Nadal and Federer : 5 Reason Why They Won't Meet in the Australian Open Final
Many pundits predict the 2011 Australian Open final will feature two of the best ever players to have play the game of tennis. It is difficult to argue with the opposite point of view when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have split 21 of the last 23 majors played. Only Novak Djokovic - 2008 Australian Open - and Juan-Martin Del Potro - 2009 US Open - have been able to put their name on a Grand Slam trophy since the 2005 Australian Open. At that time, Marat Safin claimed his last major tournament. Let's pretend for once that Nadal and Federer would be out of the tournament before this year's final. What would be the five biggest reasons for this to happen.
1. Nadal Pulls Out Of The Tournament Due To a Knee Injury
The reason why Rafael Nadal lost to Andy Murray at last year's Aussie Open is he had to pull out of his quarterfinal match before the end of the third set due to a knee injury.
The pain must have been so unbearable that he didn't have the choice.
Nadal also had pain in his knees previously at the 2008 French Open, where Sweden's Robin Söderling upset him, which then also forced him to pull out of Wimbledon on the same year.
Nadal is playing with a highly demanding game. The Majorcan is forced to put three times more effort into his shots than Federer, which is why he has been injured.
Nadal started his season at the Qatar Open in Doha, where he had to deal with the flue.
At 50% of his abilities, the world number one was able to beat very good fast court players such as Lacko (SVK) and Gulbis (LAT). Russia's Nikolay Davydenko then profit from his experience to upset the top seed. Nobody beats Nadal when he is at the top of his shape , and also a very selective amount of players could upset him if he is playing at 60%. The top four players in the world then will have a good shot at beating him.
2. Federer Withdraws From The Tournament Due To a Back Injury
A back Injury was the main reason why Federer didn't reach last stage of the French, Wimbledon and the US Open last year.
The man from Switzerland was no longer steady and consistent enough during his matches.
Yet we were kind of reassured by his summer. He was playing so much better. His matches against Djokovic and Tomas Berdych in Toronto brought the 'old Roger' back: focused from the first to the last point, crushing, offensive.
His footwork was again in shape and his whole game was benefiting from it, and so we had huge ambitions for him in New York. But in the US Open he didn't display any of this. Moving too slow, not really inspired in his attacking game was lacking some of his aggression abilities.
Federer needed to admit that he had been playing many matches with an injured back.
If we're paying a lot of attention to the way he played in New York, to the way he moved, we could easily believe it. Anyway, this Federer wasn't the big champion we know he is.
After the US Open Federer decided to work harder than ever on his fitness and it showed.
Federer played five indoor tournaments at the end of last year, something he had never done before in order to be fit for this year's Australian Open. He finished last season claiming the Masters while defeating Söderling, Djokovic , Murray and Nadal in the final.
By the way Nadal played the final with a thigh injury caught after his marathon match played the day before against Andy Murray.
Federer lost to Djokovic in 2008 due to mononucleosis.
2008 and 2010 were the years when Federer was not in top shape. Then he became beatable.
However when Federer is fit only Rafael Nadal can have a shot a beating him.
3. On Fire Djokovic (Or Murray ) Stuns Both Federer and Nadal
There are reasons why Murray and Djokovic have been switching the third and fourth world position for the past few years. The Scot and the Serb are the most consistent players on tour.
Murray has won 6 Masters 1000 events on hard court, the most prestigious tournaments after the Grand Slams. The Scot beat Nadal and Federer last year in Toronto, while the man from Serbia have managed to claim 5 Masters 1000 shields and also managed to beat both of them while playing those big tournaments. Murray and Djokovic know how to upset Federer and Nadal in a best-of-three set format. However when crunch time come and they have to be consistent in a best-of-five set format, it's a totally different ball game.
Maybe Djokovic will profit from his Davis cup win over France last month to perform as well as ever and upset both of them. The world number 3 certainly has the game to do it. He already did it in 2008. He has to convince himself he can do it again.
The story is even bigger for Murray who is still chasing his first major. Like Djokovic, the Scot has to convince himself he can play well against the top two players in a best-of-five set format.
4. Söderling Is On Fire For Seven Consecutive Matches
For Robin Söderling it's another matter. The Swede is on the rise. Last year was the best year of his career. Söderling plays very offensive tennis, hitting all his shots very hard and serving well.
The Swede can play fearless tennis when he is on the zone. If that's the case this year any player needs to watch out! The current World number 4 beat Nadal at the French Open back in 2009, then Federer last year, which proves he knows how to be consistent in a best-of-five set format.
5. Grigor Dimitrov Stuns The Tennis World By Winning The Australian Open
Who's Grigor Dimitrov? He's no less than a 19-year-old from Bulgaria. His career highest rank is #106, achieved on November 29, 2010. In his very successful junior career he won the boys singles title at Wimbledon and the junior US Open. He had a junior high rank of world #1.
Very few people know him in the United States due to the fact that he trains at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy near Paris, France. It's one of he biggest tennis camp in all over Europe, where well known tennis coaches like Peter Lundgren, Tony Roche or Peter McNamara spend their energy and experience with future champions. As a matter of fact Peter McNamara happens to be Dimitrov's coach.
Yet many experts already call the Bulgarian "The new Roger Federer".
Dimitrov's burgeoning reputation is down to his rapid rise from outside the top 350 to the fringes of the top 100 in the world over the last six months, and the clutch of Futures and Challenger events he won on the way to becoming the world's top-ranked male teenager at the end of 2010. And the resemblance to Federer, who incidentally has been his idol since childhood, is easy to see too. On court, they share the same sweeping single-handed backhand, exciting attacking game and even a trademark bandana.