Sunday, February 1, 2009

Australian Open: Nadal-Federer Final Preview (Video)

Mats Wilander spoke to Eurosport ahead of Sunday's Nadal-Federer Australian Open final and he said:

"It's unbelievable that we get to see them play a Grand Slam final on a hard court."

"Wimbledon finals have been great, French Open finals have not been great. Could this be as one-sided in Federer's favor as it is on clay for Nadal? It's possible!"


The Swedish legend, a winner of the Aussie Open 3 times himself, asked the million dollar question: what should we expect from those two rivals in a Grand Slam final on a hardcourt?

The stats above are all in Nadal's favor, whether it's the overall head-to-head record, or their previous meetings in Majors, the Spaniard has a lead over Federer when it comes to their one-on-one meetings. But let's not forget, Federer has won 3 previous Australian Open titles, and 5 US Open titles... How many of those does Nadal have?!?! ZERO! Then again, Federer has never faced Rafa in any of those Major hardcourt finals. So the response to the question is not simple.

Wilander pointed out the fact that both players have had very similar paths to the Australian Open final this year. They both had one big match where they were tested, Berdych for Federer and Verdasco for Nadal, but other than that, they pretty much breezed through their matches.

I mostly agree with Wilander on his take on Nadal's defensive approach against Verdasco. Nadal was way behind the baseline during his epic semifinal clash with Verdasco, who was extremely aggressive and took the initiative in most points. If Nadal does the same with Federer, I think it could mean a straight sets win for the Swiss. Nadal must be more aggressive against Federer, and am sure the world number 1 knows it, but let's hope it will be possible for Nadal to execute an attacking approach against someone as dangerous as Federer.

Here is the full interview with Wilander:





Wilander is right; when it comes to Nadal and Federer, it truly is so much more than the tennis. With their history, their rivalry, their separate agendas - Fed chasing a 14th Slam to equal Sampras' record, Nadal chasing a first hardcourt Slam - and their greatness; these two have something really special and "grand" about them that makes their final encounters what they are... Something we all eagerly anticipate 4 times a year, and eventually live to respect and remember forever. I hope Sunday's final lives up to all our expectations.

The match starts at 7:30pm Melbourne time, 10:30 am Cairo time.

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