jump to navigation

Nadal wins the Aussie Open! February 1, 2009

Posted by pacejmiller in Tennis.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Rafael Nadal beats Roger Federer in 5 sets in the 2009 Australian Open Final to earn his 6th Grand Slam

I couldn’t resist my first tennis post after just watching the final of the Australian Open, in which world no. 1 Spaniard Rafael Nadal downed world no. 2 Swiss maestro Roger Federer in 5 stunning sets – 7-5, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2. 

With the win, Rafa earned his 6th career Grand Slam trophy, his first Australian Open title, and now has Grand Slam wins on each of the surfances (clay, grass and hard courts).  Roger, on the other hand, missed out on his first chance since winning the US Open last year to equal Pete Sampras’ record 14 Grand Slam wins.  He also fell to 13-5 in Grand Slam finals, all of his 5 losses coming against Rafa.

I kind of felt sorry for both players after the match (both were in tears).  I felt sorry for Federer because you can see just how much he wanted this one.  It was another championship where he played his heart out but couldn’t get the win against his younger and fiercer opponent.  It must kill to see the same guy thwart you every time – first on clay, then his favourite surface grass, and now even on hard courts.  At age 27, he still has plenty more chances, but each additional one that slips away hurts a little bit more.  On the other hand, I felt sorry for Nadal too.  He was the winner and yet the fans were clearly on Federer’s side.  Roger got the bigger cheers.  All the commentators on TV and radio could talk about was how Federer lost in his quest for no. 14, not Nadal’s amazing 6th Grand Slam victory at age 22 and the possibility that HE may be the one capable of winning the Grand Slam in a calendar year.

Seriously, at this point in time, you could argue that Nadal at age 22, who has now won on each surface, has just as much of a chance of breaking Sampras’ record as Federer has – as long as he stays healthy.  I used to always go for Federer in his head-to-heads with Nadal, but over the last few years Nadal has really grown on me.  He doesn’t have the effortless grace and technical brilliance of Federer, but he’s always been a super-humble champion who plays with so much guts and courage on every single point.  The guy always gives it his all and never gives up (even with those wedgies).  Every time Federer looked like he was starting to gain control, Nadal would hit right back.  All those break points he saved really made the difference in today’s final (and last year’s Wimbledon final).  And tonight, even when the fans were cheering the loser louder than the winner, Nadal was totally gracious about it (and so was Federer, by the way, but he lost, so he had to be).

I think when people talk about the greatest of all time in the next few years, Rafael Nadal’s name has to be in the mix along with Federer, Sampras, Laver and Borg.  The biggest argument you could make against Federer is that he’s never won on clay – and the reason for that is Nadal.  The other major argument is that he can’t be the greatest if he can’t beat his rival (Nadal now leads 13-6 all time, including 5-2 in Grand Slams) – again, that reason is Nadal.

I still believe Federer will equal or break Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slams, but there’s also the possibility that Nadal will be the all-time Grand Slam winner by the time he’s done.



1. inspiredworlds - February 2, 2009

Yes, i think we all forget what an incredible victory it was for Nadal. He could become G.O.A.T. He’s got the physiocological edge on Fedex. Fedex can’t be considered the best of all time, if he can’t dominate this guy and beat him convincingly. Nadal is just a beast and a humble champion as well. Both players played an amazing game. But Nadal was able to summon the energy and most importantly the will to win those break points.

In short, Nadal > Federer.

2. ferix - February 5, 2009

Let’s not forget Nadal is five years younger than Federer. Does the fact that Federer has a winning record over Sampras and Agassi conclusive proof that Federer is the better player? In sports, it would make sense that a 25yo will beat a 20yo, but a 27yo will start losing to the 22yo. Makes perfect sense to me.

The fact Nadal has surpassed Federer today, does not rule Federer out from being G.O.A.T. Have we forgotten all those sublime shots played by Federer in his prime? For instance, when he played that impossible round the net post shot at the Aussie Open in 2006. However, the defining moment of Federer’s greatness was in the fifth set of Wimbledon in 2007 against Nadal. Faced with break points in two consecutive service games, his serve clicked, his game clicked, and he just went up a level. That unplayable, unbelievable, impossible and immortal level. A level that Nadal has only ever reached at Roland Garros last year. Yes, after he saved the last of those break points, he broke Nadal to love the next game. Then he served 3 aces on route to serving out the match. Brilliance.

As an aside, Nadal wept uncontrollably in the dressing rooms after that fifth set suddenly slipped from his grasp in a matter of minutes. To his credit, he came back the next year to win Wimbledon 2008 in the greatest match of all time.

Now that we are beginning to see Nadal’s greatness, it should put into perspective Federer’s own greatness in keeping him at bay during 2005, 2006, 2007 and half of 2008.

I personally believe Federer’s done. As we’ve seen with the decline of first Ferrero, then Hewitt and Safin, this year will be Roddick and Federer’s decline. Age gets to you. Tennis is a tough, physical game. However, if Federer can just pocket one more GS before he retires (with luck, the French), then for me, he is the G.O.A.T. in the open era.

pacejmiller - February 5, 2009

Good comment ferix! You have a good point about the age and head to heads. If say Feds gets to 14 GSs, what would Nadal have to do to become GOAT? Just break that record or does he not need to do that because he’s won on a 3 surfaces?

3. ferix - February 5, 2009

Statistically, he will be considered the better simply by matching Federer’s number of grand slams. But I’m not saying anything profound with that statement.

The Nadal-Federer rivalry is compelling because of the contrast in styles. Nadal’s game is a power baseline game, complete with speed, muscle and counter attacking prowess. Throw in his superhero mental strength, we have the Rafa we see today. Federer, on the other hand, makes the game look easy and all his shots are played with grace and elegance. He, too, has a baseline game, but he is also a great server, volleyer, mover and stroke maker. A full range of weapons. The perfect player.

So why does the perfect player lose to Rafa?

What Rafa did the last year was to improve all aspects of his game by another 10%. His serving improved. He added a slice backhand. His volleying is solid. His mental application is already at its peak. But still …

Well, the reason I think is that the perfect player is a human. He makes mistakes and takes the wrong options. Honestly, Federer made bad mistakes in both finals at Wimbledon and AO. Whereas Nadal needs to concentrate on executing his power baseline game (he saves so many break points because of his lefty swinging serve out wide to Federer’s backhand and followed up with the inside out forehand to the other corner), Federer needs to come up with the perfect solution using his array of shots, and to do it consistently for 4 or 5 hours. Federer’s only chance is if he serves well (75% plus), because it will allow him to minimise the need for perfection to 2 tiebreaks + one fifth set.

In short, what I’m trying to say is that Nadal’s game is much more effective and reliable. When it’s ‘on’, Federer’s is more brilliant. Which is the greater then? How the hell do you settle such a debate? That is the beauty of the Nadal-Federer rivalry.

Back to statistics, although Nadal has now got the better of Federer, there is one player out there which Nadal needs to be careful of. That player is Andy Murray. Like Federer, he has all the shots in the book. He has this incredible change of pace that I’ve never seen anybody else do. Murray has wisely built up his serve, meaning he only needs to unlock Nadal in the tight moments, as opposed to the entire match. Throw in outrageous talents like Tsonga, Nadal will not have it all his way and may never reach 13,14 or 15 slams.

4. catalan - August 24, 2009

Well, i know federer is regarded as the goat by everyone..but i can’t help apreciating nadal more.
Federer’s wins seem too easy, it often looks like a walk in the park.
Nadal on the other hand, when you see him play, you have the feeling he’s fighting for his life. Plus, he puts on a good show, federer gives you the feeling he wants the finsh his opponent as fast as he can and get the hell outta there.

pacejmiller - August 24, 2009

I think that’s just a contrast in their playing styles – but I also think that’s the reason that Nadal seems to have Federer’s number. Fed’s just not used to guys (at least a few years ago anyway) not giving up against him and not being afraid of him. I also appreciate Nadal a lot too and I think he is under-appreciated by a lot of tennis fans. However, you can’t deny that Fed’s recent victories this year at the French and Wimbledon were pretty special.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: