Ok, I'm not exactly an optimist myself, but I think you're underestimating Rafa, the_natural
Yes, the Rome final was very close. Rafa even said he was lucky Roger couldn't convert the match points. Still, I wouldn't agree Rafa owes the victory to luck. He earned it all the way. He came back from 1-4 down in the fifth set and made
Roger nervous and uncertain. His earlier victories and his unshaken belief that he could win made
Roger rush and in the end blow his chances. Against how many other players would Roger have made such mistakes?
I don't agree they both played their best tennis. Roger was visibly more confident than in MC, had a better game plan and execution (much better BH, serve (!) and net play). As for Rafa, I'm not saying he didn't play well, but he made a lot of UEs (for his standards) and his passing shots were below par. Of course, some will argue that it was because of Roger's play, but it's only partially true, and in fact Rafa's level dropped already in his two previous matches; don’t be fooled by the straight sets wins against Gonzalez and Monfils.
What I'm about to say now is pure speculation, I could be totally wrong, so don't quote me on this, but…it occurred to me that Rafa, despite his protestations that he isn't the favourite and Roger is far better, might have been just a tiny bit surprised by Roger's level of play. After all, he had won their previous two matches on clay relatively comfortably and Roger hadn't played great in the earlier rounds in Rome; many fans even expected him to lose the final in three sets.
Now it's clear he's got a real dogfight on his hands, and fight is what Rafas…I mean Tiggers…like best.
So, even though the Rome final was extremely close, I'm not ready to write Rafa off just yet. He can play better
than he did in that match, I absolutely believe it. The problem is that he will have to
play better, otherwise I don't see Roger letting him get away with it again. The good news is Rafa got a taste of Roger's changed strategy and he has the time to come up with a solution (and fine tune his passing shots, which surprisingly let him down in Rome). Of course, knowing what to expect and actually dealing with it are two different things (right, Roger?), but at least he won't be caught completely off guard.
Now, you say that there'll be too much pressure on Rafa. We'll have to wait and see, but so far he's been handling pressure extremely well, taking it one match at a time. Do you know what he said when asked about the stress of defending RG? The pressure is on the people who haven't won it yet.
Roger doesn't have anything to lose? Come on! What about a Grand Slam chance and the GOAT label? He believes it is his to take; there is enormous pressure on him too.
Roger seems absolutely furious about the losses, even to the point of slightly losing control of his behaviour. I don't think it's to his disadvantage; he used to be nervous about playing Rafa, and now there seems to be this cold rage in him, which, judging by the last match, is better for him. Now I could be wrong (again) but I had a feeling Rafa too was furious - about the attack on Toni. The fact that Rafa, who is always so diplomatic and almost reverential about Rogelio, said Fed should learn how to lose, indicates to me that the accusation really stung him. It'll be very interesting to see what kind of effect, if any, this will have on Rafa.
Having said all this, the final is very far off and an unpleasant surprise might happen on the way, even if it seems unlikely now. If both Rafa and Roger do get to the final, I'll most definitely need Valium. But then, I'm faint-hearted, unlike Rafa.
PS. Sorry for the LONG post.