The jury had delivered its verdict long ago, so Sunday’s final was merely further evidence that Rafael Nadal has Roger Federer’s number.
Nadal’s record against Federer speaks for itself: in 19 encounters the Spaniard has come out on top on 13 occasions. Perhaps even more distressing for Federer fans is that the Swiss maestro has lost the last five matches against the Spaniard.
So how can Federer reverse this trend?
Sadly for Federer, there is no easy answer to this question. There are very few areas in Nadal’s game that can be targeted as weaknesses. With that said, Nadal’s second serve is nearly always there to be attacked.
Nevertheless, for some reason, Federer always seems reluctant to go after his adversary’s second serve. In the Australian Open final, he just seemed to prod the ball back down the middle of the court, thus putting very little, if any, pressure on Nadal.
The simplest, and arguably most effective method of putting pressure on an opponent’s second serve, and first serve, is by chipping and charging.
Chipping and charging is a seldom-used tactic by anyone these days, but Federer appears less likely to utilize such a tactic than most players on the tour.
During the Australian Open final, Federer chipped and charged on only one occasion.
Sixty-three times Nadal hit a second serve and only once did Federer respond by chipping and charging. If Federer wants to harbor any hope of beating Nadal in the future, he really needs to chip and charge on a more frequent basis.
Consequently, on the one occasion Federer did chip and charge, he won the point.
Of course, there is no guarantee that chipping and charging will result in Federer beating Nadal, but there are numerous advantages to adopting such a tactic.
The very nature of the chip shot, with the slice applied to it, means that the ball will stay low to the ground making life that little bit harder for the server.
The key, however, is that Federer gets to the net. Over the past few months, Federer’s net game has improved significantly. In fact, on Sunday, he won 73 percent of points when he came into the net.
Nadal is undoubtedly one of the best passers to ever play the game but coming into the net forces him to produce a sublime shot. Basically, all the pressure is thrust upon Nadal’s shoulders to make the pass.
Chipping and charging will by no means automatically win Federer the match, but at the moment, the tactics he is employing are failing. There is no shame whatsoever in failing while trying new tactics.
For Federer, the time has come to try something a little different.