Roger Federer Beats Novak Djokovic: Does Federer Have a Shot vs. Rafael Nadal?

Jaideep Vaidya@@jaideepjournoAnalyst IJune 3, 2011

Roger Federer Beats Novak Djokovic: Does Federer Have a Shot vs. Rafael Nadal?

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    PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 03:  Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates match point during the men's singles semi final match between Roger Federer of Switzerland and Novak Djokovic of Serbia on day thirteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 3, 2011 i
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Boff! Bonk! Pow! Kapow! Bamm!...Oh, I'm sorry, I'm still reeling from the after-effects of that blockbuster semifinal between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic that would have made even Batman proud!

    The two heavyweights threw everything at each other—from bludgeoning forehands to delicate drop shots—for 219 minutes of pulsating action.

    Finally, the "Fed Express" beat "Mister Unbeatable" 7-6 (5), 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5) and its next stop is the Roland Garros final on Sunday where it will take on the "King of Clay".

    Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal last met at Roland Garros in the 2008 final where Nadal steam-rolled over the Swiss 6-1, 6-3, 6-0.

    A lot has changed since then.

    The pair more recently met on clay at the Madrid Masters where Federer put on more of a fight to lose 7-5, 1-6, 3-6.

    A lot has changed since then, too.

    Rafael Nadal is still the clear favourite on Sunday. But if current form is to go by, Roger Federer could pull out a rabbit or two from his hat and cough up yet another "shock".

    Sure, it all sounds nice and rosy when put like that but does Roger really have a shot?

    Let's figure it out, shall we?

    In each of the following slides, I have analyzed all the key aspects of their game so far in the tournament and have tried to answer the question to the best of my knowledge...and instincts.

Service

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    PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 03:  Roger Federer of Switzerland serves during the men's singles semi final match between Roger Federer of Switzerland and Novak Djokovic of Serbia on day thirteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 3, 2011 in Paris, France.
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Roger Federer has been ace-tastic so far in the 2011 French Open. He has served 59 aces in his six matches, 18 of which came in the semifinal against Novak Djokovic who is one of the best service-returners in the game.

    Nadal, on the other hand, has mustered up a paltry 23 aces so far.

    Federer's service games have been near-flawless with an 81 percent conversion rate on first serve points.

    Comparatively, Nadal has struggled, managing just over 71 percent.

    While Nadal relies on positioning and spin while serving on clay, thus compromising on speed (approximately 180 kph), Federer's serves travel like a tracer bullet at 200kph and hardly ever miss their mark.

    Winner: Roger Federer

Service Return

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    PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 03:  Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a forehand during the men's singles semi final match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Andy Murray of Great Britain on day thirteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 3, 2011 in Paris, France.
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Rafael Nadal is one of the better returners of service in the game and scores slightly higher than Roger Federer in this aspect.

    Nadal has a 49 percent success rate in return games to Federer's 43 percent.

    Winner: Rafael Nadal

Forehand

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    PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 03:  Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a forehand during the men's singles semi final match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Andy Murray of Great Britain on day thirteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 3, 2011 in Paris, France.
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Both champions are almost on-par when it comes to the forehand.

    While Federer's is more of an all-round game, Nadal's favourite shot is his forehand. 

    Both are very strong when it comes to this shot, but there have been instances of mis-hits where the ball has landed in the crowd behind the opponent.

    But that isn't to say that they will try and hit to each other's forehands on Sunday.

    It's almost even-stevens but I'll give that extra bit of edge to the Spaniard.

    Winner: Rafael Nadal

Backhand

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    PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 03:  Roger Federer of Switzerland hits a backhand during the men's singles semi final match between Roger Federer of Switzerland and Novak Djokovic of Serbia on day thirteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 3, 2011 in Paris
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Roger Federer plays a one-handed backhand which is one of the best in the game. It is powerful and versatile—allowing him to play cross-court, down the line and even slices when required.

    However, Federer has been known to over-hit the ball in crunch situations which makes fans like me frickin' angry!

    Sometimes, I just wish he would switch to the more-efficient and accurate two-handed version.

    But I can take solace from the fact that Rafael Nadal's once-powerful backhand has become his worst nightmare at the 2011 French Open.

    Even though it does pack a punch and can destroy you on its day, those days have become a rarity now. 

    Nadal, who hasn't had the best of tournaments, tends to under-hit his backhand more often than not, which has led to opponents targeting his backhand.

    Nadal has incorporated traveling the extra few yards and taking the shot on his forehand rather than risking his backhand.

    The ploy might not work against someone like Roger Federer.

    Winner: Roger Federer

Winners and Unforced Errors

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    PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 03:  Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates a point during the men's singles semi final match between Roger Federer of Switzerland and Novak Djokovic of Serbia on day thirteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 3, 2011 in Pa
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Both players cancel each other out when it comes to winners and unforced errors.

    While Federer has been the more flamboyant of the two in the tournament with 231 winners compared to Nadal's 196, Nadal has Federer's number when it comes to unforced errors—139 compared to Federer's 179.

    Winner: On Par

Movement and Stamina

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    PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 03:  Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a forehand during the men's singles semi final match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Andy Murray of Great Britain on day thirteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 3, 2011 in Paris, France.
    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Rafael Nadal clearly has the edge over Roger Federer when it comes to court coverage and fitness. 

    Nadal is the younger and the more athletic of the two and is more likely to come out on the winning side if the match goes into a draining five-setter.

    Nadal's dexterity and nimbleness is unparalleled for on the court and is capable of running his opponent to death.

    Winner: Rafael Nadal

Tie-Breaks

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    PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 03:  Roger Federer of Switzerland hits a backhand during the men's singles semi final match between Roger Federer of Switzerland and Novak Djokovic of Serbia on day thirteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 3, 2011 in Paris
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    In a match comprising of two equally-matched opponents, a tie-breaker to decide the set is imminent. 

    Roger Federer is the more composed of the two—a quality that helps him immensely in crunch situations such as tie-breaks.

    Federer has won all four tie breaks he's featured in so far.

    Nadal, on the other hand, has lost two out of four—both coming in his first round win over John Isner.

    Winner: Roger Federer

Confidence

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    PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 03:  Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates a point during the men's singles semi final match between Roger Federer of Switzerland and Novak Djokovic of Serbia on day thirteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 3, 2011 in Pa
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Federer has been away from the limelight ever since the tournament began, with all the attention focussed on Nadal and Djokovic.

    This has worked wonders for the Swiss as he reached the semifinal unscathed without dropping a single set.

    In the semifinal, he took on a guy who was unbeaten for 43 games and came through in four high-octane sets.

    The win would have boosted his confidence level sky-high if it wasn't already there.

    Federer has been looking sharp and focussed throughout the tournament and will be raring to go in the final.

    Rafael Nadal, on the other hand, had a mediocre start to the tournament. After struggling in his first two rounds, Nadal started to pick up the lose ends and get his game together as the tournament progressed.

    A straight-sets victory over Robin Soderling, who beat him two years back, did his confidence a world of good. This was followed by another impressive straight-sets win over fourth seed Andy Murray in the semifinal.

    Even though Rafa admits he isn't playing his best tennis, the way he's pummeled through his last couple of rounds would be a cause for concern for anyone, even Federer.

    Winner: Roger Federer

Verdict

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    MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 07:  Roger Federer of Switzerland shakes hands with Rafael Nadal of Spain after Nadal won in 3 sets during day eight of the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open Tennis on May 7, 2011 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Tennis is a game that keeps surprising you with the most unexpected of happenings and results. And as I finish writing this article, it surprised the hell out of me!

    I always considered Nadal as the favourite on paper (and in my head) and hoped that he would meet my favourite—Roger Federer—in the final, with the Swiss obviously having my heart's vote.

    But now, the manner in which the two have fared in the tournament and reached the final clearly make Federer the favourite on paper, at least in my book.

    And oddly enough, my gut tells me it's going to be Nadal who will clinch the trophy on Sunday.

    I seriously hope I'm wrong!