Federer Could Be Done at #1

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Federer Could Be Done at #1
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

When Roger Federer lost the #1 Ranking to Rafa Nadal at the French Open, he lost a lot more than that. In fact, a couple other things ended for him as well.

1-His streak of Semifinal Slam appearances was ended.

2-His opportunity to better Sampras' record or 286 total weeks at #1.

He's at 285 weeks and holding, and may never see the #1 ranking again.

Rafael Nadal overtook him in Paris, and even though it's only by 300 points in the rankings, Federer has tons of points to defend througout the season. Since Nadal had poor results last year, every tournament he plays, he will extend his lead over Federer as the #1 player. Roger is defending 2000 points at Wimbledon. Nadal is defending zero. Even if Federer wins Wimbledon again, if Nadal reaches the semis, he extends his lead over Federer by 720 more ponts. And if Federer only reaches the semis and Nadal wins, then Nadal will gain 2720 points over Federer in the standings. And it only gets worse from there.

Every tournament Nadal plays will be a bonus for him, since he's guaranteed to have better results than last year. Nadal only played in 6 tournaments after Wimbledon last year, and reached only one final. Federer is defending 4790 points including Wimbledon. Nadal is defending only 2085. If Nadal wins 1 or 2 Masters series tournaments and has decent results in the Slams, he will likely finish the year with a lead of over 3500 points over Federer.

It seems Nadal has figured out a strategy for keeping his knee tendonitis at bay, and that is bad news for Roger. Nadal is still hitting his prime at barely 24 years old, and Federer is pushing 30. In addition to that, the big ball strikers are starting to hit Roger off the court with increasing frequency. If you look at his arms lately, Federer has definitely lost some muscle mass, and has been counseled recently to beef it up a bit if he's going to hang with the Soderlings and Del Potros on the tour.

Even more alarming, Federer has been having trouble holding a lead. Used to be, if he was a set up, he was money. No one was going to beat him. Now, he is losing the mental game more often, giving up leads and losing tiebreaks that he used to own. Even his serve and forehand are not givens anymore.

Quick question that may surprise you. . .As of the French Open, which player had the highest percentage of games won on their serve? Rafael Nadal at 91%. Federer was about #10 at about 85%. Which player had the best percentage of saving break points against them? Again, Nadal at 73% break points saved. Federer came in at about 65%. So who was better on their serve? Nadal was nearly unbreakable, while Federer has dropped back into the pack. Who would've thought. You don't usually think of Nadal as having the best serve in the game, but his superb placement means that he can place the ball wherever he wants at any time, which for Federer has meant that it's always to his backhand anytime he wants.

Nadal will take those backhand to forehand rallies all day long, and that has been Federer's kryptonite. Since Nadal is originally right-handed, Rafa's two handed backhand is almost as powerful as his forehand. Federer himself has commented that playing Nadal is like playing someone with two forehands, and that he is unique on the tour for being extremely tough from both sides. If the French Open revealed anything, it's that Nadal at the French is like Sampras at Wimbledon. Nadal could conceivably win 9 or 10 French Opens, plus a few other Slams along the way. If he stays healthy, probably another 1 or 2 Wimbledons, Australian Opens, and a US Open or two as well.

Sure, many have predicted Federer's demise prematurely before, but this time seems different. Okay, maybe he won't slip that far, maybe only to #2 or #3 for a year or two, but time is not on his side. More players will start to pass him, and this time Nadal smells blood. Federer will never again see the #1 ranking.

 

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