Nadal's blisters could hand Federer crucial advantage

Eurosport | Tramlines, Yahoo!7 January 24, 2014, 11:02 am

Rafa Nadal has suffered a number of career-threatening injuries in the past yet a bad blister on the Spaniard's hand could be all Roger Federer needs to gain a vital advantage in their Australian Open semi-final on Friday.

The 27-year-old Nadal has been forced to play the season opening Grand Slam with strapping across his left hand due to the sore, which is painful enough to compromise his aggressive style of play.

Holding the racquet is not a problem and he remains able to hit his powerful topspin forehand, but the world number one has found it increasingly difficult to control his serve as the tournament has progressed.

"Serving with this injury leads to problems with the rest of my game," he said.

"When you lose confidence with one shot, an important shot, then you are not able to feel comfortable about the rest of your shots.

"I will try to improve that. If not, I won't have a chance of being in the final."

It's ironic that Nadal, who has suffered major knee problems for the years, now has to overcome such a seemingly innocuous injury in his semi-final against Federer, who is playing as well as ever.

The 32-year-old Swiss had a terrible 2013 by his standards, winning just one tournament, dropping to sixth in the rankings and failing to make it to a Grand Slam final for the first time since 2002.

He entered the Australian Open with his lowest seeding at the season-opening Grand Slam since 2002, when he was ranked 13th in the world.

Last year's performances allowed pundits to suggest the Swiss's time had come.

He has reached only one Grand Slam semi-final since claiming a 17th major title by beating Andy Murray at Wimbledon in 2012 and has been losing more games to players outside the 'Big Four' than he had previously.

In the past 10 days at Melbourne Park, however, Federer has appeared to be close to his free flowing best, none more so in his fourth round victory over France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and then in Wednesday's quarter-final against Murray.

"It's an amazing result for me to be in the semis again. This one feels different because of the tougher times I've had in slams, Wimbledon, at the U.S. Open," the four-time champion at Melbourne Park said.

"I definitely sensed that... I am back physically.

"I'm explosive out there. I can get to balls. I'm not afraid to go for balls.

"Of course, last year at times I couldn't do it, but the important thing is that I can do it now."

Despite his blister, Nadal will enter the semi-final as the favourite having racked up an impressive 22-10 career record against Federer.

The Spaniard has won the last four times the pair have met, and Nadal also triumphed in their Melbourne Park semi-final two years ago.

"He's been tough to play against, no doubt. I'm happy I get a chance to play him in a slam again. I don't remember the last time we played," Federer said.

"The head-to-head record is in his favour. I'm looking forward to speaking to (coach) Stefan (Edberg), because when we spoke together, when he came to Dubai and we spoke about the game, we clearly spoke about playing Rafa, as well.

"He thought he had some good ideas, so I'm looking forward to what he has to say."

Federer, who has been batting back retirement questions since 2009, said he was not going to be thinking too far ahead of his match against Nadal and felt that his age was tacitly lowering expectations upon him.

"Things don't get easier. But at the same time they might become more enjoyable... maybe I can play with less pressure," he said.

"I still love competition. Still feel maybe there's something big around the corner.

"For me, it's (been) a dream run and I hope I can keep it up against Rafa."

You can watch the match LIVE on Channel Seven

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20 Comments

  1. Steven07:14pm Friday 24th January 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    How much of this is newspaper spin..if he is bad as stated in this post he should not be playing..he still gets a good paycheck if he faults..I remember the australian open was the first big tennis event,the pro's would fly in just to play in it..now we are getting them burnt out from all the events that have come up ..for me tennis is another media controlled sport

    Reply
  2. Ipeealot06:15pm Friday 24th January 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    For the benefit of the writers, I hope his hand falls off, and I hope the Fed breaks in 2, they love drama. Otherwise I hope its a great match and The Fed wins.

    Reply
  3. ray p05:42pm Friday 24th January 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    Blisters on the hands??- maybe he is a #$%$ after all?

    Reply
  4. LOL05:07pm Friday 24th January 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    Raffa's hand looks terrible. No fair minded person likes to play against someone carrying an obvious injury. It can be as equally off putting for them also.

    Reply
  5. Joan04:50pm Friday 24th January 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    I hope it is a great match, two great players and I do not mind who wins, Raffa is great and I do think Federer has worked his way back to his best, money does not come into it when they both have heaps, just the love of tennis.

    Reply
  6. Grant03:26pm Friday 24th January 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    True story - #$%$ on your hands (in the shower of course). I was horrified when I first heard this from a salty old tradesman but after days of working with blisters as an apprentice, using a #$%$ file with my soft little hands, I took his advice. Never had a blister since - #$%$ first & wash off straight after. No #$%$, as gross as it sounds, it works.

    Reply
  7. SIR AMENHOTEP III03:22pm Friday 24th January 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    Looks like Rafa was on that boat with those refos the Australian Navy "mistreated". Once again the left wing elements in the ALPBC jump onto something in haste to try and support their masters Electricity Bill and his fellow gutless incompetent ALP brothers and sisters. The ALP should be privatised as I don't want my taxes going to an organisation that publicly supports the left side of politics on such a consistent basis.

    5 Replies
  8. Peter03:12pm Friday 24th January 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    Don't worry about Nadal. He will still be earning more than half a million dollars even if he does not win in the Semi. Of course the winner get double that. The winner of the Final will earn more than what an average wage earner earn in his or her life time.

    Reply
  9. Erick03:11pm Friday 24th January 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    Im sorry but the bloke who turned on the news to see his car in flames. Is just hilarious and to have his mother in law tell him first would have hurt him more lol.

    Reply
  10. TJ02:59pm Friday 24th January 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    Seriously pumpkin? I mean you cannot be serious! McEnroe will win easily and he's American not swiss. oh wait, that was a different time and place, guess Federer is not from swiss either.

    Reply
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