In a much anticipated semifinal, and in the 33rd meeting of their storied rivalry, Rafael Nadal once again took down Roger Federer. The final score was 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-3.
This was the most anticipated of their recent matches. While Nadal is the world No. 1, and has the prohibitive edge in their head-to-head, Roger Federer was looking resurgent, with a new racquet and a new coach, Stefan Edberg. He had dropped only one set, against Andy Murray, going into the semifinal. Nadal, for his part, was sporting a grotesque blister on his racquet hand, and had had a couple of unimpressive rounds against Kei Nishikori and Grigor Dimitrov. And while a semifinal is unusual for their rivalry, it suddenly became again one of those rubber-meets-the-road matches between them. Novak Djokovic, the defending champion, was out. The bottom-half of the draw has produced a new finalist in Stanislas Wawrinka. With Federer the all-time leader in Major titles, at 17, and Nadal pressing, with 13, the match took on heavyweight significance in their rivalry, for the first time in a few years.
In the first set, Federer pressed, and capitalized on net play. They stayed on serve, and got to a tiebreak, which was where Nadal started to break away. Federer never had a break point in the first set.
Nadal broke in the fifth game of each of the subsequent sets, and that was all he needed. While it did provide flashes of past brilliance, it fell short of the desired additional volume to their series of classics.
Photo credit: Marianne Bevis (Creative Commons License)