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Did Nadal think he was playing Federer?

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Did Nadal think he was playing Federer? Empty Did Nadal think he was playing Federer?

Post by Josiah Maiestas Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:11 pm

I've looked over some of the key points in yesterdays final and after analysis of Nadal's tactics, it astounded me how he thought going to Novak's BH with a clearly open forehand court was a good idea and to me it was like he wanted to make the points as long as possible even if it meant he will lose too many points. Was it just a case of old habits or was it to do with being one dimensional? It did seem that every time he played to Novak's forehand he always had a 60-40 chance of winning those exchanges due to Novak's lack of depth on the ball but the difference compared to his backhand, Nadal only had a 30-70 chance of winning the rally.

I don't think he knows how to play any other way on clay. He can only beat Novak if Novak is having a really off day with his accuracy.
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Post by HM Murdock Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:21 pm

I don't intend this as a dig against Rafa but this is why I just don't get it when people describe Rafa as a great tactician with great variety in his game.

His game is so built around hammering his left handed FH against a right-handed players BH, he really seems to struggle when this isn't working as a tactic.

I'll readily accept that Rafa is still feeling his way back to his best form.

But falling right back into this approach so quickly shows how ingrained in him it is.

As I say, not a dig at him. This approach has been the bedrock of his amazing success.

But a trick being successful 90% of the time does not alter the fact that is still just one trick.

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Post by lydian Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:49 pm

Good points and exactly what I said in my match assessment. This is where he was different in 2012, playing much more to Novak's FH. When he goes to the BH he gets drilled down the line resulting in him playing a weak BH or he tries to run around the BH but then plays a midcourt FH. I cant work out the abject tactical decisions in yesterdays match...form is one thing, fitness another but poor tactics speaks to a confused or even tired mind. I actually wonder if the rain/cold stressed him out pre-match and when they started he just couldn't get into a groove so reverted to tried/trusted patterns of play to feel his way in. The problem is that cost him dear and from then on he was rattled and didn't think clearly at all. In many respects his best opportunity game at 6-5 was also his worst. Toni needs to be earning his keep right now and rake over the coals of where Nadal went wrong yesterday.
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Post by Josiah Maiestas Mon Apr 22, 2013 1:03 pm

Exactly Lydian. There is no way Nadal loses 11 of the last 12 points if he uses his head and approaches to Novak's FH. I was expecting him to take the match right from the first few games, we all know how strong Novak is when he gets off to a quick start...
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Post by lydian Mon Apr 22, 2013 1:18 pm

Yep Novak, like Federer, is a very strong front runner. Nadal is usually a poor/slow starter. But not that poor. I can take it was poor conditions for him to start with but the sun was drying out the court towards the end of set 1 and he was feeling his way in more. Clearly he had more chances in set 2 and at 6-5 I actually felt if he could take the set then he'd come through ok as the confidence would go up. But then it went bizarrely and utterly pear-shaped. He seemed to get extremely tight realising how important it was to win the game and then simply forgot how to play the basic tennis gameplans he got taught as a 9 year old - deep, corners, spin. Ok, take pace off for accuracy but don't commit the cardinal sin of short, mid court balls! Djokovic must have thought it was Christmas come early. To be honest I was pretty disgusted with the match tactics and execution in those last 2 games if you call the TB a game, he just sat back hoping for errors from Djokovic. But that was never going to happen from the Christmas wrapped midcourt sitters he was giving Novak, even I could have belted a few of those away!

Geez...it was like watching a junior play like a chicken with no head steam
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Post by bogbrush Mon Apr 22, 2013 1:31 pm

I remember he-who-must-not-be-named (Tenez) saying when questioning Rafas famed mental fortitude that it came from confidence in his gameplan.

If he was right then perhaps it would suggest that the poor decisions yesterday might have originated from something akin to panic in the face of a player who enjoys his go-to play? Let's not forget that at RG last year, when the rain was coming down and he could no longer hit through the court, he also looked at rattled as any player has. Perhaps yesterday he had some dread when he saw the conditions which were exaggerated after the start, and in turn he wasn't able to keep a cool head, especially toward the end of that second set.

Federer's taken some stick over the years for being unable to handle the Nadal gameplan: maybe history won't judge him so hard if Rafa is shown to be at least as rattle-able in a similar position, as will doubtless happen to Djokovic (or has done when he's been taken to awkward places, such as at the Wimbledon semi last year).
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Post by HM Murdock Mon Apr 22, 2013 1:42 pm

BB, this is why I quibbled with Nadal's tag as the ultimate competitor.

He's not a level above Fed or Djoko in mental fortitude, he just has different vulnerabilities which, until Djoko 2.0, have not had an opponent able to regularly exploit them.

And believe me, I've seen Novak rattled plenty - W12, Cincy 12, Rome 12, virtually every set point at RG 12... they're all vulnerable.

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Post by banbrotam Mon Apr 22, 2013 1:46 pm

Clay or not - it's still a minor miracle that Nadal's getting to these finals

However, I maintained when he first came back, that all his rivals on their favourite surfaces and in form, should eat him

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Post by lydian Mon Apr 22, 2013 1:56 pm

Good points HMM, I agree - they're all vulnerable over time, no one can dominate forever - every top player coming along has to differentiate themselves and Novak has found a formula of drilling down the lines that Rafa doesn't like at all. Kudos to him...until someone comes at him with an aggressive gameplan of blasting through his FH - Dimitrov (and Federer before) has actually showed the way there but it takes one hell of a player to do it for a whole match admittedly.

To be honest BB, all players draw strength from game plans - they all have go to plays, its their tennis DNA so to speak. As juniors/young seniors they have game plans drilled into their brains from visual tennis court maps based around basics and their core strengths. The skill is in adapting those when Plan (Go to Play) A isn't working. We saw Federer almost refuse to budge from his Plan A vs Nadal on clay, and yesterday we saw Nadal revert to Plan A again when he was executing Plan B more last year vs Djokovic (--> FH & slice). I'm inclined to think it was a perfect storm for things going wrong yesterday - Djokovic's playing great, poor weather to start with, abject tactics, being rattled from the outset, not yet back to full speed/form and not having been tested to this level since his return. Of course he played ok in some patches but his consistency is all over the place at the moment. I guess its to his credit he hung in and made the 2nd set competitive and as banbrotam says he's done very well coming back as he has - none of us can know what its like to be a top pro out of the game for 8 months with every passing day lessening your honed ability and fitness. Likewise, Novak deserves all credit for rattling Nadal, imposing himself and taking full advantage but there's little else to be positive about really. Nadal just needs to think long and hard about why he went for Plan A and not B, to work on his core fitness and technique (partic. BH & serve), and decide he must be more aggressive.

If he then loses pursuing Plan B then fair enough but to have gone into the match yesterday executing Plan A again speaks volumes of his still sluggish match-mindset.
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Post by bogbrush Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:27 pm

I think Tenez was only saying what was normal really, probably trying to put some moderation into the idea that Rafa had an unbreakable metal strength. We all feel stronger when we're confident and can push through obstacles if we're confident of a good outcome. He's no different from anyone in that respect.

Nadal is still plenty mentally strong, I doubt anyone will dispute that.
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Post by sirfredperry Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:36 pm

Still think Rafa must be regarded as favourite at RG although we will get some further guides to his form in the tourneys coming up.
Wonder if Rafa had had a less spectacular return to the circuit we would have been so surprised by a straight sets defeat in his favourite location.
If, say, he had been beaten early on in some of the come-back tourneys, then we would have said OK, he's working his way back, he's been out a long time, he lacks physical and mental sharpness.
But instead he reached the final at least in all the previous tourneys. If you look at MC he struggled against Dimitrov and he had to withstand a tremendous fightback from JWT. It was always going to be tough playing Djoko in the final.

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Post by lydian Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:43 pm

Yep, none of these guys are really superhuman. Supreme confidence comes from deep self-belief that you can deliver when needed to...and that comes from all manner of things - stamina, technique, drilled game plans, inherent psychological profile. They're all fallible at times, and sometimes to see that actually makes them that little bit more human. People also love to see someone coming back and winning from adversity so Nadal's stock can rise further yet.

Yes SFP, in a way perhaps he's been flattering our expectations by making these finals...maybe he's been getting there from sheer will power and inherent underlying talent...only for that to hit the buffers once he came up against Djokovic and we see that he's actually still some distance from where we know he can be. He's been alright really on the face of it - yesterday was a harsh reality check, presumably one he can learn from.
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Post by bogbrush Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:55 pm

sirfredperry wrote:Still think Rafa must be regarded as favourite at RG although we will get some further guides to his form in the tourneys coming up.
If he plays Djokovic at RG I'll tell you who I favour when I see the weather.
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Post by lydian Mon Apr 22, 2013 3:26 pm

...and in recent years our summers have been a wet cool washout!
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Post by socal1976 Mon Apr 22, 2013 3:33 pm

Nadal I think is more adaptable than a lot of people give him credit for. I think he has added and changed his game incredibly from the time he first broke on the scene in 05. That being said he did use very poor tactics focusing on breaking down Novak's backhand, which frankly wasn't going to break yesterday even if you hit him a thousand heavy spinning FHs to that side. Of course all of the greats eventually get caught by the pack or by key rivals who outshine and supplant them it happens to all of them and will happen to djoko and murray and the rest as well. However, tactically lets remember that Novak's forehand was also looking razor sharp whenever Nadal went there it wasn't like he was getting any joy from that side in the exchanges either.

That is the basis of Novak's game the balance from both wings, the movement, and his smooth change of direction up the line. Nadal with the amount of room he secedes in his forehand corner leaves that backhand up the line open, and he leaves it wide open for the one player who will make you pay for giving him that shot. I think Nadal's tendency to run around so many backhands hurts him against djokovic exposing areas of open court that Djoko with his change of direction can hit into. To beat Djokovic, the Nadal camp may want to consider having Nadal give up less court in his attempts to run around the forehand. I am not saying he should not run around the forehand but he just can't be so aggressive hitting forehand from way in his backhand corner and exposing large areas of court to djokovic's precise change of direction on the ball. He runs around the FH so much that unless he does major damage or ends the point with the shot he is exposed on the next ball. But in Nadal's defense his backhand looked terrible and he probably had to play that match with his forehand to have a chance. It is an interesting pickle Nadal finds himself in.

I think he needs to mix up his serve better, use the slice, and hit flatter on the first forehand earlier in the rallies.




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