Rafael vs. Roger

 

Who will go victorious this time? Federer seeks his only missing slam and Nadal wants a 4th consecutive RG trophy.

If you live in Europe and watch Eurosport, you probably saw Wilander’s take on tomorrow’s final. I think he made a few important points. First of all, h2h is always important regardless of surface and conditions. You have to remember that Fed’s bad stat against Nadal is more due to the style Nadal’s plays rather than surface problems and details in the game. Federer struggled big time with Nadal on hard courts in 04-05 and even 06. After Dubai in 2006 he sort of, Federer started to regain control on his so called favorite surface. There’s something about the h2h stats that is really worth mentioning. After 2006 Roland Garros final Nadal was 6-1 against Federer! 2 of them on hard. The one victory for Fed came in Miami, where the match went to 5 sets and was very close to a 0-3 loss in the third set tie-break. Nadal was still 18 at this point and he hasn’t gotten any worse on the hard stuff! That’s something one should keep in mind when looking at how players generally improve their overall game. What could you excpect from an 18 year old and a then 23 year old Fed? My point is that Nadal has IMPROVED on hard, but has lost the last 2 on hard + the two Wimbledon’s and Federer has definetely improved on clay. If you watch the previous finals the quality has just kept improving every clay season.

Another point Wilander made is that Federer has a greater chance to do something this year, not because Nadal hasn’t gotten any better, because he has, but as an offensive player he will be the one who decides how many of the rallies will turn out. 2006 he stayed back on the baseline way too much. 2007 was better, but still too little mixing. This year he has been a breath of fresh air on clay, playing some serve-volley, right timed approaches, drop shots and angled shots. Mixing it up is never bad, if you’re on Fed’s level. What will determine the outcome is Federer’s error %age. If the mixing up goes wrong, Nadal will win. If the first serve let’s him down, Nadal will win. If he gets a little hesitant on footwork, shot-making, approaching, ANY part of the game… Nadal will win!! So IMO it is Federer’s game to lose because he will be the one attacking and hopefully less defending. Sadly, Nadal seems to be more confident than ever and could pull out a 2-2-2 win, but if Fed stays on top of his game for the entire match, it could go both ways.

So what is the conclusion. I really hope Federer could win it, but he really needs to approach perfection against Nadal. I would suggest that if Nadal starts hitting his wicked forehand to Fed’s backhand he should try to use the super sliced shot he so often makes on the return of first serve. Some of them have been so efficient that they turned out as perfect drop shots. That’s my only technical advice for Fed.

To prevent this entry from being one-sided, I can only suggest that Nadal keeps up the good work. I cannot see how he could improve the clay court game any further. So in this sense, he has much more to lose if his game is slightly off. But 1st serve and minimal number of errros will be key, as always.

Prediciton? I’m gonna go with Federer because I think it’s time he gets this last slam. But I couldn’t think of a better 2nd choice in Nadal. For me, the RG-Wimbledon exchange should happen this year.
Federer in 4 sets with a killer tie-break in the 4th!
 

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