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Daily Bagel: Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal at U.S. Open foiled again

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYjaQcuUzwM

The Daily Bagel is your dose of the interesting reporting, writing and quipping from around the Internet.

• Video: ESPN profiles Andy Murray and asks, What happens to the dreamer when the dream is achieved?

• Deadspin has a timeline of Roger Federer's and Rafael Nadal's near-misses at the U.S. Open.

• Let's face it: It's never gonna happen.

• Tim Joyce, writing at RealClearSports, says Federer's fourth-round loss to Tommy Robredo didn't feel like an upset.

And Federer never altered his game plan throughout the match. Which is even more telling. Because Federer thrived for so many years on his preternatural, and seemingly predestined, ability to hit a tennis ball, his in-match adjustments have always seemed lacking. The best example of which is that he’s never been able to counter the patented [Rafael] Nadal formula of high balls struck to his backhand side.

So it wasn’t a matter so much of physically self-destructing against a game Robredo; rather it was the mental sort, where the one-time maestro continued to show his increasingly fatal flaw – that of not admitting that his days playing top-flight tennis are coming to a rapid conclusion.

Sunday night was yet another example of Federer’s refusal – or inability – to change his game plan. Stubbornness is an absolutely essential ingredient in the personality makeup of a genius – be it artistic, athletic, or scientific. Yet is this same stubbornness that can rear its ugly head at the end of sports careers. And Federer is clearly now going through such a stage.

• Nadal lost the first set but came back to beat Philipp Kohlschreiber on Monday. Steve Tignor notes Nadal's ability to grind out wins, something Federer couldn't do Monday.

It was easy to see that Rafa was struggling. Everyone else on this humid night was sweating profusely; he was sweating buckets. The conditions were tough, he said, and he didn’t feel like he had control of the rallies in the first set.

But that’s the thing that Rafa can do that Roger can’t, or at least that Roger can’t do at this stage: If Nadal is not playing his best, he can grind more, hit with more depth or topspin, wear the other guy down with the heaviness and accuracy of his shots, as well as his relentless mindset. Especially his relentless mindset. Maybe it was the night session, maybe it was knowing that his draw is wide-open to the final, but Nadal was keyed up for this one and wasn't going to let it go, no matter how well his opponent played.

• Also from Tignor: An ode to Louis Armstrong Stadium, the most American of courts.

The stewards—known as ushers in the States—on that court have been famous for three decades for not running the tightest ship in the tennis business. For 16 of those years, when Armstrong was the much larger main stadium on the grounds, and contained many more awful nosebleed seats, those ushers were also famous for letting people move down in exchange, essentially, for whatever was in their wallet. Armstrong has never been the most pristine of sporting palaces.

But for any longtime American tennis fan, it’s our imperfect palace. The seats are cramped, the wind swirls inside, and there are no architectural or decorative touches to please the eye. Designed and built in minimalist, modernist 1964, it’s just a concrete bowl with enormous steel light fixtures towering over it. And, as the Brit said above, someone is always moving around. Armstrong has what city planners would now call “a circulation problem.” Outside of Rome, it may be the most restless tennis court in the world.

• A look at what Federer has to do to qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals.

USA Today profiles Patrick Mouratoglou, the man behind Serena Williams' recent success.

• An Aussie plea to stop hatin' on Lleyton Hewitt.

• Murray talks about his enjoyment of women's tennis.

The Rally of the Sexes.

• Even if Bobby Riggs threw the Battle of the Sexes, women still won.

• Maria Sharapova isn't in New York (just check her Twitter account for her Caribbean adventures), but here she is in Vanity Fair.

• Non-tennis: How ESPN controls college football.

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