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Beyond Words 11/28/2010 - 12:17 PM


by Hannah Wilks, TW Contributing Writer

The biggest challenge in writing about Rafael Nadal (apart from not letting my bitterness as an Andy Murray fan overwhelm me) is finding something new to say. It’s not just that his undeniable brilliance has already been heavily chronicled, as much as the fact that it’s very hard to avoid a certain mythologised persona, irresistible because it participates in the reality of the man. It’s difficult to see beyond the stereotype. It’s hard even to avoid certain words—raw, brutality, power. Before you know it, you’re using bodice-ripper phrases like powerful thighs and gleaming muscles and then there’s officially no help for you.

There’s one word that hovers in the air around Andy Murray. Slam. More than any other player I can think of, he’s defined by the lack of one. It’s the reason that he can’t really win today, or at this tournament for that matter. If he beats Nadal, he’ll only get asked why he can’t do it when it really matters, at Wimbledon this summer with the prospect of a Federer-less final waiting. If he doesn‘t, he’ll be a loser. It may seem logically impossible that someone with nothing to gain can have so much to lose. Welcome to the world of the British No. 1.

From the first point of the match when Nadal blasts an inside-out forehand winner, only for Murray to respond with his own forehand and an ace to hold serve, there’s a sense that this might be the one we’ve been waiting for, an epic contest to set the World Tour Finals alight at last. The arena has been filled every day by people hoping to see the promise of the event realized; the best in the world playing their best tennis against each other. Nadal has looked sharper with each match, shaking off whatever nominal rust was accumulated by skipping Paris. Murray has been at his best and his worst this week, but today he is playing, to paraphrase Carrie Bradshaw, like himself at his most fabulous; aggressive, striking out on his forehand with supreme confidence, thumping down ace after heavy ace. Using his groundstrokes like a crowbar to pry open the cracks in Nadal’s supreme defense, he works his way to the net to drop soft volleys into unreachable places on the court. It’s the game that the fans and media beg him to play on a more or less daily basis; intelligent, courageous, a sight to see.

Such an equal match-up has the effect of making me see Nadal in a different way after all. As commenters wiser and wittier than me have pointed out, when you tend to be rooting for Nadal’s opponents, it’s difficult not to view him as a larger-than-life automaton possessed of a preternatural ability to slough off multiple death blows and come back stronger, like the killer in a slasher movie. Not so tonight. When there is a kerfuffle at 4-5 with challenges and scoreboards, it displeases both the crowd and Nadal, at one in wanting things to be just so. A noise in the ceiling between first and second serves brings a double fault. With Murray seemingly intent on hitting winners past him at every opportunity, one is forced to accept Nadal as vulnerable, fallible. His concentration can be threatened, his invincible self-belief disrupted.

This only makes what he does in the tiebreak more remarkable. Murray fluffs a forehand down the line that would have given him the mini-break, then nets a defensive slice he should be able to make in his sleep. Once he gets to set point, Nadal is always in control of the rally; a backhand cross-court, a short ball down the line that leaves Murray floundering in no man’s land, and a volley that the world no. 1 is not about to miss. Game and set because one young man kept his head better than another. I think I preferred him as an invincible force of nature who was simply too good.

The spotlight now falls on Murray’s resilience and self-belief, or lack thereof. Surely, Nadal will steamroll from here, as he did to Berdych yesterday; capitalizing on the momentary floundering that comes from losing the tightest of tiebreaks. Once he gets the bit between his teeth, he’s unstoppable. When a net cord takes Murray’s ball wide, followed by a successful Hawkeye challenge from Nadal to get the point replayed, it’s impossible not to feel that events are conspiring against Murray. He plays his first tactically ill-advised drop-shot; he’s driven to his knees by Nadal’s forehand in the next game as the DJ, displaying a masterly sense of timing, plays ‘Sledgehammer’. It’s understandable; after the loss of the first set, I want to take to my bed in a darkened room for a week or so, and I‘m just watching.

But I’m not Andy Murray. Break point down, he hits a backhand cross-court winner and gives it a “c’mon”! At deuce, he opens up the court again as only he can and finishes it off with a drop-dead volley. Game point is his eleventh ace. He gets to 0-15 on Rafa’s serve at 3-3 when Rafa pushes an attacking forehand long. If a point on Rafa’s serve in the first set was an opportunity, right now it’s an offer Murray can’t refuse. A superb backhand winner gives him the break, his fifteenth ace consolidates. I cry aloud; we all do. A return winner gives him the set on Rafa’s serve and the match we‘ve been waiting for is going the distance.

There’s a moment, when Murray has 0-30 on Rafa’s serve at 0-1, when neither are playing as well as they have been. Both have an opportunity to seize the match. Two unforced errors, a drop-shot that bounces before it reaches the net, and that‘s it. You can’t give Rafael Nadal an opening and gamble that he won’t come up with something spectacular, because he will. He breaks with a return ace.

The point at deuce on Murray’s serve at 3-5 is the match in microcosm. A sequence of unbelievable shots and yet all it accomplishes is to highlight Nadal’s brilliance and tenacity. Little kids are already running down the stairs to wait courtside for the chance to get Nadal’s autograph, and I am mentally composing a biting epitaph for the match. Murray has won six more points, but all he’s done is give Nadal a nice work-out, buffing up those muscles until they shine with sweat, making sure he looks good for the final. Nadal will not let an advantage like serving for the match go.

He doesn’t. Murray takes it back, forcing errors and sealing it with an inexorable backhand down the line. The roar from the crowd when he takes it to a tiebreak shakes the stands, but it pales in comparison to the one when Murray goes 0-3 up with an ace and two gorgeous winners. This could really happen, I think. These are the matches that can leave careers forever changed.

Before you know it, Nadal’s beaming and raising his arms, telling us once again how many Slams Murray’s going to win. I don’t think I can be the only Murray fan who is tired of hearing those words from him under these circumstances.

Murray takes it like a man. His press conference is dignified, honest; he doesn’t shrink from the harsh realities. "It was a great match to finish the year. But I need to improve because I’m competing with the two best players of all time. So if I want to win these tournaments, I want to win the Grand Slams, I need to get better."

I’m back to my semantic conundrum. The word I keep finding to describe Nadal’s performance is ‘terrifying’. On his supposedly worst surface, against an opponent who’s capable of beating him playing at his absolute best, he still won. The narrowness of the margins merely emphasize his victory. If his opponent tomorrow and the rest of the ATP aren’t viewing 2011 with a serious dose of apprehension then they’re simply not paying attention.

As for Murray, he played about as well as he can play. He stretched Nadal to his limits and brought the tournament to life. He played one of the best matches of the year. He gave the 17,500 people inside the O2, as Mark Petchey tells us in Nadal’s post-match interview, a memory that they will never forget.

Great. What trophy does he get for that?

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Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 02:27 PM

OK I cant watch, who won? i taped it but chickened out and left

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 02:27 PM

I don't think Rafa gave it all to the match...but whatever, its his own fault he didn't.

And Roger wins it for the 5th time.

So, Fedal take all the major titles and the WTF title too this year. Nole and Muzz need to work harder to make a dent.

That H2H is never repairable in this lifetime..but whatever. Every drop in the ocean counts.

Posted by x-fan 11/28/2010 at 02:27 PM

Congrats on both fronts.
Your favorite winning and your pick winning too.
You get bragging rights (good thing I didn't bet any money, no?) ;-)

Still like I said before I didn't know you disliked Nadal so much! I've been lurking here for a long time and really thought you once or twice said you were a fan of both even if Fed was your top fave (maybe I got you mixed up with someone else)

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 11/28/2010 at 02:27 PM

Sherlock, I've been here a long time and some of the Rafa fans are just getting what they have given to the Roger fan when Rafa beats him. What is that American saying I learn, oh yeah, what goes around, comes around.

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

Congrats Fed fans.

Posted by carnap Not For Prophet 11/28/2010 at 02:29 PM

TMF...dropped by for moment to wish all Fed KADS a hearty and heartfelt congratulations. All in all, a wonderful day : )

Posted by TripleF(FedFanForever): Bleed the Vermillion! Girding up! Fedal it is. Yum! Yikes! 11/28/2010 at 02:29 PM

That HIGH BACKHAND Devil is banished for good.

Posted by Carrie 11/28/2010 at 02:29 PM

As much as I wanted Rafa to win - I think Roger winning adds new spice to the rivalry.

I am still proud of Rafa for making the finals for the first time and for having a good tournament.

Congrats to Roger for the win- Mirka looks so happy. :D He was the better player today.

*Ladyjulia, geez. We get it. Rafa's a bad person. :)*

yes- in particular when you cherry pick comments. :)

Posted by x-fan 11/28/2010 at 02:29 PM

That's very funny coming from you, haha!

Posted by Fangorina 11/28/2010 at 02:29 PM

I hate it when rafa gets the plate.

Posted by Red⁺ = Legacy Solidified 11/28/2010 at 02:29 PM

Cliffie and PMac are talking absolute nonsense.
This is a great win for Fed (I'm over the moon) but who are we kidding?
What must win? First, they spend most of the year proclaiming he's over the hill, done, dusted. Now because no one else has beaten Rafa, suddenly Fed is trying to make a statement? Enough.
Well done Fed.
Commies Rafalites.
For sure this has been a nice rivalry but let's see who else can step next year apart from these 2.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 02:30 PM

OMG, what an upset!

the old man can play!

Posted by TripleF(FedFanForever): Bleed the Vermillion! Girding up! Fedal it is. Yum! Yikes! 11/28/2010 at 02:31 PM

The reassuring factor for 2011 is...

Roger is willing to learn and apply additional dimensions!

All that talk of Genius and Arrogance and bs!

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 11/28/2010 at 02:31 PM

And since when is 29 old, I hope Roger and the Williamses, Juju play for a long time to come. Sorry, but these players aren't ready to give up their crowns to the next generation. Kom sa, Caro, Kom igen, Robin!!

Posted by Fangorina 11/28/2010 at 02:31 PM

This did mean a lot to Roger.

Posted by Blue moon 11/28/2010 at 02:32 PM

A Fed mahhhhhhhhstahclass. And the trophy doesn't have to be bitten!

Posted by Blue moon 11/28/2010 at 02:32 PM

Hey, Cone has a tournament to his credit now too!

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 11/28/2010 at 02:32 PM

You keep right on doing your thing Roger and H E double hockey sticks with the critics. Kom sa, Caro, Kom igen, Robin!!

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/28/2010 at 02:33 PM

Federer just showed why he was the favorite going into this match.

On this surface, Federer's game generally is much better than Rafa's.

Outside of some unusual running forehand errors in the second set, Federer didn't do much wrong in this match.

Federer showed once again that: (1) The game and the "big hitters" haven't passed him by; and (2) Federer is not playing with an obsolete racket and strings (for him).

With this big win, Federer narrows the gap between him and Rafa in the ATP rankings to something like 3600 points. Congrats to him and his fans.

2011 should be a great deal of fun for tennis fans if Rafa and Federer can maintain their 2010 form.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 11/28/2010 at 02:33 PM

Roger played well today, so congrats to him and his fans.

Rafa, not so much, so commies to my fellow fans. But I am proud of him and very happy he got to the final, after winning 3 slams this year.

Vamos Rafa !!!

Posted by Sherlock 11/28/2010 at 02:33 PM

Samantha, that comment is just There are idiots on both sides of the Fedal wars. If you can't see that, you really need help.

Posted by Old man Fed/Puny server Rafa fan 11/28/2010 at 02:33 PM

Now that Fed has got that killer wide serve that nobody can return and upgraded his puny backhand tremendously, he will be a clear favorite over Rafa on hard, both indoor and outdoor, and grass. It's the first time that serve all your ball to backhands, hit 90% to backhands tatic didn't work.

Posted by NP 11/28/2010 at 02:33 PM

"No spinning, NP-- just 3-0 indoors. And 6-4 off clay."

Blue moon, and just 14-5 outdoors. No spinning.

Sorry, couldn't resit.

Really off.

Posted by AB 11/28/2010 at 02:33 PM

Roger is so gracious.

I'm happy for him. Really great tournament.

Posted by CL 11/28/2010 at 02:34 PM

Happy, happy, happy!! Brilliant play from, yes, TMF, in the first and third sets. I honestly believe that if his serve hadn't gone walk-a-bout at the beginning of the second, he would have won if straights. Some of his Xcourt BHs were at the level of his head band and he hit them for clean winners.

All my fellow Fed fans, esp. Or, who is there...Just so glad we all got to see it!

Rafalites, esp. Annie who was know that Rafa will win this tourney sooner rather than later. And he has had such a fantastic year... so many good memories. Hard to no comizzes for you! ;-))

That fh that dropped in was pretty nervy...but just,


Posted by TripleF(FedFanForever): Bleed the Vermillion! Girding up! Fedal it is. Yum! Yikes! 11/28/2010 at 02:34 PM

Dude, thank Mirka and go home.

Stop blathering...

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 02:34 PM


I don't dislike Nadal per se...I don't like his whining in the press that's all. Just like I dislike Fed's bragging about the bathroom break at AO to the media.


thanks for the quotes. I still expected a bit of enthusiasm given its a big event..and it wouldn't be fair to Nole either if he was the opponent today. I didn't use the word "horrible"..I just said "not good".

I am just a bit unreasonable when it comes to just ignore me.

And now Roger is just rambling on and on in the ceremony...

Posted by thebigapple 11/28/2010 at 02:34 PM

Trophy looks like a tin cup.

Posted by Nam1 11/28/2010 at 02:35 PM

Congrats to Roger, I so knew he owuld win, he has been playing fantastic all thru.

I would say sorry for Rafa but the truth is I'm not really sorry at all. He had a brilliant season and reaching the finals is not too shabby at all, given the issues he has had with this court.

I do believe that Rafa and his fans may have to be content with the slams , I dont think Rafa will ever win the YEC(WTF).

He can go home and realx knwing he had a great year and did as well at the WTF as he could.

Posted by x-fan 11/28/2010 at 02:35 PM

"Federer just showed why he was the favorite going into this match.

On this surface, Federer's game generally is much better than Rafa's."

Amen :)
Yesterday Ruth was saying that fans were just deflecting pressure but I, for one, was confident in Fed :)

Posted by jdtennisusa 11/28/2010 at 02:35 PM

Roger is and always will be the best!

Even though I am not a Rafa fan, he is a class act!

Roger, here's hoping you win all four of the slams next year for the true Grand Slam!!

Posted by jita65 11/28/2010 at 02:35 PM

Way to go Roger, considering how easily he beat Nole and particularly Murray, I didn't really think Nadal would be too much of a challenge, but still Nadal took one set off him, only one to do this week.
I think Roger deserves this trophy for all the extra effort he put in this fall.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 11/28/2010 at 02:35 PM

Sherlock, come on, you have seen this place when Roger loses to Rafa, there is no mercy. He is called "old" "over the hill" and these are just the kind name.

Posted by Blue moon 11/28/2010 at 02:36 PM

NP: LOL, yup! No spinning. (I'm just kidding, I hope you know.)

Posted by Old man Fed/Puny server Rafa fan 11/28/2010 at 02:36 PM

Does anyone knows who will get YEC after 2012? Rafa's team needs to pull all their strings to move it to South America or somewhere they can put indoor clay court. Has there been indoor clay court final? I don't think so, but it is the only chance Rafa can win this thang.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 11/28/2010 at 02:37 PM

Sincere congratulations to Roger fans. :) He played the best tennis all week and showed some great attacking stuff today. Great end to the year & phenomenal tennis from him; and that must be a very sweet win! So please enjoy it. :)

Hugs to fellow Rafa fans. Not such a bad week for him, all in all. :)

I'm out for a bit; see you all later. :)

Posted by Nam1 11/28/2010 at 02:37 PM

I'm surprised that anypone can call this an "upset". Rafa lost to Roger Federer, you know the greatest thing ever to step on a tennis court.

If he had lost to Berdych or Ferrer, I might call it an upset.


Posted by Christopher 11/28/2010 at 02:37 PM

Very, very, happy. Congrats to Rafa and on his best showing ever at the event and, of course, for one of the best years in the history of tennis.

To my fellow Fed fans, it's been a really fun week. I loved the much more aggressive RoS and the increased net play. It was a blast to watch and obviously worked well here. Nice ending to what was a tough year at times.

Posted by x-fan 11/28/2010 at 02:39 PM

Ok gotcha!
Maybe I read too much into some of your overnight comments :)

Short and sweet ceremony. Both guys said just what needed to be said.
Here's hoping they meet again a couple of times (or more) in 2011.

Posted by AB 11/28/2010 at 02:39 PM

SamE: it's RogerKADs who call him that. They have their own "pre-cuses" as Steve coined the term.

Hence, Ruth's joke about no one winning the final.

Rafa and Roger have long-since separated themselves from the pack. They are a threat in every tournament they play. I do not count either of them out until the last point is played.

Posted by Old man Fed/Puny server Rafa fan 11/28/2010 at 02:39 PM

Rafa taking a shame of walk in the hallway. Sky sports is interviewing Fed's coach now.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 11/28/2010 at 02:39 PM

Congrats to Roger, he needed this win and it was well deserved, comiss to the Rafa fan. He had a great season and will get player of the year, but today we saw the old Roger with so much confidence. Kom sa, Caro, Kom igen, Robin!!

Posted by thebigapple 11/28/2010 at 02:39 PM

Fed finished talking? Geez...finally.

He forgot to thank the boatman that brings them to the tourney. And the people that constructed the stadium. Do you think he likes the limelight?

Posted by Syd 11/28/2010 at 02:39 PM

High Fives FEDERER Fans! The Old Lion Roaaaaarrrrs.

Tim, open the champagne will ya?

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 02:39 PM


When Roger lost the second set, you still thought that Roger would win? When the player who won 3 slams this year was across the net? Also with the minor detail that he also happens to be his nemesis?

I think this bode wells for Roger next year. He remains a favorite for slams next year i think. Shared with Rafa ofcourse.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 11/28/2010 at 02:40 PM

Old Man Fed informs us:

"Now that Fed has got that killer wide serve that nobody can return and upgraded his puny backhand tremendously, he will be a clear favorite over Rafa on hard, both indoor and outdoor, and grass."

Old Man:

In the majors, all Federer has to do now, is make it to the finals.

That killer wide serve didn't to too much for Federer at the 2010 Wimby or the 2010 U.S. Open finals, did it?

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 02:40 PM

Fred that's just the best week of tennis in, maybe, forever... thank you

just complete devestation ... now i think its clear the miracles Nadal has to pull off in the past to keep him at bay, it must take enormous mental and physical energy, clearly he wasnt up to the task today...

Posted by thebigapple 11/28/2010 at 02:40 PM

Annacone should ask for a higher salary tonite. He should wait till Mirka is gone to put the babies away.

Posted by Pspace 11/28/2010 at 02:41 PM

What did ppl think about the match? Ok...I'll go back.

I felt it was a bit of a let down. Rafa didn't play very well, for whatever reason ;-). Missed so many passing shots, and didn't make any returns off the wide serve. Fed should've dusted him in straights, but that second set walkabout is the norm these days.

Anyway, I don't really understand tennis these days. No one really seems to play well...

Posted by Old man Fed/Puny server Rafa fan 11/28/2010 at 02:41 PM

Okay since now the old man doesn't seem to age, I will start calling him middle-age man.

Posted by Master Ace 11/28/2010 at 02:41 PM

Rafael and Madonna are talking outside the locker room after Sky talked to Paul Annacone

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 11/28/2010 at 02:41 PM

What a great rivalry we have coming into 2011 and Roger has proven that he is Rafa's biggest rival. Off to shop, what a match.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 02:41 PM

"I'm surprised that anypone can call this an "upset"."

Nam1, every time a player defeats his "nemesis", its an upset. That's just the way it is.

Posted by lynhazel 11/28/2010 at 02:42 PM

well...i see my strategy worked....i chanted a mantra...cleaned the bathroom...rearranged some rugs....chanted...cleaned porch...more chanting...and voila...i am one delighted fedfan:)

Posted by Middle-age man Fed/Puny server Rafa fan 11/28/2010 at 02:43 PM

manuelsantanafan, Fed just developed at this tourney. So watch.

Pat Cash at Sky sports is saying that maybe Fed can get back to number 1 after all.

Posted by Carrie 11/28/2010 at 02:44 PM

Sherlock- good try.

Samantha- there are fans of Rafa who go over the top in being negative against Roger and there are Roger fans who go over the top in being negative towards Rafa. For every "over the hill and is done " and "arrogant and wears stupid sweaters" to Roger there is the "he has no talent but only luck runs and hits moonballs" and "he is a horrible person and the worst sport EVER!" for Rafa. But sure- just say it is one group of fans....those horrible Rafa fans. Yes- I know we suck and are the bane of this board and the cause of all that is evil in this world, yadda yadd yadda. Frankly- I think there are enough nutters in both camps to make Planter's very happy.


At least you know the rivalry is cooking when there are the usual that a silver lining?

Posted by Glenn (I change a bit the grip) 11/28/2010 at 02:44 PM

Congrats to all the Roger Fans, commies to fellow Rafa fans, but Roger played a much better match and deserved the victory.

Posted by crazyone 11/28/2010 at 02:44 PM

Rafa's won 6 out of the last 7 matches they've played, and has generally played at a higher level than Fed over the last several months, including on hard courts. The only way it wasn't an upset was that it was indoors, where Fed has definitely held the upper hand over Rafa, but those matches were 3+ years ago.

Posted by just horsen 11/28/2010 at 02:45 PM

just dropping in for a second...had to leave at 3-1 in the 2nd set and didn't get back till the trophy ceremony, but sounds like that was a good thing for this frazzle prone Rafa fan. :)

Huge congrats to TMF and all his loyal fans! Fed started and ended the season a champion! I have to say that his win here has spiced things up for next year! Rafa might have won 3 Slams this year, but he still has work to do. I'm just happy we got a Fedal Final. Here's hoping for many more in 2011!

See y'all later!

Posted by Middle-age man Fed/Puny server Rafa fan 11/28/2010 at 02:45 PM

Rafa's parents and sister just gave the middle age man kiss in cheeks and congrated him. Then he totally ignored Kevin Spacey who was standing in the hallway after them, went straight to Mirka in his locker room. ouch. Kevin Spacey, you're a nobody now.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro 2010 YE #1 11/28/2010 at 02:45 PM

One last thing, now maybe there will be more focus on the great tennis Roger is capable of and less on his age. I'm tired of hearing it. Ciao, need to hit the stores and do my part to improve the American economy. Kom sa, Caro, Kom igen, Robin.

Posted by sunnygrrle 11/28/2010 at 02:45 PM

An old man came out and beat 7 of the best players in the world, winning all his matches along the way. Went through the #1 player in the world.

Welcome Back King Roger. Rafa's has been keeping your throne warm for you.

Posted by TripleF(FedFanForever): Bleed the Vermillion! Girding up! Fedal it is. Yum! Yikes! 11/28/2010 at 02:45 PM

And TWibe will debate this to threads till AO starts...and that's the way it should be.

Folks, you all have been a great company so far.
Comms to Rafa KADs. Kid is going to rest and go gung ho for AO.
So will be Murray. And Nole. May be Delpo somewhere is stewing.

Of course, Fed will saunter in, make the appearance to check things out.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 02:47 PM

talk about a pro Fed crowd, they went nuts in the third set, interesting even at 4-1 they were very loud when he broke...

Posted by Carrie 11/28/2010 at 02:47 PM

Ooops- by slags I mean of course derisive comments- I did not mean it in the way I think it can sometimes be used as an insulting name to a person.

*but Roger played a much better match and deserved the victory.*

That's how I feel. I wanted Rafa to win- but I am not saddened by this loss at all. Roger played better- and is after all a heck of a player. Rafa finally made the finals. Not too bad. :)

Posted by CL 11/28/2010 at 02:48 PM

I personally tip my hat to Paul A. It is not like some sort of HUGE change in Fed's game. Just a tweak here and a kick in the butt there. Can make a lot of difference. For Roger to take Nadal on clay will always be difficult bordering on impossible. But on any other surface..even a mid slow one..where the ball doesn't bounce up too high...I think he has some pretty important take aways from this match.

It was SO nice for me to hear Cliffie and PMac again. (Total panic when I couldn't find the match on TC). They are one of my all time favorite duos. I thnk PMac musta said, "What a shot!!!!" about 30 times...about both guys. He also, said, FWIW, that the idea that Nadal was tired was "ridiculous." He pointed out that as in a GS, in the players had a day off between their RR matches. He didn't feel Rafa's match with Muzz should or would make any difference to a very fit athlete like Rafa.

Posted by Middle-age man Fed/Puny server Rafa fan 11/28/2010 at 02:48 PM

Stop calling Fed old man. It's middle-age man from now on. He is 29, but he just totally destroyed top 1,3,4,5,8 players.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 02:48 PM

Fed just bat the tar out of Nadal in the third set, THIS is always how we thought he should play, thank you Annacone!

Posted by Nam1 11/28/2010 at 02:49 PM

" every time a player defeats his "nemesis", its an upset. That's just the way it is. "

No, an upset is when it is completely unexpected that one player would defeat another; eg. Soderling vs Rafa at FO 2009 or Fed vs Berdych at Wimby 2010

That's an upset....not the world's greatest tennis player, number one for about 6 years and on a court that suits him defeating Nadal, his greatest, closest rival.

There's a reason this is called a rivalry; it means that either player can win on any given day. You dont hear much about Roddick and Fed's rivalry, do you?

Fed and Rafa played twice this year and split it between them. To me, they are still each other's greatest rivals and either defeating the other is not considered an upset.

Posted by x-fan 11/28/2010 at 02:50 PM

It's a matter of conditions.
You focus too much on ranking and on results on other surfaces.
Of course Nadal could have won this match but if one looks at all the variables from an objective perspective one has to give Fed the edge on indoor hardcourt.
Again, Roger was number one for many years and won 3 slams a couple of times but he wasn't the favorite going into FO, was he?
Neither was Sampras in his day.

Posted by thebigapple 11/28/2010 at 02:50 PM

Partayyyyyy now! Next year we will get back to the reality of a 30 year old with a vulnerability to high bouncing balls to his backhand.

What is up with Rog and 2nd sets.

Posted by CL 11/28/2010 at 02:50 PM

Re upset...well, it seems to me that is can't be called anything else, really. Rafa is the number #1 player in the world, AND,as we are all so oft reminded, he has a very one sided, (his side) H2H w/Fed. Though that H2H just crept incrementally closer to respectable.

Posted by Deuce 11/28/2010 at 02:51 PM

Hi fives fellow Fed fans! I was expecting a much tighter third set. Nice serving by Roger today. Commiserations to Nadal fans. All in all a good result for him. He swept the RR eked out a nailbitter against Murray and fell to Fed on an indoor court - no shame in that. Hi fives fellow Fed fans on a great tennis year. Bring on 2011 once these buys get a bit of rest!

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 02:51 PM


Rafa had vociferous support in the second set when he broke..I think the crowd over there is quite fair..its just that Fed gets more sympathy cheers now. But otherwise, they were quite loud for Rafa too.

Posted by Middle-age man Fed/Puny server Rafa fan 11/28/2010 at 02:52 PM

Well, until Dec 21, this board will be relatively quiet. I bet Fed will again destroy Rafa on fast indoor Zurich court, then get totally destroyed on the next day on Madrid's clay court. Unless they play on indoor hard court, then it's different. And no, maybe 3-4 will be around during DC final next week.

Posted by Deuce 11/28/2010 at 02:52 PM

Oops - forgot for a moment the DC. Must say I am pulling for Nole to win this at home! Adje Nole!

Posted by mela 11/28/2010 at 02:52 PM

Congrats Fed Fans!!! Really, well deserved - he played amazingly well.

Wish Rafa had played better, but a combination of the opponent and the surface wouldn't let him.

And now we must argue about whether it was an upset? Umm, ok.

Fellow Rafa fans - you guys rock, are for the most part super classy, and our guy has had a spectacular year. I can't even remotely complain.

Posted by CL 11/28/2010 at 02:55 PM

Oh, I just wanted to add a HUGE shout out,again, to Or! I am just SO tickled for her that she was able to be there to witness this, especially after the disappointment of the '09 USO final. I'll bet this pretty much makes up for that.

Speaking of that final, any word on DelPo?

Tim - you are SUCH a freakin' chicken... B'wuck, B'wuck, B'WUUUCK!!!

Posted by GB 11/28/2010 at 02:55 PM

Ladyjulia: I think Rafa had an off day for whatever reason and lacked his usual animation. But, he desperately wanted this title, so I don't think he didn't try. Did you think Fed didn't try at the FO 08?

As for the tiredness thing. Rafa brought it up because he felt it was central to analyzing the semi. He thought he was unable to take advantage of Muzz being tired at the start of the second set, and that Muzz helped him by missing returns at 0-30 in the third, when he was feeling it. Even non KADS discussed that ebbing and flowing energy levels were playing a role in the match.

Posted by Nam1 11/28/2010 at 02:55 PM

I didnt watch all of the match especially last set ; I had a strong feeling Roger was going to win this, see my posts yesterday...

but can anyone tell me if Rafa kind of gave up after 3-1 on 3rd set.

He seemed to not even care at that last point, which I did happen to see.

Posted by Deuce 11/28/2010 at 02:57 PM

Hi CL - I guess we have to wait for Andrews comments after he watches on he DVR! I concur re the nice kick in the butt from Annacone. Well done Paul!

MSF - Thanks for the kind works on Fed "Federer showed once again that: (1) The game and the "big hitters" haven't passed him by; and (2) Federer is not playing with an obsolete racket and strings (for him)." Indeed - I think we can all look to a great 2011 and hope our faves stay healthy!

Posted by mela 11/28/2010 at 02:57 PM

Lol, i find the pmac and cliff duo nauseating, just like CL can't stand brad gilbert. commies are humans like us and it's useless to protest that they show objectivity.

and some posters' endless carping on the rafa tired meme, when NO ONE ELSE mentions it, is absolutely hilarious. projection, much?

Posted by x-fan 11/28/2010 at 02:58 PM

In the end, it matters little who the favorite is going into any match.
It's not as if all matches are won by the higher seeds.
On any given day, any player can outplay his opponent.

I guess we all have different degrees of 'fandom'.
As much as I like Fed and I quite prefer his brand of tennis than Rafa's, I also like Rafa, Nole, Murray... etc. because more than anything else I like tennis and I particularly like successful players.

I'm thrilled that Fed won esp. against Rafa but I wouldn't have been distraught if he had lost either.

Also, it doesn't really bother me what players say in the pressers or whether they argue with the umpires or who is the most sportsmanlike :)
They're people like the rest of us and not perfect. I like to watch Roger play, esp. the way he played for most of the match but I can also appreciate the defensive skills of Nadal, Murray or the clean hitting from Nole when he's on.

All that said, the match wasn't all that compelling. I really hoped for more but it was not to be. Maybe we'll get some really good one at AO'11

Posted by mela 11/28/2010 at 02:59 PM

GB, so much word.

i refuse to subscribe to the "rafa didn't try" theme only coz it contradicts everything he's ever stood for. i don't think fed showed him many options in those two sets period.

whatevs - on his least fave surface doing so well? sounds pretty sweet.

Posted by Arun 11/28/2010 at 03:00 PM

Hey guys! Congrats and Commiserations respectively.
I'm really grateful to see how well Roger has played after Wimby.
A huge lineup to beat at WTF. Speechless.

Posted by Carrie 11/28/2010 at 03:00 PM

*Speaking of that final, any word on DelPo?*

Sadly- nothing from what I have heard. Outside that he will be ranked in 2000s or lower at the time of the Ao.

The less I hear- the more I fret and think it could be a career ending injury.I am having an increasing foreboding feeling that delpo is going to be the Icarus of tennis. He flew so close to the sun- got a grand slam title- and then after his wrist was injured kept flying and flying.....only to plummet as the wrist got worse.

Posted by AB 11/28/2010 at 03:00 PM

Nam1: Rafa's ROS was poor throughout today's final. Unlike the rest of the pack, though, he was able to take advantage of Roger's 2nd set walkabout.

I thought he gave up on many balls early, which is uncharacteristic.

OTOH, Roger made him play a lot of balls (like MAndy yesterday) and he did not gift shanks in the 3rd set as he did in the 2nd.

Roger had 3 match points, serving at 5-1. He started to look nervous, lost the 1st one playing tentatively.

Then, to my eyes, overcooked a FH long, but Rafa didn't challenge and so won the 3rd set 6-1.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 03:00 PM


We'll have to agree to dosen't sound logical to me...what you said.

IMO, its an upset if a player is down 7-14 in the H2H and he makes it 8-14.

Its an upset if you defeat the #1 "dominant" player who is ahead of his rival by 4000 points.

But we can agree to disagree...i think its an upset whenever a #2 player defeats a #1 ranked, dominant player.

Any time Rafa loses now...its huge...its because he has been so dominant this year. 4000 points is not peanuts. It would be an upset no matter who defeated him. When a player defeats his nemesis, its even bigger.

Posted by Kombo 11/28/2010 at 03:01 PM

I'm so glad (and relieved) Roger won. I couldn't bare to watch and stopped to go draw instead at 3-3 0-30 with Fed serving. Hope it was a good match, I'll watch it later.


Old man Fed fends off expiration one more time!

Posted by TripleF(FedFanForever): Bleed the Vermillion! Girding up! Fedal it is. Yum! Yikes! 11/28/2010 at 03:01 PM

On a slightly faster court, with lower bounce where shot making and timing is of the essence....Fed rules. And that's not a ding on Rafa. It is not.

Posted by x-fan 11/28/2010 at 03:01 PM

Eww, that was a rather long post... sorry.

On to DC! Go Nole and co! :)

Posted by TripleF(FedFanForever): Bleed the Vermillion! Girding up! Fedal it is. Yum! Yikes! 11/28/2010 at 03:02 PM

Tennis channel is showing it all over now!

Posted by Carrie 11/28/2010 at 03:04 PM

ladyjulia- was it an upset when Rafa beat Roger at the FO- any or all of the times?

Posted by TripleF(FedFanForever): Bleed the Vermillion! Girding up! Fedal it is. Yum! Yikes! 11/28/2010 at 03:04 PM

And Jimmy Arias is doing the commentary. Should be interesting

Posted by susan 11/28/2010 at 03:05 PM

well, that was worth staying up for! Or must be thrilled.
I followed the live board with ed mcgrogan. no arguments there. :)
not sure everyone was aware of its existence.

Posted by TripleF(FedFanForever): Bleed the Vermillion! Girding up! Fedal it is. Yum! Yikes! 11/28/2010 at 03:05 PM

Jimmy is now talking about backhand "up high"....and why am I chucking

Posted by GB 11/28/2010 at 03:05 PM

x-fan: don't be sorry! I really like your posts.

Posted by Tim (Moonpies lead to violence!) 11/28/2010 at 03:05 PM

mela, see Neil Harmon's Tweets, he was making excuses for Nadal early in the 3rd set, how totally unprofessional...saying Fed should give Murray an assist..

cant the guy play ONE tough match without being a wreck the next day? u cant blame Fed fans for getting irritated when this is all we hear after every big win, can Rafa only win if he gets easy straight set wins before a final?

this storyline has to stop and it will only stop when people bark and point out how ridiculous it is

Posted by ladyjulia 11/28/2010 at 03:06 PM


"He seemed to not even care at that last point, which I did happen to see. "

Is that so?

I think I would rather believe GB's version that Rafa did care to put in an effort..otherwise its not good for the #1 player in the world to be so unprofessional.

Players can be fined for lack of effort. Roger was fined once for lack of effort early in his career. He did not protest and paid the fine.

I don't are all fans of would know better than anybody else.

Posted by TripleF(FedFanForever): Bleed the Vermillion! Girding up! Fedal it is. Yum! Yikes! 11/28/2010 at 03:06 PM

ESPN2 didn't show Roger "taking his time" to walk in for Toss!


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