I think he’s got away with one personally today. He was patchy at best! Rafa’s application was as usual spot on and his commitment to win was as great as ever. However, I cannot remember a time where I have seen him dump as many balls in the net or go long on big points at the business end of a Slam. Rafa has never won matches particularly quickly but even by his standards this went on longer than it should. Points where I’m just so used to see him grinding out or flashing a forehand winner down the line. I still expect these unbelievable standards from him even now at the ripe old age of 30. He’s still not back there yet, but the good news for him is he’s in with a shot of number 15 and the signs for the future are good. Most notably the French Open. Let us not forget how dominant he was on the red stuff for the best part of 10 Years. For large parts of today Dimitrov matched him all the way, his backhand causing Rafa big problems, reminiscent of when Youzhny beat him back at the US Open ten Years ago. I love this shot of Dimitrov’s he really does proper rip it! The Forehand still needs work. He comes out of the match with a lot of credit, he stuck with Rafa and kept going after his shots and was within an inch of the Final when he had 15-40 at 4-4 in decider. He really is getting closer to the pack now Dimitrov. For all my Rafa bashing so far in this blog (I’ve always admired him) this is where he upped his game to the next level. Not missing a ball and coming up with some pretty big winners off both flanks. After breaking the reaction said it all, pumped! He fells to his knees after the 5 hour marathon as if he had Won the title. There is no doubt how highly he rates this Win in my mind. The fact its a Final against Federer makes it that extra little bit special for the pair. Its there first time since 2011 and their 9th in total. It shows I’m not admitting my age as its hard to acknowledge just how long ago it was these two started to take chunks out of each other on Court. The Roland Garros Semi back in 2005 being the first in a major. Just the eleven and a half years ago then! Rafa obviously taking more chunks out of the Fed-Ex in that time. Although they may not be at their undeniable best I hope its a screamer on Sunday. Lets be honest we have all missed these two in our lives. Federer I thought id never see here again if I’m honest. So props to the pair of them. On current form going in I think Federer is certainly operating at the higher level of the two. But you cant get away from the Indian sign Rafa has over Fed. I don’t think Federer has either. That worries me. If it wasn’t for this id think it was his to take. I’ve fallen into the trap before of fancying Federer going into matches against Djokovic before. He was playing at a higher level then as well and though he arguably let himself get dealt with, he still got dealt with. How Federer deals with what Rafa throws at him has always been key. Sunday will be no different. He hasn’t coped with it at all well mostly, 23 times to be exact .Lets see if he can here. On a Final note I’m loving all these references to the “retro feel” of Australian Open in light of the Four Finalists. Lets enjoy and embrace the weekend of Tennis starting tomorrow morning with Venus and Serena.
Andy Del Potro