I witnessed Roger Federer once again lost to Rafael Nadal in a Major tournament. Federers record against Nadal at such a stage was 2 – 7 going in so, in lieu of this, it isn’t much of a surprise that he fell to his biggest rival. What is surprising, however, is the way he lost.
You would imagine that after seeing Nadal fall to Djokovic 6 times last year that Federer would take a page from Novaks gameplan and maybe implement it a bit into his own.
But Roger is too good for that, has too many spectacular shots in his arsenal, that to resort to a singular, simple gameplan would just be too… boring.
Numerous times last night Federer went down the line on a approach shot to Nadals forehand. And nearly everytime he did this, or at least on most of the big points, Nadal came up with a miraculous passing shot. Well, maybe not miraculus.
The tennis world knows that Nadal has one of the deadliest forehands of all time and, coupled with his extraordinary will power and supreme strength, a forehand passing shot against Federer is, well, simple.
What Federer should of done, and what Novak Djokovic did so well against Nadal in 2011, is go to his backhand. And go to it constantly. Wear it down.
Frustrate Nadal the way Nadal frusterates Federer. He did it a few times last night, hitting clean cross-court forehands that were both deep and hard to Nadals ‘weaker’ wing.Would it of made a difference? Pundits will tell you that no, not a chance, Nadal is in Federers head, always has been, and no game plan will change this.
But consider this: at 4-4 in the 4th set last night Federer was up 40 30 and serving to go up 5-4. He hit a hard, wide serve to Nadals backhand, which Nadal then returned short and cross-court. Federer, pouncing on the opportunity to unleash his lethal forehand, approached the net and sent the ball down the line.
What did Nadal do? He sprinted across the court, roared like a warrior, and rocketed the ball right by Federer. He screamed in approval and lept to his feet as Federer, who had seenFederer forehand is one of the best of all timeenough, walked away looking a little dejected.
All match this had happened, especially on big, tense points. Although Nadal still may have made the pass, a forehand to Nadals backhand at that point may have won him the game. He may have then forced a 5th set where the drama sureley would have been breathtaking.
Instead he was broken that game – perhaps in more ways then one. As he walked off the court the following game, to the background of jubliant crys fron Nadal, one has to wonder how many more times Federer can handle a bitter loss to his biggest rival.