Federer v Nadal: Legends’ predictions


Tennis: Even the legends of tennis can’t seperate Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Rafael Nadal, Rod Laver and Roger Federer.

How the greats see Sunday night’s Australian Open final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

ROD LAVER: “I’m really not judging if one is favoured over the other because both know each other’s game. If he serves well, maybe Roger has an edge. But I couldn’t go much further than that because I don’t know. When you look at Nadal’s forehand whipped into Roger’s backhand, I do know that Roger said a few years ago: ‘I’ve got to do something’. So he got a larger-headed racquet and a little bit more power in weight so now, when there’s this heavy topspin comes in (at him), he won’t have to slice it as much, which allows Nadal to get around it and be aggressive with that forehand a little more.”

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ROY EMERSON: “Every time I pick Federer because he’s my favourite. He’s serving awfully well and, when he serves well, he’s difficult over five sets. Rafa is in great physical shape and he’s also difficult over five sets. With Federer taking a medical break after two sets, no one knows how he is (physically).”

JOHN NEWCOMBE: “Roger’s game suits Rafa, but he does have an all-court game, Roger, and he’s got to bring that to the table. He’s got to serve and volley 30 per cent of the time on his first serve; he’s got to do a lot of little slice backhands; he’s got to keep changing up what he does.”

LLEYTON HEWITT: “The match-up certainly suits Rafa slightly more but how is he going to bounce back from that (five-hour semi-final)? It was so taxing and gruelling on his body. Roger’s going to have to throw in the serve-volley attacking tennis but the court and the balls this year playing slightly quicker certainly plays into Roger’s hands.”

PAT RAFTER: “Probably Rafa, but I don’t know how much last night has taken out of him and I have to imagine a lot. And I don’t know how Federer is either. It all depends on how these guys pull up. They could be just shattered. Roger’s got to be sore. I really don’t know how they’re going to be and how they’re going to feel. Sometimes having a two-day break is not great either. You’re sort of losing momentum. I’d like to see Federer change a few things up in his game if he wants to beat Rafa; be slightly more aggressive, come into the net a bit more.”

Tennis: Former world number one Ken Rosewall is confident Roger Federer can go on to win the Australian Open.

PAT CASH: “Everything points to Roger. A fast hardcourt, night time is perfect for Federer. Lower-bouncing balls this year is perfect for Federer. He’s fresh, perfectly made for Federer. The only thing is Rafa’s got him in the head. That’s the only question mark.”

MARK PHILIPPOUSSIS: “Honestly, it’s like a coin toss. I’m going to take 52 per cent Roger and 48 Nadal maybe just if I had to pick someone. If anyone could have beaten Federer when he was on a roll, it was Nadal. But I just feel like with the faster conditions of the courts, Federer will be looking to take advantage of that and getting in whenever possible and taking advantage of that net play.”

DARREN CAHILL: “Both guys are living the dream. I don’t think either in their heart of hearts thought they’d get back to a men’s final and certainly not to be playing each other. Head to head, you have to lean towards Rafa but then, with the break, you have to lean towards Roger. There are so many variables. If I had to go one over the other, I’d go slightly Rafa but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Roger come out on top. He’s adding to his legacy in the game and, if he does beat Rafa, I’m not sure there would be too many single performances that would rate higher.”