Roger Federer: Was His US Open Loss to Novak Djokovic a Blessing in Disguise?
We all know Roger Federer was defeated by Novak Djokovic in this year's US Open semi-finals in a nail biting climax. It was so close, yet so far, for the five-time champion.
Djokovic went on to beat Rafa Nadal pretty convincingly (only scoreline-wise) in the final to pick up his first US Open title.
Those watching the match, though, could see Nadal fighting 'til the very end, but eventually succumbing to the champion. He did not just give it away on a platter.
Now to me, this scenario was a blessing in disguise for Federer.
Had Roger beaten Djokovic, he would have had to face Rafa in the final.
With the history these two players have had, especially considering the past few meetings, it was always going to be a tall order for Roger to beat Rafa, after taking down Djokovic.
He'd beaten Rafa only twice in their past 10 meetings.
Looking back at the now-concluded final, Nadal was not finished by any means until the match was over.
We saw him make a comeback in the third set after some scintillating rallies between both players. Nadal's defense was something extraordinary.
Meanwhile, Djokovic had a problem with his back and took a medical time-out. Fortunately for him, the injury didn't cause any big setback during the match.
But, had Djokovic suffered a more serious injury, Nadal would've very well taken this match with a five-set win.
Now, picture the same Rafa Nadal that battled against Djokovic. But this time, playing Roger in the finals.
It would have certainly taken some incredible performance from Roger to beat "this" Rafa in the finals.
With Nadal's defensive capabilities and his resilience, as we witnessed against Djokovic, combined with the "forehand-to-backhand" tactic that he uses so well against Roger, I highly doubt if Roger would've won three sets against him.
Nadal winning would have meant that he would have 11 slams, and would've finally beaten Roger in every different slam finals, owning him pretty much everywhere.
Roger's legacy would be tainted to a certain extent, the slam record threatened, and the GOAT debate would get hotter with the balance shifting toward Nadal.
So, basically, the blessing here is the fact that with Roger's loss to Djokovic, Djokovic is getting more and more opportunities to penetrate Nadal's head, thus preventing him from winning more slams.
This, in turn, implies that Roger's 16 slam record will remain unbroken, as long as Djokovic remains on top.
Further, Rafa is being owned by Djokovic at the moment, the same way Roger was owned by Rafa.
So, the head-to-head battle involving Federer and Rafa kind of balances out with Djokovic getting into the picture.
Of course, if Nadal can find a way out against Djokovic, things will change.
But as long as Djokovic continues to play the way he is now, and Nadal continues to struggle, Roger's legacy remains safe.
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