Federer Advances into 6th AO Final

Roger takes down Wawrinka 75 63 16 46 63.

I leaned Wawrinka in this one. He looked a half step behind his mentor in the first set; only a half step as there were rallies such as the one at 2-2 which showcased some nice BL styled OHBH where Stan finally wrestled control of the exchange and over-powered Roger with that monster FH. I thought this kind of tennis would resolve the contest – Stan establishing the upper-hand from the BL, Roger having to come to net or just continue to get out-hit.

But Roger was masterful. This is quite a run for the Express, 35 years and counting, like a man on a mission, delivering packages deep into the valleys of Melbourne Park. How about that massive cut-drop chip-shot that Roger hit, the ball spinning back into the net leaving Stan unable to even touch it. We know this kind of tennis from the Maestro, his own witchcraft, but we’ve come to expect the aging great to fade in these longer battles with younger athletes.

The fourth set saw Stan putting his own stamp on the match, coming-up with several brilliant pieces of hitting and at 4-4, the Stanimal got his break and served out the equalizer. Although Wawrinka continued to look solid in the fifth, he pretty much gifted the break and Roger was able to serve it out.

I stand and applaud Wawrinka. I had him winning this and pretty much wanted to see him advance to challenge Nadal, but I’ve come to see that as a flawed way of understanding this last table, this four-top at the 2017 Australian Open.

Roger has advanced and why in the world would anyone not want to see this man, playing this well, reach the final of the AO, his sixth, at this point in his career? I guess if you’re a fanboy of some other player, you’re mad. Well, let me break this to you: even if Roger loses the final, there are a lot of people who understand that his genius is pure, unadulterated and timeless. He won his first in 2004. It’s 2017, folks. This is his 28th major final.

We’ll have more time to reflect on this run, obviously (hint: I will reflect); but let’s now look ahead to tonight and toward the final.

I have already, as have many I am sure, rapped about the second SF and the likely F involving Fedal.

Does Grigor have a chance?

Nadal has Dimitrov 7-1 in the H2H. Their last match was in October in Beijing, where Dimitrov got his first win against Rafa 2 and 4 in the QF. If you look at their matches back through the years, the Bulgarian has always played Rafa pretty tough, even as an 18 year old back in 2009, in Rotterdam. Played him tough on clay, even.

But obviously this is different. Or is it.

Can the enormity of the match really give the Spaniard that much of an advantage? If Nadal continues to raise his game in Melbourne to a level that takes-out both Grigor and Roger, you have him making another installment as one of the most clutch athletes of all-time, despite his weaknesses. His tennis has been pretty average over the past few years. He didn’t finish 2016, lost pretty early in Brisbane. . . but here we are.

He has to outplay (to some extent) Dimitrov. He can not wave his little wand and the Bulgarian goes poof. Head games and bullying intangibles can have an effect. Hopefully Grigor has been counseled, coach Danny has clarified the stakes and this amazing opportunity.

Hopefully someone has told him that Mchshow Tennis Blog had him in early and often!

This second SF is not over yet. On paper, Grigor is playing better tennis. According to the eye-test, Grigor has a chance.

But we are (I’m guilty as well) putting so much stock into Nadal’s superman cape that he wears deep in the draw at majors. This would be a remarkable outcome: Nadal finishing-off both of these guys when he’s been so far from that kind of form for so long. I am not making any insinuations, honestly.

In other words, I have to see it to believe it. I think we have been thinking more about the legend of Rafa than the 30 year-old. Raonic is so flawed himself. Like Kei, he’s awkward and injured. Rafa did what he needed to do. He got through to the final four.

The Lost Generation is all over this draw, but Grigor is a different cat.

One match at a time. Enjoy the second semi final.

2 thoughts on “Federer Advances into 6th AO Final

  1. blackspy

    Good work as always Matt, helping us make sense of this bizarre Australian Open. I restrained myself from commenting until I could make heads or tails of this tourney, but to no avail.

    I was surprised by many results among which the loss of No 1 (explained only by inadequate preparation/bad form-Murray can pass and lob much better than that), the losses of Nishikori and Wawrinka to Federer and the loss of Raonic to Nadal. Maybe the faster courts (not fast mind you), as many players claim them to be, help attacking tennis (and some older players 🙂 and explain some of this. It seems the Maestro’s play in this tournaments is disrupting his opponents game rather than promoting his own chances, as strange that might seem, since both Noshikori and Wawrinka, although moving/hitting obviously better than Federer, got trapped in his attacking gameplay. For Wawrinka that’s understandable since Federer is a bad match-up for him (his strength is somewhat quelled by Federer’s variety/tricks), a fact accentuated in fast surfaces and also Federer seems to have a mental edge. In fact I believe Wawrinka lost that first semi-final more than Federer won it (match stats confirm this partially).

    In the other half Dimitrov’s path went according to plan, but Raonic(bit injured but I don’t think it mattered) didn’t deliver: it is suicidal to face Nadal in best of five and not to take the chances he gives you when you can’t really rally with him. But Nadal’s special power is his grit, and he cannot ever be underestimated. To defeat Nadal you need to win the mental war and I don’t know if Dimitrov is up to the task; very few are in fact. “Baby-Fed” has the shots, the stamina and the mobility needed to outplay him but the determination to do it without respite? (just checked the scoreline;Nadal is up a set, no surprise there but Dimitrov is up a break).

    Before the semis I hoped for a Wawrinka-Nadal final (the logical outcome, a power match-up) or Federer-Dimitrov (the light-hearted match, attacking tennis); I might get one of my wishes still. Even if a Fedal comes to pass and the result seems pretty easy to call, I don’t dare to predict anything during this Oz – maybe after the final curtain falls you can tell us what we saw there: the final act of the Big 4 is on scene or just a strange tournament?

    PS: Venus vs Serena final in WTA? This is truly becoming retro…


  2. Caligula

    What a semi-final! Nadal for better of for worse pulling through, dare I say both Federer and Nadal deserve to be in this final? Having dispatched of a younger Federer will he be able to do the same with the the real deal come Sunday?


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