In the November/December of his magnanimous Career, Roger Federer will get a chance to show to the Tennis Galaxy and the Sportz Cosmos how long he can sustain these body blows that Father Time and his gladiatorial rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic keep dealing him. For this event, he could not have hand-picked a better venue and time. An Indoor auditorium – the O2 Arena in a City where the crowd love him as one of their very own. The Year End Championships, where our wonderful sport pits the very best players of the season, has been a very happy time of the year for Mr. Tennis – Roger Federer. One can argue, this tournament where the best of the best reign supreme, defines Federer as much as that other tournament in London, which is the Holy Grail of our sport.
Rafael Nadal, who has been in a funk since setting ablaze the North American hardcourt season, seems to be gathering some real momentum to land that one major title that has proved elusive to him – Barclay’s ATP World Tour Finals. The last time Nadal was in hot pursuit of a title at a tournament he has not historically done well, his path did cross Federer’s – in Cincinnati, and Nadal outlasted Federer in the Quarter-finals before eventually going on to win the tournament. Rafa planet will be hoping their hero repeats the dose here in the O2 Arena. Nadal may not have a very impressive record at the World Tour Finals, but as we all are aware, Nadal has made a career out of turning things around – from a defensive position to offensive – both on-court and off-court.
To do so however, Rafael Nadal may need some help from his good friend Roger and must hope that Shankerer makes frequent appearance to the match today – more frequently than the last time these two legends met on this very same court, 2years ago. Roger Feder, then, was on his way back to the Numero Uno position and dealt a very tough pill to Rafael Nadal and his millions of fans, by beating him 3 and 0 in one of the most one-sided matches in this legendary rivalry. This time around, the match should be a lot closer than that and might well prove to be similar to their last meeting in Cincinnati Masters 1000, which Nadal eventually won in the 3rd set. Nadal has won all his group matches in London and must be seeing the finish line for this tournament in bright neon lights. El Toro is geared up to bring down Federer’s final frontier and add his 1st win over Federer in Indoor matches to his impressive list of achievements.
Federer was faced with a virtual quarterfinal against Juan Martin Delpotro and after going down a break in both 2nd and 3rd sets, Federer orchestrated a mini comeback and won both the sets and sealed the deal on his 1oth semi-final appearance at the Year End Championships. Towards the end of that match, Federer was playing some vintage tennis and his fans will hope he will continue that form into today’s match. Federer will have to be at his very best to give himself a good chance to knock out the World No.1 in their 32nd encounter. He will have to start the match at a very high level and continue to keep up that level till the winning point is struck. Federer is fully aware that he cannot afford to start the match cold like he did against Djokovic – with disastrous results. El Mago will have to use every trick in his bag to get the big W here.
El Toro will have to bullishly keep up with the strategy that earned him 21 wins over the Greatest Player of the last decade. That strategy has won Nadal only 1 set indoors in matches against Federer, but it is the same strategy that helped him win the quarterfinal in Cincinnati and only a small deviation from the “attack the backhand” plan is necessary – as a surprise element, to keep Federer honest. Besides, the courts at O2 are playing slower than before and that should only favor Nadal and his top-spin forehand to Roger’s backhand.
Prediction: Nadal will get his 1st win over Roger in an Indoor court in two extremely competitive sets.