Swiss Indoors Final 2015 Roger Federer Vs Rafael Nadal
Roger Federer (1) and Rafael Nadal (3) will meet for the first time since the Australian Open ’14 and for the first time ever in Federer’s own backyard of Basel, Switzerland. The Tennis Review previews the action and predicts the winner.
History: The Federer-Nadal rivalry, often known as Fedal, will go down as one of the greatest ever in tennis history.
Nadal won their first match in Miami 2004 when he was just 16 and Federer was the world No.1. Since then they have played 33 matches with the last one resulting in another Nadal victory in the Australian Open semis in 2014.
Head to head: Nadal leads this rivalry 23-10, a decisive lead that is partly to do with the number of matches they have played on Nadal’s favorite surface– 14, of which Nadal has won 12- and also Nadal’s winning strategy against the Swiss.
Hitting heavy top spin ground-strokes high to Federer’s backhand and passing him at the net with such success that Federer stays back where Nadal wants him have helped the Spaniard compile an 11-8 lead over Federer off clay.
Those tactics have won Nadal important hard court and grass court matches against Federer at tournaments where the Swiss has a much better record than the Spaniard such as the 2008 Wimbledon final, the 2009 Australian Open final, the 2012 Australian Open semi-final, and the 2006 Dubai final.
Form going into the match: Federer has been up and down this week, but the Swiss’ struggles have brought out the best in him even if at times his temper has been volatile. He has had to win two three setters, one against Philipp Kohlschreiber in the fourth round, and one versus David Goffin in the quarters, and after each victory he credited the crowd for helping him pull through.
The Swiss has not been too worn out this week, however. He cruised through his other matches versus Kukushkin in the opening round and Sock in the semis, though he did struggle a little to close out the Sock match.
While Federer has been doing what he does best in Basel, winning (he is 60-9 there now and has won 6 titles), Nadal has been doing what, before his slump set in, he had been doing best everywhere- fighting.
The third seed has fought back in every match he has played. He came back from a set and a break down against Rosol and Cilic, came back from a break down in the third versus Dimitrov, and fought back from a break down in the opening set versus Gaquet in their semi.
Who should win?: Federer leads the indoor hard head to head 3-1. The perfect indoor conditions really allow his serve and risky game to flourish free from the possible negative side effects of windy or wet conditions.
In this rivalry though, who should win is not always who actually ends up doing so. Federer has lost many matches he should have won against Nadal by starting out aggressively and then retreating back to the baseline and allowing Nadal to pummel the weaker backhand side.
That scenario last played out at the Australian Open ’14, their last match and the first tournament where Federer really committed to all-out aggression under Stefan Edberg. Federer had recovered from the back injury that had plagued him in 2013, was comfortable with his modified racket and was coming off big wins over Tsonga and Murray yet still managed to go from an attacking, promising start to a passive, surrendering finish to the then world no.1.
This time expect things to be different. Federer has fine tuned his attacking game to put together his best season since 2012 and with his serve stats, net points won and confidence all high, this match should go in his favor.
Nadal could win if: No one bothers Federer like Nadal does, and if the Spaniard produces his best tennis of the season in the final – and his 30 winners to 21 errors versus Gasquet hint that he is nearing that level- then he has a chance to stay with Federer and take the sets to tiebreaks where anything can happen.
If things get tight and an inspired Nadal gets into Federer’s head forcing the Swiss to doubt his strategy and try to win from the back of the court then this match will turn out to be an upset.
Prediction: Federer is by far the more big match tough of the two right now. He is also far more committed to aggressive tennis than he was the last time he and Nadal met and will stand up to Nadal no matter how much pressure the Spaniard puts him under.
Those factors, plus the home crowd who will be desperate to help Federer grab a win over Nadal in their first Swiss battle, make Federer the favorite to win in two tough sets and lift his seventh Swiss Indoors trophy.
Commentary by Christian Deverille
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