What can we say about Roger? He is an infinite well of talent and his repertoire of shots is indeed limitless.
Many of the points in the match were played at a furious pace with both players trying to dictate from the base line with the difference being Roger’s ability to move forward and towards the net to apply pressure on Nadal.
Both had quite a few chances to break in the first set, however Nadal couldn’t capitalize on any and Federer eventually converted one of his many at 4-3.
The match was riddled with numerous inside out forehand and down the line backhand winners by Federer and by the end of the third game in the 2nd set Federer already had 21 winners to Nadal’s 11! Roger took the balls early, stayed aggressive with his backhand and kept drawing Rafa out of the court with his cross-court angled backhands, something that Rafa was so used to doing to Federer in the past. In fact at 2-3 Roger closed for 3-3 with yet another cross court backhand drawing Nadal way out on his backhand side.
There was a sting to Roger’s Inside out forehands and cross court backhands today and Nadal felt the pain ever so often. The sizzling cross court backhand at 30-30 and 3-3 gave Roger another break point which Nadal saved at the net but Federer was relentless with not just the backhand but also the backhand returns of serves.
Federer’s aggressiveness was at full flight in important points such as 30-30 or break points. He punctuated his net approaches with stab volleys, came up with good serves when needed, and an exquisite down the line back-hand return of serve at break point won Roger his only break for 5-4 in the 2nd set. The backhand closed the deal yet again for Roger. A down the line backhand winner to end a rally at 0-15 in the last game of the match showed just how well Roger was executing his backhand.
The match was won because Roger stuck to the game plan by
- Taking the backhand really early even at the risk of hitting too many half volleys.
- Hitting and not slicing the backhand, thereby applying relentless pressure on Nadal from the backhand side and forcing him to play to Roger’s forehand more.
- Going for the shots, and not holding back, which is obvious from the 29 winners that Federer hit to Nadal’s 15.
- Moving inside the baseline and approaching the net whenever he could to apply even more pressure on Nadal.
- Always staying aggressive and dictating with the serve, return of serve, backhand and forehand.
- Flattening forehands and backhands whenever possible.
As a result, and in the end, Federer’s controlled aggression earned its 3rd back-to-back win against Nadal in 2017 .