Cronin:Federer in denial after Nadal loss
Federer in denial after Nadal loss
Roger on losses: 'They don't break down my will or hope'
By Matthew Cronin, TennisReporters.net
Rafa is rolling over Roger.
For the most part, Roger Federer is a realist. But not when it comes to dealing with his rivalry with Rafael Nadal, which has completely gotten away from him.
On Sunday, the Spanish teen took down the mighty Swiss 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-3, 7-6(5) to win TMS Monte Carlo, registering his fourth win over Federer in five tries.
"I wish I could have won them, but they don't break down my will or hope or anything because what I care about is trying not to lose against him in Grand Slams, and then be ahead of him 2,000 points in the ranking,” Federer said. "That's what I care about, and not really losing tonight.”
No other player is in Federer’s head like Nadal is and no other player can claim such an excellent and potentially dominant record against him. Before the contest, Fed had called the 19-year-old “one-dimensional” which is an odd comment about a guy with at least three major weapons: his speed, forehand and competitiveness.
After three hours and 49 minutes of watching Nadal dig out ball after ball, one would think that Federer might have changed his mind. But he hasn’t.
"I am not disappointed nor frustrated but I'm exhausted,” Federer said. “It was close and it could have been a different story if I had leveled the match at two sets all. I think it's wrong to say that he's better than me on clay."
No. 2 Nadal is the only man to have flummoxed Federer twice this season, also beating him in the final of Dubai final on hard courts. He has the hooking lefty thing going and has no fear of Federer’s variety. He can hammer Federer's backhand and is just fine whacking cross court backhands when he gets an opening. "My forehand against his backhand is the best exchange,” Nadal said.
Fed was up 3-0 in the final tiebreak, but couldn't push through as Nadal hammered his umpteenth forehand winner.
"He might get a little bit bad, I don't know, nervous,” Nadal said. "The match is tough always, no?”
So unless the Swiss decides to charge the net more at Roland Garros, he'll be a decided underdog in his quest to win his first Slam there.
"He leaves me no choice but to go for winners because I am the man who is pressing," said Federer. "I felt I got closer to Rafael than at Roland Garros last year. [My chances to win Roland Garros] went up, in my eyes. I think matches against Rafael are going to help me actually beating up players, too. Because I've got to adjust quite a bit to play against Rafael. So I've got to make tough decisions, in a split second right away because it's always coming from the left-hand side. So I think I'm actually going to improve a lot by playing more against him, and I already feel like I have since he's been around. That's maybe a good thing to be in. The more I think I play him, the more also I'll figure out his game and the easier it's going to get for me. Maybe I'm too optimistic, but I really believe it.”
After flaming out in the big US hard court tournaments, Nadal is feeling quite at home on his beloved dirt again. He's scored 42 consecutive wins and could pass Bjorn Borg (46) this week in Barcelona. Then he could tie Guillermo Vilas' 53 in Roma.
"It’s important for me be the now the No. 3 in the history,” Nadal said. “[But] any day, I gonna lose, on clay, sure."
He's the only man on the planet sure of that.