Madrid final – Tignor’s take

(Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo by JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

Those of you who are allergic to anything that hints of positive talk about Federer, might want to skip this, but I’m posting it because I think Tignor’s sum up of the final is a good one.

A Fresh and Glinting Edge

That said, I didn’t feel like Federer played a great match. Rather, he played the right one, and he executed it just well enough to win. It didn’t involve attacking on every shot—can we retire that as a tactical suggestion? The one time Federer chipped and charged, he put the ball in the perfect spot, right in the middle of the baseline, where Nadal had to create an angle on his pass. And that’s just what he did, flicking a forehand past Federer with ease.

Instead, the key for Federer was that he gave Nadal no rhythm. He served flat up the middle. Then he used a medium-pace kick wide in the ad court that sent Nadal scrambling. Then he slid a slice wide in the deuce court, waited for the weak, one-handed reply from Nadal, and knocked off a forehand into the open court. Then he served at the Spaniard’s backhand hip—when he did that on set point in the first set, Nadal’s return clanged off his frame and straight up in the air. As Pete Sampras did against Andre Agassi, Federer must consider his serve, by itself, to be a counterweight to the rest of Nadal’s game. He must use it with maximum effectiveness to stand a chance against him on clay.

4 Responses

  1. tiemyshoe says:

    Definitely a fair take on it. Miles better than Bodo (yeah, I did glance – I’ve got weak will power).

    Two things Rafa can take from the Madrid final would be 1) he served well and, aside from two games, held comfortably, and 2) still more work to be done on fast surfaces. Fed called him out on the overspun forehands, for sure.

    • sG says:

      Oh god, Bodo! I didn’t even bother glancing at it. I skimmed through his ESPN version which was rather tepid leading me to suspect his article would be a real doosie. Sometimes I really like the cut of Pete Bodo’s phrasing and sometimes… *sigh* Steve almost never fails. I heart Tignor. ^^

  2. sG says:

    It was a very good write-up. I can trust Tignor to frame a match whose result I didn’t particularly like in a way that makes me appreciate at it as a tennis fan, if not a player’s fan. In fact, it sparked all sorts of tactical thoughts — what can Rafa take from this loss? From how Federer played? From how he played?

    When Steve highlighted how Rafa upped his level a bit from perfunctory to stubborn in the final game, I recalled how I saw that moment. It was the first bit of fire I had seen from Rafa all afternoon. At various points in the match I said to myself, “Rafa, you have to decide at some point how much you want this match and commit. Win or lose, commit.” In that final game, if Rafa hadn’t yet decided how much he wanted to commit, he had decided couldn’t let go without some fight. I remember being very happy for that moment because it meant the Rafa I loved was still beating beneath the surface. As I read Steve’s paragraph on the latter, the first word to pop into my mind was ‘testing’. I think it was the way it read because I certainly didn’t get that vibe from watching it.

    While I personally believe this loss will shed little light on Fed’s tactics and strategy for Roland Garros, I think it best served as a highlight to Rafa of Fed’s serious intentions. I don’t think Rafa ever forgot but it’s good to get so stark a reminder.

    Vamos, Rafa!

  3. faecoleman says:

    Yes Rafa must realise now that Fed intends to try everything to stop him. Roger did serve much better and with the altitude it was far more affective then the Federer serve that Rafa is used to. Certainly took him buy surprise, gave him no rythum, including the drop shots.. Having said this, Rafa did hold serve well during the match better than the other rounds and I was surprised how Fed broke him both times on his first break points, where was the Rafa that at these times is sooo mentally tough? mentally exhausted from the day before? or just a little surprised at the way Fed played him thus couldn’t get himself going? only Rafa can answer this I guess, he wasn’t comfortable all tournament but is the kind of guy it would seem that loves the challenge of trying to win at a tournament where he doesn’t have too many expectations, re; Rotterdam for example. super fast indoor h/c = Rafa’s worst nightmare? he struggled there too.