I’m convinced now more than ever that Roger Federer will likely end his hall of fame Tennis Career with a losing record to Rafael Nadal.
Last night’s semi final featured some of the most physical rallies between these two in all of their matchups. Don’t get me wrong; it was a great match. However, the more I see Federer pushed by the very best, deep into matches against either Nadal, Djokovic and Tsonga, the more I’m starting to see how more quickly he is succumbing to errors, faults and lapses in concentration that lead him to lose serve and hand over the match to his opponent.
We saw this in the US Open 2009 final, the semis against Djokovic at the US Open and last night against Nadal, he had a chance to get the games to 5-5 and to try to force a fifth set, but he fell 6-4 and will leave Melbourne with an 8 Majors title drought; the longest of his career. In the press, Federer has spoken out about the loss and said we should not worry and that he had a winning streak for 5 months; let it be known that the guys who weren’t winning, beat him all year with the exception of the Semi win at the French. It’s clear that there’s a mental war going on in Federer’s head in addition to the physical one when you’re facing Nadal. The level of confidence is not there, his consistency fades and the backhand crumbles when placed under immense attack from the left topspin shots that Nadal fires. We saw in the semi and if Federer does not figure this out, he likely will not win another Slam so long as Nadal is still in the draw. Nadal has had a number of serious injuries and despite them all, he has continued to extend a consistent beat down onto Federer which must be a hard pill to swallow.
This is an Olympic year and while I expressed my worry over Nadal and his approach to 2012; I’m now worried about Federer. Is 20 slam titles still the goal? Does Federer have a chance to add to his one French Open title or will the summer in London give him two gold pieces of hardware at the Olympics and Wimbledon? Federer is going to have to stand up to Nadal and figure out a way to break that spell and do it soon. He still has a chance to make history and impress his daughters and I doubt we will see him go through all of this on the court in 2016.