It’s happening again, the two best players of all time, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal face off for the 36th time with Rafa leading their head-to-head 23 to 12. To me, Nadal has looked sharper so far, but Federer looks to be in a playful mood and is serving well which is the key for him to beat Rafa again after their spellbinding Australian Open final in January.
The event is called the “Fedal” and is arguably the best thing to watch tennis. Who knows how many more of these titanic battles we will see before one of them retires? Federer has said he will play until 2019, but you never know what their bodies will allow them to do.
This time it’s hard to pick a favourite. They have played twice in Indian Wells before: Roger won in straight sets in 2012 and Rafa did the same the following year. They both have to fight harder and play smarter these days and they can be relaxed with what they have achieved on the tennis court. Still, what we could see in Australian Open is that the hunger hasn’t waned and I’m sure Federer has his eyes on Wimbledon and Rafa sees his chance for a 10th French Open trophy. Each won match on the way there is confidence-building.
What can we expect to see in terms of tactics? Well, I guess the usual. Rafa will try to exploit Federer’s weaker wing by locking him in the backhand corner with his massive top spin lefty forehand and Federer will need to stay aggressive, attack short balls and move towards the net. The Swiss did it successfully in Melbourne a month and a half ago, but can he repeat the feat or will Rafa switch it up in some way?
If you would ask me about my prediction, I think this is pretty much a 50-50 match. But if I had to bet on it, I would go with Rafa in three. He looks hungrier and moved really well in his match against Verdasco.
Who is your favourite to win and why?