At long last, we get another Federer-Nadal match. It's been twelve long, cold months since the last chapter in the greatest rivalry in the sports world. If you get the Tennis Channel and you have tomorrow afternoon free, do yourself a favor and watch. Roger v. Rafa is as good as it gets.
I missed the Nadal-Almagro match today as I was out getting my hair cut but I watched Federer-Ferrer. That match was a perfect demonstration of a truism: you don't have to win every point in tennis, just the most important ones. There were moments of pure genius from Fed, though he did conserve them for the most important points. It was not his most dominating effort - just good enough to get the job done.
Quite a lot has happened since Federer and Nadal last stood across the net from one another in a competitive match. For Federer, it's been a legacy-cementing year. Career Slam - check. Tying, breaking and extending the all-time Slam record - check. Regaining World #1 ranking - check. He has also since become a father and is rapidly approaching Pete Sampras's record for weeks holding the top ranking. One does have to wonder if all of these accomplishments have changed his outlook on his rivalry with Rafa. His overall losing record to his primary rival is perhaps the only knock against him in the Greatest of All-Time discussion. One assumes that provides a bit of motivation.
For Nadal, on the other hand, the past twelve months have not been so kind: upset by Soderling at the French, pulling out of Wimbledon as defending champ, dogged by genuinely worrisome injuries and generally under-performing at events big and small. He has, however, been back to his usual superhuman self since the European clay season began, winning every match he's entered and never really seeming threatened. For him, it would appear there is plenty of motivation: beating Federer on the same court where he lost to him a year ago would go along way to proving that the comeback is real.
Whoever wins tomorrow should be in the driver's seat with Paris looming.
It's a big day in Spanish sports across the board tomorrow. It is also the final day of the soccer season and it's down to the wire for Barcelona and Real Madrid for the league title. Barca is a point ahead with both teams set to play tomorrow, though not against each other. The Barcelona game is on ESPN2 tomorrow afternoon, essentially the same time as the tennis match. So, I will be switching back and forth. Go Barca!