Roger Federer showed off a revised game plan against Rafael Nadal in Sunday’s Madrid Open final. He played with more agression and fewer nerves, served great and took his chances when they came. After the match, Federer revealed that he’s tweaked his mental strategy as well:
Interviewer: Two things stood out today. Nadal ordinarily keeps you waiting at the net before the match. This time you kept him waiting. And instead of serving you decided to recieve. Psychology?
Roger Federer: I simply thought to do something differently today. The players allow him to do too much, let him determine his rhythm. From the time one leaves the locker room to the first rally, twenty minutes have passed against him. Normally, five to ten minutes should be it. So today I simply took my time to see how patient he is. And today I had little to lose, so I did it with humor. Perhaps it helped that I played more relaxed.
Yes! I love this new, crafty Roger Federer. I think he’s always felt that it was “below” him to use mind games and on-court gamesmanship to his advantage, but now he’s realized he needs to use every advantage to beat the superhuman Rafael Nadal.
But has Roger revealed his hand too early? I’m envisioning a great standoff between Roger and Rafa before the warm up in the Roland Garros final: Roger tying and re-tying his headband while Rafa takes out a ruler to measure the distance between his beloved water bottles. The chair umpire will have to do a coin toss to determine who gets off the bench first! My goodness, has it really come to this?
Roger’s comments via Blick, my translation from German.