WTF RR: Federer d. Nadal 6-3 6-0

This blockbuster match at the O2 arena had many surprises in store for fans: namely, the lopsided scoreline, Federer’s insanely high level of play, and Nadal’s lower level of play.  Fed hit 28 winners in the match, compared to the 27 points (4 winners) that Nadal won.

Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images

It’d be disingenuous of me not to mention Rafa was obviously in some discomfort during the match.  His face was pale, he didn’t seem to be sweating, and he made pre-match comments that his shoulder might be bothering him.

To dismiss the final result on account of Rafa’s illness, however, would be disingenuous as well.  The odds favored Fed going in, given his previous 3-0 indoor record against Rafa.  Fed displayed a high level of tennis that was well-above the level he’d shown throughout 2011.  Even if you tire easily of the numerous odes written to Fed’s tennis (and there have been many), you’d still be impressed by what he brought to the match.  With little exaggeration, his forehands and timing were impeccable.  Nadal’s slower movement created opportunities for Fed to hit backhand winners, a term not usually associated with Fedal matches.  This was an hour-long masterclass, not unlike Nadal’s drubbing of Fed at the 2008 RG final, only this time with the roles reversed.

Perhaps Fed peaked specifically for this match, but for now, he stands atop Group B and qualifies for the SFs.  Whether he’ll sustain this level of play is the million-dollar question (he most likely won’t).

The post-match pressers highlighted Rafa and Fed’s class and respect for each other.  Rafa bravely weathered the questions about his form and refused to attribute the loss to his illness/injury.  He gave credit where credit was due to Roger’s high level of play.  Fed, for his part, freely acknowledged that Rafa was not 100% during the match.  Outside of the Fedal pairing, I’m not sure such respect exists on this level among top athletes.

In the context of this rivalry (which has popularized the sport many times over), Fed’s Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award and his 9th consecutive Fan Favorite award are so fitting.  While Novak and Muzz fans will bridle at this, the fact remains that Fed has the best on-court manners and an appeal that transcends his legendary results.  To discount the Sportsmanship Award on account of Fed winning it for the 7th time is to miss the point.

Bring up a discussion about sportsmanship in tennis, and you’ll be faced with gamesmanship/time-wasting accusations that are just as “bad” as a couple of Fed’s interviews.  There’s no clear-cut winner for sportsmanship among the top 4 players.  The award is partly a popularity-based contest, but among the top 4, Fed is certainly no worse than any of the others when it comes to sportsmanship.  His latest conduct in his match with Nadal only reinforces that.  That the fans and players vote for these awards should once and for all end the inanity of the bitter sniping that is aimed at Fed.  For Muzz and Novak fans, why not wait for the day your respective players win these awards, rather than cutting down the player who has deserved most of his accolades?

Photo: Getty Images

I remember Jon Wertheim took offence at Federer’s blazer and white cashmere cardigan at Wimbledon.  How do you like him now?  He’s wearing BLACK VELVET.  Another year, another texture and fabric.  I’m personally waiting for the day he shows up to Wimbledon in a faux white fur coat.  And a faux ivory walking cane (because he’s old).

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About mariposaxprs

I play favorites with Juan Martin Del Potro, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez, Gilles Simon and the long line of mercurial talent that drives me to despair in front of the screen at odd hours during the week.
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14 Responses to WTF RR: Federer d. Nadal 6-3 6-0

  1. What’s up with Rafa? No idea.

    Either way, as you said, it’s wrong to say, “Roger won! What’s wrong with Rafa?” Instead, I’m relieved to see that Roger’s got game, since I’m still wondering if Roger will hang it up after 2012, and that would make me sad. It’s nice to see that Roger still has game. 🙂

    • BTW, Jon Wertheim criticizing Roger for wearing a cardigan? Really? I mean, yeah, it is a bit of a pretentious move, and Roger does have a pretentious streak. But to criticize him for it? I think Jon Wertheim actually said it best in one his comments after the Paris Master series. The Penn State scandal/crimes (they don’t have a name for what it is) should make us think that if the worst thing that’s happening in tennis is Roger Federer’s fashion faux pas, then we should be very thankful.

      • mariposaxprs says:

        Haha I know, right? Sometimes, I cringe at Roger’s pretentious sartorial choices too, but it’s not something I’d draw lash out at if I were a journalist. He made it sound like Roger stepped on a puppy’s tail or something! Besides, I kind of like pretentious Roger now 🙂 That’s a great point you bring up about the other issues happening in sports. It really is something to be thankful for, that tennis players’ outfits are the worst things to be happening in top level tennis. I feel so many of these issues are pretty minor (kind of like Agassi wearing jean shorts or a mullet. Although I would also argue Roger’s blazer/cardigan is hardly as fashion-offensive as that!).

    • mariposaxprs says:

      You know, that’s a really sad thought. His level has dropped a little but he’s still playing solid top 4 tennis. I guess 2012 will be a very interesting year for Roger. He’s worked hard to prevent injury (and been a bit lucky too, in that regard) but the next year/s might not be as smooth. I personally want to see him go out with a bang, having won another Grand Slam (just one! I don’t care which one it is)

  2. ariennalee says:

    Forget the Star Wars/Vader theme song for Fed. Now he’s got BLACK VELVET!

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Hahahaha I love it! Remember when they interviewed players about favorite movies and Fed said his favorite movie was Dirty Dancing or Grease? I’m sure he would approve of BLACK VELVET. He could do one-part Star Wars/Vader and one-part Black Velvet–it’s the perfect mix-tape for his theme song. It certainly beats the “London Calling” theme they’ve decided on this year, huh?

      • ariennalee says:

        I don’t mind a little The Clash now and again, but it’s way too punk for Roger.

        His favorite movies are Dirty Dancing & Grease?? I don’t know what I like more, that those are his favorite movies or that he was willing to say those are his favorite movies. I can picture Rog & Mirka spending a romantic evening with Patrick & Jennifer. 🙂 Now I definitely think Black Velvet suits him… the Elvis of tennis!

        • mariposaxprs says:

          When Fed does interviews, he’s either obliviously arrogant or obliviously dorky. This was definitely a dorky moment. It was kind of like the time when he was asked what his favorite book was, only for him to respond that he prefers reading fashion magazines. Black Velvet suits him even more now!

  3. queridorafa says:

    LOLZ–“How do you like him now?” Clearly Roger has been reading Jon’s criticisms and is trying to offer up some different looks! I think David deserves the sportsmanship award too, with his voluntarily giving up/replaying points of late! That’s not easy to do and it’s also not “required”. Although I guess the ball-at-baby in Cincy? was it may have hurt his case (how ironic/horrifying was it for one of the nicest, least volatile guys on the tour to get, like, mainstream press coverage for something so out of character (and I’m still not convinced he was actually aiming at the baby 😉 I kept trying to explain to people, NO, you don’t understand! He’s not like that!”

    Super confused w/ the Rafa situation. Sick? Shoulder injury? (major? minor?) I know it’s frowned upon for him to talk about this stuff, but I think all the speculation is even worse!

    • ariennalee says:

      I remember seeing that Cincy match and all Ferrer did was hit a ball upward (not particularly hard) in the general direction of fans/stadium/baby crying sounds. I was a bit irritated that the media made an issue of it and thereby introduced David to America as a baby-basher. C’mon, Delpo actually threw his size 85 shoes into a crowd of people. Winners throw sweaty wristbands directly at people’s faces every day at tournaments. I, in fact, was hit in the head with a shanked Alex return of serve (I try to bring that up in conversation whenever possible) that was moving a whole lot faster than Daveed’s disgruntled tennis ball. Then the press deliberately took his presser out of context when he said it was “no big deal.” They made out as if he meant hitting the ball at the baby was no big deal–when in reality he was saying that his distraction at that moment was not why he lost the match. He was being a good sport, and they made him out to be a bad one.

      Well, I clearly had some feelings about that one, didn’t I?

      Mariposaxprs, I believe that it was you who made the point about the irony of the “good sportsmanship” being named after someone who won all the time? I think you’re right about that. Unfortunately, no one cares to hear about the sportsmanship award going to someone like Daniel Brands. Or even Gael Monfils. It has to be a top dog. And top dogs are fierce dogs– which means they won’t always be “nice.”

      • mariposaxprs says:

        Alex’s shanks must feel like personal insults to you now! I think when DelPo threw his shoes, one of them ended up hitting a spectator in the head. I should be thankful that the spectator wasn’t a baby, shouldn’t I? Poor Ferru, his words get taken out of context after he makes a pretty innocent mistake. I think Mardy Fish, his opponent, actually came to Ferru’s defense and told everyone to chill. That was pretty cool of Mardy. I think Ferru’s baby incident is a shining example of how media can contort a story to fit their needs. It was pretty sad.

        Yea, I felt like Qureshi was the most deserving winner for the Sportsmanship Award this year. And there are other singles players too who speak louder with their actions on and off the court. But it really does come down to a contest among the top 4. From what I’ve heard, Stefan Edberg was really a true shining example of sportsmanship. Since Fed’s won the award 7 times now, maybe they can rename the award the “Edberg-Federer Award for the Top Dog Who’s Mostly a Good Sport About It**” (**does NOT include press interviews)?

        • ariennalee says:

          I’ve chosen to take Alex’s shanks as little mementos of our time together 🙂 Every time he shanks a ball, I know he’s remembering the time his return-of-serve hit me in the noggin. I’m sure of it.

          Speaking of Qureshi, who is he going to have for a partner next year I wonder– now that the IndoPak Express is no more? That was sad news.

          I like your double-asterik exemption. If Fed is worthy of black velvet and white cardigans, he is certainly worth an asterik or two.

          • mariposaxprs says:

            I don’t know what happens with Qureshi now. I’m confused by the whole Bopanna-Bhupathi pairing. Even if it’s for Olympics, doesn’t Bhupathi already have an Indian doubles partner in Paes? Why couldn’t they just play Olympics together? That was sad news, Indo-Pak Express were such a likeable pairing.

            We could forgo the asterisks and just add on a special requirement for the next winner of the Edberg-Federer award to be a press conference mastermind. I really wish I could have seen Edberg play. People speak of him like he was an exemplary player. Might have to search for a video of his old matches…

    • mariposaxprs says:

      QR, I think I admire Federer the same way I sometimes look in awe at the evil villains in movies. Hey, evil villains can be good at heart! Maybe they’re misunderstood sometimes. Evil villains also wear pretentious outfits, the more outlandish the better. Lolol black velvet is the first step to fur coats and bling (I hope!)

      I agree Ferru would probably be the least contentious winner of the sportsmanship award. I only heard about the baby incident when I saw it on Youtube, and my reaction was “Eh? All that fuss over *that*?” I think it was the TV camera’s fault, for focusing on the baby’s father blinking in indignation. I honestly don’t think Ferru was aiming for the baby either. It was more akin to swatting your hand haphazardly in the air at a fly buzzing near you.

      As for Rafito…who knows? It’s a bit concerning, but he also tends to pick up his play during the course of a tournament, right? I’m hoping he can beat Jo because it seems Rafa really wanted to do well at WTF this year.

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