Federer shakes off 'scars' of Nadal defeats

Posted October 17, 2017

"Finishing the year as world number one is a long shot, and I don't think it will happen but if I play like this, who knows?"

"I felt I was playing well all week and that settled my nerves because I was returning well from the (opening) match here against (Diego) Schwartzman. I started off very well and relaxed from then on".

The Swiss 19-time grand slam victor, who still trails Nadal 23-15 in their head-to-head record, didn't face a break point and started and ended the match with service breaks. "I played a fantastic tournament, having very good wins".

That same respect and admiration was also on full display after their match as Federer paid tribute to Nadal in a touching victory speech.

In contrast, Nadal - a 16-time Grand Slam victor who has never won the Shanghai Masters - was labouring through his service games.

Despite his dominance in 2017 over rival Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer doesn't like his chances of catching Nadal in their head-to-head record. When somebody plays better than you, sport is not very hard.

"When somebody plays better than you, sport is not very hard", he said after the match. That's the real thing, no?

The 94th championship of Federer's career is more than another Masters championship-it reinforces the 36-year-old Swiss is on the right path moving forward.

In the past, Nadal's heavy left-handed topspin forehands would go straight to Federer's backhand, with the Swiss often either slicing or chipping the ball back, allowing Nadal to dictate.

Nadal also had a good takeaway from the tournament.

With the World Tour Finals taking place in London next month, it remains to be seen which, if any, tournaments Nadal will play beforehand, and he - like Federer - is not clear on the issue.

Both pulled the plug on their 2016 seasons to recover and rehab from injuries and both have looked revitalized in 2017.

The biggest is Federer's backhand has improved markedly - and a racquet change shortly after that Australian Open defeat had a lot to with it.

The brilliant five-game run he delivered rallying from 1-3 down in the fifth set to dispatch Nadal in the Australian Open final not only signaled a shift in the balance of power in this rivalry it showed path forward for Federer. "Clearly avoiding him - not playing him on clay has helped", Federer admitted.

Nadal saved the first break point but could not survive the second one, to put Federer in touch of the title.