Federer is and always has been the cause of his own undoing against Nadal

Docalex007

Hall of Fame
Let's face it, folks. Rafael Nadal is a remarkable competitor and always seems to show up against Roger Federer on the biggest of stages. But despite this fact, in basically all of their important non-clay matches, Federer has had opportunities galore to secure wins against his biggest rival.

Take this latest loss to Nadal for example. He wins the first set, barely, in a tiebreaker after starting the match super hot and taking a 4-1 lead and almost securing the double break. Then as usual and right on time the inexplicable happens, he gets visibly rattled which then affects every single point he plays. Nadal hits one or two great shots and no matter how dominant Federer had been overall up until then, he loses belief. He's scarred. Crippled. Traumatised from previous encounters. He... chokes.

In the second set, again Federer plays well enough to give himself ample opportunities to take the set, but falters immediately after gaining the upper hand. He breaks... then cannot consolidate and gets broken to love. Did Nadal play spectacular to secure the re-break? In this case (as in most cases) not particularly. Federer hits the net cord, plays a silly and out-of-place dropper, hits out, frames it, etc. Opportunity and advantage and the upper hand lost.

In the third set, again he has the chance to take the set. Fails. How? Errors. Nadal plays well but he's not blazing winners past Federer on most points. Of course he plays his share of amazing points where Roger doesn't stand a chance winning the point, or forces the error, but most of the time Roger dismantles himself and wastes any opportunity that that he has earned for himself. In the breaker he inexplicably shoots himself in the foot with his play and goes down 1-6.

In the fourth, again, Federer up 4-3 has a break point on Nadal's serve. He can serve for the set if he only can secure it. No. Fails.

This pattern can be seen in so many of their matches. Even last year's French Open. He gains the upper hand only to suddenly become error prone and tight, creating poor play on crucial points. Not to take away from Nadal as he does play many points brilliantly on the defence, but Federer has shown many times that it is he who ends the point (by losing it with a nervous shot).

It's truly sickening and stomach-churning to watch as a fan of his. But in some ways it makes me think. Perhaps it's better this way than if Roger just could not beat Rafa, that he just doesn't have the game, the ability, the talent. This is clearly NOT the case. He trembles playing Nadal and his game suffers rightly so for it.

What do you guys think? Is it better knowing that Federer's lack of self-belief is the main obstacle and the main cause of his undoing against Nadal, or would it be better if Roger just didn't have the game to beat Nadal and we as fans could just concede that Nadal is the overall better tennis player?

I think watching Roger playing his archenemy Rafa is like sitting through a Greek tragedy; the hero being fatally flawed. It is tragic that Federer can't overcome his trembling, unconfident, error-prone play against his main historical rival because he's such a great champion... but ultimately, a very flawed champion.
 
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NadalAgassi

Guest
Nadal is definitely in his head. Federer game wise had all he needed to win the match but he folds mentally against Nadal, and not just on clay as some of his supporters suggest (heck least of all on clay as that is the one place he is genuinely too far outplayed regularly).
 

ttbrowne

Hall of Fame
Yep. Fed needs a big old chuckwagon of confidence. It's gone against Rafa. Course he's 30 now which makes it even harder cause the loses rack up and the more losses, the more he loses confidence. He's not a young man with a young mind. When you're young you tend to say I've got a lot of time to get him. Not at 30.
 

Docalex007

Hall of Fame
Nadal is definitely in his head. Federer game wise had all he needed to win the match but he folds mentally against Nadal, and not just on clay as some of his supporters suggest (heck least of all on clay as that is the one place he is genuinely too far outplayed regularly).
Indeed. Nadal gives everything and throws everything at Federer and Federer trembles. Nadal is the biggest competitor the sport of tennis has ever seen and Federer just can't handle it.

A flawed champion, he is. His inability to overcome Nadal in big matches is the major and perhaps only tragedy of his career. Nobody can have the perfect career, and Federer certainly hasn't.
 

Docalex007

Hall of Fame
Nadal is the fiercest competitor the sport has seen and Federer has no business ever being mentioned in the same category in this respect.

Again, a flawed champion. Federer has amazing ability which is why he's as great as he is... but he isn't a fierce competitor.
 

tennisfreak

Semi-Pro
Federer unravels under the lofty expectations of his own greatness and his inability to beat his greatest rival on the biggest stages. I think he feels in his own mind that he cannot be reasonably called the goat when he gets owned consistently by his greatest rival. That's why he feels so much pressure.

I sometimes think Federer would do better against Nadal if he were only a middling champion with 5 or 6 grand slams. At least, the constant pressure to prove you're the best would not be in play. It would only be Nadal on the other side.
 

FedMex

Rookie
I know it's really tough given the stakes, but Annacone needs to use some sort of mental game with Federer and put him in a place where he will continue to keep going balls out, like he starts his matches. The spunk that Djokovic played with all of last year. Seems to me that if Roger let himself not be perfect and full of artistry but when he goes into his funk just realize he's going to lose either way so just hit as if he just started the match and man-up, then he'd have a better chance. he's had enough occasions to know that being tentative and weak he will not get through the likes of djokovic and nadal. might as well go down swinging and possibly get some new fans. his unforced errors may go up, but so will his winners and a string of those might get him an unexpected break on the other guy.

the base of such a strategy would be serve. he has to have a sampras/gonzalez/laver like confidence that he won't lose his serve.
 

Docalex007

Hall of Fame
Federer unravels under the lofty expectations of his own greatness and his inability to beat his greatest rival on the biggest stages. I think he feels in his own mind that he cannot be reasonably called the goat when he gets owned consistently by his greatest rival. That's why he feels so much pressure.

I sometimes think Federer would do better against Nadal if he were only a middling champion with 5 or 6 grand slams. At least, the constant pressure to prove you're the best would not be in play. It would only be Nadal on the other side.
Good post and I generally agree with most of what you said. He falters largely due to the perceived weight of his own legacy, which is readily on his mind when playing Nadal.

For once I would love to see Roger play his tennis against Nadal instead of playing Nadal. He ALWAYS plays Nadal and therefore plays against his legacy.

And for once would I like to see him come out and just ooze confidence even if he loses 20 points in a row. He should play on his terms, going down swinging lights out. He never does, of course.
 

Warmaster

Hall of Fame
Nadal is the fiercest competitor the sport has seen and Federer has no business ever being mentioned in the same category in this respect.

Again, a flawed champion. Federer has amazing ability which is why he's as great as he is... but he isn't a fierce competitor.


Exactly. Like someone else mentioned earlier; Combine Roger's talent with Nadal's mindset and you've got yourself the real GOAT. Seriously this guy wouldn't lose :D
 

clayman2000

Hall of Fame
Good post and I generally agree with most of what you said. He falters largely due to the perceived weight of his own legacy, which is readily on his mind when playing Nadal.

For once I would love to see Roger play his tennis against Nadal instead of playing Nadal. He ALWAYS plays Nadal and therefore plays against his legacy.

And for once would I like to see him come out and just ooze confidence even if he loses 20 points in a row. He should play on his terms, going down swinging lights out. He never does, of course.
This quote makes me doubt whether you have ever played a sport in your life (no offence).

And the biggest factor why Federer has these mental issues with Nadal is the quality of Nadal's passes. As good a baseliner as Fed is, he cant pain lines anymore with the same pace he used to thus he needs to come to net.... and simply put Rafa is just too good a passer.

While Djokovic has neutralized Nadal's passing ability by hammering the BH, Fed cant do that as easily because its harder for him to hit a low BH approach. With two hands its easier to hit through the court on a DTL BH, but with one hand there you have hit a bit higher to get net clearage. Thus, Fed doesnt have as many options.

Fed struggling against Nadal has always been a mix of a bad matchup, and lack of confidence
 

OddJack

G.O.A.T.
Agree, as said by Pat Mc Nadal didnt do anything special to win that match, it was Rodge's own UE that giftd it out
 

Rusty669

Semi-Pro
It is definately worse that Fed theoretically is capable of beating Nadal in a lot of best of 5 sets matches than not standing a chance at all against him.
If you don't stand a chance against a particular player in the first place you can accept the losses a hell of a lot easier.
With most losses from Fed against Nadal(Wimbledon 2008,Aussie Open 2009,French Open 2011,Aussie Open 2012) you get this awful sinking feeling,it's always the same question:why solely against nadal?And the answer is simple:The match-up between the two is simply a mismatch, you've got to accept it. Only on fast courts I get the feeling that Fed is in control the way he should be with his superior skill and talent.
 
Agree, as said by Pat Mc Nadal didnt do anything special to win that match, it was Rodge's own UE that giftd it out
Can't really agree with this. Last 2 sets, Nadal had another gear to access whenever he felt like it. Nothing Fed could do when Nadal decided to play this gear. Just got totally owned. On the other hand Fed can only access his high gear at the beginning when Nadal is still warming up. The times have changed.
 
WTF was Fed doing on that overhead smash form the baseline which he sliced out wide? That could have made a huge difference in it going to 5 sets
 

mental midget

Hall of Fame
it was painful to watch roger's racket head speed drop like a rock on some of those crucial points.

plenty of armchair quarterbacking on this one, but i'm surprised he doesn't step back and do a little deep ball rolling to nadal every once in a while. nadal doesn't generate his best offense against the loopier stuff, he likes the pace and short angles to create from.
 

Docalex007

Hall of Fame
This quote makes me doubt whether you have ever played a sport in your life (no offence).
Let's see:

- Youth baseball, basketball, football
- High School football defensive captain.
- Football defensive captain for my university
- competitive tennis singles and doubles player for 10 years

I think I've played enough sport to understand the psyche needed when facing an uphill battle against a seemingly unassailable opponent. In a game of tennis if you are nervous, you play tentatively and playing tentatively (over-thinking) leads to errors.

This is the classic opponent-in-your-head problem. One is better off trying to rid oneself of this restraining feeling that comes from concentrating too much on your opponent. If you feel you can't win due to over-thinking and trembling, then I think it's better to lose on your own terms than to go down having played tentatively.
 

Docalex007

Hall of Fame
I'm pretty sure he hit more forehand and backhand winners than Federer in this match.
Federer

Winners:46
UEs: 63

Nadal

Winners: 36
UEs: 34

Federer contributed twice as many points to Nadal through his errors than Nadal's winners gained for him.

So it looks like you're wrong but that is not even what is important to point out here. We have to cross-examine Federer's winners to Nadal's UEs to see which contributed more to the score.

Federer hit 46 winners = 46 pts won outright by a clean winner. Nadal hit 34 UEs (which are also Federer's pts won). This means Federer won most of his points on winners and likely forced errors.

Nadal hit 36 winners so 36 pts outright from clean winners, but received 63 pts from Federer's UEs. This means Federer contributed more to Nadal's pts than Nadal took from Federer through clean winners.

Federer was Nadal's biggest source of points.
 

NamRanger

G.O.A.T.
Nadal is definitely in his head. Federer game wise had all he needed to win the match but he folds mentally against Nadal, and not just on clay as some of his supporters suggest (heck least of all on clay as that is the one place he is genuinely too far outplayed regularly).


Their clay matches that are competitive are by far the most fun to watch and highest quality. Their two Wimbledon encounters were by far some of the most overrated matches I've ever seen.
 

Mick

Legend
federer made more UE than usual because nadal kept on returning his shots, so he went for more and missed the court.
 

wangs78

Hall of Fame
Great thread. I completely agree, Roger beats himself. He,s more talented than Nadal but turns into a mental midget against him when the stakes are high. Tonight's collapse is right up there with FO 08 and AO 09 bc in both his body language was terribe. Poor shot selection in some key moments and no conviction in routine put away shots that gave Rafa more chances. I just dont get how he has no such problems ever at he WTF but always does at Slams. He schooled Nadal at the WTF in December, then was up 4-1 in the first set tonight and then SUDDENLY BAM!!! His confidence is shattered. Makes no sense whatsoever.
 

ASantana

New User
You took the words right out of my mouth. I was about to make a thread exactly like this because it's something that I've realized over the years. His game any day could stand up to Nadal's but he just lets Nadal into his head and it leads to a downfall. It stinks to watch as a Fed fan because you see how well he's playing up until that point and know that there is no reason that he should be playing so terribly.
 
Federer

Winners:46
UEs: 63

Nadal

Winners: 36
UEs: 34

Federer contributed twice as many points to Nadal through his errors than Nadal's winners gained for him.

So it looks like you're wrong but that is not even what is important to point out here. We have to cross-examine Federer's winners to Nadal's UEs to see which contributed more to the score.

Federer hit 46 winners = 46 pts won outright by a clean winner. Nadal hit 34 UEs (which are also Federer's pts won). This means Federer won most of his points on winners and likely forced errors.

Nadal hit 36 winners so 36 pts outright from clean winners, but received 63 pts from Federer's UEs. This means Federer contributed more to Nadal's pts than Nadal took from Federer through clean winners.

Federer was Nadal's biggest source of points.
I believe those winners include aces. They showed the numbers several times throughout the match. Pretty sure Nadal hit more winners off the ground...
 
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monfed

Guest
For those that think/say that Federer is mentally weak against Nadal please answer these -

1)Nadal(17 YO,practically new born kid) beat Federer in Miami(slow HC) in their VERY first encounter. Federer didn't even know who Nadal was so how would he even fear him?


2) In WTF 2010, Federer lost the second set and the momentum was with Nadal. So how's it that Federer won the last set 6-2? How's it that Federer didn't mentally checkout?
 

Netspirit

Hall of Fame
The OP is reading too much into the early break in the second. Nadal said had been serving against the wind, unlike the very next game where Federer had to do it.
 

zagor

Bionic Poster
So much for the best player that day winning, yet again Federer only loses because of him.:roll:
Well, we can't help it if his tennis was flat, subpeak, uninspired, sloppy etc. , right LOLville?

Just look at them as merely "observations" as you'd say.
 

tennis_pro

Bionic Poster
I absolutely can't believe how poor Federer is against Nadal. If I played pro tennis and got beaten by a guy all the time I'd be pissed as f**k, damn Rog you don't have to win but SHOW SOME FREAKING EMOTIONS!!!!!!If Nadal comes to the net, aim the ball to his head as hard as you can, stop being a nice guy cause you ain't 25 anymore and can't win with grace as you used to, BULLY BACK!
!
And now I'm reading his interview "don't feel sorry for me, I'm OK with the loss"

there's no such thing as accepting a loss, it's your life, YOUR WORK. My God Fed has absolutely no passion and that's what pisses me most about him, not the losses but the lack of passion, the belief he can win.
 
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I absolutely can't believe how poor Federer is against Nadal. If I played pro tennis and got beaten by a guy all the time I'd be pissed as f**k, damn Rog you don't have to win but SHOW SOME FREAKING EMOTIONS!!!!!!If Nadal comes to the net, aim the ball to his head as hard as you can, stop being a nice guy cause you ain't 25 anymore and can't win with grace anymore, BULLY BACK

And now I'm reading his interview "don't feel sorry for me, I'm OK with the loss"

there's no such thing as accepting a loss, it's your life, YOUR WORK. My God Fed has absolutely no passion and that's what pisses me most about him, not the losses but the lack of passion, the belief he can win.
Wow, you need to chill out! Look Federer at lease won WTF defeating both Novak and Nadal, that means a lot to you guys and I am almost 100% sure he will have it yet again in 2012.
 

tennis_pro

Bionic Poster
Wow, you need to chill out! Look Federer at lease won WTF defeating both Novak and Nadal, that means a lot to you guys and I am almost 100% sure he will have it yet again in 2012.
I'd be more happy if he lost in the 1st round showing some passion then go through the first couple of rounds only to lose again when things get tight. Wilander was 100 % right about Fed.

And I'm starting to think the only reason he dominated the last 2 months of 2011 is because only he was in good shape (Tsonga as well being the only other top player in form). Of course he was when the rest of the tour killed each other in the first 9 months of the year!
 
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I'd be more happy if he lost in the 1st round showing some passion then go through the first couple of rounds only to lose again when things get tight. Wilander was 100 % right about Fed.

And I'm starting to think the only reason he dominated the last 2 months of 2011 is because only he was in good shape (Tsonga as well being the only other top player in form). Of course he was when the rest of the tour killed each other in the first 9 months of the year!
Yea, I do agree with that. The majority of top players are really burnt out after the USO, some even during and going up to the USO. They just don't have it in the tank no matter how bad they want it.
 

ACE of Hearts

Talk Tennis Guru
I didnt even bother to watch the match.I knew the outcome.The guy has no gameplan and no clue.He brings the same tactics and he always fails.He makes alot of unforced errors left and right

Nadal is like a ping pong machine and returns everything back and Federer makes errors left and right.
 

ACE of Hearts

Talk Tennis Guru
Federer to me was one of the greatest to ever play but the knock on his career will be his matches against Nadal.I cant consider him an all time great when he looks clueless againts Nadal!!
 

zagor

Bionic Poster
Wow, you need to chill out! Look Federer at lease won WTF defeating both Novak and Nadal, that means a lot to you guys and I am almost 100% sure he will have it yet again in 2012.
Don't you worry LOLville, a day will come when Nadal will only be winning Monte Carlo in a year and I'll be right here to return it all with interest.
 
TS you are wrong. You have to ask yourself WHY did
Nadal get in Fed's head the first time? Answer because
Nadal kept attacking Federer's weakest shot, which is his
BH, add a lot of topspin and it gets even weaker. Federer
lost probably most of his matches against Nadal because
Nadal consistenly kept attacking the weaker BH side with
a lot of topspin.

Fed has had the weak (high) BH for all of his career and he
has not really improved it. Nadal knows it and attacks it.

So how come Fed seems to have a very good BH against
other players? That is because the other players don't attack
it with the topsin Nadal does and Federer is significantly better
tennis player than most others, but not against Nadal.

The only thing Fed needs to do is improve that BH and the fact
that he hasn't been able to do so is proof that he thinks its good
enough, yet the results against Nadal prove him wrong.

If I recall correctly Federer also had much problems with
a russian player who uses a lot of topspin, can't remember
his name. They played some 5 setters, one at US Open IIRC.
With the forehand Fed can handle heavy topspin balls, but with
the BH not really.

Funny thing is that Nadal himself has started to have weak BH
the last 2 years or so. It was fantastic in A02009, but nowadays
its much weaker. Everything is about his forehand and Djokovic
really punished him for it in 2011.
 
Don't you worry LOLville, a day will come when Nadal will only be winning Monte Carlo in a year and I'll be right here to return it all with interest.
That is pathetic as hell, good luck with that. Get a clue and grow up, who cares? Nadal is going to get bageled and at best win a set off of Novak. :)
 

zagor

Bionic Poster
That is pathetic as hell, good luck with that. Get a clue and grow up, who cares? Nadal is going to get bageled and at best win a set off of Novak. :)
It is indeed pathetic how much you obssesively hate Fed.

Nadal is not gonna get bageled the way he's playing and Novak first has to get past Murray. However yes if Novak gets past Murray he'll be the favourite against Nadal in the final.
 

hawk eye

Hall of Fame
If Fed really has all those matches on his racket, he wouldn't have been be so nervous. He would have thought, well, may be I missed too many 'sitters' last time, but with my ability it's not gonna happen this time.

It's a little more complicated than that. The thing is Fed knows his shots, even his point ending shots, have to be perfect. Anything less Nadal is gonna get to and not only that, he's likely to make me him pay for not playing the perfect shot. Nadal sooner or later will show up. Federer sometimes comes out firing with Nadal still finding his range, but when that happens Fed is baffled and gets tight because deep down he knows he's not able to continious outplay Nadal over three sets, and that Nadal will punish him for not reaching the level he needs to have. Too high a level that is. This makes him rushed and going for too much, even on 'sitters'.
He even more or less admitted this in his presser.

Yes Nadal is in head, but for a reason. Because he's not good enough and he knows it.
 
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watungga

Professional
Did Federer ever commented on the difference of the incoming balls from Nadals shots vis-a-vis Delpo/Djoker/Murray/Roddick?

There must be something on the ball's trajectory that's very annoying to him?
 

hyperwarrior

Professional
Let's face it, folks. Rafael Nadal is a remarkable competitor and always seems to show up against Roger Federer on the biggest of stages. But despite this fact, in basically all of their important non-clay matches, Federer has had opportunities galore to secure wins against his biggest rival.

Take this latest loss to Nadal for example. He wins the first set, barely, in a tiebreaker after starting the match super hot and taking a 4-1 lead and almost securing the double break. Then as usual and right on time the inexplicable happens, he gets visibly rattled which then affects every single point he plays. Nadal hits one or two great shots and no matter how dominant Federer had been overall up until then, he loses belief. He's scarred. Crippled. Traumatised from previous encounters. He... chokes.

In the second set, again Federer plays well enough to give himself ample opportunities to take the set, but falters immediately after gaining the upper hand. He breaks... then cannot consolidate and gets broken to love. Did Nadal play spectacular to secure the re-break? In this case (as in most cases) not particularly. Federer hits the net cord, plays a silly and out-of-place dropper, hits out, frames it, etc. Opportunity and advantage and the upper hand lost.

In the third set, again he has the chance to take the set. Fails. How? Errors. Nadal plays well but he's not blazing winners past Federer on most points. Of course he plays his share of amazing points where Roger doesn't stand a chance winning the point, or forces the error, but most of the time Roger dismantles himself and wastes any opportunity that that he has earned for himself. In the breaker he inexplicably shoots himself in the foot with his play and goes down 1-6.

In the fourth, again, Federer up 4-3 has a break point on Nadal's serve. He can serve for the set if he only can secure it. No. Fails.

This pattern can be seen in so many of their matches. Even last year's French Open. He gains the upper hand only to suddenly become error prone and tight, creating poor play on crucial points. Not to take away from Nadal as he does play many points brilliantly on the defence, but Federer has shown many times that it is he who ends the point (by losing it with a nervous shot).

It's truly sickening and stomach-churning to watch as a fan of his. But in some ways it makes me think. Perhaps it's better this way than if Roger just could not beat Rafa, that he just doesn't have the game, the ability, the talent. This is clearly NOT the case. He trembles playing Nadal and his game suffers rightly so for it.

What do you guys think? Is it better knowing that Federer's lack of self-belief is the main obstacle and the main cause of his undoing against Nadal, or would it be better if Roger just didn't have the game to beat Nadal and we as fans could just concede that Nadal is the overall better tennis player?
Very nice analysis Docalex. you just put into words my overall thought about this match. As a fan, it is frustrating and painful to see this pattern again and again. I'd like to quote everything you just said but forgive me for being usually lazy on this forum. ;P

If we look at the first 5 games of the match, it reminded me of their London's match back in november, Federer was brilliant and Nadal wasn't fully there. I was wondering, can he sustain this level of brilliance to win? I knew that when Nadal started to put pressure, we'll have an answer to this.

I'm sure there is something in his mind when Nadal started tailgating him. He probably didn't accept this situation at this very moment...
Due to their past history, Nadal has built an aura for himself against Fed and once again, he's using to his advantage with the plan keeping pressure to Fed's backhand.

I read part of Nadal's book and there's a confirmation about Nadal himself and he admitted that going to Roger's backhand with deep heavy topspin relentlessly, is THE plan.

This is not an excuse but you can clearly see during the match, this was a Federer VS his own demon and Nadal.
Credit to Nadal, his presence and his ability to bring Federer's level down with this kind of pressure is the lethal weapon. Not visible, but you can feel it.

Yes, very frustrating to see Federer losing his serve after having the first break in the 2nd set and if I was a sport psychologist, I'll like to tell him: "This was the most important service game to hold in order to continue"...

There was a point where he didn't choose the right shot and instead of going for an inside-out forehand for a winner, he used a failed dropshot. You can see he felt a bit stupid and this is typical from Fed once in a while...as a fan, it's painful. xD

Anyways, it's easy to judge the poor shot selection but if we were in his shoes against Rafa, we're probably reacting the same way. Sometimes he played the right way and missed the right shot by an inches and that's not easy to recover.

That's part of my POV and that's tennis. As for your question, Federer has all the tools to beat a full Nadal but have to find a way to win when things are not going perfectly. Easier said than done...
 

BeGreat

Rookie
Basically, what the OP is saying is that if you can capture moments and opportunities that are presented to you, you can be great. NFS!

"If Federer could beat Nadal on those key opportunities, he would beat Nadal." Also, "If you were the inventors of Facebook, you'd have invented Facebook."
 

Magnus

Legend
While I agree with the OP 100%, this was hardly his worst choke. FO 2011, AO 09, Hamburg 2008, Monte Carlo 2008, and many other examples of this pattern. For some reason only indoors Fed looks pretty confident and motivated against Nadal. Go figure.
 

gregor.b

Professional
Let's face it, folks. Rafael Nadal is a remarkable competitor and always seems to show up against Roger Federer on the biggest of stages. But despite this fact, in basically all of their important non-clay matches, Federer has had opportunities galore to secure wins against his biggest rival.

Take this latest loss to Nadal for example. He wins the first set, barely, in a tiebreaker after starting the match super hot and taking a 4-1 lead and almost securing the double break. Then as usual and right on time the inexplicable happens, he gets visibly rattled which then affects every single point he plays. Nadal hits one or two great shots and no matter how dominant Federer had been overall up until then, he loses belief. He's scarred. Crippled. Traumatised from previous encounters. He... chokes.

In the second set, again Federer plays well enough to give himself ample opportunities to take the set, but falters immediately after gaining the upper hand. He breaks... then cannot consolidate and gets broken to love. Did Nadal play spectacular to secure the re-break? In this case (as in most cases) not particularly. Federer hits the net cord, plays a silly and out-of-place dropper, hits out, frames it, etc. Opportunity and advantage and the upper hand lost.

In the third set, again he has the chance to take the set. Fails. How? Errors. Nadal plays well but he's not blazing winners past Federer on most points. Of course he plays his share of amazing points where Roger doesn't stand a chance winning the point, or forces the error, but most of the time Roger dismantles himself and wastes any opportunity that that he has earned for himself. In the breaker he inexplicably shoots himself in the foot with his play and goes down 1-6.

In the fourth, again, Federer up 4-3 has a break point on Nadal's serve. He can serve for the set if he only can secure it. No. Fails.

This pattern can be seen in so many of their matches. Even last year's French Open. He gains the upper hand only to suddenly become error prone and tight, creating poor play on crucial points. Not to take away from Nadal as he does play many points brilliantly on the defence, but Federer has shown many times that it is he who ends the point (by losing it with a nervous shot).

It's truly sickening and stomach-churning to watch as a fan of his. But in some ways it makes me think. Perhaps it's better this way than if Roger just could not beat Rafa, that he just doesn't have the game, the ability, the talent. This is clearly NOT the case. He trembles playing Nadal and his game suffers rightly so for it.

What do you guys think? Is it better knowing that Federer's lack of self-belief is the main obstacle and the main cause of his undoing against Nadal, or would it be better if Roger just didn't have the game to beat Nadal and we as fans could just concede that Nadal is the overall better tennis player?

I think watching Roger playing his archenemy Rafa is like sitting through a Greek tragedy; the hero being fatally flawed. It is tragic that Federer can't overcome his trembling, unconfident, error-prone play against his main historical rival because he's such a great champion... but ultimately, a very flawed champion.
Without the legacy bit,I think maybe this is how some of the Nadal fans feel when Rafa steps up to the plate against Nole. Obviously,the legacy part is a large section of your opinion based argument,but with Rafa it comes down to feeling hopelessly out gunned on all facets of the game. Roger,not so much. And no, I do not think it is better to know that Roger CAN win the game,but doesn't. Mindset is the largest part of the game,unfortunately for Roger,but fortunately for Rafa.
 

JustBob

Hall of Fame
If you look at the majority of key games Fed lost, he "lost" them more than Nadal "won" them, i.e. Nadal didn't really do anything special other than his regular pattern of play. Nadal comes up with incredible shots at times, but these shots are rarely the key shots that win him games. They are the shots that get into Fed's head and cause these "funks" where he makes silly errors.
 
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