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

First topic message reminder :

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?
lydian
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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by HM Murdock on Tue 01 Mar 2016, 3:03 pm

Belovedluckyboy wrote:HM, watch his doubles matches, he CAN approach the net and he has good reflexes there.

Its strange that you think he cant approach the net when he gets older, I mean do you see old men playing the power game to push old Rafa back and prevent Rafa from approaching the net??  In fact I see old Rafa playing more up the net should he play in the senior tour!
When have I ever said he can't?!

I said that Rafa on the seniors tour will not resemble the Rafa on ATP tour.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by hawkeye on Tue 01 Mar 2016, 3:15 pm

HM Murdock wrote:
Haddie-nuff wrote:HMM you are really, honestly, missing the point. If Rafa is not confident it will affect his physical game. When you are mentally below par it affects you physically,  That too is simple mechanics. You are what you believe you are, you can do what you believe you can do.. if he tells himself otherwise it will affect his physical game.. really not hard to understand
The reverse is also true.

A player who has declined physically will no longer be as mentally tough when things get tight because they don't have the same tools to call upon as they did in their younger days.

So, as I see it, we have two scenarios:

A) A player who has the reputation of being one of the mentally toughest players ever, suddenly has an explained crisis of confidence which make his physical game decline.

B) A player approaching 30, with a physical style and a track record of serious injury, begins to decline physically. This impacts his confidence.



Scenario B seems much more plausible to me.

But Rafa himself has said it's scenario 1. He has also said himself that when he is feeling more confident he plays more aggressive and stands further up the court. Certainly fits into the way I've seen him play in many close matches recently. He has patches were he plays aggressive and looks good then lapses into tentative play including double faults and making unforced errors. He will play great service games then suddenly when the pressure is on be unable to get a first serve in.

Rafa always had the reputation of being mentally tough and he certainly had the ability with his back to the wall to pull out his best play but IMO always had to keep his nerves in check. But my guess is a combination of things that have happened since and including the 2014 AO final may be the reasons for his confidence problems. The wrist injury, appendicitis, surgery and yet another forced absence from the tour must have been difficult to take. In 2015 he had to return once again with ranking points from just half a year knowing that he would likely face a low seeding and difficult draws adding to pressure. I can remember many of his matches from the first half of 2015 were impacted by the use of the time violation rule too. He's never looked as calm serving since... Funny now that it's done the damage he doesn't appear to be targeted by it.

Of course he is older too but I don't think that alone can account for the way he played in some of his matches in 2015.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Haddie-nuff on Tue 01 Mar 2016, 4:03 pm

Hug Hooray HE we are singing from the same hymn sheet at last.
He will never be the same Rafa until he gets his head right.
It has impacted massively on his physical game on that point we agree.
Now according to Riog its down to him

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by HM Murdock on Tue 01 Mar 2016, 4:32 pm

29 years 9 months old.
In his 16th year as a professional.
939 matches played.
A history of physical problems.

The surprise to me would be if he wasn't starting to slow down!

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Haddie-nuff on Tue 01 Mar 2016, 4:42 pm

HM Murdock wrote:29 years 9 months old.
In his 16th year as a professional.
939 matches played.
A history of physical problems.

The surprise to me would be if he wasn't starting to slow down!

Yes HMM it takes a lot mentally to keep on top of the game. He has proved himself over and over again.
He has battled through those physical problems, a huge amount of pain.. but what saw him through was his will to carry on and a determination to win.. this is the thing that has deserted him.. unless he finds it again he will not be able to find the strength of will to pick himself up again.  What drives an athlete to reach that unreachable goal, to break the record, to find that little bit extra.. its not physical HMM its mental.. I have made you a cup of coffee .. take a smell Very Happy

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

Post by Belovedluckyboy on Wed 02 Mar 2016, 12:31 am

'When have I ever said he can't'

Of course you did HM; implying it in the last paragraph of your post at 10:07pm. I dont see his style in that Miami match being unsustainable when he gets old; as he will be dealing with old man Fed for eg who would be slower too. Old man Fed couldnt rely on his footwork too when he gets old.

As I said before, Rafa will most likely be playing a different style in the senior tour if he plays, so there's no disagreement (with you) there.

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Re: A voice of reason or clutching at straws?

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