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 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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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Laver Cup exceeded expectations and firmly belongs in Tennis!

Set up by a legend, two more became captains, Roger and Rafa arrived with friends and made a weekend to remember in Prague.

The Laver Cup in honour of Rod Laver with team world v team Europe led by John McEnroe and Bjorn Bjorg and many top players on the ATP tour fought out for the first of what looks like being many Laver Cups.

When it was announced I have to be honest I thought ‘another exhibition’. There is nothing wrong with exhibitions as some do great for various reasons but there are some pointless ones about but this exceeded all expectations and this tournament belongs in tennis.

It brought smiles, emotion, unity and more importantly fun! Tennis needs this for many reasons, it can advertise the sport more worldwide seeing the best, the legends and the uprising stars play together as a team excites fans.

Seeing Rafa and Roger play together, the captains get involved it’s what the sport is about. These guys are rivals and it was amazing to see them have a laugh but be competitive!

The venue for next year has been announced and it will be held in Chicago and it will be the hottest ticket in town!

Going forward this can do so well travelling the world with this tournament and is something I would like to see on the women’s side of the tour but we will have hope on that one but the exposure the tour would get would open minds and inspire and with this format it certainly can do it.

If we see players having fun we engage and we remember and that’s how it creates a legacy.

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Balance and Brilliance, how Rafa got back to where he belongs!

Rafal Nadal is back on top. This looked impossible a year ago now he’s had his best year for some time. Runner up in Melbourne, King in Monte Carlo, Madrid, Barcelona and Paris and now the star in New York his rise back to the top has been incredible but it’s been down to hard work.

Nadal’s talent is probably better than anyone’s in my opinion. His whole game is one that comes down to hard work as well. There was a struggle for quite some time and the forehand became a weakness, the serve was tired and the backhand was flat and that was sad to see his form and confidence dip especially for a man who before this year had 14 major titles confidence still plays a massive part no matter what you have achieved and throw that in with injuries it’s been tough but he’s enjoying his tennis once more.

Some will turn around and say well there is no Novak, Murray or Stan but you can only win your matches and your battles and you could flip it on the other hand and say if he lost in R2 well there is no Novak, Murray or Stan and he blew it so if anything there is more pressure in situations like this.

Nadal’s brilliance is his forehand. The flick of the wrist and the spin he generates is out of this world whether he flicks it up the line or kills the angle cross court it’s stunning.

Not only has Nadal found this shot again but also found the balance in his game. The serve is back and probably better than it has ever been before. Adding good friend, former player and ex doubles partner Carlos Moya to his team was a good decision he has helped find that killer instinct on the serve which was lacking. As a lefty you do have a bit more of an advantage on serve with that bouncing slice out-wide and he has utilised his skill a lot with the sharp serve down the T, kick into the body or the slice out wide.

The backhand is the shot that Nadal use to avoid, it was the weaker of the two but he seems more composed and free on it instead of being tight. It’s not the strongest shot in the game but’s it more of a game changer now in favour of Nadal, he is so good at lining it up and finding the target and this has all made the difference.

Throw in the forehand, serve, improved backhand and of course confidence and what you have is a Grand Slam winner once more!

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He looked gone, but he’s back on top!

A few years ago Rafael Nadal looked gone. I think it’s fair we all thought this. After winning Roland Garros in 2014 it began to fall apart with injuries, poor form and a major lack of confidence but now he’s back at the top and what a story it has been.

It got to a stage where he stopped becoming a contender and you wouldn’t put his name in a list of contenders even at Roland Garros in 2015 and 2016 you wouldn’t write him off but you wouldn’t be surprised by an early exit.

This year there has been big change, a change that has been welcomed by fans all over the world. Adding Carlos Moyà to his team seemed to bring back that back to basics feeling back to his game finding that spin and ruthlessness off the forehand and the serve but also a greater presence off the backhand which is something that will be explored on here over the next week.

He looked gone, but he is back on top where he belongs and if it wasn’t for his hard work and determination this wouldn’t be possible.

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CHAMP10N

In this sport, some things are just meant to be. After a tough 3 years after winning his 9th Roland Garros Rafal Nadal etches his name onto that famous trophy for a 10th time which is incredible!

After making the final in Australia all talk turned to that Roland Garros title aiming for number 10 but Nadal always saying 9 is his favourite number but he might be re-evaluating that right now.

Over the past three years he has struggled with injuries and form but as well as celebrating another major for the Spaniard also celebrate and praise his work ethic and commitment to always trying to be a better player. When things got tough after Grand Slam No.14 you couldn’t fault him if he decided to hang up his racket at this point but he wasn’t done and I have a feeling he isn’t done yet.

Even the best can go through that period of having a lack of confidence which shows despite title after title they are human and you can see what it meant to him to win once again and in style, the forehand was immense but his consistency throughout the fortnight in Paris was special dropping just 35 games in 7 matches which is his lowest number of games dropped during his run to 10 titles!

VAMOS!

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