Legends meet in the “CIN” city

Roaring TITANSTime for another clash between the two titans of TENNIS! “Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal” on the scoreboard says it all. FEDAL spectators are characteristically similar to tennis balls; bouncing back to gear up for yet another riveting face-off between these two champions, pretending to have healed blows carried from recent lackluster encounters. 5-time Cincinnati champion, Roger Federer, has too many conquering moments of this tournament in his bag to see himself on the wrong end of the result. Standing on the other end of the court is Rafael Nadal, the man who remains to be beaten on hard courts this season. All makes up for a mouth-watering contest.

On court previews…
Federer met his old friend and rival, Tommy Haas. Few, including me, had picked the result in favor of the German, considering the rust Federer was carrying and the recent dynamic that Haas has managed to catch Federer at the wrong time for a push. First set and a part of the second couldn’t disprove my anticipation. Thankfully, I was proven wrong in the end. As Federer rightly quoted, he hung in there for the better to greet him. And it did, when Tommy Haas found unimaginable reasons to lose a strong hold in the seventh game of the second set. Federer scraped through the back end of the set to level the match before nearing his normal self in the third. By his own admission, Federer needs more time on the court. An uncharacteristic lapse in reading patterns and strategies, which I see as one of the reasons for his first set loss, is a loud alarm for quick revisions. With time and a trace of fortune, his backhand apparently found some zip as he emerged into a better player at the end of the match and. But does it fill him with enough confidence and necessary surge to beat his greatest, certainly not the oldest, foe in Rafael Nadal?

Later in the day, spectators had more than one reason to cling on to Nadal’s highly anticipated meeting with Grigor Dimitrov. It was an on-court preview of what was expected to follow the next day. Sparkling winners are accompanied by equally crushing errors. Proportions and percentages turn out to be the deciding factors. Nadal was again reminded of this inevitability as the match culminated with 32 unforced errors in his half. Dimitrov, aka Baby FED, retained his habit of costing Nadal a set. Nadal’s meek second serve winning percentage of 14%, in the second set, vindicated the solidity that Dimitrov has managed to bring to his backhand. I wondered if Roger could add that solidity to his backhand. Because when he does, given his low & skidding slice, he certainly has more than 2 weapons in his arsenal to dominate Nadal.

Plays and Predictions…
Role reversal is definitely on the cards, considering their forms in the season. Nadal’s rhythm seems to have taken a slight tumble in his match against Dimitrov and would remain interesting to see if he can near immaculate timing on pulling the trigger. If I were in Federer’s camp, I wouldn’t mind Federer playing the “defender”, acknowledging the fact that Nadal’s amplified aggression is not his natural act.

Recipe for Nadal: Varied second serve, controlled aggression; though I wouldn’t be surprised if he resorts back to the old habits against Federer.
Recipe for Federer: Excellent first serve percentage, and solidity in his backhand with an occasional thought for “touch”.

Nadal’s tendency to revert to the baseline on crucial points might prompt few to assume the “ball” to be in Federer’s court. With Federer still rediscovering his feet on the tour, I’d go against the history books to pick Nadal as the winner in three sets.

30 thoughts on “Legends meet in the “CIN” city

  1. Great preview dude. Good luck to the legends. Let’s hope they give a thriller and Fed brings his 2004-2007 game and Rafa his 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2013 games.

    The surface is pro-Fed but the ESPN commies mentioned the court/conditions being slowed. So, advantage Rafa there and then ofcourse night match = higher bounce and lesser skid than in day time, so you got to call the surface as even stevens [ a lot like madrid, hamburg or wimbledon]

    cannot wait for the match…. for now, Novak is down a set to Isner… I still think ND should come through, but Cincy during day is lightning fast!

    Picks for the day:

    WTA = Serena in 2, Azarenka in 3, Jankovic in 3. Li Na got a walkover as Radwanska withdrew [grandfather passed away]

    Djokovic in 2, Delpotro in 2, Rafa in 3, Murray in 3

  2. When Fed hits backhands like that last point in the 1st set. Any person on the other side of the net should start running for cover. Any person other than Nadal that is!!!! 1-0 sets to Fed. Game on in Cincinnati!!!

  3. Rafa righting the ship. Moment of truth for Roger. Can he keep fighting the young buck? Rafa’s tightening his game up. I don’t think Roger wants to play 3 sets with a 5year old younger guy.

  4. Just like that against the run of the play, Nadal breaks. This match deserves a 3rd set! Thank you for fighting your age Roger. Thank you for fighting those knees Nadal. The game needs FEDAL!

  5. Carlos:

    Thanks for that great post on your views about GOAThood. I agree Federer is not THAT MUCH greater than Nadal. However he is great, at this point and his numbers [overall] look better than Nadal’s. Ofcourse, there is a possibility that this will change.

    When it changes, I will acknowledge the change and re-consider my view. For now Laver/Federer are my top 2 GOATs. Also, we will have to disagree on the weak era claim. If Roger’s era is weak, Nadal et al should have dominated Safin, Hewitt and Roddick, but it is not so. Safin beat Novak in Wimbledon, Hewitt had a winning H2H against Nadal at one point and he still has a respectful record against Nadal. Roddick retired with a winning H2H [ H2H is something that rafa fans like a lot] against Novak and he beat Murray in their biggest encounter at Wimbledon 2009. Nalbandian/Davydenko have inflicted painful beatings on Rafa. It doesn’t look like a weak era to me!

  6. SW The Great:

    Rafa owns real estate in Roger’s mind on clay. Roger owns real estate in Rafa’s mind in indoors and grass [4-0 and 2-1]. Similarly Novak owns a similar real-estate in Rafa’s mind. [11-6 on Hard courts].

    It is better Rafa has a real estate in Roger’s mind on clay than players like Davydenko/Nalbandian owning it in Rafa’s mind. If you consider Rafa outside clay, there are a few players with winning H2H against rafa, so does that mean they own a real estate in Rafa’s mind? It seems to me that you are making a lot out of 21-10. There is a bigger number out there:

    Weeks at No.1 : Fed pwns Nadal there 302-102! Novak is close to 100 weeks now. So Rafa will have the H2Hs, but Fed/Novak might have the better numbers at No.1

    I think I would trade for weeks at no.1 over H2H.

  7. Pingback: Sportz Cosmos Preview: ATP China Open | SportzCosmos

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