It wasn’t the epic we hoped for. It wasn’t even as high quality as we thought it would be. But it was like two long lost lovers who thought they were angry at each other, get the first fight out of the way, make up… and then find out two weeks later that they actually do really hate each other. Aww, how romantic.
To be totally honest, from the first couple of games, I thought Fed had a very, very solid chance at taking this one. He was taking the ball really early (much like he often does on hard courts) playing aggressively and trying to end points early. And it was working. I remember seeing a tweet that said late in the second set that Fed had won 8 more points in rallies that were 3 strokes or less.
But remember that press conference earlier in the week? Fed saying how he had to let rallies go longer, not be too aggressive, and use geometry? Well, naturally, Rafa will take that. And he took it just fine. Slowly Rafa started creeping further behind the baseline, exploting angles, and that was the match. That’s what Rafa does, dude.
Rafa’s play wasn’t 100% fantastic, but he WAS the one with the highlight reel shots, and overall it seemed like the shots he was missing were either sailing wide, or not getting the spin or feel that he was used to. Altitude maybe?
Regardless, I think if these two meet at RG (which I really think they will) they will put on a show. It was near brilliant, at points, but you got the sense that the guys were still kind of figuring out the feel, and how to apply it to the other player, who they’re more than familiar with.
Oh, and like I can try to say more amazing things about Rafa on clay, but… most Masters championships ever, at 18 (stolen from Agassi, who was 72 years old, when he completed 17, I believe) and the first player to win 3 consecutive Masters tournaments in a row. Which is damn impressive. The fact that Rafa’s never done this before just shows how damn hard it is, really.