Australian Open - Day Fourteen

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Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by Henman Bill on Fri Jan 27, 2017 3:39 pm

First topic message reminder :

Federer vs Nadal and other matches on day 14.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by Guest on Mon Jan 30, 2017 5:54 pm

sirfredperry wrote:
Josiah Maiestas wrote:All those years of Federer accused of being a 1hbh shanker and his backhand is the one that caused Nadal hell in the final Smile Rafa has to win RG or he will probably never win another slam imho

I had Rafa as favourite for the French in 2015 and 2016. I've failed to learn my lesson and am tipping him to win RG this year. Fed opening up a four-Slam lead makes it harder for Rafa to catch him by just winning the French each year, though.
  Reading loads of post-match interviews that Fed gave, it strikes me that he won because he just didn't mind if he lost. He thought he'd done wonderfully well to get as far in the tournament as he had. He was going to go down with all guns blazing.

Exactly. He can now take this approach for the rest of the year!

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by lags72 on Mon Jan 30, 2017 5:59 pm

sirfredperry wrote:

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He thought he'd done wonderfully well to get as far in the tournament as he had. He was going to go down with all guns blazing.

This was definitely the key factor in Federer's triumph, as regards both attitude and execution.

With so much focus (understandably !) and column inches devoted to yesterday's all-glamour Final match, it's also worth taking a step back and reminding ourselves how difficult it is to get through six Bo5 rounds in order to even have a shot at the title. In Slams there are banana skins at every stage of the journey, often from unexpected quarters ...... as Murray and Djokovic found in Melbourne to their cost ; as have Fed & Rafa too, of course .... notably at Wimbledon.

Agassi is - rightly - often hailed as a player who enjoyed a lot of success post-30. But he was still 'only' 32 when he captured his last Slam, also at the AO. And unlike the 35 y.o Federer, Agassi didn't have to go through  3 top ten players en route to his win ; his highest-ranked opponent was ranked 16.

This 18th crown really was a very special achievement, on so many levels.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by lydian on Mon Jan 30, 2017 7:55 pm

Your post has made me think lags. To be fair Agassi got to the slam final at 35 (USO05) and pushed prime 25 yo Fed very hard...he couldn't help who he faced but pushed the #1 player all the way that day. In fact any player would have lost to Fed that day...but had that 35yo Agassi played this 35yo Fed yesterday I wouldn't be so sure of the result because is this 35yo Fed as good as the 25yo Fed? Surely not and USO was way quicker than 2017 AO back then.

Serendipity can often play its part in what guys achieve and don't achieve at times. I completely agree Federer did marvellously well and I hear "draw from hell" but to be honest once Djokovic and Murray were knocked out this was anyone's tournament - what have Raonic and Kei achieved in the game for all their long term top 6 ranking? Zilch. They fold in the big moments...that's been shown time and again. Djokovic isn't right in the head at the moment, if he was then no one still gets a look in right now in my opinion. Wawrinka was a good win though FH to be fair. But look all I'm saying is the stars aligned, Federer jumped on his chance and he took it marvellously, playing über relaxed. I applaud him for doing so but I'm not going to label it or him as best ever because of this. That's because I've never been into GOAT labels anyway...it's a post 2000s media obsession. He was best in that event for sure and played great vs Nadal, it's a wonderful achievement for a veteran of the game. However, even re age I'm starting to wonder with the creeping age of the top 100 if we are on the cusp of seeing many more players in future win big beyond early/mid 30s with the jump in advancement in sport science? Would Fed have been doing as well in the mid 90s at this age? I'm not so sure because hardly anyone did so back then, most were washed up by 30-32. The game has changed completely making comparisons meaningless tbh.
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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by reckoner on Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:22 pm

Haven't posted on here for a while, what'd I miss?

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by lags72 on Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:25 pm

@lydian - oh sure, I certainly wasn't knocking Andre - I used to love watching the guy and was almost mesmerised by the level of fitness he maintained in the twilight of his career (iron-man style training on his 'magic mountain' etc !!).  His achievement in clawing his way back from a ranking well outside the top 100 right to the top spot again was quite something. Still the oldest to have ever held the Number 1 spot, I believe ....?

Federer deserves a lot of credit right now. But there is a context to everything that happens in sport, just as in other aspects of life.

The irony I guess is that athletes often have a more balanced & realistic perspective of their own achievements than many of those who comment on them. For Federer, it was by all accounts about putting in the required effort to get himself back on court and to compete at a high level - but more than anything to enjoy again the sport he loves after being away from it for six months or so.

Edit : yes, the average age is definitely creeping upwards. But think I'm right in saying that there are still only two guys within the top 100 who are older than the current AO Champ ..... Cool

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by reckoner on Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:50 pm

I'm with lydian on this - Federer didn't have to face quality opposition like Djokovic / Murray and got lucky against an aging, past his prime Nadal.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by lydian on Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:51 pm

Absolutely lags...at the moment...but I think this upwards trend will continue. There are 17 guys in top 100 over the age of 33. Almost 50% of the top 100 is over 30. I reckon a lot of these will continue beyond 35. Something has radically changed in the make up and longevity of the game. Sure right now there aren't many older than Federer but I think seeing top 10 guys above 35yo and getting to slam finals and maybe winning is likely to become much more commonplace in future. This doesn't and shouldn't detract from Roger's marvellous win but we need to put it into the context of where the game is now, not compare it to guys playing 20 or more years ago. For sure Federer is up there at the very pinnacle of who has played the game and this win cements his legend...I just don't go in for the "best ever" stuff.
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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by lags72 on Mon Jan 30, 2017 9:25 pm

reckoner wrote:I'm with lydian on this - Federer didn't have to face quality opposition like Djokovic / Murray and got lucky against an aging, past his prime Nadal.

I know.

I guess what went wrong for the quality opposition - "like  Djokovic / Murray" - is that they didn't show enough "quality" in their own respective AO campaigns this year to get far enough to actually face Federer.

Then again, I suppose Istomin and Zverev "got lucky" (as opposed to having any quality in their performance)

The world of sport, eh !!

I wonder who it was that came up with the wacky rule that says the best man wins on the day ..... Headscratch

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by reckoner on Mon Jan 30, 2017 9:41 pm

Actually, reading that post again I'm not sure I do agree with lydian, who seems to me be saying there isn't anything that exceptional about Federer beating Nadal in the AO2017 final as there'll be a horde of 35 year old tennis players routinely winning grand slams in the very near future. Nor do I agree with the sentiment that Murray / Djokovic are the barometers of quality in the men's game - whatever their ATP ranking may be. They've both been very inconsistent recently, Djokovic in particular.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by lags72 on Mon Jan 30, 2017 9:54 pm

You've lost me (and very possibly anyone else perusing the forum too), reckoner.

One minute you refer to "quality opposition like Djokovic / Murray" but the next minute you say you don't consider them as "barometers of quality in the men's game...."

Not really sure I have the motivation to debate it. But just out of passing interest ..... which players do you believe are barometers of quality .....?

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by reckoner on Mon Jan 30, 2017 10:21 pm

What a probing question, lags!

Well they have been a bit patchy recently haven't they? Djokovic seems to have been affected by some off-court issue and Murray has clearly burnt himself out after the herculean efforts of attaining his first year end number one last year (too much running, when will he ever learn, tsk).

Don't get me wrong, professional tennis players are amazing but the fact that Federer is talked about in the same breath as a slew of players a generation younger than him and is still competing, making slam finals and now winning at his age is exceptional. The fact that he went 5 sets with and then beat a guy 5 years younger than him that has completely had his number while coming back from a 6 month injury in a sport as competitive as tennis verges on the ridiculous!

It'll take a stronger argument than "hmm yes the average age of the ATP is higher than it was in the 90s so everyone will be doing it soon" to convince me otherwise.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by JuliusHMarx on Mon Jan 30, 2017 10:40 pm

reckoner wrote:Actually, reading that post again I'm not sure I do agree with lydian, who seems to me be saying there isn't anything that exceptional about Federer beating Nadal in the AO2017 final as there'll be a horde of 35 year old tennis players routinely winning grand slams in the very near future. Nor do I agree with the sentiment that Murray / Djokovic are the barometers of quality in the men's game - whatever their ATP ranking may be. They've both been very inconsistent recently, Djokovic in particular.

Murray just won something like 30 matches in a row, then lost to Djokovic, plus an early exit at the AO.
Basically you're saying that unless a player wins every match, they are inconsistent.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by reckoner on Mon Jan 30, 2017 10:48 pm

JuliusHMarx wrote:
reckoner wrote:Actually, reading that post again I'm not sure I do agree with lydian, who seems to me be saying there isn't anything that exceptional about Federer beating Nadal in the AO2017 final as there'll be a horde of 35 year old tennis players routinely winning grand slams in the very near future. Nor do I agree with the sentiment that Murray / Djokovic are the barometers of quality in the men's game - whatever their ATP ranking may be. They've both been very inconsistent recently, Djokovic in particular.

Murray just won something like 30 matches in a row, then lost to Djokovic, plus an early exit at the AO.
Basically you're saying that unless a player wins every match, they are inconsistent.

Oh sorry, yes of course Murray is the very model of consistency, that's why a player of his talent is pushing 30 at his first y/e #1, I take it back.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by lags72 on Mon Jan 30, 2017 10:55 pm

reckoner wrote:What a probing question, lags!

.............................................

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Well ....... not that probing really. I mean .... it was hardly Perry Mason or Colombo stuff.

Was just asking who you consider to be the current 'barometers of quality' in the men's game.

Not sure I could spot a definitive answer from you.

The only player who got a mention, by name, in your post - other than Djokovic and Murray - was Federer.

Could he be the barometer, by any chance ......??

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by reckoner on Mon Jan 30, 2017 11:09 pm

lags72 wrote:
Well ....... not that probing really. I mean .... it was hardly Perry Mason or Colombo stuff.

Was just asking who you consider to be the current 'barometers of quality' in the men's game.

Not sure I could spot a definitive answer from you.

The only player who got a mention in your post - other than Djokovic and Murray - was Federer.

Could he be the barometer, by any chance ......??

Do I need to give you a definitive answer? I don't think I have one. I spose of the up and comers I like Thiem, Goffin, Kyrgios, from the old guard Tsonga, Monfils, Stan the man. Even Murray & Djokovic can be entertaining to watch, just not against each other.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by reckoner on Mon Jan 30, 2017 11:10 pm

Anyway, shouldn't Federer be the barometer this week? Slam win at 35, that's crazy.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by mthierry on Tue Jan 31, 2017 7:20 am

Nadal in my opinion just had too many technical deficiencies and Federer was comfortably superior and had the match on his racquet. Nadal can't iron out the consistency of his stroke depth: far too many short balls. His serving was weak and would have absolutely been abused by Djokovic: couldn't get cheap points on it. His forehand has broken down quite a bit this tournament and isn't close to the weapon it was. Time will tell if grinding it out week to week on tour injury free would enable him recover the kind of form he produced around 2013.

If I were him, ay this stage of his career with so many uncertainties, I'll be weaning myself off Toni's teats, and looking for fresh ideas.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by lags72 on Tue Jan 31, 2017 9:38 am

@mthierry - you make some good points, although fair to say that Rafa did produce some very high-quality stuff to edge past Dimitrov ; and also played well v Monfils (who admittedly, as so often, did not perform well enough for long enough to earn the win that his talent deserves)

I personally think Rafa showed enough to indicate that his game is at a level where he will trouble a lot of guys on the Tour in the coming months. His biggest tests will of course be Djokovic and Murray - although, specifically where Djokovic is concerned, it remains to be seen whether he himself can get back to something resembling his best. His Qatar performances gave a hint that all was well once again after the break..... but then came the inglorious AO exit.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by sirfredperry on Tue Jan 31, 2017 10:06 am

You have to remember that as well as Fed played, Rafa was one, arguably unlucky, net cord away from 4-2 in the final set. Yes, Rafa's serve lacked bite at times, as did some of his ground strokes. But he was close to victory.
Given a less-punishing schedule at the French (at least the semis will be scheduled for the same day) and the higher bounce, Rafa should do very well there.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by lags72 on Tue Jan 31, 2017 10:28 am

Agreed sfp ..... Rafa played well vs Fed for much of the match. Obviously not at his peak level - but then nor did Fed either.

All things being equal, Rafa should certainly do (very ?) well at RG - and you tend to think that it still needs something special to stop him at his most cherished venue.

But....but .... OTOH, the landscape has been changing. You have to factor in the reality that there are others who can now offer a sterner clay test than in his halcyon days (Stan, Djoko....Murray too (?), then there are new names (Zverev ...? ) AND there's always the possibility than Rafa's injury woes can re-surface at any stage of the season - as opposed to only post-Wimbledon, as per old traditions.


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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by reckoner on Tue Jan 31, 2017 11:26 am

I'd say a pressure free "play the ball not the player" Federer could be quite a dangerous opponent for Nadal at the French. Wishful thinking I'm sure, but might be worth a cheeky tenner...

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by lags72 on Tue Jan 31, 2017 11:46 am

reckoner wrote:I'd say a pressure free "play the ball not the player" Federer could be quite a dangerous opponent for Nadal at the French. Wishful thinking I'm sure, but might be worth a cheeky tenner...

Not entirely fanciful, I would agree.

Along with a number of acknowledged drubbings by Rafa at RG, Fed has also put in a serious challenge during parts of some of their meetings there - although clearly, not for as long as needed to take him sufficiently out of his comfort zone to make the difference.

Federer's record at RG has of course always been dramatically overshadowed by the king of clay. BUT worth remembering that Fed still has (AFAIK ...?) more match wins at RG than any player not called Nadal.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by dummy_half on Tue Jan 31, 2017 12:12 pm

As a hypothetical, imagine what Federer's career record would look like if Rafa hadn't been his contemporary...

Back to back calendar slams in 2006/2007 then 3 slams in each of 2008 and 2009. 24 slams in total. 5 Roland Garros titles, 6 AOs, 8 Wimbledons (7 consecutive) and 5 USOs

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by reckoner on Tue Jan 31, 2017 2:24 pm

... hence Federer's speech : "please don't retire now I've figured out how to beat you!"

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by Guest on Tue Jan 31, 2017 3:48 pm

reckoner wrote:I'm with lydian on this - Federer didn't have to face quality opposition like Djokovic / Murray and got lucky against an aging, past his prime Nadal.

A bit of sarcy there? I remember Reckoner, a level headed Fed fan.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by barrystar on Tue Jan 31, 2017 3:58 pm

dummy_half wrote:As a hypothetical, imagine what Federer's career record would look like if Rafa hadn't been his contemporary...

Back to back calendar slams in 2006/2007 then 3 slams in each of 2008 and 2009. 24 slams in total. 5 Roland Garros titles, 6 AOs, 8 Wimbledons (7 consecutive) and 5 USOs

Maybe, but no certainty.  If Nadal had not been there, the likelihood is that Federer would have won RG in 2005 or 2006 - he would have achieved the career slam at the tender age of 23 or 24.  Who is to say that he would have kept up the same desire to keep on improving and working had he not faced an opponent such as Nadal?

Nadal made him hang in there for RG until 2009, and whilst he now says that the slam count does not matter, he cried when Nadal left him stuck on 13 at Aus 2009 and he wore that silly jersey at Wimbledon after he won his 15th in 2009.  Nadal used to have his slam tally shown in trophy-shaped badges sewn onto his racquet bag.  I think they all care very much about things like that, and why shouldn't they?  

The combined brilliance of Fedal also forced the best out of Djokovic and Murray - and Federer has had an extremely entertaining rivalry with Djoko.  In fact, I'd say that their matches are usually more entertaining than the usual beatdown Fedal matches.
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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by reckoner on Tue Jan 31, 2017 4:04 pm

emancipator wrote:
reckoner wrote:I'm with lydian on this - Federer didn't have to face quality opposition like Djokovic / Murray and got lucky against an aging, past his prime Nadal.

A bit of sarcy there? I remember Reckoner, a level headed Fed fan.

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Cheers emancipator  Smile  apologies I guess lydian got a rise out of me by seeming to nickel and dime Fed's incredible comeback. Not the greatest ever? Pull the other one!

Obviously I'm prepared to eat my words should Nadal (or for that matter Djoker / Murray) be winning slams aged 35.


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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by lags72 on Tue Jan 31, 2017 5:07 pm

reckoner wrote:


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Obviously I'm prepared to eat my words should Nadal (or for that matter Djoker / Murray) be winning slams aged 35.

Nothing to eat - because it ain't gonna happen.

And that's not necessarily because of any lack of requisite ability or innate talent (though some might indeed have doubts on the latter ....). No, it's because they will not have the motivation/interest/fitness levels to be still battling it out on the main Tour approaching their 36th birthday - let alone at Slam-winning level.

There are many, many variables and situational factors involved in sporting landmarks such as Sunday's ; which explains why it hadn't happened in the previous forty/fifty years.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by lydian on Tue Jan 31, 2017 6:25 pm

reckoner wrote:Cheers emancipator  Smile  apologies I guess lydian got a rise out of me by seeming to nickel and dime Fed's incredible comeback. Not the greatest ever? Pull the other one!

Obviously I'm prepared to eat my words should Nadal (or for that matter Djoker / Murray) be winning slams aged 35.

Wouldn't be the first time I get a rise out of someone, lol.
However, no I'm not nickel and dime'ing Fed. How many more times do I have to enthuse how well he played? What I'm doing is pulling back to the bigger picture, beyond AO17, and adding context in terms of age and this modern obsession with anointing people as the greatest. Sure, what he's achieved may not be equalled for a long time, either the 18 slams or winning at 35yo...but it doesn't stop us looking at the game as a whole and putting these wins into comparative historical context. That's what interests me the most...because tennis and it's bigger picture will continue long after Federer and Nadal have hung up their racquets and unlike bogbrush, for example, my interest in the game doesn't live or die with 1 player coming and going.

In looking at the bigger picture I get tired about reading he or she is "The Greatest". What does it matter...and why do we feel the need to anoint people this way? Sure there is no harm in the debate but for me there can be no such label in tennis (and even if there was then what about Graf, Court and Williams as GOAT above Federer?) because we can't or shouldn't compare eras from an empirical basis. Sure Fed is around the top of the tree, Tier 1 or whatever, but I don't label him as greatest ever because I won't do that to anyone for reasons given. This is not a new position for me...in 2008 on the old BBC forum I wrote an article called "GOATs or GOTEs?" where I proposed we can only anoint players as greatest of their era (GOTE), not greatest of all time (GOAT). I still stand by that.

Had Nadal won on Sunday, and let's face it the match could have pretty much gone either way really, then I wouldn't have been anointing him anywhere near GOATdom either. Federer has set new benchmarks for sure in what future players need to do to even draw level with him but it will happen eventually...although will become harder if they reintroduce more variety of surface speed again. But the problem is that the benchmarks set are really only relative to each particular era because, unfortunately, tennis keeps changing its technology, surfaces, court speeds, ranking points, events, sports science and balls.

Anyway...it's a great time in tennis right now, and believe or not I'll be sad the day Fed does finally hang the racquet up because no-one else plays the game like him.


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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by lags72 on Tue Jan 31, 2017 6:51 pm

Great post lydian   OK

Not a single word in it that I could take issue with.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by lydian on Tue Jan 31, 2017 7:00 pm

Thanks Lags OK

The key thing is to remain a tennis lover and enjoy all these marvellous players, and their key moments like AO17, as they come and eventually go. Re: Federer, I do agree with Emancipator that he's a threat at most slams this year though because he's dangerous having nothing to lose.

It's a shame Nadal can't get into that mindset either...he's still in the anxious to succeed phase and he wears it like a millstone at times, holding him back, dragging him down. I do wish he would shed Toni and get a truly new perspective to reinvent himself, like Federer has done, but it's not going to happen. And ultimately that's his biggest "weakness" - loyalty. To succeed at the very top level you must be ruthless and know when it's time to make a change. I think Rafa knows this but won't do it...so it's pretty much more of the same. Sure he may get near his 2013 level again...but that level isn't really slam-good enough anymore.

Federer knew that vs his 2008/2009 level and adapted into the uber aggressive player we see today. Rafa needs to radically adapt, and he actually has the skills, like Roger does. Rafa is one of the best volleyers on tour  but his forays to the net are always putaways. He can stand at the baseline and take early balls but doesn't do it long term. For sure he was standing near the baseline and being aggressive earlier in AO but what happened? Against Roger he went 15 feet behind the baseline so started dropping his FH short...again!!!...how many more times!!!...and it cost him the match in my opinion because he was constantly on the back foot unable to hurt Roger from miles away. When he needed to be more aggressive he sat back.

As a Rafa fan this has lack of consolidated change of approach in the face of necessity has been driving me nuts for 2 years now...to the point where I'm like "meh, whatever" and I get used to another loss, another mental wound for him, another lost opportunity, another setback. it's very frustrating to see a player of that ability too scared to face the future of the game and refuse to make the changes needed. By the time he does it will be far too late. Roger started changing his approach from around 29yo...Rafa is nearly 31yo but still refuses to commit to radical change of play. I'm sorry to self admit that the "change-bird" has flown...


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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by lags72 on Tue Jan 31, 2017 7:19 pm

Interesting points again, lydian.

I have little (if any !) of the technical knowledge that you have, but I'm thinking that your comments there confirm (?) my own view that - occasional minor tweaks, improvements & adjustments apart - Rafa knows only one way to play tennis ; and it's a formula that has without question brought a truly remarkable amount of success, whilst at the same time enthusing many, many observers and/or active amateur participants of the sport.

However, looking forward, I also suspect that any future changes to his game will be characterised almost exclusively by unavoidable natural ageing and slow-down - as opposed to a conscious shift in strategy and style of play, self-imposed with the conscious and determined aim of limiting the negative effects of such ageing.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by lydian on Tue Jan 31, 2017 7:28 pm

Yes you're right. Nadal will likely wither away, a victim of becoming stale in his own lifetime via a new breed/style of play taking over. Yes he does know mainly one way to play and it's very ingrained...but he has the skills to be a different type of player, albeit not a complete change. If he could only be prepared to fairly radically overhaul his approach. It can be done...Federer himself has shown this. I'm not saying Rafa can become a player like Federer but he can change how he rallies, how he plays shorter points, how he flattens out the ball more...this is a guy who can and does easily hit 100mph FHs in practice, he's an absolute beast on the practice court as most pros will affirm, but the problem is that he hardly ever plays like that in match conditions because Toni has drilled this defensive style into him since around 2006/7. If you watch Nadal play Federer in Miami 2004 he was a completely different player - the type he should be now!
Yes leopards can't change their spots completely but he doesn't need to. He has the base ability to be much more aggressive, he just needs to make a small number of changes that build on his base game which is still great. But it could be so much more. However, for me hiring Moyà was more of the same. He needs a much more aggressive style of player coach. A coach who reverts him back to the player he was as a teenager. Alas...it isn't going to happen.
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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by reckoner on Tue Jan 31, 2017 7:55 pm

Well he's got Moya on the bench, lydian so who knows?

And fair enough, I think I read your post the wrong way while euphoric after a legendary Federer victory (and possibly a gin or two), apologies! Smile

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by Guest on Tue Jan 31, 2017 9:51 pm

I think Moya's full effect on Rafa remains to be seen but surely after just a few months together, and Rafa reaching his first slam final for 2 and half years, this has to be considered a great start.

I do agree that Rafa needs to shorten points in order to continue to compete on the hardcourts and possibly grass but clay court tennis has always been about long rallies and constructing points, and as long as he gets his steel back in the big moments, which he seems to be doing, there is no one with a naturally more suited game to that surface. So I don't think he'd want to tweak it too much before what could potentially be a very successful CC season.

All in all very promising signs for him and bodes well I would say for another couple of years.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by Belovedluckyboy on Wed Feb 01, 2017 3:50 am

I agree with Lydian about his take on Rafa, but first congrats to Fed and his fans. Fed certainly came prepared and took it to Rafa and never backed down. A well deserved win after three previous disappointments in the finals.

Like Lydian, I wish for the 2004 aggressive mindset Rafa to reappear but it's more wishful thinking than anything else. Perhaps with a bit of help from Amiya, the 2013 version may have a chance of reappearing, albeit a little bit slower version. Imo, it's a pity that Toni had turned Rafa into a full fletch clay courter with occasional big wins on other surfaces when clearly Rafa has more talent and more abilities to do better than that. Knowing Rafa, he's not going to do any radical changes to his game, so however disappointed we are as his fans, we have to accept this and continues to hope for the best for him. I just hope that he can remain healthy and fit to give himself one last push (if not more) for glory at the slams.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by Belovedluckyboy on Wed Feb 01, 2017 5:40 am

I mean with a bit of help from Moya.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by sirfredperry on Wed Feb 01, 2017 7:48 am

Oh dear. My attempts to move the AO Day 14 Topic on to my post-AO reflections thread seem to have failed, as we have almost another page added to this particular topic.
Some excellent posts, though, particularly on Rafa's style. I did notice he was miles behind the baseline at times in the final. Not sure Rafa fans should be too disappointed. Their man has just reached his first GS final (indeed, first s-f) for nearly three years and was within a whisker of a title against an all-time great having beaten the number three and six seeds.
If Rafa has a good CC season and then takes the French crown again I'm sure his vast legion of followers will be more than content.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by barrystar on Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:02 am

I have a few questions for Lydian here - whose technical knowledge dwarfs mine.

Lydian has said that Nadal needs to get back to the player he was as a teenager - my question is how good was he when won the US Open 2010, and what happened to his serve after that tournament?  As I see it the US Open is the most difficult slam to dominate, I think because it suits the widest array of playing styles and comes at a time in the season when the whole tour has had the chance of a good stretch on hard courts.  Nadal came into it with a re-jigged serve which he hardly lost through the tournament and only lost one set in the F vs. Djoko - he also had (for him) a very consistent (if not stellar) HC run after Wimbledon that season.  Did he change something, was he that good, did he then change back, did he fail to build on an all-court winning formula?
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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by lydian on Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:02 pm

He went back to aggressive mode at 2010...better than his 2013 form. Serving that hard hurt his shoulder because he wasn't used to it, plus he later said that he doesn't like serving hard because the ball was coming back quicker too and it affected his court timing. However, he should have stuck to it - or a bit slower.

After 2010 he went passive after running into red hot egg-chambered Djokovic in 2011. He never reverted back to 2010 style or pre-2006 again...2013 was better but he was still behind the baseline.

The problem is Toni changed his style into a grinder when he's not really a grinder at heart.
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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by lydian on Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:07 pm

Watch these HD highlights vs #1 Federer in 2004 when Nadal was 17 and imagine had he been encouraged to hone his aggressive style. Imagine this Rafa vs 2017 AO Rafa..?



Nadal is nearly always near the baseline here, serve is harder, he takes the ball earlier and comes to the net more. And he was just 17. To think people say he had little talent...lol.
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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by Henman Bill on Thu Feb 02, 2017 2:11 am

I see what you mean.

Great point at 1.40. Although not a good example of what you are trying to say. Just great point.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by lydian on Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:18 am

You can also see how much quicker he was too...his foot speed was staggering if you just focus on that alone for a while. And Rogers too.
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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by sirfredperry on Thu Feb 02, 2017 7:51 am

Amazing tennis from Nadal. All-out attack with lots of net forays. Fantastic speed. Never retreated far from the baseline.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by barrystar on Thu Feb 02, 2017 9:07 am

Thanks for that Lydian, and especially the clip - what a difference.

If the 2010 serve hurt his shoulder I can see why he stopped it.  I have read somewhere that Nadal's problems stem from a weak bone in his foot which can't take the strain and has been troublesome since he was a teenager - he needs to wear specially constructed orthotic soles to protect the foot-bone and the knock-on effect is felt in his knees and so-on. As ever with chronic injuries the problem can migrate to the consequences of subtle compensations that the body makes elsewhere and which can be very difficult to spot (and unlearn) before long-term harm is done.  Speaking personally (not as an athlete!) I have had lower back problems for 30 years due to a sports injury, and it is only since I turned in desperation to pilates three years ago that I have started to learn a little bit about how complicated the body is and address the problem. I have changed from 4-5 debilitating flare-ups a year and being unable to ski or kick a football with my son to none and being fitter than before.  I would urge any young members of the forum to start doing pilates or some similar type of training now before things start going wrong, and then they probably won't.  And I mean with someone who is also a physio and who explains that it is about the quality of movement and learning to switch on and stretch the correct muscles which we need for stability and support but which are underused and not even properly engaged by conventional fitness training - you don't want to be in a class run by a gym instructor  where there is too much focus on aerobic exercise or firming up your 'buns' and 'abs' and not (initially at least) on the quality of small and precise movements of the correct muscles.

To return to Nadal, you point out (correctly as far as I can see) that Tony has kept his style defensive, but if that was the price of prolonging his career to deal with his various physical problems then between them they have not done too badly!
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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by dummy_half on Thu Feb 02, 2017 9:31 am

barrystar wrote:Thanks for that Lydian, and especially the clip - what a difference.
...
To return to Nadal, you point out (correctly as far as I can see) that Tony has kept his style defensive, but if that was the price of prolonging his career to deal with his various physical problems then between them they have not done too badly!

Raises the question of whether a 'live fast, die young' version of Rafa would have been more successful between say 2004 and 2011 or 12 (and accepting that his body would have given out entirely in his mid 20s) than the more conservative version we have seen - given that even the defensive grinder version has struggled with injuries at least about every other year, it's possible that the more aggressive version could have had difficulty ever being on court (but being someone that when fit could have been close to unbeatable). Perhaps Rafa and Uncle Toni have really made the best of the hand they were dealt.

I made the point earlier that Fed's record absent Rafa would have been even more extraordinary (2 x CYGS, 14 of 16 slams between 2005 and 2008) - this was not only intended to show how good Roger was, but also Rafa, in being the only guy who could regularly get the better of him during those years.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by JuliusHMarx on Thu Feb 02, 2017 9:39 am

lydian wrote:Watch these HD highlights vs #1 Federer in 2004 when Nadal was 17 and imagine had he been encouraged to hone his aggressive style. Imagine this Rafa vs 2017 AO Rafa..?



Nadal is nearly always near the baseline here, serve is harder, he takes the ball earlier and comes to the net more. And he was just 17. To think people say he had little talent...lol.

I would watch that clip, but Federer's ponytail is too off-putting.

Not sure if very many people said Rafa had little talent, but many people did say that he was primarily a grinder, just from what we could see from his style of play over the years. Which I think you would agree with, for the most part, given that you said that Toni turned him into a grinder.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by barrystar on Thu Feb 02, 2017 1:01 pm

lydian wrote:You can also see how much quicker he was too...his foot speed was staggering if you just focus on that alone for a while. And Rogers too.

Yup - by comparison these days they hit a heavier ball with more on it and take a bit more time to set up for their shots.  To my inexpert eye three substantial things have happened since 2004: (a) court speed has slowed and court roughness has increased so the difference between fast and slower surfaces has narrowed and the ball bites and does not skid through as it did on most surfaces; (b) heavier, larger, and fluffier balls are more prevalent than they used to be with similar effect to (a); and, (c) luxilon strings were a relatively new thing in 2004, they have improved and become more universally used giving the returner who can get a racquet on the ball much more control as well as improving passing shots at full stretch and enabling a player with a bit of time to put a huge amount of work on the ball - playing styles have developed accordingly.

Charging around like a maniac and hitting a ball to skid through like Fedal in 2004 has not been a winning tactic on most surfaces for most of the last 10 years.

This has probably also contributed to there being more older players - if the sort of foot speed that both guys showed in 2004 was necessary to survive now the oldies would be struggling far more than they are.

I'd like to see two of those 3 factors being adjusted slightly, but not massively, to bring the advantage back slightly more in favour of an attacking game - say (a) and (b).  However, I would not like to see a return to Wimbledon of the 1990's.
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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by lags72 on Thu Feb 02, 2017 2:25 pm

dummy_half wrote:

........................................

Raises the question of whether a 'live fast, die young' version of Rafa would have been more successful between say 2004 and 2011 or 12 (and accepting that his body would have given out entirely in his mid 20s) than the more conservative version we have seen - given that even the defensive grinder version has struggled with injuries at least about every other year, it's possible that the more aggressive version could have had difficulty ever being on court (but being someone that when fit could have been close to unbeatable). Perhaps Rafa and Uncle Toni have really made the best of the hand they were dealt.

.......................................................


Yes, it's an interesting question, but - as implied by per your own additional comments - it's also a pretty academic one.

Rafa's career, as we know all too well, has been punctuated by a series of injuries & setbacks. These have come about in no small part because his grinding style of play ends up causing as many problems for his body as it does for the confidence of some of his opponents.

As for the scenario of 'being close to unbeatable' when fit, well I guess you could say that there have in fact been spells (several clay seasons, and more specifically for a whole succession of RG & MC campaigns) when that was more or less the case. But of course we also know what so often happened once the clay season - and its associated physical exertions - was over. When all said & done, it's not much good being 'unbeatable' if your health & fitness levels can only be fully sustained for about four months or so of a season. The amount of success Rafa has had post-Wimbledon (and in recent years, even at Wimbledon itself), in terms of tournament titles, is remarkably small when compared to his other, very impressive, glories.

I guess all I'm doing here is just agreeing with you that - yes - Rafa and Uncle Toni have really made the best of the hand they were dealt.  OK

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

Post by Guest on Thu Feb 02, 2017 6:35 pm

What I do find amusing with all of this historical revision is how everyone and his dog can spot all the decline in Rafa's game and yet we were told for years that the post 30 Federer was better than his 25 year old self. It's funny how the narrative changes. Federer couldn't possibly have been that good in his early to mid twenties. The 30+ year old Federer is the 'real' Federer but unfortunately he aint good enough to beat the new breed - that was the connotation. And boy, were those arguments to make that point convoluted! All sorts of nonsense about how his BH is stronger, his reflexes are just as good, sprinters are faster in their thirties, stamina gets better with age etc - all of which may have had a modicum of truth to it, except it belied the obvious - he doesn't move as well and he is not as explosive, ergo the eyes can see a decline.

But Nadal at 28 was apparently a shadow of the player that he used to be. A pale imitation. I agree he's not quite the same player that he was, and neither was Federer at the same age, but boy did some people argue vehemently to say otherwise. Two things have kept Federer at the pinnacle of the sport: 1) His unique natural talent. He is the most versatile and talented player the game has ever seen. Adaptable and creative and thus able to compete even when his legs are not the same, and 2) the change to a bigger racquet - this has removed the 'shanks' that were common between 08-13, and given more stability on the BH (not a better shot per se - better equipment)

Another point I'd like to make is about injuries. There seems to be a narrative that Rafa is always out injured. Again not true. He has played virtually the same number of matches as Federer at the same age. I suspect that without those breaks he would have burnt out long ago. Those breaks have allowed him to play with that intensity - and permitted him to win titles. And we all saw how Roger stormed back after a break at the age of 35. Roger should have employed that strategy in 2013 rather than playing for most of the year with injuries.

And finally, I don't buy for a minute that Uncle Toni somehow forced and moulded Rafa into a grinder. He is an adult, an individual. He played that game because it came to him naturally and it brought him huge success. If he had tried to be an attacking player over the last decade, shortening points and going for winners, do you really think he would have amassed as many titles as he has? I certainly don't. You cannot bemoan a strategy that brought him so much success simply because he can no longer employ it as well as he used to. The challenge for him is to adapt now, now that he no longer has the clear physical edge over everyone. Adopting this strategy five or ten years ago when the courts were already slow would have been pointless.

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Re: Australian Open - Day Fourteen

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