New chapters to this 7 year old best seller are now being added every month. However, this time around the plot has changed a little and the more talented yet older underdog has turned the tables on his younger tormentor at an age when most expected him to have called it a day.
Roger has won the last three of his matches against Rafa for the first time ever. He also seems to have found a solution to his lopsided negative match-up against Rafa which was as simple as him not being able to counter those high rising lefty forehand balls of Nadal onto his single handed backhand. For 12 years Roger had no answer to that one simple strategy employed by Rafa against him and then suddenly in 2017 he found an antidote to that GOAT-hood threatening bug and did the unthinkable by beating Rafa convincingly because of that very same prone to breaking down backhand!
Nadal has been enjoying a resurgence of his own and seems to be gaining confidence by the match. Rafa has been winning awfully lot lately and the more he wins the more confidence he gains and he is extremely dangerous when confident.
The outcome of this match will boil down to the following factors:
- Fatigue – Which one of them is less fatigued and more fresh, and the edge here goes to Rafa. Roger has had two back-to-back three setters where maintaining focus was the key to winning, so he should be more mentally fried than Rafa at this juncture.
- Mental edge – Rafa has always had the edge in this sphere but Roger has been able to gain some serious ground lately. So I’ll call it even between the two in this category.
- What’s new – Roger has a retooled and more dangerous backhand, which was Rafa’s go to place earlier, and it will not be as easy to exploit that side as it was prior to 2017. In fact, if Roger’s backhand is on then Rafa may not have any place left to go.
With Rafa’s strategic edge blunted it may come down to just extending rallies and waiting for Roger to make errors; however Roger’s basic mindset and renewed confidence will force him to shorten those points by pushing forward and taking the ball early. Will Rafa have an effective answer to that?
Roger stands a better chance here unless that fatigue really takes over and the level drops below what is absolutely required to overcome a quality opponent such as Rafa.
Outcome: Roger in 2 straight or Rafa in 3 sets