Was Nadal playing hurt? We'll never know for sure but much like Fed relies on his forehand, Nadal relies on his physicality, and if it's a bit off, well that's it, bad day at the office..
For the first time I felt like Nadal had all the pressure and Fed played more relaxed, like a guy # 2, trying to do the impossible and beat Nadal on clay on his home turf.
I did notice another difference from Federer. He had a plan...
Plan #1. When Serving.
When is Nadal forced to hit the LEAST amount of his freakish topspin? When returning.. Federer had a good first serve % and he jumped on Nadal's less spiny returns early in the point. Instead of passively allowing Nadal to get into a rally.
Plan #2. When Returning.
I noticed Federer instead of trying to guide returns to the BH of Nadal, looked like he was trying to drive returns deep up the middle. This gives Nadal little time to recover from his serve and the possibility of weaker reply (less angles and time). The rallies we shorter and Fed played the match more on his terms.
Very nice to see Nadal lose in front of his homies..
This changes everything going into the French...