Bigger racquet, better backhand: Federer “not so scarred” facing Nadal

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Roger Federer has won his last five meetings against Rafael Nadal. (AP)

Roger Federer says that, among other things, his improved backhand and stronger mentality is helping him when playing Rafael Nadal.

On Sunday, the 19-time Grand Slam singles champion defeated Nadal in the final of the Shanghai Masters, 6-4, 6-3. Federer still trails Nadal 23-15 in their career meetings, but it was his fifth consecutive win against the Spaniard.

Federer points to some changes in his game that have helped him turn the rivalry around.

"I think I'm maybe serving consistently better," Federer told press in Shanghai. "I get easier power ever since I switched to the bigger racquet. I'm connecting better on the backhand and I'm serving good."

Federer changed to a bigger frame before the start of the 2014 season, having experimented with some different versions in 2013.

"Before I had to slice more just because the racquet was good for the slice, and it was good for the coming over, but I would always shank too many balls,” said Federer. “So I think it was hard for me to consistently just keep on attacking with the backhand.

"Today it seems almost not a problem anymore to do it. Plus I have done it in many other matches other than Rafa. So because I have got used to returning that way, it's also easier to play Rafa."

Federer also suggested that the intimidation factor Nadal had owned, with all of his prior victories, has lessened. While their rivalry was building, the two frequently met on clay, a surface where Nadal has been dominant. This season, all four of their meetings have been on on hard courts; Federer did not even play any clay-court events.

"I just think I'm not so scarred like maybe I have been," said Federer, jokingly adding, "Not playing him on clay has helped.

“I'm able to stay on the hard courts against him, but I have been playing very well, when I have faced off against him."

Nadal is No. 1 and Federer is No. 2 in the world rankings.

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