This wasn’t right surely? Federer coming from the brink of defeat against Rafa and muscling over the line? I have doubted Federer’s mental strength in these type of positions countless times and walked away giving it the ‘big I knew’ mostly after. This shut me up! In the past it didn’t seem to matter if he got into a dog fight with Rafa, Djokovic sometimes Muzza, or even when he picked a couple of fights with Guillermo Canas back in 2007. Federer would invariably lose these in my opinion. He needed to smash a player up to beat them, let it get tight and his bottle might just go. In terms of Slams I have thought since 2012 he was done. I thought I was surely safe now. It didn’t matter here if it was any of the above or Andreas Seppi, Tommy Robredo or Sergiy Stakhovsky in 5 at Wimbledon, he was done now. Admittedly in my defence he didn’t beat Murray or Djokovic here. He did however beat his oldest and biggest Rival who has caused him some of the most painful defeats of his career. This was the guy who knocked him off his perch on grass! Going into the Final here, there was no doubt in my mind that the Federer Express was playing the better of the two. Would it even matter though if this was a tight one and mentally his opponent had his number? He was playing the best i’d ever seen him play going into a Wimbledon Final in 2015, absolutely battering Murray in the Semi. He was unplayable, Djokovic wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. Federer didn’t execute his game plan as well against him though. Bottled it! Same old!
Federer came out as he has so many times in these encounters and won the first set, but then as he invariably does he drops the second and the scrap is on. He found himself 4/0 down here before rallying to no avail, its time to roll the sleeves up! He does this by dishing out a 6/1 breadstick to Rafa, the forehand and backhand yielding winners like there’s no tomorrow. Then the old pattern emerges, Rafa starts hitting cross court passing winners and outright forehand winners from various positions on the court. Its two sets all and Rafa looks to have got it on his own terms now. A point in the 5th game in particular being an absolute joke. A crisp Federer backhand looked to be enough for the point before Rafa responded with a slice drop shot winner crosscourt. Class. This was exactly how Rafa would of have wanted it. As you would expect Rafa breaks at the start of the fifth. He flashes a few winners and the break is sealed when Federer sprays a forehand into the tramlines. Same old story, the errors seem to flow when it really matters. Federer then has break points in both Nadal’s next two service games. Again same old story, he doesn’t quite have it when push comes to shove against a few of these boys. Blown it again! Worryingly for Fed, Rafa was bossing the points with his forehand at these key moments, as he has done so many times in the past. Then Federer out hustled Rafa in the first point of the 6th game, ending in another brilliant backhand cross court winner. On break point it was Nadal’s turn to uncharacteristically spray a forehand of his own into the tramlines. A quick hold was followed by instant pressure on Nadal’s serve. One forehand winner here at he end of another see saw rally suggested things might be different this time. He broke the Spaniards serve by going to his forehand as he had so often in the match,giving him next to no time on it. The icing on the cake being him serving it out from 15/40 with 2 Aces and two forehand winners, where he looked like he had every chance of cracking once again. I feel for Rafa, but in truth he has done this to Federer so many times in the past himself and he blatantly doesn’t begrudge Federer of this One. This match up got me thinking back to the Agassi v Sampras Final at the US in 2002, two legends meeting at the back end of their careers in a big Final. We are not quite at that stage yet as both of these lads are talking a good game going forward. I still think Federer will want the family life soon and you cant blame him. He’s put me back in my hutch for the time being though!
Andy Del Potro