July 07, 2006

Federer vs. Nadal again!: In case you forgot with all the World Cup excitement, there's this little tennis tournament going on called Wimbledon. Federer is playing "flawless" tennis and Nadal surprised everyone by making it to the final in just his 5th professional tournament on grass playing his usual high-energy, take no prisoners game. Theoretically, Federer should dominate on grass, but some question his, ahem, resolve .

posted by sic to tennis at 04:06 PM - 17 comments

These are the two best players in the world clearly...I think that if Nadal beats Federer he assumes the #1 ranking. Want more proof. Federer is 55-0 against everyone not named Nadal this year (against whom he is 1-6)... Still a great match awaits us at the final.

posted by chemwizBsquared at 04:18 PM on July 07, 2006

I have been very impressed by how well Nadal has been able to adapt his game to grass. I gave him about one chance in 20 to make the quarters at the start, but he has played terrifically. He capped it by handling a very game Baghdatis pretty easily today. The match was much closer than the score would indicate. The difference was that Marcos was something like 0 for 7 on break chances. Federer is clearly the best player in game today (and moreso on grass), but I think Nadal has a fairly significant mental edge due to their rivalry (or lack thereof). I wouldn't bet cash money on Nadal to pull it out, but it could be a close match.

posted by psmealey at 04:45 PM on July 07, 2006

Here's an article linked to in an earlier SpoFi thread discussing the unique situation where you have a Number 1 player that destroys all other competition except for the Number 2, who in turn dominates him. Consider that this article was written before Nadal dismantled Federer in the French Open final, ruining his chance to win the Grand Slam. I've been enthralled by Nadal's run to the Wimbledon final, absolutely floored by how quickly he has improved on grass. I still think that Federer will win this final, but I do believe that Nadal has a put a voodoo whammy on Federer's head and that psychological edge may open a tiny window for him to win the match. Perhaps Federer is so used to dominating that he doesn't know how to deal with a pitbull like Nadal, that just keeps coming at him, over and over again. Or maybe his balls just shrink up like Mats Wilander suggests in the second link.

posted by sic at 04:49 PM on July 07, 2006

That was a great, and very well-written article you linked to sic. Ivan Lendl once said that the difference between baseliners that could win on grass (Borg, Agassi, Hewitt, Connors) and those that couldn't (Lendl, Courier, Roddick) was being "light vs. heavy footed". The way that Raza describes it is a little more articulate :-). I definitely think that Nadal's footwork puts him firmly in the former camp. After seeing him perform these past two weeks, I think he can do it.

posted by psmealey at 05:57 PM on July 07, 2006

Btw, I think it's bullshit that McEnroe and others keep hyping Federer as "the greatest of all time". He may well end up being that after his career is over, and we can count up all the glories, but right now, it seems more a cynical ploy to pump interest (and drive teevee ratings) into the sport than a genuine pronouncement. After all, though he's been very successful thus far, there have only been handful of truly top class players in his age group/era (Safin on his good days, Nadal who owns him, and Roddick who now appears to be monstrously overrated and in deep decline) and a lot can happen in the next few years. He could get injured, either on or off court, or "burn out" and retire early like Borg did after he realized that he couldn't beat McEnroe anymore. I kind of wish they'd cut that kind of talk out and just let us enjoy the ride, particularly if we're about to see the blossoming of one of tennis's great rivalries.

posted by psmealey at 06:04 PM on July 07, 2006

Recently McEnroe recognized that Nadal may be on the way to number 1 in the near future. I think that as Nadal improves on other surfaces he and Federer are going to be meeting each other in final after final. With the rest of the tour relatively weak, this may become a rivalry to end all rivalries. Sunday's match is going to show us where that rivalry is at. If Federer wipes the floor with Nadal it will be a few years before Nadal really challenges him off of clay; if Nadal plays him tough but loses, we can look for him to challenge Federer in the US and Australian Opens; but, if Nadal wins, well, we have a new best player in the world as far as I'm concerned.

posted by sic at 06:11 PM on July 07, 2006

I just found a .wmv of the interview that Wilander gave where he talked about Federer's (lack of) balls. Some good stuff, he sounds drunk though.

posted by sic at 06:45 PM on July 07, 2006

he sounds drunk though Hey, he's Swedish. Swedes are always drunk when not in Sweden. It's too bloody expensive to do it home. (I kid, I kid). Really, though, kudos to Mats. I loved him as a player, and I am enjoying him even more now. This is the kind of frankness that we were led to expect from Johnny Mac (but never get), and used to get from Brad Gilbert (though rarely do anymore, because he's trying to join the tennis establishment):

"(Federer's) not the best player ever, by a long shot, yet. You face him against the likes of Jimmy Connors and I don't know that he's going to beat Jimmy Connors for two reasons here (Wilander points to groin)

posted by psmealey at 06:56 PM on July 07, 2006

Unless something really stupid happens, the final will be a match for the ages. Believe it. I'm gonna put a nickel on Nadal in this one. The grass court skills were the missing piece last year, and look at what he's done in one year. He's not a headcase, he has a work ethic that just won't quit, he's healthy and he works like a mule, all the time. In short, even if you don't look at his record vs. Federer, if you looked at it in the abstract and considered what it would take for a hypothetical player to beat Federer, the answer you'd probably come up with is excellence combined with consistency -- and that's exactly what Nadal is bringing. The women's final should also be pretty goddamn good. I'm pulling for Mauresmo all the way, but I'd put money on Henin-Hardenne.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:40 PM on July 07, 2006

I predict that in the first set Nadal is going to be uncharacteristically nervous, because he's always said that is was dream of his to make it to the Wimbledon final. But then he'll pull it together and make a run at it. I still think Federer will be too much for him on grass in the end. For now.

posted by sic at 04:21 AM on July 08, 2006

Ha ha ha . After all this talk about Federer being the greatest of all time, and how Nadal still needs time to learn the game of tennis on grass, we finally, earlier than expected, come to the moment where we can separate the reality from all the hypothetical bullshit that the tennis experts and commentators have given us the past two weeks. Nadal has shown tenacity and a strong will to learn the game of tennis no matter what surface. Except for McEnroe, none of the other commentators have really been champions so how can they pretend to know the heart of a champion. Nadal will show on Sunday that he is on his way to becoming one of the greatest tennis players of all time, no matter what surface. He will destroy Federer!

posted by WLC at 07:56 AM on July 08, 2006

I love it when new players erupt into the top 10 and suddenly start beating everybody. I live in Spain so I've been on to Nadal ever since he won his first French Open, it seems that people in the rest of the world are just starting to take him seriously. Word in the Spanish Tennis press is that Nadal and his team are all business, hyper-focused on improving Rafa's game on other surfaces and anybody who's paying attention can see that Nadal has that something special, that champion's heart, that seperates the real hall of famer's (Connors, Sampras, McEnroe, Borg, Lendl, Agassi, etc.) from other great players. They just want it more. Whatever happens tomorrow, expect big things from Nadal and from this rivalry in the next few years.

posted by sic at 10:18 AM on July 08, 2006

Its a shame that these two guys do nothing for me. There is no way in hell I am going to watch. A martian could land on the grass court and I would't even change the channel to look.

posted by Big Dookie at 11:48 AM on July 08, 2006

Thanks for dropping by to share that with us, jackass.

posted by psmealey at 12:41 PM on July 08, 2006

Here I thought this was going to be the first SpoFi thread ever without a dickhead making a stupid comment. Here's another interesting article on Federer/Nadal.

posted by sic at 03:03 PM on July 08, 2006

It's not ashamed that these two do nothing for you Big Dookie, it's a shame that you even took time to share your thought to us tennis enthusiasts. Well I guess each to his own, whatever yours is.

posted by WLC at 03:53 PM on July 08, 2006

Now, now, WLC...perhaps Big Dookie is a tennis enthusiast who's just in a state of severe pout because his/her favorite player didn't make the final. Out with it, O Craptastic One: who would have got your motor running in the final?

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:05 PM on July 08, 2006

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