Tuesday, 11 September 2012

US Open 2012 Final Review: Andy Murray, The Grand Slam Champion

Just yesterday, Andy Murray became the first British winner of a Grand Slam in the open era; a very fine achievement in itself. But not only that, he did it in an epic five-setter against Novak Djokovic who has reached the finals in New York four times.

The matched lasted a massive four hours and fifty-four minutes and it had an incredible amount of ups and downs. Although the match has been hailed as one of the greatest Slam finals of all time, the quality of the tennis was not very high for the first four sets at all - the fifth was probably the set of highest standard. Some of this can be put down to the very tricky conditions throughout the whole match; the wind was treacherous. This led to a lot of errors from both men.

Having said this, the first set tiebreak was very entertaining. They both played nervously and were not aggressive, this made for a lot of long rallies. But what won Murray that breaker was his guts towards the end of it. Murray took the initiative in the last three or four points and took the attack to Djokovic. It paid off. Murray stormed to a massive 4-0 lead in the second and looked as if he was going to run away with it, playing very good aggressive stuff. But he took his foot off the gas and started to contain. Djokovic on the other hand worked himself into some good form and cut out his errors and went on a very good spell. But it was not to be, Murray gutsily took the set into his own hands and squeezed it 7-5.

Never ever count the Serb out. Now that Murray was very much in the ascendancy, he once again started to contain - the nerves must have been getting to him. You can't afford to do that against Novak. His mental reaction was awesome and he ate Murray up, levelling it up at two sets all. Both players went off for a toilet break.

The fifth set, crunch time. The momentum was fully with Djokovic but Murray broke him in the opening game and eventually went on to win it 6-2, as I'm sure you know. This set they were both aggressive, which made for a nice change.

A Very Impressive Murray

What the most impressive thing about this match was the mental responses of both men; when Djokovic went two sets down, and Murray's response when he squandered a two set lead. He came out playing incredibly courageous stuff in the fifth and served a dream. This is something I'm sure that Lendl has helped him out with. The Murray of last year would not have won that set in those circumstances, but Lendl has given him strength of character. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. And damn, did Murray come. His mental response at the start of the fifth was the KEY to his victory.

A slam for Murray had been a long time coming, but it was always going to come - even if it had not happened this year. Although players like Del Potro and Berdych have all the credentials to win Slams, Murray is on another level - he's a very complete player and way too good to never win a Slam. I'm sure he'll win a few more.

Book Review: Winning Ugly by Brad Gilbert.

Tennis Wise is becoming a blog where I post purely about men's professional tennis. Therefore I have moved my review of Winning Ugly here for those of you who would like to read it!


Tennis: How to Improve Your Serve's Accuracy and Ball Toss

Two popular posts that were once on Tennis Wise have been moved to HubPages. The links can be found below!

Tennis: Improve Your Serve - The Importance of a Repeatable Ball Toss

Tennis Drill: Improve Your Serve's Accuracy and Disguise


Friday, 3 August 2012

London 2012: Federer vs Del Potro Recap

Two grand slam champions did battle on Centre Court today - and what a duel it was. The quality of the match was high right from the start with both men hitting their groundstrokes well. Federer created a break point chance early on but failed to take it - and this ended up being his story of the match.

Del Potro was serving emphatically and returning extremely well. One of Federer's favourite serves is the wide one on the deuce side - Del Potro was returning these with bombs off his forehand. Federer was not able to get on the front foot first in many rallies, and with Del Potro's attacking abilities its difficult even for Federer to neutralise once he begins his attack. The Argentine managed to get the break at 4-3* and served it out with ease. It was a very tidy set from Del Potro, hitting only two unforced errors.

The second set was of even higher quality and extremely tight. Federer started experimenting with the body serve but Del Potro read it and had no problems. There were some very close service games where both men couldn't take any break point chances that they had created. Federer's service form was pretty good in the first set but he upped it again (as he does) in the second set. He found great success with the T-serve on the deuce side to Del Potro's backhand. One thing of Federer's that was not impressive was his finishing at the net. A number of routine forehand volleys found themselves in the net, and he even missed a smash on top of the net. Since when does Federer miss overheads? There were no breaks of serve, with both men serving at about 75% first serves, and the set was decided by a tight tie breaker with few errors which Federer took 7-5.

One set a piece, and its only natural to predict Federer getting into his stride and taking the decider easily as he did against Del Potro in Paris. But Del Potro was resilient and conjured up some break point chances very early on in the set but Federer's serve kicked in and saved him once again. The message from Del Potro however, was clear - he wasn't going to go away. The quality of the match didn't come down as both men continued to serve well and continued holding serve. Federer created quite a few break point chances but still couldn't manage to get the elusive break due to Del Potro's good serving. They held serve all the way until 9-9 where Federer finally broke Del Potro for the first time, in a game where he showed patience and tested Del Potro with short and heavy slices. He extractes a forehand mishit reminiscent of the match point at Wimbledon in '09 to give him the break. Del Potro looked physically fatigued and emotionally drained - surely this was the end?

No, the Argentine hit back to break Federer to love with some heavy returning. You just couldn't write this stuff. He then gave the Swiss a scare taking him to 0-30, threatening to create a match point, but once again Federer hit four fierce first serves to even the set out. Drama. Federer hit back however, and created 0-40 on Del Potro's serve at 17-17. Del Potro couldn't save himself again, right? He won the next two points, but not the third. Federer was to serve for the match again - and this time he closed it out. 3-6 7-6 19-17

Sheer happiness covered Federer's face as he kissed the Swiss badge on his shirt. Del Potro's face dropped and was extremely upset but met with the victor at the net very well. He'll have to pick himself up for his bronze medal match - and I'm sure he will - he always plays great when representing his home nation.
Stats for the match

As for Federer's chances at the gold... I think he's the favourite. He has had a very difficult and long semifinal, but he has a day to rest and recuperate and so I think he'll be fresh on Sunday where I'm predicting he'll meet Andy Murray who is to play Djokovic very soon.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Novak Djokovic Practice Photos at Wimbledon 2012 to enjoy on Middle Sunday

(This is a continuation of my previous blog post found here)

After Gasquet and Seppi (pictures here) out came Novak Djokovic. All the pics can be clicked to be made much larger.

The usual Djoker banter was going on - and my cousin managed to catch and keep a ball that they were hitting with. Not a bad result for this year's visit to Wimbledon.

Videos of this practice session will be uploaded to YouTube and posted on this blog very soon - keep an eye out!

Richard Gasquet and Andreas Seppi Practice Photos at Wimbledon 2012 to enjoy on Middle Sunday

Middle Sunday during Wimbledon tends to be pretty boring because no tennis is played. Here are some photos to enjoy that I took on the practice courts yesterday. Click on any of the pictures to see them in full size.

Caught some pictures of Gasquet, Seppi and Djokovic.

Gasquet and Seppi were first.

The ease with which Gasquet generates pace with is astonishing.

Then Novak Djokovic came out, the pictures can be found here!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Roland Garros Semifinal: Djokovic vs. Federer Preview + Prediction

This is one of the most difficult matches to call that I've previewed so far. Both men got the semifinals by coming back from the dead in their previous quarterfinal match. Federer got somewhat lucky to recover from two sets down against Del Potro where an injury gave the Argentine trouble after the second set, in a match where Federer struggled to find his rhythm (once again). Djokovic saved four match points in emphatic fashion against home-crowd favourite Tsonga - proving once again that his mental strength is on another level right now. Tsonga was understandably devastated after succumbing in the fifth set where his back was troubling him.

The Serb comes through saving match points against Tsonga.
Both Djokovic and Federer were up and down in their matches and both will have to become more consistent to be sure of reaching the final. Djokovic looked to be in very good shape for the first hour or so of his match and served pretty well throughout the whole match - hitting more aces than Tsonga despite both of them having very similar first serve percentages. Federer on the other hand, could have served a lot better. In the first two sets his percentage was about 50% and they weren't the most threatening of serves. When Federer plays the top guys, serving well is a must as he needs to be on the front foot in the rallies as soon as he possibly can - the longer the rally continues, the less likely he is to win it - and the serve is his best attribute to do this. If Federer doesn't serve at about 60%+ tomorrow, he will certainly have a hard time up against the greatest returner in the game. Neither can Federer afford to have a slow start. So far this tournament Federer has come out of the blocks pretty slowly, giving his opponent a sense of belief that they could do damage. Normally his best set is the first one - I believe that if tennis was a one-set sport, Federer would still be number one - so this is pretty unusual.

Just like I said for Federer, Djokovic can't afford to be up and down in the match because as soon as his level comes down a bit, Federer will be quick to take advantage. This is somewhat what happened in Federer's previous match. But if Djokovic plays at a consistent good level he will be very difficult to beat and will most likely win. He's a fantastic mover on all surfaces and will make Federer play a lot of balls, and I imagine he'll extract the error pretty often. Djokovic is also fantastic at turning defence into attack - and this is why he's had so much success against Nadal lately. This is another thing the Swiss will have to look out for. 

Relief for the Swiss as he succeeds to come back from the dead.
The two players have played each other more than enough times to know what to expect, and they will both know what they need to do to be victorious - but executing the game plan is another matter, especially with the variability of form they have shown so far this tournament - Federer in particular. For this reason I would favour Djokovic on this occasion as he is the more likely man to execute a high level of tennis throughout the match. There is more to ask of Federer to beat Djokovic, than there is for Djokovic to beat Federer. Depth is something Federer will have to improve in this matchup, otherwise he'll find himself on the back foot a lot of the time. He should also try to impose himself when returning Djokovic's second serve (something he did well against Del Potro in fairness). Having said this, Federer is more than capable of doing this and so I can see either man winning this match, but if I was a betting man - which I am - I would bet on Djokovic.

Join me on twitter for my thoughts throughout the match. 

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Roland Garros Day 6: Order of Play + Preview + Predictions

After a pretty standard day in Paris - except for the marathon match between Mathieu and Isner - there are a good number of popcorn matches for us to look forward to tomorrow.

The order of play for Day 6 can be found here.

First of all lets cover the big names.

Federer vs. Mahut
The world number three comes up against Wimbledon marathon man; Nicolas Mahut. A man with a big serve who likes to rush to the net and keep the rallies short. I don't see this being effective against Federer - and especially not on a clay court. Federer has a very accurate passing shot and will have even more time on a clay court. Mahut won't have much look in on Federer's service games as it will be difficult for him to get to the net where he likes to win his points. He does have a handy serve though so maybe a couple of sets could be reasonably tight. I'd predict a fairly straight forward three-set win for the Swiss.

Djokovic vs. Devilder
Djokovic comes up against Frenchman Nicolas Devilder. He's a lefty but he's rather short so the lefty serve won't do much harm to a top returner like Novak. Devilder is a clay court specialist - in the sense that all his tournament victories on the Challenger court were on clay - but I doubt he's enough of a specialist to do the Serb any harm. Three simple sets for Djokovic.

Simon vs. Wawrinka
A battle between a defensive and an offensive player - these types of matches are always good. Wawrinka will always look to take the upper hand in a rally while Simon will be happy to sit back and keep the rally going, extracting the error. Both men have played five set matches in their Roland Garros campaign thus far, but Simon's one was more recent against the resurgent Brian Baker who made the Frenchman seem pretty ordinary for two sets. Wawrinka looked very convincing in the last two sets of his match against Andujar and I think he'll continue his good form in this match. I think this one could be very close indeed, but I think Wawrinka will manage it in four sets.

Del Potro vs. Cilic
This is the match of the day. Cilic seems to have worked himself back into some type of form - I thought he'd have cracked the top ten by now, two years ago. Both players have dangerous serves and love to attack with their follow up. Del Potro has been very pumped in his last couple of matches but has had some difficulty sustaining a good level of tennis in his matches. Cilic on the other hand breezed past former champion, Juan Carlos Ferrero but his forehand still has a tendency to disappear unexpectedly in a match. This is going to be a close one and I can see it going either way but I'm going to go for Del Potro in four - if it were to go to a fifth though, I think Cilic will steal it.


Friday, 18 May 2012

Rome Masters Semifinal: Federer vs. Djokovic Preview and Prediction

The pick of the semifinals tomorrow is the meeting between the world's two top ranked players; Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Both players come into this match having made meaningful statements in their previous matches. Federer beat Seppi in under an hour and Djokovic rallied past Tsonga in a convincing two set victory. Federer especially seems to have come into the best form he's been in in the last four years. The shotmaking in his match against Ferrero was at times unbelievable. He's serving fantastically well too - it is his serve that I give most credit to for his increased form. When Federer serves well everything else falls into place.

I haven't watched enough of Djokovic this week to make a fair judgement of how he's playing - I've only seen the Djokovic-Monaco match and he was playing very well after a fantastic first set and a half performance from Monaco. I heard today's performance against Tsonga was very good, and the rest of his results have been fairly convincing so it can be assumed he's playing at a good level this week.

Roger and Novak have only met four times on a clay court; Federer winning three of those meetings. We all remember the most recent one at Roland Garros last year where Federer ended the Serb's fantastic run. Federer is playing even better now compared to how he was then, and so he will fancy his chances given his form. As always Federer's serve will be important, but it will be especially important in this match because of the quality of Djokovic's returning ability. Federer will aim to get about 65%+ 1st serves in and I do expect him to serve like that in tomorrow's match as his serve has been on song in the last few tournaments. His serve will give him the upper hand in the rally straight away in most of the points on his serve, and thus he will be very difficult to break. The unique thing about Federer is that when he plays well, the opponent has no say in the match - this is what he will hope to do to Novak; give him no say in the match by getting on top of the rallies very quickly.

Djokovic's movement and athleticism is of course exceptional and so he will be able to counter Federer's aggression every now and then. He will also try to take the upper hand in rallies if opportunity presents itself, and will probably go on to win those rallies. But Federer will aim to not give Djokovic these opportunities.

I think Federer will be the first aggressor in most of the rallies and will not offer too many of those opportunities for Djokovic to take charge in the rally. Given the form of both men, if Federer serves like he has been in this tournament so far, I expect him to win this match in straight sets.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Madrid Final: Federer vs. Berdych Preview and Prediction

It's been a week of very strange and unexpected upsets but Roger Federer finds himself in yet another Masters final at the end of it.

Here's the schedule.

Federer will take on Tomas Berdych who came through today against an in-form Juan Martin Del Potro. The Argentinian was playing fantastically well, especially in the first set where he found himself 5-3 up. But his first serve deserted him and Berdych - who was also playing very well - wormed his way back in and stole the set in a breaker. It was a very high quality and tightly contested second set which was taken by the Czech in another extremely close tiebreak. 

Federer on the other hand didn't have any major problems with Tipsarevic. It was very windy when the match started and Tipsarevic could not handle it as well as Federer could who stormed through the first set 6-2. Federer served fantastically well - and when his serve is on form, the rest of his game falls into place. He even returned fantastically well. He came through 6-3 in the second set. Tipsarevic could not pull out the performance that he did against Djokovic. Federer had the upper hand in almost all the rallies and Tipsarevic couldn't change the direction of the ball that well - something he is normally brilliant at.

I am anticipating a very high quality match as both guys seem to be playing with a lot of confidence. They both play with a lot of power and so I expect the rallies to be pretty short due to the restricted movement on this surface. It will be very difficult to neutralise rallies and so whoever gets the upper hand in the rally first will almost always win it. 

There's not really a lot to say about this match. Both men are aggressors and very strong behind their serve. They will defend their service games very well and so the set could come down to a tiebreak. Neither player can afford to be erratic or drop the ball short in the points of their service games because it will be difficult to regain the upper hand in the rally. The one who plays the big points better will be the one who will come through. Federer's not done a lot wrong since the match against Raonic and I think Berdych will find it harder to maintain a high level of tennis and so for these reasons I'm going to back Federer to win his 20th Masters title in three tight sets. 

Friday, 11 May 2012

Madrid Semifinal: Federer vs. Tipsarevic Preview and Prediction

Hmm blue clay... I find it very pleasing to look at, but numerous players have had their complaints about the introduction of this surface to the tour. Nadal and Djokovic have both come out saying that they will not be returning to Caja Magica if the clay is still blue - and Verdasco was clearly very upset with the surface early in the final set against Nadal when he seemed to be on his way out of the tournament. The prime problem with it is that the players are just having a hard time moving on it - Djokovic has slipped numerous times and in general, the players do not appear to the cover the court as well as they do. Court coverage is of course a vital factor to Nadal's and Djokovic's game, and would have been a key factor to their losses.

Two players who seem to have had less difficulty with the surface are Federer and Ferrer, in the sense that they don't seem to slip on the surface a lot - they do still seem to have a decreased court coverage, however. These two players did battle today and it was Federer who prevailed 6-4 6-4 in a match where Federer played very consistently and Ferrer's serve did especially let him down. Federer will face Tipsarevic who conquered Novak Djokovic. Tipsarevic seemed to have taken a leaf out of Federer's book in this match and really tried to take the ball early, reducing the time Djokovic had to prepare of his shot - which is exactly the right game plan against the Serb.

In this match, I expect both players to come out of the ranks quickly and hold their first few service games. Federer has been very good on serve so far this tournament, and has pulled out top serves when he has really needed them most - which is always a good sign. Ferrer barely had a look into Federer's service games today - he had just one break point which he failed to convert. And it is for this reason I think Tipsarevic will have a very difficult time trying to break the Swiss.

Having said that, Tipsarevic will come out like he did today, trying to really keep the rallies short and being very aggressive. The key to this match for both men will be getting the upper hand in the rally as soon as possible - and neither player will be able to afford to drop the ball short. Most of the time the serve will give the player the advantage in the rally and since movement will be more difficult due to the surface I think there could possibly be a tiebreak in the first set of this match.

All in all I think this match will come down to who plays the big points better. If it comes down to tiebreaks you have to always give the edge to Federer because his serve is a huge weapon and it tends to flourish in pressured situations. I think Federer will be victor in two close sets and meet Del Potro in the final!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Monte Carlo Final: Djokovic vs. Nadal Preview and Prediction

It's the final we've been anticipating all week; Djokovic vs. Nadal. This is the one clay court Master's tournament that they did not face-off against each other last year. Djokovic defeated Nadal quite comfortably at Madrid and Rome last year - he beat him at his own game and played at an extremely high level. Can he repeat that level of tennis this year?

If he is to do that he will certainly have to raise game. He came through his semifinal today against Berdych in a third set and was up and down throughout the match; squandering a 4-2 lead in the first set and losing it 6-4. He looked agitated but managed to get through the match 4-6 6-3 6-2.

Nadal on the other hand has had an excellent tournament, as you'd expect. Any speculation of his withdrawal from the Miami semifinal a few weeks ago has been silenced. In particular he came through against an in-form Wawrinka who demolished Almagro earlier in fantastic fashion. Nadal came through against a stubborn Gilles Simon today, winning 6-3 6-4 and is certainly the favourite for tomorrow's final in my eyes.

I did however, say that last year in Rome where Djokovic ultimately swept the floor with Nadal. The question mark about this match is how Djokovic will play - we all know Nadal will play his usual clay court tennis; with measured aggression but willing to rally and work the point. I don't think Nadal will have much mental block against Djokovic here in Monte Carlo - he loves the court and stadium and will be hungry to win his eighth consecutive Monte Carlo crown. In order for Djokovic to win he'll have to shift into sixth gear and regain his trademark mental strength that he displayed last year. His desire is there but he has appeared frustrated on court, and is understandably still upset after his grandfather's death.

This match will be interesting. We all know what we're in for; long gruelling rallies and it should be a great match. I pick Nadal in straight sets. I don't see Djokovic being consistent enough and winning enough of the (multiple) long rallies to win this match.

Enjoy the final, it'll be a long one.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Monte Carlo Day 3: Order of Play + Popcorn Matches

    • You can find the order of play for tomorrow here.
    • Here are my thoughts on the popcorn matches of the day.
    • Andy Murray vs Viktor Troicki
    • Although this is not the most exciting fixture of the day, it is still a difficult first match on the clay for the Scot. It's always interesting to see how Murray fares against a player with the power that Troicki possesses - but this is clay court tennis now, power is not as overwhelming and as much of a weapon as it is on the other court surfaces. For this reason I think Troicki will find it difficult to keep the rallies short - especially against a mover like Murray. I think Murray will be victor (pun intended) in two reasonably comfortable sets.

    • Kohlschreiber vs Tsonga
    • This is probably the most watchable match of the day as Kohlschreiber is accomplished on a clay court and Tsonga is a threat on all surfaces. What makes this match especially watchable is that both players are all court players which is nice to see as a lot of what we see is intense baseline rallying - especially on clay. I can see this match going either way but Tsonga is the safer bet as the German can be up and down in terms of his standard of play. I'm not going to be risky, I'll go with Tsonga to win this one in two, possibly three.

    • Stanislas Wawrinka vs Feliciano Lopez
    • A similar case to the Kohlschreiber-Tsonga match in the sense that both players are all court players - although one could argue that Lopez is more accomplished at the net compared to the baseline. Lopez made the semifinals last week in Houston, only to lose in a very close match with John Isner, and so you could say Lopez is in-form. Whereas Wawrinka has been up and down this year - as he often is - but is a very accomplished clay court player and is more of a threat from the back of the court and so for this reason I don't think Lopez will pose much of a threat on Wawrinka's service games. The sets could be close due to Lopez's majestic serve - he may even manage to sneak a set - but I'd favour Wawrinka in this match.
    • Happy watching!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Miami in Review, Red Stuff Next..

Had a hectic week outside of tennis and so I found it difficult to do my usual previews during the week of the tournament! The awkward timing of the release of the order of play in the UK didn't help either.

I managed to find enough time to watch most of the tennis, however. The first real upset being Andy Roddick's defeat of last year's semifinalist Roger Federer. Roddick managed to take the first set in a tiebreak - a set where Federer looked disinterested on Roddick's service games and returned very badly. In the past, Roddick's serve hasn't really troubled him - credit to Roddick though, he was very solid in that set. Federer brought the big guns for the second set and one it very easily, but the final set was not very similar. Federer's level did not drop at all but Roddick regained his serving form and played a blistering return game to break Federer with four forehand winners. A remarkable victory for Roddick - shame he could not repeat it in his next match - Juan Monaco slaughtered in a match where the American's legs simply gave in.

Monaco quietly made his way through the draw and came up against Novak Djokovic in the semifinal who had a reasonably simple run up until this match. The Serb was unstoppable in the first set - but a very spirited performance in the second set by Monaco almost paid off, but he succumbed in the tiebreak.

In the other half of the draw Nadal met Tsonga in the quarterfinals - a match where Nadal was far from his best and his serve looked especially feeble in the final set. This was maybe due to a knee injury he was suffering from which made him pull out of his semifinal against Andy Murray - a match I thought he would have lost anyway. I reckon this withdrawal was largely precautionary - so fair play to Nadal, he wants to be at his best for his beloved clay and I'm sure he will be. This withdrawal meant that Andy Murray got through to the final only having to play three matches!

In the final Novak Djokovic took the first set 6-1. Sounds one-sided but it was actually a close contest. The next set was of high quality, Djokovic having plenty of chances to break the Brit but never finally managing to get it - most of them were saved very well. Andy Murray came close to taking the set but it was destined to be a tiebreak in which unsurprisingly Djokovic played fearlessly and took it (7-4).

The Serb ultimately claimed his third trophy in Miami.
A thoroughly entertaining tournament, despite the fall of Federer and Nadal's withdrawal, which was concluded by a decent final contest - not anywhere near as close to the final we were treated to last year, which was in my opinion the best match of 2011.

Next up is Monte Carlo where all the top four are expected to be playing, sounds good!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Indian Wells Day 10: Federer vs. Nadal Preview

It's that day again where we have a showdown between Federer and Nadal, and it is an oddly similar scenario to when they played in the Australian Open semifinal earlier this year. Federer will be coming into this match after playing sublimely against Del Potro in his previous match, whereas Nadal had a difficult encounter with Nalbandian and was very erroneous.

Federer-Nadal matches are very predictable. Nadal will always serve to Federer's backhand and will really pressure him on that side with his forehand, breaking it down and extracting the error. Federer on the other hand will try to keep the rallies short, take advantage of any forehands he gets and try to be very efficient on his own serve. Despite the dynamic of the match being predictable, the matches are always riveting because we all want to see who will execute their tactic better - whoever does will win the match. Sadly for Federer, its normally him who can't execute, but will this be the case this time?

The courts here at Indian Wells are a very slow hard court, probably the most favourable hard court for Nadal but Federer will still feel he can beat Nadal here. Federer-Nadal matches in the past are normally dictated by how Federer plays because he is the on who is open to inconsistency; if Federer plays well he should win, if not he won't. Whereas Nadal's game plan employs less risk and normally executes it very effectively.

Federer will be coming into this match with confidence after blitzing Del Potro and so one would think that Federer will probably play well against Nadal - but we've thought this in the past and been proved wrong. I certainly thought this at the Australian Open and predicted Federer to win, but this was hardly the case. Against Nadal a completely different question is asked of Federer, and that is a psychological one. We saw at the Australian Open that Federer became very erroneous even though Nadal had not increased the amount of pressure he was putting on him, and also at very key points in the match Federer just could not come up with the goods; either a shocking forehand miss or very often a missed return on break point. He doesn't miss to this extent against any other opponent on a consistent basis.

To win this match Federer will certainly have to serve well and on top of this he cannot afford to miss as much as he has in their past matches. And of course, he will have to be weary of Nadal's forehand pass and attempt to approach the net on Nadal's backhand as much as possible but this is made difficult as Federer's down the line forehand (natural approach shot) is to Nadal's forehand, so he'll have to get the balance right. Whoever can dominate with their forehand better will win. I'm too afraid to call this one as it's a difficult one, but I'd probably give the edge to Nadal despite the form Federer is in because Nadal raises his game against Federer, and Federer tends to do the opposite.