I was prepared to write a post in the event that Nadal overcame Roger today in Basel, explaining how the Nadal win and the reaction (morons sautéing their low tennis IQ in H2H bullshit) completes a perfect microcosm of the these two players’ careers against each other. The reaction would have been: Rafa owns Roger. In effect, the stupidity proclaims Rafa is better than Roger. The win in Basel would have been over-valued. The rest of the year would have been overlooked. People who wear cheerleading uniforms and cast themselves as tennis fans/aficionados would be, essentially, giving Nadal the edge on 2015. Rafa owns Roger in 2015.
Roger’s 2015 has been spectacular and the Spaniard, on the other hand, has been awful. He disappeared per usual … and reappeared! Boo!
2015 is a perfect microcosm for these guys’ careers. This would have been especially the case if Rafa had won today, but it even works in the actual case where, indeed, Roger prevailed. Roger is consistent (like most top players). He is always around, always putting his game on the line against the youth of the tour. Rafa? He disappears. He plays like a top 100 talent, flailing about the court, scoffing and picking his butt. And then he finds his form, every other year, or at only certain times of the year. I have no idea why people don’t include this in their greatness calculus.
Today’s match was brilliant and, at the same time, pretty putrid from Roger (please see my response to Utsav in the comments where I qualify this harsh blanket statement).
The one thing you have to say about Rafa is his ability to read points, games, his opponent, etc., is world class. The tennis is inferior. But he can make things interesting. One has to play the chess match against Rafa. It’s less about tennis with Rafa and more about gamesmanship.
Roger does not play with an urgency that would make him so much more dominant. If that makes sense. You could see him at certain points in the match today where he had the momentum to break Nadal and put this match away, say up 1-0 in the second, having just broken Nadal to win the first and won his first service game in the second easily. Rafa was
vulnerable early in that second set. But he hung around and Roger made mistakes, pretty characteristic of uninspired, tight tennis that we’ve seen so often against Nadal. Listening to Paul Annacone call the match was interesting. A few times his professional demeanor shook a bit as he would react to a shot from Roger. “Noooooo, Roger,” responding to Roger coming to net on a shot that was poorly planned, the former coach pointing-out that the Swiss should have approached two shots earlier. Tentative Roger is so not dominant. Attacking Roger (especially with that BH working) is quite dominant. I liked Roger mixing-in the SABR. I liked Roger’s game today, but as he didn’t establish a break early in the second, and the tennis tightened, Roger’s flaws exploded onto the court, long, wide, and into the net.
At the same time, Nadal playing from 10 feet behind the baseline is just poor. The clash of styles between these two is tennis inequality in a nutshell, of a higher class game against a working class approach. The latter has a certain work ethic that polishes the metaphor perfectly. Roger has a kind of complacency, seems indifferent, seems above the fray at times whereas the Spaniard is playing to the death, even if he’s down 0-5.
This was a close match. The surface and venue favored Roger. Nadal’s form is a complete mystery with his POS tennis throughout the year, yet suddenly he’s losing to Novak and Roger in finals. We’re almost surprised Nadal didn’t win these matches. As ridiculous as that sounds.
I also like how there was discussion about Rafa coming to conquer Basel, Roger’s last stronghold (sarcasm). What’s this bizarre crackhead tennis historian crap?
In 2009, Roger was beaten by Rafa in the infamous AO final. People sucking the H2H nipple love the taste of that milk. I have already pointed-out that this 2009 is again an example of the irrational understanding of these two players’ careers. Nadal asserted his dominance. Nadal is great, Roger is overcome, etc. Roger played in all four major finals that year. After that AO loss, Roger won the French and Wimbledon and lost an epic battle to D-Po at the USO. Amazing year for Roger. Overlooked.
As a matter of fact, on his way to Rolland Garros that year, Roger rolled into Madrid and beat Rafa in the final in straights. This is a month or so after the AO final, on the Spanish clay. Again, Roger is doing okay. Everyone calm down. The image of Rafa invading all of Roger’s territory, claiming ownership, etc. is just another case of dumb-shit tennis commentary.
Congrats, Federer on a seventh Swiss indoor championship.