Australian Open 2014 – Men’s Semi Final, Nadal v Federer

Just one match in the singles and its a biggie!

So often when these two guys meet there are all sorts of side issues with people wondering what will affect the outcome. This match is no different. Here are some of the variables we have to sort through.

Nadal has a blister on his racquet hand. The blister on its own isn’t really the issue. As an open wound it has to be covered to prevent the racquet rubbing it. So he has a dressing on it which is then covered by tape and it’s the tape that is giving him the problems. He has said that when he is serving he is worried that the racquet will slip. This gives him something extra to worry about which is the last thing you need when standing at that service line.

There is apparently rain forecast for during the final. If the roof is closed and it becomes an indoor match that shifts things in Federer’s favour.

Stefan Edberg, Federer’s new “coach” has a plan of how to beat Nadal.

 

They played four times in 2013 and Federer managed just 1 set. So what is Edberg’s plan? It’s to be hoped it is a little more than serve and volley. When Fed has been able to trouble Nadal it has been by rushing him. I can’t recall which match it was but I can remember an opening set between these two when Fed clearly came out with a plan. He was taking the ball so early that he took time away from Nadal. It worked superbly for a few games and it looked like Federer was going to wipe the floor with him. Then Nadal adapted. He stopped giving Federer pace to use against him. Faced with having to generate the pace himself Federer’s plan went tits up pretty quickly.

Having said that, watching the opening set of Nadal’s match with Dimitrov reminded me of that Federer set. Dimitrov was taking the ball so early at times it almost felt like he was hitting the return before it had left Nadal’s side of the net. The fact is that the tactic works. It’s just a matter of how long the opponent can keep it going and how quickly Nadal makes the changes in his own tactics.

If Federer over-uses the serve and volley Nadal will pick him off. If Edberg can come up with something that a great tennis brain like Federer hasn’t thought of himself then Fed needs to make the most of it before Nadal reacts and changes his game plan.

Nadal’s problem with the tape on his hand could be a little bit of distraction tactics. If the tape being used doesn’t allow him to have confidence in his grip I would imagine he can afford a different kind of tape.

Federer has faced a couple of opponents who many thought could trouble him. I was disappointed in Tsonga but hadn’t expected Murray to be physically able to compete for the whole match which proved to be the case. Even so, Federer wasn’t able to put him away as clinically as perhaps he should have.

With Stan waiting in the final for the winner both player will feel (rightly or wrongly) that this is their final.

I am going with Nadal to reach the final. Federer has played some fantastic tennis so far and has silenced anyone who has said he is past it. He obviously hasn’t faced anyone of Nadal’s quality and the fact that is over the best of five sets is in the Spaniard’s favour. There is also that little factor of Nadal’s forehand putting pressure on the Federer backhand. That’s the issue Edberg needs to concentrate on.

4 sets.

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