It all depends on what organ you decide to follow – Your Brain, telling you there is no chance that Roger Federer can cause another upset and beat Rafael Nadal. Or you can follow you heart, that has always been inlove with Roger, and wishes more than knows that he can manage to become the second man who has beaten Rafael Nadal on the Clay Courts of the French Open.
I didn’t expect Federer to beat Djokovic. Federer didn’t drop a set all tournament till the Semi Final, but his record against Novak this year and last year, Djokovic’s undefeated streak and his ability in the 2011 French Open led to one pre game conclusion – Federer won’t win, and he probably won’t win another grand slam again.
Federer, as an answers to doubts and disbelief, produced wonderful tennis for a while, than had his usual collapse. Unlike other occasional, he had enough of a lead and mental toughness (which has seemed to abandon him in big games recently) to finish this one, winning 3-1, matching him up with Rafael Nadal.
Remember – Roger Federer has beaten Rafael Nadal twice on clay, never in Paris. The last time was in Madrid, 2009, a win that pushed Federer’s Grand Slam record beating months into full gear. Since then, they have met twice on Clay, both in Madrid, 2010 and 2011. Nadal has won both matches, although he did drop the first set the last time they’ve met.
Since his opening round tough one against John Isner, Rafael Nadal has had it easy. Not great matches (until Soderling) but he didn’t drop a set. The Semi Final? A different story. This was vintage Nadal, tearing Andy Murray apart. Past results, including the last time these two met at the Roland Garros final (2008), a day all Federer fans would love to forget, indicate this is heading Nadal’s way again, for the sixth time at the French Open.
Something though, probably nothing having to do with logic and pure statistics, suggests there’s something different. I don’t know what, but there’s something vulnerable about Nadal this year. Maybe it’s Djokovic shaking that armor in their clashes, maybe it’s a hidden injury (again). Maybe it’s just Nadal experimenting. Roger Federer has been playing better tennis this Roland Garros than Nadal. I don’t think there will be much of an argument about that. Something about the way he’s reaches this final, this match, hints he’s got a surprise for a lot of us.
Again, it’s hard to explain, because I usually don’t feel that way when the two meet. This time? Something is pointing towards Roger. Some calmness, something saying he’s figured it out, some mental block coming off. Nadal is the better player overall, right now at least, but there’s something shaky about his game, something lacking in confidence. If Federer can hold off his usual implosion till later on, when he’s already leading comfortably, just like against Novak, than who knows, it just might be number 17. I wouldn’t put my money on it, but I wouldn’t mind losing that bet.