Federer’s crosscourt backhand fires him to no.18
The biggest match in history went the distance and Federer finally beat his nemesis in a grand slam match after almost 10 years. I discussed yesterday what Rafa would do to Roger, use his leftie spin and attack the backhand wing of Roger. And what Roger would have to do to cope with it, attack the net and not allow Rafa any rhythm to attack the backhand.(http://betatennis.com/roger-federer-rafa-nadal-and-the-leftie-strategy/) Roger didn’t really do what I thought he needed to do, however he wrecked Rafa’s rhythm by playing very aggressive from the back of the court, namely off of his backhand
Roger has one of the best slice backhands in the game, but we hardly saw it today. He hit his backhand flat and hard from inside the baseline as often as he could. More often than not he hit this backhand crosscourt rushing the Rafa forehand and virtually nullifying the leftie pattern that Rafa has used so successfully against Roger in the past, heavy spin forehands crosscourt into the Roger backhand. In the past, Roger would then slice or play a topspin shot back without any aggressive intention. This would allow Rafa the control from this point onwards. Roger stopped Rafa controlling points in this way throughout the match and played it out on his terms.
Roger also did this on the return of serve, notably on the ad side forcing Rafa to change up his serve patterns. He then hit a lot more into the body and to the forehand. Roger would then be able to control the point on his forehand wing right from the beginning.
Rafa didn’t take the initiative enough himself in the match. You can see that from his return position for the majority of the match shown below. Rafa was sometimes 8 or more metres behind the baseline! With Roger playing so aggressive off of ground, no matter how well Rafa hit his return he struggled to get a positive court position and this eventually tolled.
The match today was a great spectacle and advert for tennis. Two of the legends of the game and most high profile players went at it for 5 sets. Roger surprised many of us and won his 18th slam, a win that only very harden Federer fans would have picked only a few months ago. What does this mean for the season? This fortnight will harden the resolve of the top 2 men; Murray and Djokovic and I expect them to be highly motivated to get back into the big contests. Nadal will be confident going into Paris and if the next few months go well I believe Roger will also be confident going into Wimbledon. An exciting season awaits….