Well, after Fed’s semifinal beatdown at the Australian Open, it’s not much of a secret anymore…
Leave it to Nadal to take the wind out of Federer’s comeback. Fed’s gone to great lengths to regain his former glory — from playing with a larger racket frame, to hiring Stefan Edberg as his coach — and it looked like the changes were making a difference.
That is, until Nadal’s straight-sets win in their semifinal meeting, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 6-3.
As Nadal consistently blocked Fed’s game, the frustration began to set in.
Early in the second set, after Nadal won a crucial first-set tiebreaker with ease, Federer complained to chair umpire Jay Garner about the grunting coming from the other side of the net.
“Nobody ever says anything,” Federer was heard saying and then addressed it after the match.
Here’s what they had to say at the press conference:
Federer: “It goes in phases. One point he does and [one point] he doesn’t. That’s just what I was complaining about. It had no impact on the outcome of the match.”
Nadal: “When I am playing, when I am hitting the ball during the point, the last thing that I am thinking is try to bother the opponent. The only thing that I am focusing on is try to hit my ball well. … But if I bothered him in any moment, he knows 100 percent it was not because I wanted to. I never do anything on court to bother the opponent.”
There are plenty of nitpicky things that could be called against Nadal — the lengthy time he takes in between points, the subtle on-court coaching from his Uncle Toni, the uncanny ability to return every ball that came his way.
More likely, Fed’s more frustrated with his professional mortatlity than anything else…