A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

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A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by lydian on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 12:02 pm

I just read this article about Nadal from The Roar, an Aussie online news channel.
http://www.theroar.com.au/2016/02/26/why-rafa-nadal-will-rise-in-2016/
It wasn't a bad read actually, the article states:

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Rafael Nadal’s woes are being given some serious air of late. A seemingly dismal 2015, a first round loss at the Australian Open, and two back-to-back semi-final losses on clay at the beginning of 2016 are the perfect excuse to relegate him to the annals of history.

However, critics conveniently neglect to mention Nadal had a resurgent last three months of 2015 on the indoor hard courts; his least successful surface.

Across the Asian hard court swing and Paris Masters, Nadal went from final to semi-final to final to quarter-final – his best haul in a decade.

He then had a clean sweep in the round robin of the ATP World Tour Finals, beating Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray and David Ferrer.

Then along came the Australian Open. His is demise was prophesied from the rooftops, but anyone who watched that match would agree the loss was more to do with Fernando Verdasco than Nadal.

After their 2009 semi-final, there was no way Verdasco would allow himself to lose again. He knew it, Rafa knew it, and given the ferocity with which Verdasco played, he would have beaten anyone. But it’s much more fun to condemn a champion than justify an inspired opponent.

And so we turned to the Argentina Open. The headlines will tell you Nadal inexplicably went down to a player outside the top 10. However, they fail to mention the terrible stomach problems Nadal had all week, which clearly affected his game.

Aside from this, his opponent, Dominic Thiem, who has just climbed to world No.15, played a sublime match. After an extremely tight three sets, Thiem managed to squeeze through in a third set tiebreak and backed up the result by winning the tournament. Not quite the career-crushing catastrophic loss we’re led to believe.

Next, the Rio Open. Losing to Pablo Cuevas, world No.45, was unexpected. But was it a collapse of form or lack of motivation? No. It looked to be an attack of bad nerves. And when you are Rafael Nadal, King of Clay, with the weight of the world’s expectation on your shoulders, you’re bound to feel them. Nerves plague every athlete and are hardly a career death sentence.

Putting aside the sensationalism surrounding Rafa’s stint in South America, let’s take a look at what’s been happening around the tennis world recently.

Ferrer, world No.8 eight, was also knocked out of Argentina in the semi-finals, by world No.50 Nicolas Almagro. He was then dumped out of Rio, as defending champion, in the quarter-finals by Dominic Thiem. As for Acapulco, where he was also defending his title, he was knocked out in the second round by world No.32 Alexandr Dolgopolov.

World No.6 Kei Nishikori suffered a similar second round Acapulco upset. In Marseille, world No.7 Tomas Berdych and world No.4 Stan Wawrinka were demolished in the quarter-finals, all by players 20 or more places below them.

At the Shanghai Masters in October 2015, Roger Federer was swept aside in the second round by the then world No.70 Albert Ramos-Vinolas. At the US Open, Andy Murray was stumped in the round of 16 by the then world No.14 Kevin Anderson. Even the seemingly infallible Novak Djokovic was quashed in Doha in 2015 by Ivo Karlovic, world No.31 at the time, in the quarter-finals.

Suddenly, Rafa’s losses look less unusual.

Upsets happen. All it takes is a bad day and an inspired opponent with nothing to lose. Career ups and downs are part of the game. Federer dropped to No.7 in 2013, his lowest ranking in 11 years. Murray fell to No.10 in 2014. They bounced back. There’s every reason to suggest Nadal will do the same. He has more natural talent than anyone except Federer, a healthy body, and a will to win bordering on the obsessive-compulsive.

It is senseless to suggest, at the age of 29, Rafael Nadal’s career is even close to over. His losses are sensationalised because finally, the mighty king of the clay courts has apparently fallen.

However, if you consider he finished the year as world No.5 with three titles under his belt and clean sweep in the World Tour Finals round robin, 2015 looks like little more than a wobble. Add to that the fact he has had, across a 13-year career, almost two years absent due to injury, and still managed to amass the titles and records he has, you’d realise what a miracle he is.

The start of 2016 hasn’t been ideal, but it hasn’t been wholly disastrous either. Tearing him apart after every less than perfect performance is pointless and crude.

While the thrill of winning is on the table, Rafa will keep on chasing that high. And soon enough, he’ll reach it.


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I think the article actually raises some good points, principally that all the guys can and are losing to different ranked players these days as players seem to revert to higher risk tennis these days?
What do you think of the points raised in the article?
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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Haddie-nuff on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 12:13 pm

Erm  well put like that Headscratch  yes it doesn't sound so bad but.....not entirely convinced

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by lydian on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 12:21 pm

Me neither Haddie. The other "top 3" continue to make changes to their games through seeking and implementing new input from different coaches. However, I think the review of the recent losses is balanced. It is easy to prophesise doom from a few losses...and I do agree that Verdasco played lights out tennis at AO, that 5th set was ridiculous. What we need to see is something new/different at IW in Rafa to be convinced something is getting better.
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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Haddie-nuff on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 12:35 pm

The thing is Lydian it is hard to be convinced when the man himself is looking so vulnerable when he goes on court. His nerves and lack of confidence is affecting his game and his opponent, whether they be a nobody or not, smell blood. With Rafa being notoriously slow out of the blocks they do not give him time to settle. Whatever the plan A was when he went on court is immediately thrown out of the window because his immediate reaction is to retreat 10ft behind the baseline and play his usual defensive game.
If you are to believe what Roig said he plays differently on the practice courts.  So to me whatever changes he, or any other coach are willing to make is useless unless he can battle the confidence issue. A new mental approach is required and frankly Lydian I am not convinced he has the wherewithal to combat the problem.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by lydian on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 12:41 pm

Completely agree the key area of issue is his mind, not feet/knee/racquet/FH/etc.
Unless he addresses this asap then its not coming back.
I don't think all is lost, things can change quickly...he is after all still 29...but he needs to make rapid changes.
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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Haddie-nuff on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 12:50 pm

But what is it that has caused this loss of confidence? The man who was as mentally strong as he was physically. I too don't buy into the argument that it is physical he has not been this fit for such a long time. I agree it is so easy to write him off, I have done so on occasions more out of frustration and disappointment. He has not forgotten how to play tennis, he has always been able to adapt his game, even half way through a match. It is something much more deep seated and that is the thing I find most alarming. There are times when Rafa doesn't even look like Rafa. He seems even to have physically changed to me.... very odd

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by lydian on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 12:55 pm

He looked to have aged is maybe what you're saying? He looks like he's carrying the pain of the world on his shoulders, he doesn't look free flowing and relaxed. That kind of inner turmoil eats at you and ages you. I just read this on another forum I visit regarding when did Rafa's decline start (reflecting on his current issues)...

The iconic Rosol encounter at Wimbledon 2012 marked the start of Rafa's decline, it started on grass that day and has now become apparent on every other surface, including clay. This is now a total and complete decline taking place. Mileage, age, mental fatigue all these things contribute to decline, and Rafa's got ticks against all of them now.

There was a time when I used to watch Nadal that he loved being on court, the thrill of the fight, it seemed there was no place he wanted to be other than fighting on that court...I don't see that anymore. It's like, even though he says he's still motivated and eager, his heart isn't in it anymore. It is like he is doing it because he has to, not because he wants to...his heart is yearning for something new now.


I tend to agree with a lot of it but then I wonder can he possibly turn it around...I guess the question is does he still "want it". However, as the article above states some of the losses can be rationalised...however, we know what we see when watching him. So, I'm kind of caught in 2 minds about it...
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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Born Slippy on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 1:06 pm

I think the issue isn't the losses - its how bad he has looked - even in some of the matches he has won. He tends to start ok and get gradually worse. I don't see comparisons with Fed 13 or Murray 14 can continue to apply. They were clearly suffering/recovering from injury in those years.

I wouldn't give up hope of him turning it around if he wants it. However, my view has always been that he is by far the most limited of the big 4 technically (albeit with the most effective base game of all time) and would have most difficulty changing style if he ever needed to. Given the injuries he has had, I do think some change is needed as he seems to be struggling to get any impact from his forehand at all nowadays.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Haddie-nuff on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 1:07 pm

Basically I think that sums it up for me.
Its like watching the dog you have had since a puppy and your heart yearns to turn back the clock to the days when he would jump through hoops for you .. but now he is getting old and tired and lays at your feet.

He is mentally old Lydian.. and whilst I know we have laid a lot of his woes at Uncle T's door I will have to say that the young man has been brainwashed since the age of 4 yrs old. He is looking to his Uncle to tell him what to do.. and Uncle T has no ideas left..Rafa is struggling because he has no direction and his family loyalty and ties have him trapped.
He cant think for himself he has never been given the opportunity to do so.
Im sure Rafa could find the answers if he were given the encouragement to find the courage to make his own decisions ..to make the changes he chooses rather than Toni

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by temporary21 on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 1:24 pm

Hes obviously in his twilight but theres ways to extend his time.
Hes managed to change his game many times if not dramatically so, hes never been a one trick pony that you hear being bandied about a lot. I mean he doesn't have the flexibility to change like the others, but hes capable of and has been attacking from the baseline better than most on tour.

A change of coach might be nice, not just to inject new ideas, but some new enthusiasm, all the other 3 of the top four have turned to this for a change in fortunes.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by LuvSports! on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 1:29 pm

I think his issues stem from his hair, or lack thereof.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by HM Murdock on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 2:07 pm

It's clutching at straws.

Freak results can happen. But when there are three in row (after a year full of them), they can no longer be called freak results.

The very fact that an article about Rafael Nadal - Rafael Nadal! - is having to offer going undefeated in the RR at WTF as a stand out result shows how deep the problem is.

LuvSports! wrote:I think his issues stem from his hair, or lack thereof.
You think something coming out of his body could be the problem?

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by lydian on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 2:24 pm

Yes please expand so we're all clear on your meaning LS...?
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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by hawkeye on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 3:17 pm

lydian wrote:Me neither Haddie. The other "top 3" continue to make changes to their games through seeking and implementing new input from different coaches. However, I think the review of the recent losses is balanced. It is easy to prophesise doom from a few losses...and I do agree that Verdasco played lights out tennis at AO, that 5th set was ridiculous. What we need to see is something new/different at IW in Rafa to be convinced something is getting better.

Federer hasn't won a slam since 2012 and with that in mind Djokovic's only big threat was likely to be Nadal. Seeking input hasn't helped Federer win a slam and Becker hasn't helped Djokovic beat Nadal because Nadal beat Djokovic the last time Nadal was in form good enough to get to a slam final. Federer's game has declined because at 34 he can't play as well from the baseline. IMO Djokovic's game has declined too but in the circumstances it's still been better than Federer and Nadal's. Nadal's game is still there because we've seen it but only in flashes. I'm sure he is tampering with this and that as he always does but what we need to see if he is to win further slams (because that's the way he will be judged) is more consistency and this is what he has always excelled at. That isn't something new or different.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by lydian on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 3:30 pm

Yes but HE...Federer WANTS to improve/adapt...does Rafa?
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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by bogbrush on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 3:31 pm

I think there are good points there, in particular the strong indoor run he had. I even gave him a punchers chance at the O2 against Djokovic so, even though I was wrong, it says something about how he looked.

Where I disagree is "His is demise was prophesied from the rooftops, but anyone who watched that match would agree the loss was more to do with Fernando Verdasco than Nadal.", Verdasco is way past it and I don't care how much he was determined, he doesn't have a chance against decent level Nadal.
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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by lydian on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 3:47 pm

Verdasco isn't prime but when he swings the racquet and its all going in, he's a formidable opponent. That 5th set was lights out. Lets not forget he pushed Rafa all the way in 2009 at AO...only an inspired Rafa could beat him in 5 there too. Verdasco is no mug when he's on...he just isn't on much these days exc. when he faces Rafa it tends to get his blood going (as it seems to do for other opponents like no other).
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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by dummy_half on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 4:01 pm

While reports of Nadal's demise may be somewhat exaggerated, I do feel this article is clutching at straws. This is Nadal we are talking about, and defeats on clay to guys that a few years ago would be looking to take a couple of games off him, not a couple of sets...

OK, drawing Verdasco in the AO round 1 was unfortunate, and to then have Verdasco play probably his best match for a couple of years played it's part in that defeat. However, a Rafa playing even 7/10 would have found a way to win. Other losses this year are more damaging.

For me, it's a combination of a lack of self-belief and his game not being where he wants it. Every time I've seen Rafa play since the start of last year, he's had a lack of control on the forehand - early last year it was the in to out that was missing, and when that came back the down the line one went off. He simply can't trust his go-to shots, and it has eroded his confidence. And of course that then gets you into a vicious circle: lower confidence -> poorer performances -> lower confidence...

Yes, he's been an extraordinary player, and it's possible that he'll rediscover his mojo, but it's far from a given. I have been expecting him to click back into top gear for a while, but it is still to happen, and certainly at the moment he's more at risk of losing to lower ranked players than he is of beating the top few guys.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Haddie-nuff on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 4:03 pm

It is my opinion that Rafa know what HE HAS to do he is lacking the courage to do it. There is no one that can do that for him and without Toni telling him what to do, and Toni CANNOT tell him what to do, because Toni simply is without ideas thus Rafa is lost.
If you notice he seldom looks to his camp when he is on court anymore.. simply because Toni cannot help him Rolling Eyes

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by LuvSports! on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 4:17 pm

The shorter his hair has got, the worse he has done. Detective on the case.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by hawkeye on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 4:34 pm

Haddie-nuff wrote:It is my opinion that Rafa know what HE HAS to do he is lacking the courage to do it. There is no one that can do that for him and without Toni telling him what to do, and Toni CANNOT tell him what to do, because Toni simply is without ideas thus Rafa is lost.
If you notice he seldom looks to his camp when he is on court anymore.. simply because Toni cannot help him Rolling Eyes

Well yes Rafa knows what to do and we also know he is capable of doing it because he's been doing it but just not consistently. At the WTF he was the third strongest player there and that was on his weakest surface and indoors. Of course he can do better but he's hardly lost. I find the way Toni is talked about bizarre and insulting to both Toni and Rafa.

Toni's response to this question made me laugh

What do you think about the talk of Rafa hiring a new coach, or a new coaching team?

Please, I don’t know how often I have to keep saying it… It's like the book by Vargas Llosa says: The Civilization of Entertainment. Does anyone remember today who John McEnroe’s coach was? No. Here we have a team, a collective responsibility. From the most responsibility to the least, we are Francis Roig, Toni Nadal and Rafa Nadal. Between 2005 and 2014, between us we did a lot of things that worked out well… and that now are not working for whatever reason. We feel that we are close. And we will carry on trying.

http://en.as.com/en/2016/02/25/other_sports/1456414053_392503.html?id_externo_rsoc=comp_tw

Toni also said this

Will you make changes?

We’ll talk about the things we need to tweak, but I’ll keep that to myself.

And so he should Wink

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Haddie-nuff on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 4:46 pm

Just stop to think for just one minute
Rafa has had the same coach telling him the same things for the last 25years
When you hear that same voice telling day after day over and over and over what you should and have to do to succeed you know nothing else. You lose the ability to make decisions for yourself.
Toni has reached a point where he has nothing left to contribute and Rafa doubts his own ability to make those decisions
He has not the courage to move on without Toni
But I believe he can make his own decisions if he has the courage to .. leave it soley to Roig ..but 25years is a lot to shake off and I personally think it is too late  Who here has had to live under that regime .

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by socal1976 on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 4:48 pm

At the start of the year if you asked me before the final at Doha I would have said it looks like Nadal is rebuilding momentum. But over the course of the last now almost two years we have a seen a couple of false dawns. Since then his form has been very poor again and oddly on clay a surface where in the past he was unbeatable. To me the rot is terminal and happening rather quickly. I can't explain away those losses as simply other good pros playing incredible I mean why did that never happen to him on clay in even one match to all of a sudden happen in multiple tournaments in a row.

I struggle to see the formula as others have mentioned as to how he comes back. I don't know if I agree that Toni lacks ideas. Its tennis its not building a particle collider or launching a deep space probe. You are dealing with a limited universe of variables. I mean Nadal can run around his FH less aggressively, Nadal can step in and take the ball earlier, solidify and trust his backhand more, improve the DTBH etc. I mean I can give Nadal enough strategic advice and so could an average coach. I am sure Nadal knows exactly what changes he can make to adjust his game.

My problem is that he is not comfortable enough in those areas where he makes a concerted effort to play a new way. And also I don't think some agree but I think his lethal FH, now that his footwork is not what it was is just not impacting his opposition like it used to. I mean the ball is still jumping off the court when he can set his feet, but it doesn't seem to wear opponents down and damage them like it used even when he has time and is hitting it from comfortable positions. His big weapon just doesn't seem to be as big anymore and hasn't had that punishing impact it once had. RPM wise and mph wise I haven't seen a big drop so maybe in this area it is a case of the tour being more comfortable in handling the shot. I don't know for certain but watching his matches now I am just struck by how little damage he does with that shot now.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by hawkeye on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 5:56 pm

Will Djokovic ever win again now that his streak has been punctured. Will Federer be able to recover from surgery... he is 34. Murray hasn't a chance... he gets distracted by bits of paper never mind a baby. I suppose Wawrinka is in a final of a minor event but perhaps only because he hasn't met a seed. Berdych got straight setted by a player outside the top 30 the last time they played. Ferrer is losing points so fast his place in the top ten is looking shaky and he is 33/34. Tsonga and Gasquet. Are they still in the top ten?

Rafa has had convincing wins against most of these players apart from Federer and Djokovic even in his poor 2015 form. Up his level a bit, regain a little form then of course he can string a few wins together. String a few wins together and his confidence will improve. Could be all that's needed.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Haddie-nuff on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 6:42 pm

How I admire your optimism but there are none so blind as those who will not see.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by lydian on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 6:56 pm

Good posts above all, inc. yours socal Wink
Confidence is such a complex beast - clearly there is a lot going on inside Rafa given all the nervous tics/routines he has...which are all on the anxiety spectrum. It would seem these anxieties have coalesced and got the better of him, causing him to fully doubt himself. How does he get the genie(s) back in the bottle again? Can he...?
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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Haddie-nuff on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 7:46 pm

It doesn't matter whether you agree that Uncle T has run out of ideas or not.
That is not the point here, give what ideas you like to Rafa, and It appears from what Roig says, he can do what he needs to do in practice , but the nitty gritty is that he cant bring on court.. He resorts back to the game he knows because he simply has not the confidence in his own judgement  or the  courage  to make the changes he needs. Therefore the  adjustments that need to be made are mental, not physical. You can theorise about his game as much as you like but until Rafa can get his head straight it just aint  gonna happen. I maintain the damage has been done over a long period of time and the chickens have come home to roost. No Lydian Im not sure he can get the genie back in the bottle I believe its too little too late.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Jahu on Fri 26 Feb 2016, 10:34 pm

LuvSports! wrote:The shorter his hair has got, the worse he has done. Detective on the case.

He should use that caffeine shampoo.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by lydian on Sat 27 Feb 2016, 8:49 am

This is from Rafa's autobiography...a very interesting read when taken against the confidence issues he has today. Those childhood insecurities are probably deep-rooted and hard to get over...? Toni was the answer, he was also the problem. Gives an insight into the unique tennis upbringing that Rafa had.

Toni was the resident coach at the tennis club in our home town, Manacor. The clubhouse was what you’d expect in a town of barely 40,000 people: medium-sized, dominated by a restaurant, with a terrace overhanging the clay courts.

One day I joined in with a group of half a dozen children Toni was teaching. I was already crazy about football, playing on the streets with my friends every spare moment my parents let me .

I liked being part of a team and Toni says that at first I found tennis boring. But learning in a group helped, and it’s what made possible everything that followed. If it had just been me and my uncle, it would have been too suffocating. It wasn’t until I was 13, when I knew my future was in tennis, that he began training me on my own.

Toni was tough on me right from the start, tougher than on the other children. He demanded a lot of me, pressured me hard. He’d use rough language, shout a lot, he’d frighten me — especially when the other boys didn’t turn up and it was just the two of us. If I saw I’d be alone with him when I arrived for training, I’d get a sinking feeling in my stomach.

My friend Miguel Angel Munar reminds me sometimes how Toni, if he saw my head was wandering, would belt the ball hard at me, not to hit me, but to scare me, to startle me to attention.

It was always me, too, who he got to pick up the balls, or more balls than the others, at the end of the training session; and it was me who had to sweep the courts when we were done for the day. Anyone who might have expected any favouritism was mistaken.

Quite the opposite. Miguel Angel says Toni bluntly discriminated against me, knowing he could not have got away with it with him and the other boys but with me he could, because I was his nephew.

My mother remembers that, as a small child, sometimes I’d come home from training crying. She’d try to get me to tell her what the matter was, but I preferred to keep quiet.

Once I confessed to her that Toni had a habit of calling me a “mummy’s boy”, which pained her, but I begged her not to say anything to Toni, because that would only have made matters worse.

Toni never let up. Once I started playing competitive games, aged seven, it got tougher. One very hot day I went to a match without my bottle of water. I’d left it at home.

He could have gone and bought me one, but he didn’t. So that I’d learn to take responsibility, he said. Why didn’t I rebel? Because I enjoyed tennis, and enjoyed it all the more once I started winning, and because I was an obedient and docile child. My mother says I was too easy to manipulate.

Maybe, but if I hadn’t loved playing the game, I wouldn’t have put up with my uncle. And I loved him too, as I still do and always will. I trusted him, and so I knew deep down that he was doing what he thought was best for me.

I trusted him so implicitly when I was little that I even came to believe he had supernatural powers. It wasn’t till I was nine years old that I stopped thinking he was a magician capable, among other things, of making himself invisible.

During family get-togethers my father and grandfather would play along with him on this, pretending to me that they couldn’t see him. So I came to believe that I could see him but other people couldn’t.

So there was fun in my relationship with Toni, even if the prevailing mood when we trained was stony and severe.

And we had plenty of success. If he hadn’t made me play without water that day, if he hadn’t singled me out for especially harsh treatment when I was in that group of little kids learning the game, if I hadn’t cried as I did at the injustice and abuse he heaped on me, maybe I would not be the player I am today.

He always stressed the importance of endurance: “Endure, put up with whatever comes your way, learn to overcome weakness and pain, push yourself to breaking point but never cave in. If you don’t learn that lesson, you’ll never succeed as an elite athlete.” He did a lot to build that fighting character people say they see in me on court.

There’s a fine balance in the tension that my uncle’s presence in my life creates. Usually, as the record shows, it’s been a positive, creative tension.

Sometimes he doesn’t measure his words well and the effect is to sour, rather than to enhance, my mood, which in turn impacts my game.

A trivial example of the sort of thing I have to put up with would be this: we are at a hotel somewhere in the world and we agree to meet downstairs in the car at a certain time to go to training. He arrives 15 minutes late, but I don’t say anything. But the next time I arrive 15 minutes late for an appointment, he complains that we can’t carry on this way.

Another example. During a match I’ll hear him say, “Play aggressive!” before a return of serve . I’ll go for it, the ball will go out, and then he’ll say, “Now wasn’t the moment”.

But it was the moment; it just happened that I messed up the shot. If the ball had gone in, he’d have said, “Perfect!” The atmosphere in our team is tenser when Toni’s around than when he’s not.

What I never lose sight of is that, on balance, that tension benefits my game. Nor do I forget that he wouldn’t generate such a response in me, be it for good or for bad, if I didn’t feel a tremendous respect for him.

When I am hard on him, it’s because I believe he asks for it.

But one thing must be clear: if we have fights, they are to be taken in the context of a mutual trust and a deep affection built up over many years of being together.

Everything I have achieved in the game of tennis, all the opportunities I have had, are thanks to him. I’m especially grateful to him for having placed so much emphasis from the very beginning on making sure I kept my feet on the ground and never became complacent.

While Toni’s refusal to let me off the hook has its value, in that he pushes me always to improve and do better, it can also be bad because he creates insecurity.

I often feel this way, especially in the early rounds of a tournament, and the truth is that while he deserves credit for so many good things in my career, he also deserves blame for me being more insecure than I ought to be.

The point is to hold on to the lessons I’ve absorbed from Toni but to impose my own judgment more, striving to find the right balance between humility and overconfidence.

Sure, you must always respect your rival, always consider the possibility that he might beat you, always play against the player ranked 500 in the world as if he were ranked No 1 or 2. Toni has helped me to have this very clear in my mind, maybe too clear.
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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Belovedluckyboy on Sat 27 Feb 2016, 9:27 am

'he also deserves blame for me being more insecure than I ought to be'.

Exactly! Toni has pushed it overboard, I feel, and so we have an insecure young man. Perhaps Rafa has lost focus, subconsciously rebelling against Toni. Maybe he feels enough is enough? Only Rafa himself knows the answer.

Its ironical that now he seems to be in good health physically but then he cant control his mind to stay focused on his game. I mean after all the treatments done to his back and his knees, how come he now moves slower than before the treatments, serves even poorer than during 2004(after his back injury at AO)? The timing of his FH can be so inconsistent - sometimes he hits it well and yet at times he shanks it so bad. His serve-we dont even need to talk about how bad that has become.

Cant fix the mind, cant fix his game. If he carries on like this, I would rather he retires than for him to feel more and more unhappy and stressed out there.

Seriously, watching his matches becomes stressful too for his fans. I rather watch Thiem; or Tomic vs Dolgo, which give me no stress at all, whoever wins the match.



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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Haddie-nuff on Sat 27 Feb 2016, 9:50 am

Lydian I think you know that I have been saying this for a very long time. He has paid an enormous price for his success .He never was allowed to be a boy..
Toni's regime for a young boy was at the point of cruelty.
Emotional abuse.. I know what that does I was brought up with it.. it leaves very deep seated scars that you never get over The older you get the worse it gets. Now Toni cannot apply those same strict stringent rules to a grown up Rafa.. but at the same time Rafa cannot function without them catch 22  He has become emotionally dependent on Toni . I saw it coming .. I think Rafa should leave this career and move on to the niche he has now made for himself in his own Academy, where he can call the tune, where he becomes the boss .. still very much involved with the game he loves relying solely on his own decisions. Get married to that beautiful so patient girlfriend and have a host of kids.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Josiah Maiestas on Sat 27 Feb 2016, 8:55 pm

How come you never mention the "emotional abuse" when he was on top of the rankings? It is only when he is down you bring this up in this forum Haddie.

Nadal clearly doesn't have the same constant firepower he used to and needs to use his brain more than his brawn now, which hasn't paid off for him.

Luckily for some who lose their original best weapon, they can adapt with smartness.
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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by hawkeye on Sat 27 Feb 2016, 9:29 pm

Haddie-nuff wrote:Lydian I think you know that I have been saying this for a very long time. He has paid an enormous price for his success .He never was allowed to be a boy..
Toni's regime for a young boy was at the point of cruelty.
Emotional abuse.. I know what that does I was brought up with it.. it leaves very deep seated scars that you never get over The older you get the worse it gets. Now Toni cannot apply those same strict stringent rules to a grown up Rafa.. but at the same time Rafa cannot function without them catch 22  He has become emotionally dependent on Toni . I saw it coming .. I think Rafa should leave this career and move on to the niche he has now made for himself in his own Academy, where he can call the tune, where he becomes the boss .. still very much involved with the game he loves relying solely on his own decisions. Get married to that beautiful so patient girlfriend and have a host of kids.

Rafa will do what he wants to do and at the moment he has been adamant that he is happy with his present team including Toni and that he is working hard to get back in form. He has also been adamant that he has no plans to retire and that he is not even thinking about marriage and children. Despite this he is repeatedly harassed at press conferences about doing all these things. I can't remember anyone in sport let alone any player that has had to put up with such harassment and he does it with such patience. The pestering about what he should or should not be doing with his personal life is particularly bizarre. Rafa is the tennis expert and his private life is just that.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Haddie-nuff on Sat 27 Feb 2016, 9:53 pm

Don't lecture me HE. Yours was never the voice of reason
Who appointed you his guardian this is an open discussion and everyone is allowed an opinion.. in contradiction to yours

Try this

http://www.vavel.com/en-us/tennis-usa/605556-toni-nadal-if-i-werent-his-coach-rafael-nadal-would-have-changed-coaches.html

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by hawkeye on Sat 27 Feb 2016, 10:15 pm

Haddie-nuff wrote:Don't lecture me HE. Yours was never the voice of reason
Who appointed you his guardian this is an open discussion and everyone is allowed an opinion.. in contradiction to yours

Try this

http://www.vavel.com/en-us/tennis-usa/605556-toni-nadal-if-i-werent-his-coach-rafael-nadal-would-have-changed-coaches.html

All I am doing is accepting what Rafa has repeatedly said. I trust his opinion and his decisions and he has made it quite clear what they are. In fact he has done so repeatedly. He doesn't need a guardian he is a grown up.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Haddie-nuff on Sun 28 Feb 2016, 5:10 am

All I am doing is accepting what Rafa has repeatedly said. I trust his opinion and his decisions and he has made it quite clear what they are. In fact he has done so repeatedly. He doesn't need a guardian he is a grown up

You trust what he has  reportedly said HE
You have read the above report  and that is not exactly what Rafa is saying is it? Your blind optimism is remarkable. However  whilst the rest of us are attempting to face facts you want to take  the moral high ground. He may be grown up but Rafa cannot function without his family around him.. that is the bare facts. You have your opinion and you have voiced it ..allow others to have theirs.. Lydian and I are  big Rafa fans just as you HE we on the other hand are realistic.  If I am proven wrong and Rafa makes a miraculous recovery from his demise then I will be the first to admit it..and be incredibly delighted to do so .. but don't hold  your breath.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by hawkeye on Sun 28 Feb 2016, 9:02 am

I'm sorry but I don't see Rafa as a victim. Toni was hard as a coach but tennis is a tough sport. Rafa is from a privileged and secure background and lives on an idyllic island. His family didn't force him to play tennis he chose to. He could have chosen football and had more fun but with doubtful success or he could have bummed about fishing, hanging about on the beach and partying. He could have joined his fathers business (selling windows I think) and "settled down" with a wife and a few kids. No stress, no anxiety, no injury problems and not upsetting any of his fans by losing the odd match.

But even as a child Rafa was made of tougher stuff. He chose tennis and chose to to put up with his uncle. Here are another few quotes from his book.

For all the discipline, I had an amazingly happy and warm family life as a child, and maybe that is why I as able to put up with the harsh treatment I received from Toni.

But my values as a person and my way of being, which ultimately is what underlines my game, come from my father and mother. It's true that Toni has insisted I have to behave well on court, set an example, never throw a racquet to the floor in anger, something I have never ever done. But - and this is the point - if I had been brought up differently at home. I might not have paid him any attention

If it had just been me and my Uncle it would have been too suffocating. It wasn't until I was thirteen, when I knew my future was in tennis that he began training me on my own.

My uncles remind me how I was always so much more convinced of our chances than the rest of the boys on our team, how there were games when we were losing 5-0 and I'd be there in the locker room yelling "Let's not give up! We can still win this!".

I don't think there is anything in any area of life that gives you the same rush as winning in sport, whatever the sport and at whatever level. There is no feeling as intense or as joyous. And the more you crave winning, the greater the rush when you succeed.

I don't think anyone knows what success Rafa will have in the future but he's working hard, number 5 in the world and has had recent wins over most of the top players. I'm not counting him out. If that counts for blind optimism so be it.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Haddie-nuff on Sun 28 Feb 2016, 10:19 am

Do you know what HE I cant even be bothered to read your post because I know that is written with your non-biased view as you do with all topics on here  Rolling Eyes
But I will bow to your "expert" opinion whatever it is ..however when you have the knowledge to give me a homily about the typical Spanish family life and their values let me know. You have no way of knowing what drives this particular Spaniard, but believe me I have more than  a pretty good idea.. But don't let me dissuade  you ( oh spare the thought) from giving the rest of the posters on 606v2 the benefit of your insightful knowledge. But it is wasted on me

Perhaps you might like to start up a thread on the same topic for Andy Murray.. that should be an eye opener !!

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by hawkeye on Sun 28 Feb 2016, 10:59 am

Shocked I thought FeDaL wars were the ultimate. But they are nothing compared with what feels like the war between optimistic and pessimistic Rafa fans...  

I'm sorry for upsetting you Haddie but I agree with the article in the op by Lydian... Look away if you must.

Rafa already getting in a little hard court practice in preparation for IW and Miami

https://twitter.com/RafaelNadal/status/703709673774567426

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Haddie-nuff on Sun 28 Feb 2016, 11:28 am

You believe what you want HE..I would not dream of bursting your bubble. But please don't try to convince us that you are any more expert than anyone else as to what is going on in that man's head at the moment.
We have all thrown our ideas into the mix...nobody knows the truth, and I believe that includes the man himself. Its all pure conjecture ..show him practicing on as many different courts as you will.. its not what he does in practice, as Riog has already said, its what he brings to his matches that counts.. but I hope Im proven wrong.
However I will stand by what I have said about Uncle T.. my Spanish friends agree with me.
Im out of this discussion.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by laverfan on Sun 28 Feb 2016, 4:52 pm

What Toni has brought to Nadal has the good and bad sides. Nadal is where he is due to Toni (the good), but Nadal is where he is due to Toni (the bad). Toni should be credited with pulling Nadal out of team sport to an individual sport like Tennis and making him a well-known Tennis figure across it's history.

There are other members of the Nadal clan who can claim credit/be blamed for Nadal's demons. Nadal is a sum of parts to which all his experiences have contributed.

If his rise to the elite was nothing short of meteoric, the fall can be equally tragic and rapid. He is still playing.

The day he walks away from the sport slowly, or a la Borg, he will always have Paris. Wink


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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Guest on Sun 28 Feb 2016, 5:01 pm

Think Einstein can sum up Rafas game at the moment.

"Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Belovedluckyboy on Sun 28 Feb 2016, 5:52 pm

Dont see Rafa being no.5 as anything tragic. The only thing that matters is whether Rafa is happy carrying on. If he's unhappy then its better for him to quit. If he's still happy playing then whether he's no.5 or lower ranked it wont really bother him.

BTW, Rafa is not 'doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results', if not he wont be changing his racket, or wont be reminding himself that he has to play more offensively. It takes time for him to change some aspects of his game. He was playing more offensively during WTF last year but he still couldnt do it consistently and that's the issue, so he has to work on it until he gets it right.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by laverfan on Sun 28 Feb 2016, 7:03 pm

Nadal is unable to give up his core game which made him great, but is also his downfall. If you live by the sword, you die by it, too.

Despite many counter arguments of Nadal/Djokovic fans, IMVHO, Djokovic is a younger v2.0 of Nadal. It is a successful style as long as you are younger and have the power. As power fades, so does this style of play.

Habits are vices now.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Guest on Sun 28 Feb 2016, 8:32 pm

Belovedluckyboy wrote:Dont see Rafa being no.5 as anything tragic. The only thing that matters is whether Rafa is happy carrying on.  If he's unhappy then its better for him to quit.  If he's still happy playing then whether he's no.5 or lower ranked it wont really bother him.

BTW, Rafa is not 'doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results', if not he wont be changing his racket, or wont be reminding himself that he has to play more offensively.  It takes time for him to change some aspects of his game. He was playing more offensively during WTF last year but he still couldnt do it consistently and that's the issue, so he has to work on it until he gets it right.

So what is he doing differently?

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by hawkeye on Sun 28 Feb 2016, 8:57 pm

legendkillarV2 wrote:

So what is he doing differently?

What tennis player does anything different once past the age of 21/22? Apart from playing good/bad, changing tactics or in very rare cases learning a little self control? Watching Federer, Nadal and Djokovic they still hit the ball the same and still have their weaknesses and strengths. The idea of a constantly evolving game is a myth as far as I can see. Neither Federer nor Djokovic have faced the same obstacles in terms of injury and breaks from the tour that Nadal has. IMO that has been the difference because it has affected Nadal's form and ability to play with confidence and play well.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by bogbrush on Sun 28 Feb 2016, 9:30 pm

laverfan wrote:Nadal is unable to give up his core game which made him great, but is also his downfall. If you live by the sword, you die by it, too.

Despite many counter arguments of Nadal/Djokovic fans, IMVHO, Djokovic is a younger v2.0 of Nadal. It is a successful style as long as you are younger and have the power. As power fades, so does this style of play.

Habits are vices now.
I always saw Nadal as the Lendl to Federers McEnroe, in particular in respect of how they will play when the body ages. John McEnroe will, health permitting, be a hugely impressive tennis player at 65. So will Federer, but I think their rivals will not.
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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by socal1976 on Sun 28 Feb 2016, 9:34 pm

hawkeye wrote:
legendkillarV2 wrote:

So what is he doing differently?

What tennis player does anything different once past the age of 21/22? Apart from playing good/bad, changing tactics or in very rare cases learning a little self control? Watching Federer, Nadal and Djokovic they still hit the ball the same and still have their weaknesses and strengths. The idea of a constantly evolving game is a myth as far as I can see. Neither Federer nor Djokovic have faced the same obstacles in terms of injury and breaks from the tour that Nadal has. IMO that has been the difference because it has affected Nadal's form and ability to play with confidence and play well.
Yes the game doesn't evolve and this belief is a myth. Apparently, tennis is the only thing in the known Universe that doesn't move on. I like you HE, anyone with as intense an interest that is tennis related and has contributed as much text to this site as you have and is not insulting or personally nasty, will get some respect from me. While every poster has their biases and likes no one seems to distort or cherry pick facts to support their biases to the extent you do. The game evolves, always has, and anyone with a long twenty or thirty year history of watching tennis knows how daft your statement is. On a whole range of issues from technology, sports medicine, conditions, better training, and also tactically and technically. If you don't understand how it changes and sometimes rapidly then I suggest you YouTube some video of Mac or Connors hitting a FH and then compare it to Nadal or Fed. As an exercise in understanding how BS your myth of the constantly evolving game is. 

If you continue down the road of biased, non fact based, and passive aggressive posts then you risk increasing the marginalization of your own views.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by lydian on Sun 28 Feb 2016, 10:09 pm

Blimey, Rafa warfare breaking out here...as long as it's non-personal then it's all good debate.
It's an interesting discussion about building and breaking players. There are phases of building and phases of destruction. Toni helped make Rafa what he is in the early days - albeit he had a fantastic canvas to start with, ie. a world class athlete who would have excelled at most sports - but he maybe ground some overly competitive beliefs into his charge that have since acted too much as a handbrake later on during periods of doubt. For example, in making Rafa respect his opponents a bit too much, or being allowed to settle into too many mental routines, or too much interfering from the sidelines during matches that always undermines the players own decision making ability. Goodness, I've seen enough of these traits at junior tennis level in UK. I've seen many promising players broken by their parents who have interfered too much. So, Toni was a blessing and to a degree a curse. One of Federer's strengths is his in built arrogance...you can't imagine him being treated the way Nadal was by Toni during his formative years. The problem is now that the wheels have fallen off, Rafa lacks the mental structure and autonomy to sort it out easily...but Unc T did the thinking or rather because Nadal didn't need to self doubt. However, these are going to be difficult adjustment months ahead as he finds a way to fight back if he can. This was an interesting read today from a far eastern newspaper:

==========================

Nadal's struggle to renew himself is a noble battle
Rafael Nadal the tennis player and Lynnette Seah the Singapore Symphony Orchestra co-concertmaster and violinist are both virtuosos of the stringed instrument. Notionally they are not without similarity. Nadal's grandfather was conductor of a local orchestra and Seah was once a swimmer and runner. Her knees are now shot, her lower back aches. Nadal knows the feeling.

Artists who marry technique with dedication, and emotion with imagination, are echoes of each other - irrespective of field. Seah says a "rehearsal is like a performance" and it sounds like Nadal at practice. She says, "I give 100 per cent from first note and you cannot let go of concentration till you finish your last note", and it could be Nadal talking.

In a sense, Nadal and Seah are part of one large creative tribe. He plays like a heavy metal musician and she speaks of herself as an "athlete performing on stage". But there is a difference, for as she laughs: "We don't get such big prizes." Ah, but perhaps that is paid to athletes as compensation for their abbreviated careers.

After all, as Seah says: "As you mature as a person you develop deeper understanding of the art form. In musical expression, I am at my peak now." She is 58. Nadal is only 29 and he is fading gently like a water colour masterpiece left in a drizzle.

The decline of the great athlete is familiar to fans yet its misery always seems new. In an exaggerated sense, it resembles the death of something beautiful. So people, without irony, say "quit" to athletes whom they once championed precisely because they never quit. They say "quit" as if a legacy may be ruined, though in truth the past is unerasable: Michael Phelps may come last at the Rio Olympics but Beijing will always be unforgettable.

The invincible athlete offers us a peek at perfection but the struggling champion represents a certain nobility. You can strip Nadal of titles, scrub his aura, confront him with indignity and still he tries.

His life is a fellow named Pablo Cuevas daring to say in Rio, "I came out here thinking I could win". It is the press asking him every week, "what happened?" as if he knows. And yet he keeps coming out to play, on a bad day, a good day, a tired day, an uncertain day, because he's sure one day it will turn. No?

Obstinacy made Nadal somebody and it will return him there. He is driven by an unassailable logic: He overcame hardship before (i.e. injuries), so why not this slump? He sweated and found answers, so he'll sweat again. He won before we thought he could (the French Open, at 19, on first try), he won more than we thought he could win (nine French), so why can't he win when some think he can't any more?

The past has told him persistence works so to stop persisting would be to ignore the evidence he has collected over a lifetime. He was great because he believed and it's only if he believes that he will be great again.

In his brilliant book, Inspired, the five-time Olympic rowing champion Steve Redgrave writes about how he understands why Muhammad Ali fought too long:

"That's the trouble with self-belief. It's not supplied with a tap, you can't turn it off, and it follows that people hard-wired to believe in themselves go on believing long after the body can cope. The head is dealing with miracles, while the body is subject to reality."

Nadal is not as physically spent as the old Ali - he has time - but he has the same defiant genes. For him this slide - he's gone 12 tournaments without a win, lost five straight times to Novak Djokovic, lost six times last year on clay - is another problem to solve. And he solved Roger Federer, who was tennis' version of Fermat's last theorem. He solved Wimbledon. So why not this?

It is said he should let go of uncle Toni and hire a Boris Becker equivalent. It is said he should be more aggressive - in the depth of his shot and position on the baseline - and he knows that but somehow is mentally stuck, infected by a version of the amateurs' disease where we know what to do but lack the trust in our skills to execute. There is no hesitancy in greatness but he is indecisive.

He held a match point against Dominic Thiem in Buenos Aires and lost. He led 2-0 in the fifth set against Fernando Verdasco in Australia and lost. He is confronting sports' most telling questions: How do you forget how to win? And how do you remember?

Yet no activity in life has more revivals than sport: Phelps from retirement, Andre Agassi from silliness, Ali from his ban, Alexander Popov from a stabbing. As Nadal said in Melbourne: "Let's keep going, that's the only thing."

The Spaniard was only answering to his competitive coding. Or as Redgrave wrote: "A competitor competes. That is what we do... competitiveness doesn't fade away with the last strains of the national anthem. It survives, getting older, getting fatter, even getting beaten. The goals may change but the principle remains: In competition, I will do everything I can to win."

Nadal's outcome is unknown - I believe he will revive - but there is a desperation to such athletes which is glorious because their self-worth is so tightly tied to how well they hit a ball. The faltering champion in pursuit of his last great self is impossible to look away from.

Perhaps when he retires years from now, Nadal will never pick up a racket again. He is not the violinist who might play only for pleasure - he must triumph. There is a poignant tale of the artist Pierre Auguste Renoir, whose hands were terribly twisted by arthritis. Yet even in his 70s, when a brush was placed between his fingers, he painted. Renoir, even when in agony, pursued beauty; Nadal, even as it is agonising, chases his winning self.

============

I think the author has hit onto something good here, the psychology behind the need to compete and win makes you understand Rafa and his current predicament that little bit better. The bold bit above perfectly explains how Rafa is very different to Federer in my opinion. More than anything I feel Rafa is defined by winning. HEs excerpt above reinforced that.

"I don't think there is anything in any area of life that gives you the same rush as winning in sport, whatever the sport and at whatever level. There is no feeling as intense or as joyous. And the more you crave winning, the greater the rush when you succeed."

You feel if Rafa can't win through competing to the level he expects then it's walk away time, he's not drawn by the artistry, it's the gladiatorial nature of combat and the self-affirmation that brings which Rafa craves, even needs. Federer is more defined by implementing artistry and making that win, you can imagine Federer playing the game well beyond a time when winning slams was a reality. Rafa the pure competitor...Federer the pure artist (in a competitive mindset).
lydian
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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by hawkeye on Mon 29 Feb 2016, 8:36 am

socal1976 wrote:
hawkeye wrote:
legendkillarV2 wrote:

So what is he doing differently?

What tennis player does anything different once past the age of 21/22? Apart from playing good/bad, changing tactics or in very rare cases learning a little self control? Watching Federer, Nadal and Djokovic they still hit the ball the same and still have their weaknesses and strengths. The idea of a constantly evolving game is a myth as far as I can see. Neither Federer nor Djokovic have faced the same obstacles in terms of injury and breaks from the tour that Nadal has. IMO that has been the difference because it has affected Nadal's form and ability to play with confidence and play well.
Yes the game doesn't evolve and this belief is a myth. Apparently, tennis is the only thing in the known Universe that doesn't move on. I like you HE, anyone with as intense an interest that is tennis related and has contributed as much text to this site as you have and is not insulting or personally nasty, will get some respect from me. While every poster has their biases and likes no one seems to distort or cherry pick facts to support their biases to the extent you do. The game evolves, always has, and anyone with a long twenty or thirty year history of watching tennis knows how daft your statement is. On a whole range of issues from technology, sports medicine, conditions, better training, and also tactically and technically. If you don't understand how it changes and sometimes rapidly then I suggest you YouTube some video of Mac or Connors hitting a FH and then compare it to Nadal or Fed. As an exercise in understanding how BS your myth of the constantly evolving game is. 

If you continue down the road of biased, non fact based, and passive aggressive posts then you risk increasing the marginalization of your own views.

I like you too socal Smile I wonder if you can remember when Novak was getting criticized (Pre 2011 and post 2011). He was often compared unfavorably with Murray but I maintained the same view about his game as I'm now doing with Rafa. ie He didn't need to change his game just keep applying it as it was good enough to win big. Novak had a great game at 21/22 and he still has that same great game. I don't see how that can possibly be insulting to suggest that. When Novak was going through lean times it would be viewed by some as a compliment and maybe as crazy optimism. But I had that crazy optimism for Novak same as I do for Rafa because I could see how good his game was.

Comparing players from a different age with today's players is not what I'm talking about. Of course the game has changed since then. But Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have the same great game they had at 21/22...  Of course they are all perhaps post peak due to age. Federer way further over the hill than the other two. This isn't as much as a problem as it should be because most of their rivals appear to be post peak too.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

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