Roger’s Revenge

Roger’s Revenge

Roger Federer got the better of Rafael Nadal in today’s final of the Madrid Masters 2009. And this win was a long time coming…

Roger Federer beat Rafael Nadal in the Madrid Masters 2009 on clay
Roger wins against Nadal on clay
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
The last time Federer beat Nadal was in 2007 Masters Cup semifinal, when Roger won 6:4, 6:1.

If you want to check all the matches they played, then check this excellent website: Federer – Nadal rivalry.

I watched the first set today (I also watched 2 hours of Nadal – Djokovic match yesterday and the first set of Federer – Del Potro), then had to leave since I played tennis for 1 hour 😉 , but here are my thoughts on Federer and Nadal…

Rafael Nadal

1. Rafa seemed tense today and he also seemed tense yesterday against Djokovic almost until the last few games.

How can I tell that he was tense? Because he made some uncharacteristic unforced errors when he played in the net. He attempted a rally shot down the middle, was set up well and hit the ball into the net.

This happens when a player grips the racquet too tight (because of tension), and the racquet slightly turns downwards. Perhaps it was playing in front of the home crowd or perhaps it was the possibility of another record (winning 3 Masters Series tournaments on clay in the same year) or perhaps it was something else…

2. Nadal also didn’t handle returns well. He had some problems yesterday against Djokovic (more than normal) and he didn’t return well today. I think this is a combination of excellent serving by Federer, playing at high altitude and the tension mentioned above.

3. Rafa did well to neutralize Federer with his high bouncing forehands. It was very obvious that Federer has more problems with these high balls than Djokovic has with his two-handed backhand since Djoko can use the other hand to »push« the ball down and control it better.

Roger Federer

1. Federer reminded me of Sampras today. Why? Because he focused much more on his serving and attacking with the big forehand instead of trying to out-rally Nadal from the baseline with his groundstrokes.

I think Federer in the past tried to hit good backhands against Nadal’s super top spin forehands and all his focus was on how to solve that backhand problem.

Today, Roger accepted that he will lose most rallies when Nadal gets 3 or 4 forehands to his backhand unless Roger can run around and play his forehand. Roger was not upset when missing a backhand or when Nadal scored with his forehand against his backhand.

»Fine, those are your points anyway. But let’s see how you handle my serves, forehands and the all court game!« I believe that’s how Roger was thinking today and that’s how Sampras used to play…

2. Roger did well to mix up the game today; he served and volleyed more (even on some second serves), changed rotations and played a drop shot (in the first set) to disrupt Nadal’s rhythm.

3. Roger did not handle the high backhands well again and if he wants to beat Nadal at the French Open, I think he needs to practice hitting those high balls over and over again.

Roger still has a long way to catch up with Nadal in the head to head score, but he got his revenge today. It’s great to see the rivalry become more interesting again, especially since Federer got his win on clay.

The rest of the 2009 looks very exciting and it will be interesting to see how this result affects both player’s mentality (and others; Djokovic and Murray will definitely believe more that they have a chance against Nadal on clay…) and their performance in the rest of the season.

Related posts:

A Look At Unforced Errors In The Nadal-Federer Final Of Madrid Masters 2010
Thoughts On Federer’s Loss To Julien Benneteau
What Can Federer Learn From Djokovic And Nadal
Roger Federer – Rafael Nadal ATP Finals 2010 Match Analysis
Novak Djokovic – Rafael Nadal Wimbledon 2011 Match Analysis

Essential Tennis Instruction – FREE Video Lessons on How to Improve Your Serve

This entry was posted on Sunday, May 17th, 2009 at 3:05 pm and is filed under Roger Federer. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

7 Responses to “Roger’s Revenge”
Anthony Says:
May 17th, 2009 at 6:09 pm
nadal didn’t move well today, he was late on the ball…surely, the match against djokovic took its toll plus he never really adjusted to this type of surface.
the semifinal match was excellent with so many aggressive and high quality shots, dusting the lines from both sides. it was delicious. a real tennis treat. the way they both fought till the very end was gracious. unforgettable match.

federer served great and played well today.


Ronen Says:
May 20th, 2009 at 4:27 am
I agree with Anthony and partially with what you said, about Nadal not being himself. Being, tense, not moving well, for me it all looked the same – Nadal was very slow and slugish.

It’s hard to know what the reason is, but I think in a sense another contributing factor was that he was wining a lot lately. If you ever competed in the past and had a long sequence of victories you should know it can make you bored, lose attention, less interested. In a sense, I think this is part of what happened to Nadal in Madrid.

It will be interesting to see Nadal at the French after this loss. If he will pickup his fighting spirit, or just remain the same…


john Says:
May 22nd, 2009 at 4:15 pm
Hi all,

I honestly believe that at The French Open if Rafa and Roger meet again it will be a win for Rafa.

A few reasons –

1) You have had to play in Madrid to understand how fast the ball moves there.
I played there 2 years ago at the Casa Campo and for me coming from Tenerife, it was like playing on a different planet.

2) The clay at the new centre in Madrid is very different to the clay in Paris – as you know clay courts can vary so much in the “depth” of the clay.

3) Madrid suited Roger, it was fast and so his serve proved dominant – second serve aces!!
Apart from his win over Rafa, look how he took out Del Potro in an hour and a bit.

So roll on The French and let’s see if The Fed can do it again.


Leonard Says:
May 22nd, 2009 at 6:28 pm
I agree both the altitude and the long match with Djokovic were major factors. But I don’t believe those factors alone would have cost Nadal the match. You can’t ignore how well Federer was serving and how improved his tactics were. Overall, his game was looking better than it’s looked in some time. His level took a real nosedive last year after Wimbledon and, despite prevailing at the US Open, it’s taken a long time for him to get back on track. I know I wasn’t the only one who was beginning to wonder if he ever would, especially with players like Andy Murray getting better all the time.
And what is it about Madrid? I still think about that great match where Rafa was beaten by Simon last year. Ironic the greatest Spanish tennis player would loose twice fairly recently in Madrid.


Jessey Says:
May 23rd, 2009 at 1:51 am
Maybe Roger won because—-he’s been reading your analysis : )


saleem Says:
May 24th, 2009 at 12:18 pm
as u said it is sweat revenge for federer especially beating nadal on his favourite surface. in my observation the winning factors as follows
1.nobody expecting federer to win (it makes feel no pressure)
2. this time he used his slice back hand to defend the high topspin shots of nadal
3.the drop shot was most successful shot to spoil nadals rhythm.
4.see the match again nadals return of serves and passing shots has no bite.
5.same tactics works but 5 setters i am doubtful.


A Look At Unforced Errors In The Nadal-Federer Final Of Madrid Masters 2010 | How To Play Better Tennis – Tips From A Professional Tennis Coach Says:
May 22nd, 2010 at 9:19 am
[…] was a rematch of the Federer-Nadal 2009 Madrid final which Roger won 6-4, 6-4. Rafael Nadal beats Roger Federer in the final of the Madrid 2010 / Photo […]