Steen Kirby, Yesh Ginsburg, and Ricky Dimon are on hand to offer their previews and predictions for the 35th meeting between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. They face off after five set semifinal victories, and both look hungry to claim yet another Grand Slam in their legendary careers.
Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer
Steen: I’ll make the bold prediction of saying this will be the last Nadal vs. Federer Grand Slam final. Nadal comes off a brilliant five setter where he won in the clutch, while a fresher Federer also outlasted his opponent in five sets. Nadal leads the h2h, and his top spin has always troubled Federer. That said, this is a fast hard court, and I feel like Federer has been superior to Rafa’s tennis this tournament. This should be a great match, but I have a feeling Federer will find his way to win over his rival. Federer in 4
Yesh: Federer certainly looks in better form coming into this match, and Nadal is coming off of a five-hour semifinal with one fewer day of rest. The stars have aligned for Federer to pick up #18 here, but his career record against Nadal has to give pause. If Federer’s backhand doesn’t break down he’ll win, but against Nadal that if has never really come to pass. Nadal in 4
Ricky: Nadal vs. Federer?!?!?! And not even to mention Serena vs. Venus?!?!?! In the words of legendary Green Bay Packers’ head coach Vince Lombardi, “What the hell’s going on out here?” The Australian Open is always awesome, but it has been especially so this year. And the last match should not disappoint, because it adds another chapter to one of the greatest rivalries in tennis history. And it will likely be competitive, too. Nadal is dominating the head-to-head series 23-11, including 9-2 at Grand Slams and 3-0 at the Australian Open. He has even won the majority of their hard-court encounters (9-7). But the playing field could be evened out by two factors: 1) the conditions Down Under are slightly faster than usual, and 2) Nadal has one less day of rest and he is coming off a four-hour and 56-minute battle against Grigor Dimitrov. Still, the head-to-head dominance is hard to ignore and so, too, are the obvious tactics that Nadal has always used to combat Federer. The Spaniard, who has proven time and again that he can bounce back in style from grueling efforts, will once again pound away at Federer’s one-handed back with spinning serves out wide to the ad court and with heavy topspin forehands. Nadal in 4: 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(5), 7-5.