Is Federer closer this year?

You know what I’m talking about… From the Monte-Carlo final you could see some of the elements that were present in previous finals between the two on clay. For example, Federer TRYING to stay close to the baseline and attack whenever possible. Was he agressive enough?

The way he started the second set, I thought he would do what he did in Hamburg. He was actually playing much better than Nadal on clay. That’s a sentence you don’t say to often. Why he couldn’t close the set at 4-0? That’s his problem to figure out. A combination of poor serving and, what I belive, a “giving-up” attitude. Somehow he looked defeated in the period from 4-0 to 4-4.

But from what I saw, Federer was actually much closer to beating Nadal. A Nadal who wasn’t tired like he was in Hamburg last year. I think the most important reason was his willingness to approach the net when he knows he is capable. I cannot recall Nadal hitting too many passing shots in the final. He needs to continue with this. Second point is, and has always been, serving well. His first serve percentage was not high enough and he wasn’t getting any easy points with neither 1st nor second serves. I remember thinking at one point that Nadal actually gets more out of his serves than Federer.

And that brings me to the last point. Nadal is rock solid off the baseline and hits almost every shot to the Fed backhand. There’s no doubt that if Fed has a weakness, it’s the backhand from the topspinny balls from Nadal. Fed has a beautiful backhand, but it’s not very effective on clay and especially not when you have factors as the lines, nasty spin, uconsistent bounce and so on. The answer must be running around it more, just the way he did in Monte-Carlo. Another answer IMO, is to use one of his best strokes. Slice that damn ball down into the ground. I know it’s not as effective on clay, but if you practice some slicing to the Nadal forehand, you will see more unforced from Nadal compared to the normal waist-height balls.

If that’s no solution, I think it’s way better than allowing Nadal to take 10-15 unforced off your backhand and maybe cause you to be frustrated and give another 10-15 unforced on your forehand. Slice that baby right up deep into the court and see what happens. Nadal even does it sometimes, why don’t you?!

So is Federer closer to the RG title this year? Or to any clay title where Nadal will participate? I think so.. and Rome will give us further answers. The only problem is to stop running into trouble like against Ramirez-Hidalgo and like against Volandri last year. Nadal will be waiting in the final, so it’s a matter of getting through the jokers in the first 4 matches.



One Response to “Is Federer closer this year?”

  1. Tim Says:

    The answer to this one is NO.

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