Monday, 30 January 2017


Tennis sometimes has a way of levelling things out and on many occasions it rewards the player who has suffered a degree of pain over their career with a win to make it all seem worthwhile.
In the 2009 Australian Open Mens final I vividly recall a game in the third set that quite possibly changed the outcome of the match. From memory the score was 5-5 and Federer had two break points on Nadal's serve and as usual Rafa went for broke and hit two clean winners to erase the opportunity for Federer to serve out the third set and take a two sets to one lead.
I recall some moments in matches quite vividly because they are moments where history quite possibly could have been written differently, particularly in sport. Federer despite losing that third set in 2009 came back to win the fourth however Nadal won the fifth with relative ease. Perhaps Roger could have taken that match in 4 sets with an ounce of luck at break point in the third.
Roger lost the final of Wimbledon a year earlier to Rafa 7-9 in the fifth set with many chances going begging in the final set. Again, history could have been written differently with an ounce of luck going the way of Roger.
The amount of pain that Rafa has inflicted on Roger over the years is blatantly obvious as their head to head currently stands at 23-12 in Rafa's favour. Five of those meetings were at the French Open, and four were in the final so it would be fair to say that without Rafa's clay court dominance the Grand Slam count of Federer's would be well over 20.
Every great player however has an Achilles heel.
The great Bjorn Borg lost four US Open finals, I believe two each to both McEnroe and Connors with only one going to five sets in 1980 when Mac won 6-4 in the fifth. Earlier that same year though Borg won the Wimbledon final against Mac 8-6 in the fifth. Is there a Tennis God do you think who likes to share things around ?
So to this year's Australian Open Mens Singles final, a Rafa win would continue his dominance over Roger and everyone would be talking about how the lefty style of the Spaniard is the most difficult match up for the one handed backhand of Roger. So what happened ?
At age 35 Roger finally decides to step in and refuses to be bullied by the spin of Rafa. He takes the high bounce on the rise and on more than one occasion hits a clean winner off a ball that in the past had him well beyond the baseline. Good coaching ?? Great thinking.....
If Roger had his time over again do you think he would have tried that several years earlier ?? And the return to Rafa's backhand rather than to his strength which in a way put the point back to a 50/50 situation rather than a 75/25 in Rafa's favour if it was returned to his forehand, a tactical change of genius proportions ?
The final was as frustrating as it was entertaining because of the length of it. There wasn't the long rallies of the past on a regular basis because if that had occurred I believe my tip of Rafa in 4 would have been right on the money. It was a match that Roger had to win within a certain time frame and if it went five hours surely the younger legs of the Spaniard would have won through despite his epic semi against Dimitrov.
Just one thing though, why aren't both semis played on the same day to give both players an equal rest for the final ?? Sponsorship and advertising dollars to do it on different days ? C'mon don't be silly......
Rafa's effort was nothing short of brilliant and Roger may just have had an ounce of luck go his way finally at the ripe old age of 35 with an extra day's rest and an epic semi win for Rafa but that's tennis for you, it has a way........

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