Indulge me for a second: Roger Federer beat Rafael Nadal today in straight sets, on clay, in Spain! He won his first title since October, 2008 and his first Masters shield since Cincinnati, 2007! YES! YES! and YESSSSSSS!
Phew! Now that my Fedophile freak-out is over, here are some musings on Sunday’s Federer vs. Nadal final at the Madrid Open.
1. The win means much more to Federer than the loss does to Nadal. Prior to this match, Nadal enjoyed a 13-6 head-to-head against Federer and had beaten Roger in their last three Grand Slam finals. The last time Roger beat Nadal on any surface was in the semifinals of the 2007 Masters Cup. After this year’s Australian Open melt-down, even the most hard-core Fedophiles had to admit that Rafael Nadal was dominating Roger on every surface and on every occasion.
Federer’s take: “I thought I took all the right decisions today. In the end it was a perfect game for me. . .(You) stay positive and I did. I got the win I needed badly.”
2. Nadal’s shedding no tears over this loss. He was coming off of Saturday’s epic semifinal against Novak Djokovic, not to mention a spectacular clay court season. He’s been complaining about Madrid’s conditions all week, saying the altitude and fast court surface favored his competition. Rafa was also on a 33 match winning streak on clay and wanted to take some pressure off of himself before the French. He might as well have worn a t-shirt with the words: LOWERED EXPECTATIONS stretching across his rock hard pecs.
Nadal’s take: “To me, this tournament has nothing to do with Paris. This tournament is practically another surface compared to Paris. . .The conditions favored him more than me.”
3. Here’s some visual trash talk:
Roger, giving doubters the finger. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
4. Don’t worry, be happy, Nadal fans! Losing to Roger every now and again is good for Rafa. That way, no one can call his dominance “boring.” And do you really want Rafa’s biggest rival to be Novak Djokovic? (Nole fans, feel free to speak up – if you’re out there.)
Question #1: Isn’t it crazy that Federer and Nadal have now played against each other twenty times? Click here for the ATP’s match-by-match breakdown of their rivalry.
5. Coach Roger’s game plan: Choose to receive, rather than serve. It will rattle Rafa, who hates serving first. Be ready to play from the first point. Attack Rafa’s second serves. Test Rafa’s forehand. Use controlled aggression on your forehand up the line, serve well (and go out wide), and surprise Rafa with deadly drop shots and some S&V.
Question #2: does anyone else think that Roger’s backhand was looking better in Madrid?
6. The “no fear” statistic: Today, Roger converted both of his breakpoint opportunities against Nadal. Rafa was 0 for 4. For the first time in a long time, Roger was the braver of the two. What a change from the Australian Open, when Roger wore that terrified, glazed-over look on his face from the very first point.
Question #3: How did Roger hold his nerve, anyway? I’m betting hypnotherapy.
7. Trophy ceremony = cluster f*ck. What the hell was that? Hilary Swank dealing fake car keys, Dinara Safina in skin-tight denim, Ion Tiriac glowering like a cartoon villain in the background. . .The confetti explosion nearly gave Roger a heart attack. It smacked of “5th Slam” desperation – sometimes less is more, Ion.
Question #4: A new rival for Roger? Hilary Swank’s hair approaches perfection:
“Mousse or gel?” (Photo by AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
8. More great moments in hair: when Rafa picked confetti out of Roger’s curls like a mama monkey grooming her baby. Rafa just can’t hide his Roger crush:
“Roger’s sooo dreamy!” (Photo by PEDRO ARMESTRE/AFP/Getty Images)
Question #5: What’s Roger beef with the Prince of Asturias? First he disses his award (click here) and in the trophy ceremony he says something like “thanks for giving tennis proper respect.” Maybe it came out wrong?
“Who’s the princeliest of them all?” (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
9. Word to the wise: Fed fans, enjoy this moment! If the trials and tribulations of this season have taught us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t take any of Federer’s victories for granted.
Question #6: Which side of the draw will Novak Djokovic be in at Roland Garros? (Because real Fedophiles never stop worrying.)
10. Go ROGER!