On Tuesday, world number four Roger Federer, holder of 16 grand slams, provided the tennis world with a true masterclass. Unquestionably, Federer’s 6-3 6-0 victory over Spain’s Rafael Nadal was the most lopsided victory the Swiss has had over his longstanding nemesis. I was not particular shocked that Federer was able to come out with the victory in this match, but I was astonished that Nadal was unable to put up any semblance of resistance. Barring the initial five games, this type of unblemished, unprecedented dominance over his arch rival was a breath of fresh air for all Federer fans.
There were several key points from a strategical basis to note. Federer was playing super-aggressive, first strike tennis, looking to vary pace, spin and open up the court. The 02 arena is playing rather slow which allowed Federer to run around his backhand and dictate with his forehand. Balls usually played around shoulder level Federer was able to get on top of and cause havoc for Nadal. Federer was also serving at an extremely high percentage, preventing Nadal from gaining any advantage off the return. One effective serve that Federer was using was the slider out wide on the deuce court. Nadal was either missing these returns entirely or generating very little pace with which provided Federer ample opportunity to take the initiative.
Despite the fact that Federer was on his game, I can only describe the way Nadal played using the word “nothingness.” He seemed extremely lethargic, uneasy, and fatigued. This is in total contrast to the fiery, intense, never say die Nadal we all know. After losing the first set, I expected a shift in tactics from the Spaniard, which as you can tell from the bagel posted in the second set, simply did not occur. He appeared content with simply playing a defensive minded game which clearly was not yielding results.
Overall, while this was a great match for the Swiss, I wouldn’t be too concerned if you are a Nadal fan. The guy hasn’t played a match since Shanghai and is probably just spent after an extremely vigorous season having played 79 matches, the most on the tour this year just ahead of Janko Tipsarevic. In addition, this type of court is not conducive to the type of game Nadal would like to play against Federer as he was unable to execute his typical strategy of directing the ball to Federer’s backhand. To make the situation even less auspicous for Nadal, Federer has won two straight tournaments displaying fantastic form and appears well on his way to take down London.