Federer storms past Nadal in Shanghai showdown!

Roger Federer has always dominated on an indoor hard court against Rafael Nadal leading the head to head at 5-1 indoors and has now extended this to 6-1 with a pretty easy dispatch of the world number one in Shanghai and he should have done better.

It took just 71 minutes for the Swiss star to see the Spaniard 6-4 6-3 extending his record of not losing to Nadal in all of their four meetings this season.

The tone of the match was set quite quickly and once that initial break was taken from Federer it never looked like changing.

Nadals game plan was quickly blown out of the water. The courts in Shanghai are quite fast and Nadal didn’t adapt to the expectancy of Federer matching his game to the court speed.

If you have watched Federer on a hard court these last two years you would have seen his style has sped up to stop opponents from dictating play and also to stop opponents moving him about.

Nadal was essentially a spectator there were too many times he was just stood there watching the ball go past. I think the tactics or lack of tactics were naive of Nadal and it makes the rest of the season interesting with Paris and London on the horizon both of which are an indoor tournament which Nadal hasn’t won.

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The new world No.1 still has an awful lot of work to do!

Reaching world number one is a great achievement for Simona Halep however there is so much work to do.

I am a big fan of Halep but I’d have to say I think she isn’t the best player in the world right now.

Amazingly Simona Halep has never won more than 75% of matches played in a calendar year and her win/loss ratio usually sits at approximately and average of 3/1 which isn’t world number one and Grand Slam quality hence just the two appearances in a Grand Slam final.

There are great parts of her game but inconsistencies which do let her down. The second serve can go from solid to sloppy overnight and that is one aspect that is halting her progress. Every time a major tournament comes around you’d say she is a contender but then at the same time is she a realistic contender or is it because of ranking?

Reaching No.1 is a great achievement, she has fought a lot but if I am going to be picky then there does need to be more steel in the serve and groundstrokes and as world number one comes that added pressure and in Singapore all eyes will be on the top player and you can’t go missing in Singapore.

Halep

 

The forehand is iconic but the backhand of Nadal has been brutally brilliant this year!

At the beginning of the year I asked the question whether Nadal could find his frightening best form once again and the rest of the tour is scared.

Nadal has been incredible this year and there are many factors. The serve has found that sharp swing on it again which good friend Carlos Moya has helped with. The forehand is the iconic shot in his game but he has found balance in the backhand.

The backhand of Rafa is a strong shot but the emphasis on it is greater now and it’s become a great strength. The way Rafa plays that two handed backhand whilst on the run with his neck tight to his body but still able to generate raw power is outstanding so lets take a look.

Rafa BH 1

You can see the power he produces through his knee being fully fit and able to produce these shots.

Variation is the other part of the backhand. We can see that stance he takes like playing the game stuck in the mud and when that ball comes up and Nadal is in this position below there is only thing going to happen…

rafa dtl

BAM! Down the line.

Another one is the slice, the slice keeps the rally going and you can below Dimitrov has done well but this defensive slice is deceptive.

rafa slice

Dimitrov see’s it as an opportunity and he is right to go to the net like a kid in the sweet shop but unless you get a killer touch the movement of Rafa will extend this rally. 7 seconds later they exchange 4 shots, Nadal’s at the net and won the point from that defensive position now that is impressive!

The final aspect of the backhand is the cross court one. So let’s take a look.

rafa cc

When that ball arrives in the backhand corner Nadal will more comfortably go for that flat backhand. He still sometimes does run around and play that forehand cross court and down the line but the neck mussels and that work again on the right foot allow him to push that power cross court and it such a flat and devastating shot that there is no interest to be gained on it as as the opponent you can just slide and try to extend and inevitably lost rally.

The backhand is so much stronger and the balance in his game has been key to his rise again. Nadal isn’t celebrating his win in Beijing to much and is already practicing in Shanghai.

Final destination is London but first a week in Shanghai!

The final destination is London. We are still a few weeks away from the curtain fall at the O2 Arena but 5 places remain and have to be filled so a week in Shanghai will decide a few on a very open field.

Three are in, those three are Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and first time qualifier Alex Zverev but who is next?

When not if…

It does look like being a matter of when not if for Dominic Thiem and Grigor Dimitrov who are just a few hundred points away but just behind is Marin Cilic who should make the O2 but was nowhere near convincing in Tokyo losing the final set up the semi-final v Mannarino 6-0! Dominic Thiem hasn’t been in great form either and could face the super talented Denis Shapovalov in round two.

Picking up points when it matters!

I couldn’t be more pleased for David Goffin. He has had a rough year and began to deliver on the clay and then had that freak injury at Roland Garros falling in the court cover which halted his season but those 465 points from Tokyo have put him in a great position to qualify for London and I so hope he does.

Now or never?

Opportunity knocked this year and in different tournaments Sam Querrey and Kevin Anderson took them. Now a chance and likely a final chance to push for a place in London. Both have come on leaps and bounds this year but for Kevin it’s been a tough ride after injury but he doesn’t give in and these two have broken that stereotype of big serves having little game, they bring game and it’s brought them rewards.

Outsiders…

Carreno Busta and RBA could make it. Berdych’ withdrawal from Shanghai has all but ended his chances of returning to London. There is still a possibility that Kyrgios could make the tour finals which would be brilliant and a deep run for Del Potro currently 25 on the race could mix it up which would be incredible!

goffin

 

CarGar could be flying whilst Konta might be grounded again!

Caroline Garcia has certainly made it interesting on the WTA tour these last couple of weeks. Defeats for top players looked like it would be a formality for Konta to go through to Singapore but her boarding pass is being held right now as Caroline is flying in more ways the one and Singapore is likely for the Frenchwoman.

Konta is on a five match losing streak and on a run like this you can’t say a place in the final 8 is warranted, things have fallen apart since Wimbledon and maybe a bit of that ‘what if?’ is in her mind?

For Caroline she was once tipped by Andy Murray to be the next big thing on the tour and comments like that are nice to receive but it adds unnecessary pressure from many in the media to push and then jump when they fall.

It is hard to forget she is only 23 and turns 24 in a couple of weeks time. To win the double in Wuhan and Beijing winning two titles in two weeks was unthinkable for her and is riding the wave and unless Konta makes the final in Moscow Caroline is flying to Singapore.

Through the tough times she believed and is now a champion and it might only just be beginning!

cargar

Rampant Rafa picks up title No.75 in Beijing

Rafael Nadal has been in a rampant mood in Beijing. The world number one fresh off his win in New York travelled a few thousand miles and has been in an unforgiving mood ever since giving nothing away and it is great to see him at these heights.

Today the Spaniard secured his 6th title of the year with the routine win against a frustrated Nick Kyrgios in a dominative performance picking up his 75th career title.

I watched Rafa play against Dimitrov in the morning on Saturday and it’s not often you turn away from a match and say well played to the loser but Dimitrov didn’t play badly but the defence shown by the world number one and the brilliance at producing these stunning shots was out of this world.

This just magnifies the year Rafa has had and the race is on for number one. Next week the tour tilts to Shanghai and following that Paris before arriving in London for the finale.

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Ruthless Kyrgios through to Beijing SF’s

Nick Kyrgios has served himself into the semi-finals with a ruthless performance against Steve Darics in Beijing.

The Belgian did seem to be suffering with a neck injury in the match which he received treatment for but to Nick’s credit he didn’t let up or slow down he just went for it.

I said a while ago Nick has the best serve on the tour and I still stand by that. The power and accuracy is something else on it’s day and we saw the frustration from Darcis who launched his racket at the end of the match after a 134mph second serve ace sealed a 6-0 3-0 win.

Mark Petchey on Sky Sports was part of the commentary team this morning from Beijing and he said something many would agree with that his serve is as good and could be better than one of the best servers the game has seen in Pete Sampras.

On the Ad side we saw Nick go for that kick out wide which even a fully fit Darcis would struggle against and down the deuce side he aimed for the T time and time again and it workedand even if Darcis was the best returner in the world returning a 130mph+ serve down the T with interest on it to pro-long a rally further than three shots is extremely tough!

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