Shanghai Final: Federer def. Nadal 64 63

This was about as anti-climactic as the U.S. Open final.

Actually, that’s all I pretty much thought about during this routine win from the Swiss #2 in the world.

TELEMMGLPICT000143705748_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqpVlberWd9EgFPZtcLiMQfyf2A9a6I9YchsjMeADBa08If his back was 100%, Del Potro more than likely goes down and we have a Nadal v Federer SF (essentially F) at the 2017 U.S. Open. Federer’s hard court tennis is a thing of beauty, especially this 2017 version. He presents way too much for just about anyone, when he’s clicking on all cylinders (See: Jan – March 2017). But health is part of the challenge. He broke down and others took advantage, which is pretty much the theme of this golden era (or any time and space in life, on earth  . . . okay that got away from me). You get my point.

I woke at 2:00am PST to see Federer serve-out the first set and then made it through the second set before back to my interrupted shuteye.

This morning I watched on tape the first set. Wow. Match was decided in the first game of the contest. What was more telling: Federer’s unreal shot-making and demoralizing serve, or Nadal’s body language? That’s the debate we should be having here. What came first: the chicken or the egg?

I mentioned in my preview that Federer’s footwork, variety and serve would be too much even for this rampant Rafa. Pretty much the case.

The footwork and variety: the BH is back. It’s offensive. His volley is polished and his FH, how about that shorter-angled CC that’s out-of-play for even the great retriever, though FEDERER1not as big as the Del Potro hammer, is almost as lethal.

The serve. With Rafa getting broken in his first service game and Federer seeing blue skies throughout (one service game in the first, Federer took 50 seconds to hold, 3-4 aces in a row). That’s tough peddling if you’re Rafa.

Back to the U.S. Open thought experiment. Rafa started setting-up his ROS back behind the “Shanghai” stamped behind the BL. This of course brought back those memories of the U.S. Open where Rafa was literally butt-to-the-line-judge deep. It was an awful look. Del Potro and/or Anderson should have made him pay for that. Nada.

Federer toyed with this ROS strategy. Obviously the serve-and-volley came into play here; but really you saw how this just didn’t work for Rafa today. Nor should it ever. How can digging and looping a return back into play, barely, work at this level of competition?

The first set today should have been 6-2 Federer. This was IW and MI all over again.

So, what does this all mean? It means Federer won Shanghai, and he beat Nadal in the final to win this title. I have already vanquished the H2H hysteria, so I’m not about to change course on that. Federer avoided clay. Federer got hurt early in the summer hard courts. There are many factors and lines of reasoning, but in the end the H2H doesn’t carry as much weight as people want to argue. It’s just that, part of a larger argument.

We’re all about the body here at Mcshow Blog. The body of work.

If you were voting now, who would be Player of the Year (POY)? I would give it to Rafa, pretty much on the 3 major finals/ 2 majors factor. That kind of production at the biggest tournaments of the year is big-time.

Our buddy Jon Wertheim made some comment on Twitter suggesting that Federer’s 4-0 2017 H2H against Rafa puts the Swiss in the driver’s seat for POY, despite the rankings.

That’s the stupidity I shot down back in the day with my discussion of H2H. Wertheim was seen in his Federer pajamas, too, playing with his Federer doll. Cute.

Anyways, I could go on and on.

Our motto: See the light and the vast complication, exchanging hands in the light’s shadows.


14 thoughts on “Shanghai Final: Federer def. Nadal 64 63

  1. Caligula

    LFMAO! That first pictures says more than a thousand words.

    Fed – “It’s OK! You got two slams this year, and a couple of clay tournaments, aren’t you happy?”

    Nadal – “Yeah, I know…..”


    1. Matt

      They have a pretty cool rapport and this ceremony had it in abundance.
      Rafa just won USO and Beijing — they’re laughing their asses off.


      1. Caligula

        I think you summed it up perfectly with this one sentence:

        “How can digging and looping a return back into play, barely, work at this level of competition?” – Matt Maximus

        I am going to have that quote carved in stone for my newest palace, because that is the essence of the modern Nadal dunce playbook which makes him look like a fool out there against the big boys.


      2. Utsav

        It worked against Del Potro at the USO as well, but let’s not forget how slow that court was. Then again, Miami plays like clay, and Indian Wells is pretty slow too. Federer managed him just fine there too.


  2. Duarte

    This is my first comment on the blog after being a religious reader for quite some time now.

    Sorry for the long post

    Disclaimer: I am a huge Nadal fan. Not only for his tennis but most of all because of the grit and sportsmanlike behavior he has shown on and off the court. This is a guy who was born right-handed, converted to lefty and has been beating guys more talented than him ever since (Federer above all). (Question: what sort of player would Rafa have been if he were a right hander?)

    Anyway, I digress..

    I agree with most of the analysis on Federer the agressiveness, the new racquet, the BH etc. However I have always believed that his biggest weakeness was not the BH, but the his mental strength

    Yes I know he is the greatest champion in tennis history but looking back at some matches against Nadal (say, WB08 and AO09) and Djokovic (USO 10 and 11), all these losses are mental, and we have seen many other big matches where is BP conversion is dismal..

    Specifically on the Rafa match up, the truth is Rafa owned Roger, and if you exclude the clay, the issue was mostly mental.

    Since then two things changed, the first being that they spent quite some time without facing off that gave Roger some time to ill his wounds and overcome the mental barrier and the second is that Nadal is past his physical prime, and there is no debate around that. Watch Nadal Verdasco AO 09 semi, and that is prime Nadal, the one that could hold off and put pressure (mentally) on the attacking Roger.


    1. Matt

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Duarte.

      If you’ve been reading, then you know we’ve ventured some analysis and conjecture toward this new Roger. The racket appears to be a big change and the rest and recovery, as well. I don’t think it hurts that Novak has been a mess, as well.

      I like the Ivan hypothesis. Knowing how he played and confronted some of these legends, his old school approach has benefited Roger, imho.

      Also, I wrote upon his hire in late 2015 of how his counsel would be indispensable. One of Ivan’s first dictates was to avoid the clay, which had apparently less to do with physical health than it did mental health.

      I believe I brought this up in my H2H series, which resurfaced with Ivan’s hire: Federer should avoid so much exposure to Rafa’s clay campaign or destruction. Rafa used this, I argued, to get a mental edge on many players. No question.

      At the same time, how do you not play those big tournaments. Either way, Ivan brought this to the coaching box. Ivan has been instrumental in a lot of this, I argue. I wrote about the revenge theme of 2017, as well. Federer, beneath all of the smiles and giggles, has been taking care of business in a more Rafa-like way, acutally.

      Don’t forget the odd role-reversal this year. Rafa’s #1, Roger #2; Rafa been to 3 major finals, Federer 2; and Federer 4-0 in the H2H. Ha ha ha. That’s history on its head.

      I’m going to republish the H2H articles with some new commentary, as the topic is ripe in everyone’s hungry tennis palette.

      Again, thanks for reading, Duarte.


    2. Dani

      @Duarte Just a short comment because the switch to the left hand is a fascinating topic to me: Nadal is probably cross-dominant (mixed-handed), just like Angelique Kerber who also plays with her left hand, but does everything else with her right. It might be because it isn’t clearly decided at an early age which hand will be dominant, so the brain code can be “overwritten”.

      She said on that topic: “I don’t know why; I just picked up the racket with the left hand, I had more feeling with the left hand than with the right.”

      Both probably can’t play well with their dominant hand because playing as a lefty is deeply ingrained in their brain. There are other examples in tennis (and other sports) as well of players who play(ed) with their non-dominant hand, among them interestingly enough Nadal’s coach Carlos Moya who is a natural lefty.

      Multi-handedness comes with some strings attached, maybe because the brain is forced to change the “natural handedness” which can cause some confusion. These people are more likely to be bisexual, schizophrenic, have lower intelligence on average and lesser impulse controll, quick to anger, moody, low emotional stability.


      1. Matt

        Duarte – Indeed I have argued that Fed’s mental lapses have undermined his tennis – again, if you’ve been reading, you know of what I speak: see 2015 WB/USO/ 2016 AO/WB for recent articles that delve into this. Rafa and Djoker have been pretty opportunistic when it’s come to this will to win.

        Dani – bring your discussion back to Nadal. Are you suggesting that this “multi-handedness” has affected Nadal’s tennis career, or at least helps clarify some of his idiosyncrasies?


      2. Utsav

        Ambidexterity is not uncommon in sport, especially at the highest levels. Don’t know if you lot follow cricket, but Sachin Tendulkar is a leftie in everything but his batting and bowling.

        As for Nadal’s idiosyncrasies, I just think that he started playing tennis very early and was thus sort of deprived of a normal childhood, like many top athletes are. Nadal turned pro at 15, and was presumably already travelling the world at that point. He never finished matriculation either.


      3. Dani

        @Matt I was suggesting that Nadal couldn’t play with the right hand now at a world class level, even if he wanted to. But playing as a lefty has certainly made his career, he wouldn’t have had the same success vs. Federer playing righty patterns.

        And yes, I see some connections to his idiosyncrasies as well, you got me there. I don’t really want to speculate about their exact nature (because speculation it would be), but it’s safe to say that he is the most single-minded of those 3 great champions. Djokovic wasn’t able to keep that kind of focus without feeling disconnected from his humanity and Federer generally has a more relaxed attitude, (but he needs to be loose to execute his style). Well see, now I did speculate a little bit.

        Might as well continue with the unexpected turn of the Fedal match-up. That uncompromising aggressive new Federer style took the tour by surprise and none more than Nadal. It might have been conceived as the answer to Djokovic 2015 when Federer was a worthy challenger, but just missing that little bit as best seen in the USO 15 final.

        Now that Djokovic is out of the picture up to next year at the very least, we won’t know how that style would have worked against him, but it turned out to be the answer to his biggest career challenge – Nadal.


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