Basel 2015: Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer Prediction

Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer

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The fact these two are still contesting finals in 2015 when they met in their first tournament final in 2005 is impressive.  Rafael Nadal owns a distinct head-to-head advantage.  Toni Nadal has stated that Roger’s game doesn’t impact Rafa as much as it does other players.  This is due to Rafa’s left-handed play, huge top spin, and great defensive skills.  Still, Federer leads their indoor head-to-head and is playing at home.  In 2015, Roger has seen a rebirth of sorts with SABR, two Grand Slam runner-up finishes, and a more attacking mindset.  Rafa has had a tough 2015.  This makes tomorrow’s match a bit of a 50-50 proposition.

Roger’s fans may view a win tomorrow as making up a bit for Roger’s 0-4 record versus Nadal in a subpar (by Roger’s standards) 2013 season.  Rafa’s fans may view a win over the world #3 in his hometown as a sign that Rafa is back to his old self.

My Take

Roger has to serve well to have a chance at winning.  Roger of course has a wonderful serve and has only faced Rafa once since switching to his bigger more powerful racquet.  If Roger serves well, he can feel cofortable enough to attack. Rafa has fallen into some scoreboard holes this week in Basel only to fight his way to victory.  Roger may be able to break Rafa and even try SABR on Rafa, but none of that will matter if the Swiss cannot hold with general ease.  This surface favors the server so in that sense, I think Roger is a slight favorite tomorrow.

Styles Make Fights

If Roger is not getting a solid number of free points on his serve, he will likely not feel comfortable in attacking Rafa.  A lack of comfort will mean indecision during rallies and a lot of errors from overhitting or chosing the wrong spots on the court to place his shots.  Their stylistic match-up favors Rafa.  This has been true throughout their rivalry.  At times, surface speeds have negated some of that advantage.  If Roger does not play indoor court tennis, Rafa is almost certainly the favorite.

What Happens?

This is one of those head versus heart predictions.  My heart says Roger finds the goods on this surface in his home town.  My head says that Roger will bot generate enough free points, and Rafa will avoid some of his timid or error prone play from 2015 and grind out another win for the Spaniard.

My Prediction: Rafael Nadal d. Roger Federer 7-5, 7-5

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