Federer looked worse than ever in his loss to Nadal in the Monte Carlo final

After Rafael Nadal took another clay court Masters Medallion by beating Roger Federer in Monte Carlo on Sunday, Vamosrafael posted the following comment:

7-3 lol, what rivalry? When Queen Roger loses tennis wins.

Vamosrafael is right about one thing – there is no rivalry on clay – but wrong about most everything else and homophobic on top of that. I’ve never found lecturing particularly useful so instead of suggesting that we keep phobias out of our tennis discussion, I answered with a question: “Who has the longest hair, Rafael or Roger?” Hopefully he or she will get the point.

What was Vamosrafael wrong about? There may be no rivalry on clay but there is a rivalry on hard court and Federer leads it 3-2. And tennis does not win if Federer loses because no else is faring any better against Nadal on clay. Who else is there?

Guillermo Canas knocked off Federer in consecutive tournaments and he took the title at Costa do Sauipe – a clay court event – earlier this year. Canas is in Barcelona this week along with Nadal but he’s still recovering from a leg injury and he’s 0-2 against Nadal on clay. That’s all we got, we have to look at unknowns because we’ve run out of other possibilities.

Can Federer claw his way back into the clay court season and beat Nadal at Rome, Hamburg or Roland Garros? It’s possible but he looked farther behind on Sunday than he was last year. This was the first time Federer has ever lost the first two sets to Nadal on clay. Tough luck, then, that the ATP eliminated best of five finals for clay Masters events.

Federer has now lost three matches this year and in each one, he failed to rise to the occasion. I didn’t see the Indian Wells match but in Miami, Canas outhustled Federer. Canas’ desire outperformed Federer’s poise. Federer will never be a grinder but on the big points, Canas outplayed him. His opponent rose to the occasion and Federer did not.

Against Nadal on Sunday, he not only failed to convert two early break points but he was unable to adjust to Nadal’s game. Federer’s best shot to beat Nadal is to attack the net at every opportunity. That way he can rush Nadal and take away some of his speed and it’s the one area on clay where Federer is better than Nadal.

But you can’t get to the net if you don’t hit a hard, deep ground stroke because Nadal will pass you quicker than you can say vamos. The pressure of needing a better shot against Nadal led to a lot of forehand errors by Federer. And you might think the serve has nothing to do with Nadal either – Federer also served poorly – but even there an adjustment is necessary. Look at this comment by Federer after the match:

Well, he’s a left-handed player, so you serve differently…You have to play different against Rafa than when you play against Ferrer or Ferrero. I play 95% against right-handed, so when I play left-handed it’s obviously a bit different.

Worst of all, he looked a bit hangdog out there in the second set. Our intrepid reader Maria was not happy about it:

As the match went by I couldn’t stand Federer’s body language and face expression, what was going on in his mind? The number one can lose but not in that way, without fight and ambition.

True enough, Maria. Let’s see if he can find his nerve before Rome rolls around

See also:
What Is Wrong With Baghdatis, Safin, Gonzo Et Al.
Bitch and Sing Dept: Monte Carlo
2007 Monte Carlo Preview and Picks

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