Australian Open: Fedal x Novandy = Rafole

1. Rafa Nadal defeats Roger Federer, 6-7 6-2 7-6 6-4

This SF was an error-ridden contest that still pulled through with its share of tension and dramatic comebacks.  Rafa started shakily, making errors, while Fed started by displaying the solid form he had shown in his QF defeat over The Argentinean.

However, Fedal share a long history.  Despite Fed’s clinching of the 1st set, I felt the match had yet to really start.  Sure enough, Fed lost his momentum and Rafa quickly worked his way back into the match, despite being broken early in the 2nd set.  Fed’s forehand wing, normally so solid, misfired into the net and his shanks contributed to a lopsided 2nd set that went Rafa’s way.

Photo: Getty Images

Rafa showed his trademark defense and power on the baseline, while also forcing Fed into defensive positions, rushing Fed into mistiming his attacks.  There was a tremendous point Rafa played, that may have broken Fed’s competitive spirit just a little bit.  Fed’s 63 UFEs to 46 winners stat says it all, compared to Rafa’s 34 UFEs and 36 winners.

(Photo: AP Photo/Sarah Ivey)

2011 Oz Open Champ Kim Clijsters (seated next to Mary Jo Fernandez) attended the Rafa-Fed match in the photographers’ pit, after her own SF loss.  This is very likely Clijsters’ last year as an active player and her last time at the Oz Open.  She looks wistful here as she watches Rafa reach the final, after her own Oz Open run was cut short.

Photo: Getty Images

The Federer twins showed up for the five minute warm-up between Fed and Rafa, before the start of the match (the twin on the right seems to be scouting Rafa).  It’s amazing how strong the Federer genes are.  His twin daughters bear a heavy resemblance to Fed, who is himself a carbon-copy of his father, Robert.

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2. Novak Djokovic defeats Andy Murray, 6-3 3-6 6-7 6-1 7-5

The Novandy SF was similarly error-prone, although it perhaps packed a more dramatic punch than the Fedal SF.  For what it’s worth, while I am amazed by Murray and Djokovic’s fitness and endurance, I’m not as enthralled by their style of play.  It’s true that both players have excellent precision — in Novak’s case, his point construction is interesting to observe.  Still, I felt like Novak and Murray’s rallies too often became more of an endurance test, mixed with occasional slicing and the dropshots.

(Photo: Getty Images)

Which is not to take away from the excellent rallies that took place this Novandy match.  In spite of myself, I was eventually drawn into the match, and found myself wondering how it would end after Murray went up 2 sets to 1.

Murray may have lost his fitness or focus toward the end of the 4th set.  He appeared to almost be giving away the last game, in an effort to conserve energy for the 5th set.  This is a tactic his new coach Ivan Lendl used to employ during his playing days.  Credit to Murray though, for hanging on until the very end.

In similar fashion to his QF match with Ferru, Novak brought his fair share of dramatic antics to the match.  At this point, all tennis players should interpret this as a pattern of behavior, and do what they can to remain unaffected by the dramatic posturing at the other side of the net.

While the story of Murray’s  losses at the business end of a Slam are becoming all too familiar, I actually think there is plenty for Murray to take away from his SF loss.  First, he took 2 sets off Djokovic, which is 2 sets more than the last time they played at the 2010 Oz Open final.  Also, in his post-match presser, he seemed disappointed but also filled with purpose on how he could improve both his mental and physical game.  There is a lot of potential upside for him this year, so long as he avoids the post-Oz Open walkabout he endured in the past.

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In his pre-final presser, Rafa shared his observations on Murray’s performance against Djokovic, which included his remark that Murray should have started the 4th set more aggressively.  I love how the top players keep close track of each other’s matches.  In his presser, Rafa describes in detail the several crucial points in the Novandy match that decided the outcome.

It’s only right that the 2012 Oz Open final features Rafa and Novak.  I think the time has come for Rafa to right the ship and restore the balance to his rivalry with Novak.  A great showing at the 1st Grand Slam of the year would be quite the way to make a statement.

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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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9 Responses to Australian Open: Fedal x Novandy = Rafole

  1. Arienna Lee says:

    I like your headline equation! Also… that crazy point. How did Rafa manage to pass Fed CC from there?? Amazing stuff. I can’t help but be sad for Roger in a match like this. I can’t remember if I posted this or not (it’s all getting so foggy), but I really think Fed was playing well enough to beat Nole in the final. A part of me is sad he didn’t get the chance. A small part. Who knows, that part might grow if Rafa loses in a few hours… but no… staying positive.

    So touching that Roger gets nervous playing in front of his fathers. I’m so curious about what kind of father he would make. I bet he’s more cuddly than he looks.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      Rafa played amazingly in the SF! I feel sad for Roger too, when he loses these days. I think it works better for him if he lands on Djokovic’s side of the draw. Hopefully, that will be the case and we can have many more Fedal finals at major tournaments. And maybe Fed could even win one of them? That sounds like a great formula 😉

      I’m curious too, what kind of father Fed would be! I think he would be sort of dorky. Given the way he rambles on in interviews, I would imagine he would be quite the chatty Cathy when he’s not playing on the tennis courts!

  2. I know what you mean about the Federer genes! The girls look exactly like him!

    I’m scared, but strangely hopeful. We have to face this at some point in the season. Might as well be now.

    • mariposaxprs says:

      His twin daughters are so adorable 🙂 I hope they make more and more appearances at his matches. There was a recent quote from Fed, where he talks about how he gets more nervous when he’s playing a match in front of his daughters.

      I’m looking forward to the final. I think Rafa is too mentally strong to keep losing to an opponent like this. Hopefully, he will put up a lengthy battle and come out the victor!

      • Jonathan says:

        Great post.

        It looked like Nadal was going to win the mental battle in the final, but Djokovic well and truly has a hold over him. But it was certainly a lengthy battle!

        • mariposaxprs says:

          Thanks! Yea, it was a pretty great final, definitely worthy of a Grand Slam setting. I think Rafa’s edging closer to gaining the confidence and tactical plan he needs to defeat Djokovic. Given how close he played Novak in the final, surely he will be able to get that victory sometime in the near future.

      • He gets more nervous playing in front of his daughters? That’s so adorable!

        • mariposaxprs says:

          Hahha I know, right? That was such a dorky, but adorable comment he made! Maybe when they’re older, they can attend his matches and give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down sign after each one of Fed’s service games 😉

    • Lol, I said “we” as if we were all out there on court. Lol.

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