The 2010 ATP Tour Finals showcased a very interesting week of tennis highlighted by the Andy Murray/Rafael Nadal semi final and punctuated with an intriguing singles final. The 2010 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals Men’s Singles Championship match was a promoters dream with World No.1 Rafael Nadal and No.2 seed Roger Federer going into battle for the 22nd time in their careers and in the 18th final between these two.
As mentioned in the Men’s Singles Final Preview predictions of who will win and lose are never worth betting on. In fact, I view them as if anything, a bit of an insult to the players. One of the great things about tennis is that it always comes down to who can perform when it counts on the day. Anyone who REALLY understands this game knows that in the vast majority of matches, both players will have critical moments and opportunities that can swing the match either way and often there can be a number of these situations within the same match.
On any given day the winner will be decided by the player who, in the above mentioned situations, can:
- Make the better strategic decisions;
- Successfully execute their shots during the BIG points;
- Cope best with mental challenges they face;
- Sustain the best levels of concentration;
- Experience the better serving of luck and find a portion of those lines on the close calls.
World No.1 Rafael Nadal is ever so clearly aware of this fact as he stated again in his post-match interview about the fantastic semi final match against Andy Murray when he said, “You have to all the time find solutions to play against him and to try to beat him, no? I think he’s a great champion. For me play against him is a pleasure, play matches like this. Even I said before, even if I lost that match, I am going to come here and say I am very happy for everything because I think I played a very good match. When you arrive to this situation, anything can happen.“
Federer of course, is also %100 aware of these facts also. In his semi final post-match interview he spoke of how he will decide on his strategic game plan for the final, in “Preparing for tomorrow’s match, it’s more of a broad approach thinking back of what has all happened the last few months in my game, the Madrid finals possibly, even though that was clay and so forth, what caused him trouble so far this tournament, what have I done well. Try to put all those pieces together and hopefully find the right game plan for tomorrow.”
Federer highlighted how crucial performing on the day, making the right decisions, focussed concentration and overcoming the mental challenges are when he continued by saying, “Clearly you have to play well on the day, make the right decisions when you can. Like I said before, best of three set tennis can be over very quickly. 5 all seems like a close match. 10 minutes later it can be 7-5, 2-0 and over. You have to be very focused and very sharp. That’s what I’ll try to do, prepare for tomorrow very good mentally. I think that’s what it comes down to tomorrow anyway for me.”
The 29 year old Roger Federer is pictured above perfectly poised to pounce on the ball during the most lethal shot in his vast repertoire, his serve. The court conditions, surface and by playing indoors provided a definite advantage for the 1.85m Swiss in comparison with playing Nadal on a clay court. Federer also had won both matches that the pair have played against each other on an indoor court going into the final.
The 24-year-old Nadal has won 10 out of the 12 matches that he has played against Federer on clay, whereas Federer’s record against the 1.88m left-hander was 5-4 going into this final on any other surface. As always, for Federer to beat Nadal the pressure was on for him to execute his serve at a consistently high level and earn a lot of quick points. Federer has the highest likelihood of winning his service games when he forces Nadal to miss the return of serve or earns a good opportunity to press home his serving advantage with a very strong 2nd shot after his serve.
Nadal, a 9-time Grand Slam single champion is No.1 on the ATP Tour for the percentage of points won against the second serve of his opponents in 2010. The dual Wimbledon singles champion places enormous pressure on his opponents serve and has converted close to 1 of every 2 break point opportunities in 2010. The 5-time Roland Garros singles champion also won very close to 1 in every three of his opponent’s service games this year, which combined makes him extremely tough to beat.
The difference between these two champions on the day began from 1-set all and 1-game all in the 3rd set. Federer, a 16-time Grand Slam singles champion strung together five straight games from that point to win his 5th ATP Tour Finals singles title 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. The 6-time Wimbledon champion held his serve thrice during this streak and broke Nadal’s serve twice.
The 1 hour and 37 minute match saw Federer execute his serve to near perfection. The 5-time US Open singles champion won %93 of the points (37 out of 40), when his first serve went into play and landed his killer serve %63 of the time throughout the match. More importantly, in match where both players where so dominant on serve Federer came up with the goods when it counted the most. Federer converting %100 of his break point opportunities against the Nadal serve (3 out of 3), whereas Nadal converted %50 (only 1 of 2) of his break point opportunities.
Stay tuned to this tennis website for full coverage of every Grand Slam tournament and every major women’s and men’s tennis tournament on the WTA Tour and ATP Tours. Click this link for further details about the ATP Tour Finals -> ATP Tour Finals 2010: November 21-28.
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photo credit: Philip Ip