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Federer and Nadal to Face Off in 2017 Australian Open Final

SF #1: Federer def Wawrinka 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3

I’ve already written my thoughts about this match on Facebook but I will say a few more things here. This match was a great disappointment to me despite the scoreline. Neither player looked like they wanted to win.

It’s incredible how Stan’s body language changes when he faces Federer. He is unwilling to play the bad guy which is the role assigned to anyone who dares to defeat Federer on a regular basis. At least when it comes to Fedfans.

Stan is not a warrior. He doesn’t want to win at all costs. He would rather be the nice guy that doesn’t spoil the party than the villain who gets what he wants. That is in stark contrast to Djokovic and Nadal who have received endless criticism simply because they dare to defeat Federer on a regular basis.

Take for instance the MTO incident in the first semi-final. Federer took an MTO after Wawrinka took one earlier and afterward he admitted it was a tactical ploy. There was no criticism. But if Djokovic or Nadal does it all hell breaks loose.

#Federer breaks #Wawrinka and it’s back on serve in the 4th set #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/rV6QLT2P34

— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 26, 2017

Anyway, I’m not sure what Stan’s deal is. Maybe it is a Swiss thing because Federer seems to lack the warrior qualities too. That is why he keeps losing to Djokovic and Nadal in big matches.

From the start of the match, you could sense Federer was not quite playing his A game. This was Stan’s chance to cash in but he had the body language as if he had already lost. It is like he undergoes a complete transformation when facing Federer.

None of the loud come-ons or pointing to the head. Just totally subdued so that he doesn’t disappoint the crowd who so desperately want Federer to win. It is a tragic thing to see if you are a real tennis fan and want to see good tennis.

Regardless, Federer started playing even worse in the third set and Stan finally started cashing in. But by then it was too late. He had already shown Federer that he would not capitalize on his lack of form.

Stan on a mission…#Wawrinka won’t back down, taking the 4th set 6-4 v #Federer. And it’s into the decider we go! #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/6tAR3s0jOF

— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 26, 2017

Federer continued with the unforced errors in the fourth set and even though Stan handed him the break right back that he fought so hard for, in the opening game of the fourth set, Federer allowed him to break again at 4-4.

I think it was after the fourth set that Federer then took the tactical MTO which was all it took for Stan to crack mentally and lose the momentum. In the end, neither player looked like they wanted to win but Stan wanted it less.

Stan was afraid of Federer and Federer was afraid of Nadal which led to a very poor quality match. Sure there were some good points but if you understand the dynamics of the match it was highly frustrating to watch.

Either way, Federer had done very well to make the final after six months out of the sport. It wasn’t pretty but he was now in his sixth Australian Open final and he would soon find out whether he would indeed face his nemesis in the final.

SF #2: Nadal def Dimitrov 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-3

In very stark contrast to the first semi-final, this was an absolute epic. Whereas Stan and Federer’s body language were subdued and negative, Nadal and Dimitrov were psyched up and emotional.

They went at it like Spartan warriors who left it all out there on the court, neither wanting to give the other an inch. If you were still undecided as to whether the first semi-final was a good or bad, the second semi-final should have made that clear.

Here were two guys who would pretty much die out there for a place in the final. We know that is always the case with Nadal but I was very impressed with Dimitrov’s level and desire. It’s for sure the best match I’ve seen him play.

I was dozing off from time to time during the match due to sleep deprivation but I saw most of the match. Dimitrov’s backhand was a lot more solid than I thought it would be while Nadal slumped in the second set the way he did against Raonic.

Rafael Nadal beats Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 5-7, 7-6, 6-7, 6-4 to set up #AusOpen final with Roger Federer https://t.co/bCjpF0Zc7O pic.twitter.com/ctqs5QjZkq

— Guardian sport (@guardian_sport) January 27, 2017

But Dimitrov was good enough to take advantage. Nadal appeared declined to me but you have to give Dimitrov credit for a terrific display of offensive tennis and fight. Dimitrov had two break points at 4-3 and 40-15 on Nadal’s serve in the decider but Nadal saved it in his usual clutch way.

Those were like virtual match points which mean Dimitrov was awfully close to pulling off the upset. But given that Nadal was involved we should hardly be surprised. In the mental department, only Djokovic can hang with him.

This match reminded a lot of the 2009 semi-final between Nadal and Verdasco where Verdasco had Nadal at 4-4 and 0-30 on his serve but failed to capitalize after which Nadal won 6-4 in the fifth set too.

That match lasted 5h14min while this one lasted 4h56min. Not only that, but it is also the second semi-final and Nadal will face Federer in the final like he did in 2009. If things continue in this vein Nadal will also win the final.

Final Preview: Fedal 35.0

Well, there it is. The final ‘everyone’ wanted. I am not the mainstream media trying to get your attention and clicks so I’m gonna tell it like it is. But then you already knew that.

As a tennis fan, this final is fine with me. I think the Fedal rivalry is overrated but the fact that these two are meeting in another slam final after all this time is astonishing by itself. Who would have thought that was possible when the draw came out?!

But then again no one thought Djokovic would lose in the second round or Murray in the fourth round. This Australian Open has been a perpetual surprise. As a tennis fan, I don’t mind that. I think it is a nice change up.

I think most Fedfans were praying today that Dimitrov wins because if he did Federer was pretty much a lock for the title. And he came ever so close. But now the picture looks drastically different.

Nadal leads the head-to-head 23-11 and 9-2 in slams. Everyone that follows tennis knows by now that Nadal is Federer’s nemesis. That 2009 Australian Open loss to Nadal scarred Federer deeply and he could never slay those demons.

On Sunday he will get another chance. Unfortunately for him, the beatings have only gotten worse at the hands of Nadal over the years. At least in Melbourne. Since they met in that fateful 2009 final they played two more times in the semis in 2012 and 2014 which Nadal won in four sets and straight sets respectively.

So things have gotten progressively worse for Federer. It is just very hard to see Federer exorcising this demon. Time after time in the big matches Nadal has defeated Federer. The last time Federer defeated Nadal in a slam was in 2007, almost a decade ago.

The difficulty for Federer against Nadal is that he has to win the first set or his chances go to 0.1%. But that is not enough. He has to win the second set too, or Nadal becomes the overwhelming favorite again.

THIS IS IT.
FEDERER VS. NADAL.
AUSTRALIAN OPEN FINAL, 2017.
ARE YOU READY? #FEDAL pic.twitter.com/n0OnM2ZwcN

— BreakPointBR (@BreakPointBR) January 27, 2017

Even if Federer wins the first two sets and Nadal wins the third set then Nadal become the favorite again. This is the monumental task that Federer has ahead of him and it is, therefore, no wonder he lost his way in the third set of the semis.

He wasn’t consciously thinking about Nadal. But Nadal is so deeply embedded in his subconscious that even if there is just the possibility he could face him in the final it affects him. He inexplicably started missing in the third set after being in complete control.

He invited Stan back into the match but Stan never wanted it to begin with. Had Stan won he would have had a good shot at defeating Nadal but he was intent on making Federer face his worst nightmare.

I am not saying Federer can’t win. Tennis is an awfully strange sport. Literally, anything can happen. It just seems extremely unlikely. It feels like those two points at 3-4 and 15-40 on Nadal’s serve against Dimitrov already determined Federer’s fate.

Dimitrov has a similar game to Federer and he pretty much gave Federer the blueprint on how to beat Nadal except he lost and he doesn’t carry the emotional baggage of Federer when facing Nadal.

I’m just being honest. It is very difficult to see Federer beating Nadal but you just never know for sure. And besides, Federer by far exceeded expectations by making the final. Whatever happens, he can feel great about his form and progress.

Yes, he is the one who made two finals and two semi-finals in his last four slams while Nadal’s best was the fourth round but tennis isn’t always fair. If he loses he will just have to take it as a positive and look forward to his best slam at Wimbledon.

The Final from the Perspective of a Djokovic Fan

As a Djokovic fan, this tournament has obviously not the ideal scenario. Not only did Djokovic lose early, but his two main rivals in the GOAT debate are in the final which means one of them will increase their slam tally.

From that perspective, I am not very emotionally invested in this match. And I am very happy about that part. If I was still a Fedfanatic I would be very emotionally invested and if Federer lost it would have been 2009 all over again.

That was my worst moment ever as a tennis fan and I certainly don’t want to experience that again. Or anything close to it. If I have to choose a side it would be Nadal. Why?

If Nadal wins the title it would give him the double career slam with the French Open coming up. Djokovic was the favorite to achieve the double career slam before Federer or Nadal so if Nadal does it now it will hurt Djokovic.

HE’S DONE IT!

Rafael #Nadal is through to the #AusOpen final against Roger #Federer! pic.twitter.com/ZnIqKdO5ei

— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 27, 2017

And knowing that the French Open is coming up and Nadal will probably be the favorite there if he wins the Australian Open, it could really cause Djokovic to wake up from his mental slumber.

If Djokovic wins the French it would mean he would also get the double career slam. I think it would add extra motivation for him to sacrifice all for winning the French Open. Otherwise, Nadal will likely go even further ahead of him in Paris.

On top of that, if Federer wins the 18th slam he would go further out of reach of Djokovic. If Nadal wins the target stays the same for Djokovic. But for someone who had high expectations of Djokovic winning the title, I don’t really care who wins on Sunday.

I like that because I can just sit back and enjoy it without being too emotionally invested.

Should be fun!

Highlights
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Original author: Ru-an
So What’s Eating Djokovic?
Day Thirteen: Holding Court on Tennis