2008. They've been even in terms of wins-losses since Wimby 2008!!!

Posted by Carol 11/28/2010 at 10:07 PM

MJK, I got from the Spanish TV through the internet. If you understand Spanish I can give you the link

Posted by MJK 11/28/2010 at 10:10 PM

Thanks Carol, can't say I do, but I'll take the link anyway and let Google help me translate it.

Posted by MJK 11/28/2010 at 10:11 PM

Oh wait, if it's a vid then never mind!

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 11/28/2010 at 10:11 PM

Carol : I wasn't ignoring you earlier ... I was on the 'phone to my sister-in-law in UK and did answer your post but I think you had gone by that time too.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 10:14 PM

TMFunk,

I interpreted differently..I summed it up since 2007. Not year by year.
So, 6-2.

Ofcourse, if you look at it year by year, except for 2008..which was horrible. The Fed isn't doing that bad w.r.t rivarly.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 10:17 PM

Tim,

3rd round?? Geez..Fed...keep Fred locked up.

Posted by CL 11/28/2010 at 10:17 PM

Leslie Nielson - ok, that IS sad news. It takes some level of Wilanders and luck to turn a mediocre career playing 2nd and 3rd leads into a later in life resurgence of wild, wacky, low brow and mostly very funny comedy. "And don't call me Shirley!"

LadyJ - I am sorry if I misunderstood you. I am looking forward to taping the TC version of the match which may(?) contain "waiting at the gate gate."

Hannah - I have loved every one of your reports and I VERY much hope you keep writing for TW.

***general wave to Sherlock.***

Or - if perchance you are still reading..unlikely I know...but there is always the jet lag factor...so glad you were there today. ***clink**

Posted by Andrew 11/28/2010 at 10:18 PM

CL: I don't really get why there's a fuss. I'm not the media - if I get to watch a match live, I generally write about what I'm seeing at the changeovers. I couldn't today: I had the match on DVR. But as I was watching, I thought, ruh-roh, Nadal's not running everything down.

As far as I can tell from surfing various reports, most journalists watching the match (Tom Tebbutt, for example, at Racquet Reaction) saw what I did. None saw it as an excuse, nor did the runner up. Nor have his fans at TW.

Perhaps Federer was a step slow at AO SF 2008. If he was, I didn't see it, and he's never said it was a factor. Perhaps Nadal was a step slow in Madrid F 2009, but I didn't see it, and he never said it was a factor. I thought Nadal might have been a step slow today, but he hasn't said it was a factor - just as I'd expect from a sporting and gracious player.

Posted by TMFunk 11/28/2010 at 10:19 PM

let me put it this way ladyjulia: Lets say I was posting on TW in 2007 then moved to somewhere and didn't post at all until 2010. Then lets say I said in my first post in 2010 that I've been posting at TW **since** 2007,how would you intepret it? Would you interpret it as me having posted on TW every year starting 2007 to 2010?

Posted by Carol 11/28/2010 at 10:19 PM

Don't worry Lynne, it's OK, I'm glad to see you around here today......

MJK, the interview is underneath the vid, you can read it

http://www.rtve.es/deportes/20101128/nadal-asegura-tenia-pocas-probabilidades-ganar-a-federer/376939.shtml

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 10:21 PM

Andrew, do you think Nadal isnt basically sending out the "i was tired' message with his very passive aggressive, Im not going to talk about that, you saw the semifinal talk?

talk about saying it without saying it! Rafa better do some more road work in the off season, he needs to get in shape! maybe he can fly Fred for some fishing and to share his Swiss fitness secrets?

Posted by Middle-age man Fed/Puny server Rafa fan 11/28/2010 at 10:22 PM

So the ranking point difference between Rafa and Fed will be about 3300, right? It is about 3800 and Fed just won YEC and get additional 500 points, so... Well, if Fed somehow minimize the ranking damage at AO, it could get interesting. Fed needs to watch out for Delpo landing on as his 1st or 2nd round opponent and knocking him out while Rafa needs to watch out for Muzz at SF. Fed can take care of both Muzz and Djoker just fine at SF, but Rafa will have to play 4-5 hour match to get through them, it seems.

Posted by CL 11/28/2010 at 10:23 PM

I think Roger and Rafa get on fine. Not best buds, but have a cordial relationship. Mirka and Luthi hung out to applaud for Rafa when he was presented with the Edberg Award. Toni was seen applauding Roger's win. I also think the best enjoy playing best. Gives their fans ulcers,but there it is.

Having said that, though it might be nice in the spirit of Kumbya and all for their fans/KADs to get along and fully appreciate the accomplishments of all, it just doesn't seem to be either fandom...or human nature. And so, here we are.

Or, actually, HERE we are:

http://img545.imageshack.us/img545/7547/483009d1jw6dbksqjg1buj.jpg

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 10:25 PM

CL..no worries..let me know what u think..

TMFunk,

The latter..that you have been posting since 2007 every year. Do I have it wrong? But c1 seems to have interpreted the word "since" like you as well. So, maybe I interpreted it wrong.

Posted by Middle-age man Fed/Puny server Rafa fan 11/28/2010 at 10:25 PM

Tim, my boy, Rafa doesn't need Swiss fitness secret. What he needs to do is shutting Uncle toni with a duck tape and pal around with Fed on shopping spree on lux private jet. Can you imagine riding all those travels on coach seats? No wonder this kid is tired all the time! Plus he needs to learn how to serve 129mph consistently like Fed THROUGHOUT the whole year without his arm falling off. Wait, I should stop now. I don't want to spill the beans too much.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 10:27 PM

well just think we only have 3 weeks and we get to do this again, during the exos!

LOL! what are the odds taht say, Fed wins in Swissland, Rafa wins in Spain?

LOL!

Posted by Master Ace 11/28/2010 at 10:28 PM

Guess what, my local TV station on their sports segment showed the last point of today's match saying that Federer defeated Nadal. I can not remember the last time(maybe other than Davis and Fed Cup in the last 2 years), they mentioned a tennis story.

Posted by Sherlock 11/28/2010 at 10:28 PM

"Hannah - I have loved every one of your reports and I VERY much hope you keep writing for TW."

+1

Hi ya, CL. Congrats on Rog's win today. :)

Leslie Nielsen, wow. That's sad. Airplane and Naked Gun were great movie memories of my distant youth. At least in the genre of stupidly funny humor. :)

Bigapple, being as I try to be friends with everybody, I hope we can have better exchanges in the future.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 10:28 PM

Uncle T needs a long vacation on a fishing boat and leave the coaching to someone else

Posted by CL 11/28/2010 at 10:29 PM

Andrew- ok- I give up. But I am still puzzled as to why a fit 24 year old with 5 weeks rest would be more tired than a 29 year old who had played 4 tournaments in 5 weeks and made the semis or finals of all of them. When each played the same schedule for the tournament week. Maybe Rafa did have a tweaked something. Maybe Fed tweaked his right wrist when he went down hard in the match trying to sprint forward for a net chord. Whole lotta 'maybe-ing going on.'

Posted by Carrie 11/28/2010 at 10:29 PM

Tim- what did you think of this week's Boardwalk Empire?

I thought it was fabulous...just wish there was some Chalky although it looks like there will some of him in the finale.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 10:30 PM

CL..did u see the stats about Fed in 2006 in post earlier? Do you remember about media then?

Posted by TMFunk 11/28/2010 at 10:30 PM

ladyjulia: "The latter..that you have been posting since 2007 every year" BINGO! You have it exactly right.

Similarly, when someone says its been one-way traffic with Rafa over Fed **since** Wimbie 2008, it implies Rafa has been beating Federer handily every year **since** 2008 and that is simply not true. He did that only in 2008.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 10:33 PM

TMFunk,

Ah..I see what you mean. Now I get it.

Yup, that's not true....thankfully.:-)

Posted by CL 11/28/2010 at 10:34 PM

Sherlock - thank you very much.

Re the Nielson oeuvre - I try and tell myself I have a sophisticated sense of humor...truth to tell, I am a sucker for well done stoopid and slapstick. We have been watching and killing ourselves laughing at old episode of 3rd Rock From the Sun on disc...SO much straight physical comedy. The other night half the epsiode was from the 'Laurel and Hardy meet plank on shoulder bit' and the other half was an hommage to the 3 Stooges. Brilliant.

Posted by thebigapple 11/28/2010 at 10:35 PM

Well, today was a splendid day. Nice to see Fed with the tin cup. Especially when it is against a player with whom he has a bad match-up. The Nadal nation are quite sensitive now but they will recover soon. (Somewhat silly season. Striking out where they can. Emotion overflows) Realx people, Nadal will continue his brilliant career. Fed is still haeding to 30. He may have looked middle aged today in the morning he will ache like the age he is...

Posted by Red 1.7.17.287⁺ = Legacy Solidified 11/28/2010 at 10:38 PM

You've got to admire the Fed.
He's been read last rites, died, buried, resuscitated, buried alive, defibrillated, died again right after Wimbledon and lookie who's holding the trophies in the fall. I say let them at it. It's fun to see the press eat crow. I love that fact that he's become a thorn in the side of so many. I'm thinking the old guy is having the time of his life right now.
Best
Red

Posted by CL 11/28/2010 at 10:38 PM

Lady J - er, I am not sure I remember about ME in 2006, let alone about the media and Fed. What did i miss? Or, perhaps more accurately, what, among a great many things, have I forgotten?

What was the question again? LOL!!!

Posted by thebigapple 11/28/2010 at 10:39 PM

Sherlock, my memory is too bad to really keep enemies.
Luckily, my friends turn a blind eye to my oddities.
Just doing the best I can.

I am off. Travel this week..

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 10:40 PM

OMF,

3800 points is still a lot..i don't think the ranking is threat till Sept. Even if Rafa wins 2 GS out of the 3 he has...he gets to keep the ranking till 2012.

The Fed already said today he's not going to make 16 of 17 finals next year like his 2006 season. He said its not realistic.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 10:40 PM

apple i have a feeling a young spry Spaniard will be hobbling arond tomorrow much worse than an old, washed up Swiss :) fed mowed down more top 10 players this week than ever before, losing ONE set and how many breaksticks?

he was simply awesome, and Im gonna enjoy it while its here

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 10:42 PM

Julia if Rafa has 2 bad tournaments next yaer that he's defending, thats 3000 points gone... think about it ... one early loss, an injury withdrawal, whatever happens in normal sports to tennis players, etc.

there's just no chance to predict any of it, is there?

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 11/28/2010 at 10:42 PM

Well, I'm off to have a quick read of tomorrow's papers. I have to say that it's been a great WTF and special thanks to Hannah and everyone who sent us their reports. Goodnight all !

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 10:42 PM

he he CL..these were the stats:

"Rafa seems to have played 223 points in his match with Murray..

I didn't read much media in 2006...but Roger was 24-25 yrs old..and in Rome 2006..he played six matches on consecutive days. [I got the stats from another site]..it seems

Fri - QF - Fed played 229 points to beat Almagro..

Sat - SF- 229 points to beat Nalbandian

Sun - F - sixth straight match in a row, Roger played Rafa for 353 points, for 5 hrs 15 min straight, and lost.

Does anyone remember fatigue being part of the loss?"

It was a big match..but i didn't read press.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 11/28/2010 at 10:43 PM

Nothing wrong with mentioning that Nadal could have been tired after his marathon semi-final. Problem is with the timing of mentioning it and how it's mentioned. If it's emphasized in the post-match reports, with the implication that Nadal lost because he couldn't play his best, then that's doing Federer, who was the best player of the tournament, a disservice. Federer was tired when he played Murray in the Shanghai final, having played a late SF the day before. He had a short turnaround, but because the match didn't end up being a marathon classic, fatigue was never mentioned in the articles reporting the Murray win. But to me, Fed did look a step slower in that final. Nadal played the first SF here, so he can't complain about the scheduling.

Posted by jem 11/28/2010 at 10:43 PM

It is a pity that tennis writers are not tennis fans. "It also makes me feel slightly ashamed of myself for not being more excited." Condescending poseur!

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 10:45 PM

Tim,

its certainly not going to happen in the clay or grass season. For a Wimby final, if both players make it to the final. I give them 50-50 chance.

The thing is Rafa will regroup now and launch an assault for AO. If Fed dosen't defend, Rafa gains huge points. If Fed defends and Rafa makes final...Rafa still gains points. I think the deficit would be almost 4000 points.

Fed's defended 3 slams a year before. Pretty sure Rafa can do it too.

Posted by Sherlock 11/28/2010 at 10:46 PM

"Sherlock, my memory is too bad to really keep enemies.
Luckily, my friends turn a blind eye to my oddities.
Just doing the best I can."

Lol. Thebigapple, well, between a bad memory, oddities, and doing the best we can, we have much in common then. :)

Safe travels.

Posted by Ozone Seven 11/28/2010 at 10:46 PM

Fed's work with his backhand today was simply outstanding. He had the right aggressive game plan. Most importantly, he executed it.

Fellow Nadal fans: like Rafa, no excuses. We have nothing but congratulations for Roger.

Peace, and I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. :)

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 10:46 PM

wrong Crazy, he CAN complain pretty much about anything! its like he kinda feels tennis should alawys be on HIS best surface, in HIS alititude, with no tough matches going in, etc. or somehow lie is unfair...its very strange, he really does feel entitled to everything being perfect for him, or somehow, he feels the need to talk about it as unfair... since when is sports competition fully perfect conditions and fair? lol

Nadal played the first SF here, so he can't complain about the scheduling.

Posted by Syd 11/28/2010 at 10:46 PM

So you were not excited" Hannah? Tsk. Bummer. Thanks for sharing. Is that because Del Potro was not playing? Or are you simply towing the boss's line? I suspect a bit of both.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 10:48 PM

that cop in Boardwalk Empire is nuts! im finishing up watching it now...

Posted by Andrew 11/28/2010 at 10:49 PM

CL: why? Why does why matter?

You're right that Federer played more tournaments coming in, and we've seen in the past that Nadal has been able to prevail even when he's shattered (see Madrid SF 2009 vs Djokovic).

He didn't prevail today - because Federer served well and played well. I've never agreed with the view that Federer collapsed in AO F 2009: I thought Nadal played that set better, but crucially, Federer couldn't find his first serve in that match (or in USO F 2009). Today he did. Big difference.

Posted by Deuce 11/28/2010 at 10:49 PM

Tim, CL et all - I will take a stab at the Rafa tired bit here. If it were his knee not shoulder that kept him out this fall its safe to say over those five weeks off he wasn't able to do his proper fitness training and conditioning becuase of the knee. Under this circumstance when you get back to full tournament mode your body isn't quite ready (your stamina and endurance have dropped) and you fatigue more easily throughout the week. The problem here is it was presumably Rafa's shoulder that kept him out. That should not have impeded his physical consitioning vis a vis being a step slow to returns or chasing down balls he normally gets to. If his serve or FH lost some mph that would make sense. Given he didn't play the fall circuit Nole and Fed did, rafa should have used better judgement than whining about being tired in his pressers. Fed whined about his back after the Wimby loss to Berdy and got absolutely nailed for it. It will be interesting to see if the same folks in the press corps call rafa out on this they way they did Roger.

Posted by CL 11/28/2010 at 10:50 PM

Lady J - ah, the match that shall not be spoken of, according to Beckham. No, honestly I don't remember the 'media' take on that match. I wonder if the TW archives go back that far? Of course, that wouldn't give you what the press said, just us chickens.

The other really important thing that is getting (mostly) ignored in all this fuss and feathers is the PA factor. I wrote on some earlier thread that I give a BIG hat tip to him. His input to Fed's game may be subtle, but I think it was critical - and completely positive.

Also, speaking of fatigue... major acknowledgment of Pierre P, Fed's fitness Guru, Rasputin and Svengali. ***double clink*** guys.

Posted by Carole M. 11/28/2010 at 10:50 PM

I don't think Rafa was tired. I think he was playing over an injury. I watched the match for a 2nd time to try and see what it was. It looks to me like it is the left foot again which has been a problem all fall. I think it got much worse towards the end of the 2nd set against Murray yesterday.

Posted by Ozone Seven 11/28/2010 at 10:53 PM

If Fed was fresher going into the final then that's just his excellence in pulling off an easier victory in his semifinal. Winning a tournament consists also of all the matches on the road to the final, not just the final match itself.

Roger was the better player THIS WEEK and not just today.

And it's not like stamina was even much of an issue in the match. It was even Federer who was shortening the points while Nadal was committed to his grinding, consistent style. Rafa has no excuses whatsoever.

-Nadal fan

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 10:53 PM

i dunno bring back the old Aussie attitude, which frnakly 99 percent of the time Fred adheres to, and shut up and play, win or lose, you walk out, youre fit... if you lose becuase youre 'tired' get in better shape, period!

even when Fred had his foot in a cast the weeks before the YEC and he clearly was gassed in the final vs Nalbie, very little was said because Fed fought til the bitter end... if Nadal gives up, or is bulldozed by a very good Fed, what's the difference in the end? a loss is a loss and every day is a different day in tennis...

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 10:57 PM

Boardwalk Empire rocks, its very disturbing now going very dark, but soooo good...

ok back to Rafa's fitness levels, or lack thereof ... should he hire a fitness coach? is Paul Annacone a genius? will anyone get frazzled watching the exos next month?

LOL!

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 10:57 PM

CL..

I don't know...its seems unbelievable to me...people make Rafa out to be some kind of a recuperating miracle..but AO 2009, was 5 hrs and a complete day of rest and 4 hrs again.

Fed in Rome 2006, was 3 hrs in QF, 3 hrs in SF and 5 hrs in F without a day of rest.

That must have been one terrible loss for the Fed.

How he didn't lose motivation and still came back and does what he does baffles me.

Posted by nadallll 11/28/2010 at 10:57 PM

wat ozone said. no excuses, just congrats to fed from rafael.

Posted by sd 11/28/2010 at 11:00 PM

I am not sure why I don't hear this being discussed more - but why would anyone expect Fed to dominate Nadal when his is FIVE years older. I have been 24 and I have been 29. It's just not the same, sad to say. In five short years, not the same physically, mentally....it's a small decline but a decline and in the world of elite tennis, that's all you need. So the fact that Roger does what he does the way he does it against Nadal proves his greatness to me. If Nadal is playing this way at this level against a player of Fed's caliber, then he deserves all the props he gets now. But Nadal at his age has already experienced injuries that have kept him sidelined for long stretches of time, so his longevity remains to be seen. The comparisons seem futile, the discussions of greatest are just speculation.

And does Rafa really fly coach?? Noooooo. I have heard Uncle Tony's comments in which he eschews the life of luxury as a thinly veiled dig at what he perceives as Fed's materialism and opulence, but please dont tell me he resorts to such irrational behavior as flying the number 1 player in the world like the rest of us just to prove a point!!! nada mas!

Posted by CL 11/28/2010 at 11:00 PM

Andrew - why does it matter? Um, I dunno. Why does it matter that Gen. Custer was an idiot? Or that Cal Ripken played through all sorts of pain on all sorts of days to break that record. Or that Ted Williams chose to bat during the last game of the season even though he could have sat it out and preserved his 400 average and ended up at 406. Or that their weren't any WMDs? Ok, ok, not AS important as that last one. But someone gets to write the history. And the people who get to write the first draft of history or not you or I, but journalists. And if, for whatever reason, they don't get their facts right, or choice one narrative over another, well then that sort of, you know, counts. And can effect the ultimate historical lens.

I suppose you could argue that ten years from now history won't record that Nadal was tired and/or injured in this match. It will just record that Federer won. But we are here now. Shouldn't we...shouldn't someone...be paying attention?

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 11:00 PM

Carrie if u still there, I just finished BE, woah! I just realized what happened with the 'crazy' cop and his partner -- crazy as a fox!

Posted by sd 11/28/2010 at 11:01 PM

sorry, in my earlier post i meant - if Nadal is playing this way IN FIVE YEARS (when he is Fed's age)....

Posted by AmandaO 11/28/2010 at 11:02 PM

Hannah - you don't know what the significance of this match was? Didn't seem very important? It's the same-old same-old?! No it's not! Every match between these two carries psychological importance. To miss that is to miss the whole thing. Federer's trying to close the distance between them (the H2H), of course, and Nadal's trying to retain that gap, AND Federer's trying to prove "Nadal's not in his head." This was a highly significant match, 'cause mostly they all are, and I'm surprised you could not see this.

Posted by Sherlock 11/28/2010 at 11:06 PM

I'm not sure the Aussie attitude should be associated with any top player playing today. The days of top pro athletes being regular folk are rather behind us. They are all rich, spoiled brats to some degree nowadays. :)

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 11:08 PM

amanda, bingo!!

Nadal goes in and out of Fed's head more than anyone, according to the press! Ill never forget the NYTimes headline about this very thing, before the 06 Wimby final ... i agree, unless somoene police's the media's 'reporting' pure falsehoods get accepted as fact ... these fitness storylines drive me nuts, especially when theyre SO totally one sided ... this kind of win can fuel Federer for a year, its the thrill of these matches that make an already passionate athlete glow even brighter

Posted by VE 11/28/2010 at 11:08 PM

Here's my take on Rafa, Roger and the whole darned thing: http://bit.ly/hLe1Sp

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 11:10 PM

of course Sherlock, my point being, these guys could play singles AND doubles, 3 of 5 sets, and come back the next day, and somehow not fall to pieces and do it all over again ... im sure you get my point..

if you get $1 million for a week's work you better be able to play an hour's tennis without breaking down

Posted by Great tennis 11/28/2010 at 11:12 PM

Nadal excuses? any, like Roger losing against Berdych in Wimbledon?? oh, my back!!!!! ptttff

Posted by Deuce 11/28/2010 at 11:13 PM

LOL Sherlock! " They are all rich, spoiled brats to some degree nowadays. :)"

Night all! Almost forgot tomorrow is a work day...le sigh...tired..its been a long year already and my five day Thanksgiving break just isn't enough:)

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 11:14 PM

nice blog VE, i would change to a diff background easier to read, but very even handed and of course, years from now, these Sundays battling about who's better after a great match will be greatly greatly missed indeed...

thanks for the reminder...

Posted by Sherlock 11/28/2010 at 11:15 PM

I would have to respectfully disagree, Amanda. It's a nice win for Roger, sure. But just as when the result is reversed, I think it's the fans that get WAY overly giddy. These guys have played each other so many times, it doesn't matter to them as far as the future goes. They both know that the next time they play, it's a completely different day, different conditions, etc. They are both confident beyond belief, so they each have no doubt about their abilities come next time. And beyond that, they both have to GET to the final of something like the AO to see each other again.

As in so many other ways, I think it matters to us fans a lot more than it matters to Rog and Rafa. :)

Posted by CL 11/28/2010 at 11:19 PM

Well, g-night all. I'm off to dig up General Custer...or maybe General Custard in the library, and re-write a little history.

Cheers...no matter how you slice and dice it, it was a great year for Rafa and a great win for Fed. And that's all this she wrote...for now.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 11:19 PM

watch those knees, Great Tennis, theyre getting sore! LOL

rafa has missed VERY little time in his career with injury, a few weeks here and there, imagine what Davydenko, Del Po, Tsonga, even Roddick, Murray, etc. who all missed many months in a row from injury/surgery, etc in their careers...

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 11:19 PM

VE,

Really nice writeup. It was great to read. Thanks!

Posted by Sherlock 11/28/2010 at 11:21 PM

Good night, CL! Sweet Little Bighorn dreams. :)

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 11:22 PM

Sherlock again, if youve ever played tournament tennis, beating rivals DOES matter, big time, i dont care who you are, a bad loss can stay with you for months, and so can a big win ... sure Fred might be fairly bullet proof at this point, but I think this was a big feather in his hat quite frankly

Posted by Sherlock 11/28/2010 at 11:24 PM

Deuce, you had to go and mention work tomorrow, didn't you? :)

Posted by Great tennis 11/28/2010 at 11:27 PM

Whatch that back, Tim, it's getting sore LOL
What a silly and boring comments are here and the winner again is TIM!!LOL

Posted by Great tennis 11/28/2010 at 11:29 PM

I meant *watch* LOL LOL LOL

Posted by Sherlock 11/28/2010 at 11:30 PM

Tim, nope, never played tournament tennis. But I've played enough other sports. Even as mediocre a pitcher as I was, after a team beat me up one day, I was confident enough in my stuff that I was looking forward to facing them again. Every competitor wants to mix it up right away after losing. It's the thrill of the fight that drives them. It would be one thing if Rog and Rafa had never beaten each other on every surface, but they have. I just don't see, come AO time, if they both make it to the final, that Rafa is going to be quaking in his boots because he lost the third set today. :) Just like Rog won't give a hoot about that fifth set in Melbourne 2 years ago.

Posted by tennis RIP 11/28/2010 at 11:32 PM

Finally people are starting to ask obvious questions, like "How did Nadal break out a greatly improved serve for the US Open, which then immediately disappeared afterwards?"

How indeed?

I believe it was after the semifinal against Youzhny in the US Open that Nadal momentarily lifted his shirt, and his abdominals looked like an anatomical diagram, ridiculously defined. Today, when he removed his shirt after the match, he looked shrunken and sagging in comparison. His play, as well, was far weaker here than at the US Open: he nearly lost to Roddick, got a virtual walkover against Djokovic, went to a tiebreaker against Berdych, who has been horrible of late, nearly lost to Murray, and got destroyed by Federer in the third set. Though better than his pathetic 2009 showing at the YEC, he was nowhere near the player he was at the US Open.

Of course, he always has an excuse ready, and this time it is the "shoulder injury." But would that make his whole upper body shrink and deflate?

Look for him to be a physical monster again at the AO, capable of playing back-to-back 5-setters without a hint of fatigue, and while the commentators gush about his "improvement," and say he was merely "tired" at the end of 2010, despite taking 5 weeks off before the YEC.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 11:34 PM

from the swiss horses mouth:


"First of all, I had to regain some confidence," Federer told reporters after only his second win in two and half years over nine-times grand slam champion Nadal.

"That only comes through winning matches.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 11:37 PM

i really hope youre wrong about that RIP... i find the serve a mystery, maybe that new grip only works in NYC?

Posted by jodiecate 11/28/2010 at 11:37 PM

It's funny, i haven't heard or seen even one Rafa fan saying "Roger won coz Rafa was wrecked". I've only seen Roger fans saying "You're wrong to say Roger won coz Rafa was wrecked"

Like, ...we're NOT saying it!!!
GREAT WIN FOR ROGER!! BIG CONGRATULATIONS!!
Has been an unbelievable week of playing for him. I am so glad to see him playing his top high class tennis again!

I love their rivalry! No-one beats Rafa as well as Roger does!
No-one beats Roger as well as Rafa does - they REALLY know how to play each other. LOVE IT!! MORE PLEASE, REAL SOON!!

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 11:42 PM

jodi its coming from TV commentators, media, Tweets, etc., just annoying for all the reasons we've all been posting about ...

Neil Harmon, Robbie Konig and less so, Jimmy Arias, all harping about it, Reuters story, etc., i mean, we're not making this up lol

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 11:43 PM

jodi its coming from TV commentators, media, Tweets, etc., just annoying for all the reasons we've all been posting about ...

Neil Harmon, Robbie Konig and less so, Jimmy Arias, all harping about it, Reuters story, etc., i mean, we're not making this up lol

Posted by jodiecate 11/28/2010 at 11:59 PM

OK, fair enough, i'm in Aust. and have no tv or internet coverage - it WOULD be annoying! Carry on! :D

Posted by neilintoronto 11/29/2010 at 12:16 AM

OH jesus, Hannah, i really just popped in to say thanks for writing great articles all week.

Its HILARIOUS that an accusatory finger is being pointed at you for " Being a Rafa fan" akin to not changing your knickers for a week, or some other such criminal behaviour.

I remember your blog well, and know that Its Delpo first and foremost, then Murray. Don't let the bitter lurkers get you down, your writing has outshone the rest of the PAID writers all week!

Congrats to Federer on his win AND congrats to Rafa for erasing the performance from last year where he didn't win a SET let alone get to the finals.

Posted by MJK 11/29/2010 at 12:19 AM

jodiecate, it's mainly coming from the media. Here's what Neil Harman tweeted:
"Nadal exhausted. Fed should raise a glass to AM"

Posted by tenniswatcher 11/29/2010 at 12:20 AM

I don't know this writer (haven't read her before), but I have a feeling that she is not a Federer fan. Only a jaded fan can dismiss the entertainment and significance of such a match today.

Posted by Laskaris 11/29/2010 at 12:30 AM

@ Tim: "geez there's a lot of drama queens on this board :)"

Indeed there are. Personally, I never understood why certain "fans" seem to think that, in order to be a true fan of their player, they have to hate on and belittle their player's rival at every opportunity they get. In my view, these poeple are not fans first and foremost, they are more accurately described as "anti-fans" or "haters". I don't get the appeal of that, but fortunately, I don't have to.

I am a Nadal fan, but I deeply respect Federer as well, and I love to see him play. Congratulations on a well-deserved victory.

Posted by Laskaris 11/29/2010 at 12:32 AM

@ Tim: "geez there's a lot of drama queens on this board :)"

Indeed there are. Personally, I never understood why certain "fans" seem to think that, in order to be a true fan of their player, they have to hate on and belittle their player's rival at every opportunity they get. In my view, these poeple are not fans first and foremost, they are more accurately described as "anti-fans" or "haters". I don't get the appeal of that, but fortunately, I don't have to.

I am a Nadal fan, but I deeply respect Federer as well, and I love to see him play. Congratulations on a well-deserved victory.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 11/29/2010 at 12:32 AM

From the daily mail:
-------------------
"Andy Murray was the third man in this final and, like in Australia, his assistance was crucial, albeit for very different reasons. Back in February the British No 1 played below himself when Federer beat him in the final, while on Saturday his supreme challenge to Nadal in their semi was a major factor in the outcome as well.

The three-and-a-quarter hours it took to subdue Murray 24 hours previously had exacted a heavy price from the Spaniard, effectively running the finish out of this extraordinary athlete.

So when the world No 1 was broken to go 3-1 down in the deciding set there was no coming back against a player who had, much to his credit, barely allowed himself to be detained by Novak Djokovic the night before."

"Nadal did not wish to use fatigue as an excuse, saying: 'Everyone saw the match, it is for other people to make up their minds.'"

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/tennis/article-1333918/Nadal-feels-force-Federer-Ruthless-Roger-ends-high.html#ixzz16e9SyWUp
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/tennis/article-1333918/Nadal-feels-force-Federer-Ruthless-Roger-ends-high.html#ixzz16e8Wzm9s

Posted by Corrie 11/29/2010 at 12:34 AM

I'm not joining in the sycophantic praise of this writer, who ranging between jibes at Boris Johnson, to barely being able to bring herself to recognise Federer's existence all week until forced to because of the final, makes her biases perfectly clear.

On a different matter, I've never seen anything more ridiculous than the usual poster, as usual, presuming the moral high ground, ticking off Federer for daring to take on Nadal at his usual time wasting games, for only the second time ever. (And winning the matches both times.)

It should happen every time - I've always been amazed at how meekly players accept Nadal's gamesmanship. If they started playing his own games maybe the authorities would muster a little fortude to do something about it.

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