2009 Australian Open – Nick’s Picks – Men’s Finals Contest!
You know the stats, I’ve broken down both of their games, now you pick the winner! Post in the comments section who you think will win the match with the predicted score for each set as well as the total length of the match (for a tiebreaker) and the person who comes closest will win a great Bollettieri Prize Pack!
Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Roger Federer (SUI)
Rafael Nadal (ESP)
Weight: 188 lbs.
Turned Pro: 2001
Current Ranking: 1
Plays: Left-handed (two-handed backhand)
2008 Titles: Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Hamburg, Roland Garros, Queen’s Club, Wimbledon, Canada, and the Olympics
2008 Australian Open: Semifinals
Roger Federer (SUI)
Weight: 177 lbs.
Turned Pro: 1998
Current Ranking: 2
Plays: Right-handed (one-handed backhand)
2008 Titles: Estoril, Halle, US Open, and Basel
2008 Australian Open: Semifinals
From the beginning of the tournament, this is the match we have been waiting for, and now for the first time we get Federer vs. Nadal in the finals of a Grand Slam on a hard court! Now, I know Nadal beat Federer in the finals of Wimbledon last year, but never before have they met at the Aussie Open or the US Open. Everyone is going to be excited about this match-up, from the fans to the sponsors to the media. There may be no better rivalry in sports than Nadal vs. Federer.
There is also so much on the line in this match. Can Federer win his fourth Aussie Open title and tie Pete Sampras with 14 Grand Slam wins? Can Nadal win his sixth Grand Slam title (first on a hard court) and continue his recent dominance over Federer? Can Federer win this match and use it to propel him back to #1? Only time will tell!
Nadal is 12-6 against Federer, and beat him all four times they played in 2008. They have played five times on a hard court, and Federer is 3-2 in those matches. Let’s take a look at each part of their game and so who has the edge.
- Their forehands are hard to compare because they are so different. Federer uses a strong eastern grip and hits his forehand very flat so it penetrates the court extremely well. Yes, he can add topspin, but he doesn’t use it the same way
- Nadal’s grip is close to a complete western, which changes the swing pattern totally. He has to work extremely hard to get the same racket head speed that other players can generate. He uses the topspin to wear his opponents down and now he is flattening out the forehand to hit winners. It is a lethal combination!
- Like the forehand, these guys have opposite strokes on the backhand. Federer has one of the best one-handed backhands in the history of tennis. He can hit over the ball, slice it, dip it, spin it, hit the angles, hit the drop shots, hit any shot! He has so much versatility on the backhand that there is really no way to attack him.
- Nadal has an excellent two-handed backhand that he hits quite aggressively. He can hit it flat, or he can use spin. He doesn’t have the same versatility as Federer, but he is capable of hitting a very solid slice.
- Nadal can definitely come to the net and hit the basic volley, but I would say that Federer is definitely more comfy up there. That is because he has a better transition game than Nadal. He is constantly coming forward and trying to put his opponents away, where as Nadal likes to stay back behind the baseline and grind it out. Be careful though, because Nadal can hit a passing shot as good as anyone on the tour. He makes it look easy!!
- If you compare Federer’s serve to a guy like Ivo Karlovic or even Andy Roddick, he doesn’t get the same zip those guys do. What he does do, it place the serve better than anyone. You will also see him do a little serve and volleying just to keep his opponents off-guard.
- Nadal’s serve has really improved over the last couple of years. He can slide it out wide on the ad court, which could be a big plus in this match. Nadal needs to get his serve going in this match to win as many free points as possible.
- We know that both of these guys are excellent movers. Federer glides around the court with ease, while Nadal is constantly pounding the pavement and is like an acrobat with the way he can contort his body. Laterally, Nadal moves as well as Federer, but coming forward I think Federer moves better.
- Something to watch in this match is Nadal’s energy level. He just played the longest match in Aussie Open history, and we will have to see if that has any effect on his body. One of the first places you could see it is in his movement.
Nick’s Pick – You know the stats, I’ve broken down both of their games, now you pick the winner! Post who you think will win the match with the predicted score for each set as well as the total length of the match (for a tiebreaker) and the person who comes closest will win a great Bollettieri Prize Pack!