I love this time of year in men’s tennis as everyone is asking how Rafael Nadal can be beaten on the dirt, the rest of the year we are asking can anyone beat Roger Federer on any other surface.
Federer’s recent hiring of Jose Higueras as his coach is a huge step in the right direction if Federer is going to win his first French Open. Higueras is recognized as one of, if not the most knowledgeable coaches out there. This is according his former students Jim Courier, Michael Chang, Todd Martin, Pete Sampras and most recently Robby Ginepri.
Federer showed some real fire and moments of excellence in the Monte Carlo final. He artfully demonstrated a new tactic that he has gotten from Higueras – he was not only trying to move Nadal side to side on or far behind the baseline but he was moving him forward and back and winning most points when doing so. Federer was also taking his opportunities when he was able to move forward, which is going to be essential to taking the rhythm away from Nadal. I believe that Federer is only going to get better with this strategy. Yes, he lost the Monte Carlo final but he lost the final there 6-4, 6-4 in 2007 and this year, he lost it 7-5, 7-5 and he blow a couple of very good leads, including 4-0 in the second set. I believe that Federer is a little better off this year and he has a coach that is a very good communicator with a definite plan.
Federer is the most versatile player ever to play the game. He has everything needed to beat possibly the greatest clay court player. Federer is the world No. 1, however, I do think he is going to need all the help he can get when it comes to Nadal and playing him on the dirt – he might need Higueras to play with him against Nadal. The one thing that Federer does have going for him is that Nadal is not doing anything different on the clay in terms of his game and movement. Is this an advantage or not?
Nadal has been playing a lot more doubles and recently won the doubles title in Monte Carlo. Why is he doing this? To prepare for Wimbledon!!! Let the games begin…