So, it’s come to this my dear friends; Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer. A match that hopefully will be remembered by many. Roger Federer, looking to add to his already extensive Major victory resume, seems like he’s out there with the determination to win…and as always, looks relaxed. Rafael Nadal too looks relaxed; but there is something about his game that seems to lack…intensity? Movement?
By the numbers, Nadal dominates Federer; edging the Swiss 17 times of their 26 meetings. However, Federer did win their last meeting (by way of a beat down no less) of 2011, ATP World Tour Finals – Federer won 6-3, 6-0. Granted, their last meeting was at the end of the tennis season, so they were both exhausted by that time. Though, now it’s a new tennis season and it’s a Major, so the steaks are higher.
What are the deciding factors for Federer over Nadal or Nadal over Federer? I can assure you there are plenty.
- Serving – It’s not about who can serve bigger, both Nadal and Federer serve about the same speed – Federer average first service speed 114 mph; Nadal average first service speed 111 mph. The player who will places the ball better and attacks off the first serve has a high percentage of winning the point. Federer is much more skilled at the serve and volley and has a better volley than Nadal. The surface will favor Federer when Nadal comes to net as it is faster, which makes for an easy pass.
- Movement – This is kind of a toss up between both players. Nadal the faster and more aggressive mover does well on clay courts, but his knees take a beating on the hard courts – noticed the heavy wrapping he has on his right knee. Then there’s Roger, the one who floats, not extraordinarily fast, but do you have to be fast when you cover the court like Federer does. He compensates lack of quickness with his ability to anticipate the ball coming to his side of the court.
- Groundies – It’s hard to argue who has the better looking groundstrokes when Federer is in the comparison. However; Rafa’s groundstrokes have always been the talk of tennis. The amount of spin and kick that Nadal can produce have been an integral part of winning matches against Roger. That being said, can Roger anticipate enough to catch Nadal’s groundstrokes early enough to place the ball away from Rafa? Sure he can.
- Disposition – Who of the two has a better outlook on this match? In my own opinion, I have always favored the Swiss when it comes to holding it together. Nadal, who is very good at keeping cool when things don’t go his way. So where does that leave them? I’m going to go with my gut and say that Federer is going to be stronger upstairs during their semifinal match. Let’s not forget, Federer’s last Major title was in Melbourne (2010) so I imagine that there is something a little special about this tournament for Roger.
There’s still the question of who will win between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at the 2012 Australian Open semifinals? Rafael Nadal won their only meeting down under in 2009, though that was when Nadal was injury free. I’m going to, again, go with my gut and say that Federer will win…probably in 4 sets (winning the first, second, and fourth set). Am I right or dead wrong?