When he's in this form, in this mood, Roger Federer has no adversary, no contemporary, no competition. Coming off back-to-back titles in successive weeks, and now adding this straight set demolition of Rafael Nadal in the round robin stage of the ATP World Tour Finals, Roger Federer is sending a clear message to the men's tour, perhaps even a warning.
He's back, and gunning for the top.
Federer is on record as saying that he still has the desire to reclaim the No.1 ranking. While that feat would take some doing, Federer's primary goal is to add to his record-breaking 16 Grand Slam titles, a number that's been at a stand-still since he won the 2010 Australian Open.
Federer looked ominous from the early stages. He tested Nadal initially, getting a feel for his opponent, as a boxer would in the first few rounds of a fight, throwing a jab or two, then backing away.
It didn't take long for the Swiss master to find his footing, breaking Nadal in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead.
From there, even Federer would tell you he was in rare form. He didn't take a false step for the remainder of the match, dictating almost every point with a sizzling, precise forehand. Even his backhand was flawless on this day, as he hit winners from both wings to all angles of the court.
Nadal looked weary and perplexed and offered no answers. Resistance, yes—but there was no solution.
Federer's 28 winners in two sets of tennis in exactly one hour of play was downright frightening.
Equally impressive was that he only committed eight unforced errors, none of which had any impact on the match. It's not uncommon for Federer to hit more winners than Nadal, even in his many losses to his greatest foe, but to restrict Nadal to just four winners for the entire match was a testament to Federer's attacking approach. He appeared disdainful at times.
The five-time ATP World Tour Champion was relentless in the second set. He would've remembered that he won the first set in the finals last year against Nadal in a similar fashion, only to see Rafa bounce back in the second and force a decider.
This time, Federer broke Nadal at the start of the second set—usually a stage in the match when Federer's focus and interest seem to wander. In fact, this has been the maestro's greatest downfall over the past few seasons; his inability to maintain concentration for the entirety of a match.
After holding to lead 2-0, it was almost as though Federer decided that he wouldn't allow Nadal to win another game. Somehow, Roger managed to raise his play to another level even after setting the bar so high in the first set.
He ran Nadal ragged, bullied him from one end of the court to the other and constructed each and every point with pure mastery.
Nadal offered shouts of "vamos" every so often, but it was more in hope than in belief. Nadal never managed to threaten Federer's serve or even force him to play from behind.
Federer was looking to inflict a rare bagel on Nadal, and he wasn't to be denied.
Nadal seemed listless, and Federer imperious. He broke Nadal three times in the second set and raced to a comprehensive, emphatic 6-3 6-0 beating of the Spaniard.
Rod Laver recently backed Federer to end his Grand Slam drought. Based on his form over the past month, Federer looks set to add to his collection of major titles.
2011 was most certainly Novak Djokovic's year, but Federer proved that he was the only one on tour with enough game not only to defeat Novak, but to do so in convincing fashion.
If Federer can carry his current form into the 2012 season, the men's tour may experience a great deal of anguish, but tennis fans and purists alike will rejoice. No one in the history of tennis has looked better than a confident, rampaging Roger Federer.
Regardless of what unfolds, 2012 promises to be a great year for the sport of tennis.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!