For Federer fans such as myself this is a pretty controversial or at least disappointing headline. What can the young Spaniard teach the Swiss maestro? Well maybe “teach” is the wrong word and maybe there isn’t a lesson to be learned about “wanting to win” but if there was, I could think of no better player to teach it than Rafael Nadal.
Because one of the problems in yesterday’s 6-3 6-2 beating in ATP Miami semi-finals was that Federer didn’t look comfortable from the second he stepped on court and after going down a break he didn’t seem to have it in him to fight back. We have seen this in Federer before, but it hurts every time. Sports is all about trying hard and giving your all and on this level you won’t get many games playing on 75 percent, even if you are the best player of all time.
Is it the Masters level tournaments that won’t entice Federer enough to put in a bigger effort mentally? Or is it just that Nadal is younger, fresher and hungrier?
I think it is all of the above. Nadal is number one in the world (something Djokovic likely will find out tomorrow) and Federer hasn’t cared enough about Masters in several years. The fact of it is that Federer will never get back to number one feeling like that. He needs to try to win each and every match, something he doesn’t have the mental will or strength for.
Nadal is of course the better player right now, that is pretty obvious. But it doesn’t mean that Federer can’t beat him on a good day. In fact, he did it just a few months ago in the ATP Tour Finals. What seems pretty certain though is that Federer won’t get back to number one in the rankings, because both Nadal and Djokovic are going to block his access. Instead Federer should be happy about the semis, realize he came up against a currently better player, and try to work out ways to beat him next time. During the clay season Nadal has all the weight on his shoulders and I think Federer can play relaxed and enjoy himself.
For me the two slams Federer has the best chance of winning on the end stretch of his career is Wimbledon (best surface for him) and US Open (loves the city and the atmosphere and almost always does well there). I think he can win at least one of those in 2011 and another one in 2012.
So Federer fans, don’t be sad about the beating he got from Nadal. There will be more chances to cheer the Maestro on and hopefully a few slams to be won.
Let’s enjoy the Djokovic vs Nadal final tomorrow. It will be close!