2011 ATP World Tour – Federer Finally Beats Nadal

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It’s been a year since Roger Federer last beat Rafael Nadal, a three setter in the final of the 2010 ATP World Tour finals. Same venue, a year later, same result, but with a different effect. Federer arrived razor sharp to London, backed by his wins at Basel and Paris. Nadal? Quite the opposite, and what was enough against Mardy Fish on Sunday was barely enough to win 3 games against the most popular tennis player in the world.

So the numbers – Federer wins 6-3, 6-0. Last time Roger bagled Nadal in Hamburg, 2007. The winners? Federer had 28, to Nadal’s 4. Federer finished with 86% in his first serves. Nadal? 47%. There were hardly unforced errors. Too many Federer winners. A perfect hour of tennis in a rivalry that usually gives up epic marathons. This time it was a one side affair.

It’s usually hard to tell how much it means, these wins in the Year-End tournament. Fatigue, carried injuries, all making you doubt everything you see. Still, good tennis is good tennis. Roger Federer wasn’t this sharp against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but seeing Nadal reeling brought out the talons, and Federer just shredded away.

Anti-Climatic? Only for those who are neutral. And you rarely find someone neutral regarding the Federer-Nadal rivalry, which always goes Federer’s way in the Year-End tournament (4-0). On other instances? 17-5 Nadal. Too much ground for Federer ever to make up.

Rafael Nadal is certainly below 100%, physically and mentally. Exhaustion was pouring through Nadal each and every serve, every shot he took. Usually a warrior on the baseline just had no answer to Federer’s accuracy. He never let the balls rise from their first bounce, leaping ferociously at every opportunity.

Federer clearly looks like the favorite to win his sixth World Tour Finals. Tsonga did beat Fish, but there’s no doubt who the number one player is among the eight in the groups. Federer doesn’t have a lot of days like these left in him. We should enjoy every time they do happen.