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Everything clicking for Roger Federer

The 26th meeting between the joint 26-time Grand Slam winners threw up another significant number: 61.

Unbelievably, that's how long it took, in minutes, for Roger Federer to beat Rafael Nadal at the ATP World Tour Finals.

The buildup was longer than the actual match.

Federer's 6-3, 6-0 rout marked their most lopsided head-to-head since the 2008 French Open, when Nadal dropped four games. On that day in Paris, it was Nadal who fed Federer a bagel.

Federer, the defending champion in London, cruised into the semifinals, while Nadal will have to pick himself up in a hurry.

Here are five thoughts from Tuesday's demolition.

Roger did the dictating

More often than not in their past meetings, Federer hasn't been able to deal with Nadal's forehand up high to his backhand.

On Tuesday, it was Federer picking on Nadal's backhand, specifically with the serve on the deuce court. Nadal had no answer.

When Team Nadal said that Federer's serve had to be feared, particularly indoors, it was right. Federer conceded a mere four points behind his first serve.

Federer's serve and forehand combination, when on, is still frightening, and the forehand never wavered. He instinctively hit them up the line, angled them cross court and downright crushed an inside-out forehand in the game that broke Nadal -- likely mentally, too -- to take a 4-2 lead in the first.

"I was able to do what I was hoping to do -- dominate from the baseline, play close to the baseline, serve well, take his time away," Federer said in his news conference. "Hasn't always worked. I felt the power of Rafa in the past, so this is a great match for me, a nice win, clearly."

Federer extended his winning streak to 14 matches. On this form, it'll reach 17.

Not the right move, Rafa

At the Paris Masters and earlier this week, Federer spoke of his scheduling and, more specifically, skipping the Asian swing.

It worked out brilliantly, as Federer won in Basel and Paris, but Federer knew that had he lost early in one or both tournaments, questions would have arisen, like: Why take all that time off?

Hindsight is great.

Hey, Rafa, why did you skip Paris?

"I still believe that was a positive stop for me," Nadal said. "And the world doesn't end in this tournament."

Nadal looked a half-step slow, undercooked and simply unprepared. And here some scribe thought he'd win the tournament.

He was missing balls he usually eats up in his sleep -- ones that stay low on his forehand -- and the zip on the forehand was absent altogether.

Nadal hit his first winner in the eighth game, which tells you how Federer played -- but also the Spaniard.

Something deeper for Rafa

For years Nadal has been known as a warrior, someone who never lacks self-belief on court. His fans, then, must be worried after witnessing Tuesday's performance or, the fans who won't say his performance was down to not being 100 percent. Nadal suffered from an upset stomach against Mardy Fish on the weekend and said before Tuesday's match that his shoulder was bothering him.

Could it be that all those losses to Novak Djokovic this year have taken a toll on Rafa -- and now when he faces other players?

Nadal is riding losing streaks against Federer, Djokovic and Andy Murray. And don't forget, he was bageled by Murray in Tokyo.

Nadal's tilt with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Thursday takes on great importance, and not just because the winner advances to the semis from Group B. Nadal needs a jolt of confidence, if nothing else, for the Davis Cup final.

"It's not the moment to say goodbye," Nadal said. "It's not the moment to go down. It's the moment to keep fighting. I'm still in the tournament. I still have the chance to be in the semifinals.
"I didn't feel bad the ball today, so that's the important thing that I take to the hotel."

Love the mind games

Rafa famously likes to keep the other guy waiting.

Well, it was interesting to observe the prematch dynamic. The tables were turned.

There was a slight delay because Federer thought Nadal was going first in the TV interviews. The Swiss had to be prompted out of his private dressing room.

When Federer was done, instead of loitering in the hallway and waiting for Nadal to pass by -- the usual sequence between players this week -- he returned to the dressing room (revealing, by the way, his security code in the process). Only after Nadal finished his own interview, bringing up the shoulder issue, did Federer emerge.

Come on, Rog, do the Rafa-like sprint to the baseline after the coin toss next.

Who needs the coin toss?

Speaking of the coin toss, what, really, is the point of it when these two play?

Federer prefers to start serving, while Nadal usually always opts to receive. Get on with it already.

And when Federer won the toss, he indeed opted to begin proceedings.


London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com. You can follow him on Twitter.