The days in Coachella Valley are hot, and hotter is the event coming up. The most anticipated match of a jaw dropping draw is up, the 36th installment of Fedal is happening!
Second clash of 2017
2013 was the last season to feature two or more Fedals, and after four years, the event is here again. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will be facing-off for the second time in 2017 after a historic five setter-roller coaster Australian Open final.
Rafael Nadal confirmed his seat with an easy 6-3, 7-5 win over compatriot Verdasco. Federer went through a slim slit margin of 7-6, 7-6 win over Johnson in a servefest to confirm the blockbuster battle. This is the earliest the former champs are facing each other since their 3rd round clash at Miami Masters – 2004, which happened to be their first meet.
They have previously faced each other here in 2012 and 2013, each of them being straight set victories in favour of Federer and Nadal respectively. Incidentally, the winner from these clashes was eventually the tournament winner as well.
The head-to-head record is heavily in favour of Nadal, the Spaniard leading 23-12, but that doesn’t keep Rafa relaxed. Nadal knows what challenge he is facing, as he said post match,
“He has the talent to do very difficult things that look easy. He’s able to take the ball very early. Serve and first shot, he creates a lot of winners with that, the two first shots.”
This clearly shows that Nadal is expecting an all-aggressive Roger and the attack he will receive from the other end. Roger Federer, on the other hand kept tactics and game style aside and looked positive in his interview as he was quoted as saying,
“That’s why I came here, to play against guys like Rafa. Now we have it, I’m going to be excited now, I’d better be excited now otherwise I came for the wrong reasons.”
The demons of old losses seem to be a forgotten data for the four time champion. The story is much more than the clichéd heavy top-spin high to Federer’s backhand. The Swiss Maestro has recovered from that tactic, evident from his victories over Rafa in Basel (2015) and Melbourne this year. The backhand return is solid, firm and flat now, the slice return has almost disappeared and the change has worked for Federer. However, the conditions suit the three time champion Rafa more, being slower (than Basel and Melbourne), Nadal has to dig much deeper than previous meetings to emerge victorious.
Federer, on the other hand, has to stick with the relentless attack to keep the Spaniard off the bay. However, this is the 36th meeting, this is much above tactics, probably much above statistics, this is all about brain, heart and nerves.
The Looming Questions
Would Rafael Nadal win and avenge his Melbourne loss? Who knows? Would Roger Federer win and further extend his winning trot over Nadal Who knows? Does it matter? Maybe, maybe not. The bitter-sweet fan bases will be polarized.
Would Tennis win? “Hell Yeah!” would be the likely answer.
Centre court will be house-full, television sets will be a sight worth millions for people far away, internet will be an open discussion table and score updates. A world of tennis fans will stop for a while, a brutal action will combine with pure tranquility.
Who knows, if the 36th chapter is the final one?