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The myth of young Nadal being better than Nadal of today

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Post by socal1976 Mon 13 May 2013 - 6:16

What we have always heard is that Nadal of 08 is so far ahead of current Nadal on this website, of course Nadal of 08 was pretty remarkable no one can question what a year he had beating Federer in an epic at wimbeldon that in many ways flattered the Nadal of that period in relation to what we have seen in recent years. In my opinion the Nadal of today has a better serve, flat forehand, slice backhand, and volleys. Yet, for some reason in this strange fishbowl of counter factual 606v2, it is the running party line that Nadal 08 was far superior to Nadal of 2013. Interestingly, this story line fits well for both the Federer fans and the Nadal fans on this site. It also feeds into the thought stream of those who I with great affection, have come to know as the nostalgics, who must trumpet yesterday over today because well they preffered the tennis of their youth. The fed fans agree because it makes the competition fed faced in his later prime seem all the more impressive. Nadal fans seem to agree because it explains away any loss Nadal may have particularly to one Novak Djokovic.

But lets actually examine the facts and compare Nadal 2013 vs Nadal 2008. In 2008, Nadal won a total of 8 tournaments for the entire year. Nadal of 2013 has won 5 tournaments from the middle of February to the middle of May. Nadal of 2008 had acquired 5435 points in 20 tournaments in the 52 weeks prior to this week in the year 2008. Nadal in 20 tournaments. Interestingly, he held just a 200 point advantage over the asthmatic puppy version of Novak Djokovic at this time in the rankings. Despite all the slams and time missed from inuries Nadal of 2013 has gained 6895 points over the course of 20 tournaments. Nadal of 2008 against top ten opponents had a record of 17-6 for a 74 percent winning percentage against top ten opponents. Nadal of 2013 has a 6-1 record against top ten opponents for a 86 percent win percentage against top ten opponents.


Now today we see that simply losing djokovic over the last two or three years for some reason has made people assume that Nadal the conqueror of Federer at wimbeldon is somehow deficient in comparison to his 2008 predecessor. Yet other than his losses to one player an his injuries Nadal has run roughshod over the tour even more so than he did in the supposed Nirvana of 08. Now we have to get to the motivation of why this argument is so popular on this website in particular and online. Well it fits so well for many various factions. Nadal fans have a built in excuse if Nadal gets surpassed in any way by Djoko. Fed fans can build up the weaker competition faced by Federer in his heyday and at the same time discount the accomplishments of current player's vis a vis Federer. The nostalgics love to talk down the state of the game so this fits with them as well.

I would take Nadal of 2010-2013 over Nadal of 05-08 anyday of the week and twice on sunday, if Nadal of 08 played Djoko 2.0 I doubt the matches would be even this competitive. And the numbers bear it out, Nadal dominates the tour more today than he did in his early days, he just loses to his top rival more than he wins unlike the Nadal of 08.

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Post by break_in_the_fifth Mon 13 May 2013 - 7:28

If we're just looking at the aspects of his game then his backhand then was better and his slice backhand has never been of any consequence or use; it's just something he hits every now and then so he's not overcome by the monotony of his own game. His volleys were always efficient. His serve has improved but not so sure about the flat forehand. Anyhow the most important thing to his game is his intensity and fitness which I don't think are now what they once were.

As for the results, I think they are better now because the courts have become even more homogenised than in 2008 and perhaps the players have got used to being beaten by him now and treat the matches more as a formality. As for the newer players that this doesn't apply for, well I'm really not impressed by any of them.

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Post by JuliusHMarx Mon 13 May 2013 - 8:27

Surely Nadal is just beating today's rollover claycourt generation? Run

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Post by lydian Mon 13 May 2013 - 9:09

Phew, for a moment there I nearly thought this article was titled:

"Djokovic 2.CVAC is better than prime Nadal or Federer of any year".

Socal you win, Nadal 2013 is obviously far superior to 2008 - just look at the way he demolished Ferrer in Madrid up to 4-6, 5-6, 15-30. 2008 Nadal could only dream of doing that.

This "nostalgic" sepia-tinted poster didn't realise poor asthmatic puppy-eyed Djokovic who could barely walk in 2008 is now the best player to ever pick up a racquet.

What an eggstraordinary transformation! egg
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Post by Silver Mon 13 May 2013 - 11:07

Trouble is with this argument is that one side fits Federer and Nadal fans, and the other side fits Djokovic and (by proxy) Murray fans. It's difficult to remain objective, and I'm no different.

I think that today's Nadal has some components of his game that are better, others perhaps not so much. The best tournaments that I've ever personally seen him play were USO'10 and AO'09, but over a sustained period of time it's harder to analyse.

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Post by Johnyjeep Mon 13 May 2013 - 12:38

I think its too early to tell. His comeback so far has been nearly exclusively on clay. His win at IW was fantastic and unexpected. But still, this has always been the part of the season where he has cleaned up. So there are no suprises. I'd prefer to wait till the months after RG. We'll be able to give a more rounded view following that.

There was always the thought that an 80% Nadal would still win most clay competitions (before his injury lay-off). And so he has proved on his comeback. Rafa not reaching clay finals would be the suprise for me.

I think he is marginally deficient but solely because he is 5 years older and lots more miles in the legs. I don't believe Djokovic 2.0 is better than prime Nadal or Federer. If that was what your implying Socal. I don't think you were tbh but those are my thoughts.

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Post by laverfan Mon 13 May 2013 - 13:01

lydian wrote:Phew, for a moment there I nearly thought this article was titled:

"Djokovic 2.CVAC is better than prime Nadal or Federer of any year".

Headscratch did we not beat this to death, Lydian? chin Is this now the new GOAT debate boundary?

lydian wrote:Socal you win, Nadal 2013 is obviously far superior to 2008 - just look at the way he demolished Ferrer in Madrid up to 4-6, 5-6, 15-30. 2008 Nadal could only dream of doing that.

This "nostalgic" sepia-tinted poster didn't realise poor asthmatic puppy-eyed Djokovic who could barely walk in 2008 is now the best player to ever pick up a racquet.

What an eggstraordinary transformation! egg

Every one has a favourite on their way to GOATdom, Lydian, or someone who has been-there-done-that.

Come on Dimitrov (or should I say Federer v3.0? Laugh)!

As I mentioned elsewhere, Stepanek (the GOAT grandpa - beat Federer on clay) playing the Italian Star Ace is the new GOAT matchup. Laugh

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Post by Born Slippy Mon 13 May 2013 - 13:32

Fairly certain Nadal dropped a set to Ferrer in 2008, so I don't think that really tells us anything. I find it implausible that Nadal isn't at least at the same level now as in 2008. It is apparent that his serve and backhand are better nowadays. His results seem on a fairly similar level to what he achieved in 2008, bar that Djokovic played a good match to beat him. Socal hasn't said that Novak is a better player than Nadal but it does seem some are very keen to make clear that Nadal's defeats to Djokovic have only occurred because he is post peak, rather than giving Novak credit for being able to play a style of tennis Rafa struggles to cope with.

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Post by lydian Mon 13 May 2013 - 14:24

lol LF & BS...its all rather tongue in cheek Wink

Of course Novak is a problem for Nadal, he always was, including back in 2006. The credit isn't due now, its always been there.

But I refuse to believe that his current form is on a par with 2008 or 2010 form. His results since coming back are flattering his form...I said this about 4-5 weeks back. In South America he wasn't great at all - horrible in some matches despite the wins, they were relatively lowly events besides Mexico 500. At IW he should have lost to Delpo really, since then his form at MC and Madrid has wildly fluctuated. Ferrer hasn't come close to beating him on clay since 2003 and yet he was on the verge of it 3 days ago at 31 years old. Yes he's winning matches but the gaps are there to see vs his old form.

Ok, Nadal can still probably play at or near the level he used to do, but at the moment he cant seem to do it either for a whole match or from one match to the next. Its lumpy in the extreme with all sorts of technical gremlins going on. Aside from that any serve improvement means little on clay...his % holds aren't particularly different anyway. I disagree about the BH improvement post 2010...used to have much better depth and pace to it. He's had serious knee issues now for 7-8 years, do you not think his footspeed at some point suffers because of that? He's lost that ridiculous outwide CC BH he used to have.

Its been a fantastic return, it really has but for at that his form is still 70-80% at best vs 2008/10 when he was barely losing games in many clay matches. For the OP to compare 2013 to 2008 seems a little ridiculous when some titles won are 250s which he hasnt entered since 2005. Conversely, one could cynically say the OP is designed to present Nadal as being 100% form to make Djokovic's win over him at MC compare with Nadal at his very best. I just don't buy it.
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Post by banbrotam Mon 13 May 2013 - 15:39

It's too early to tell, but certainly on clay he's as good as he was in 2008

Not 2010 though

I'm finding it difficult to find how anyone can think that he was better in 2008 than 2010

It was that form that made his three rivals work harder and get better and we got the brilliant stuff of 2011 to June 2012

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Post by socal1976 Mon 13 May 2013 - 15:43

Born Slippy wrote:Fairly certain Nadal dropped a set to Ferrer in 2008, so I don't think that really tells us anything. I find it implausible that Nadal isn't at least at the same level now as in 2008. It is apparent that his serve and backhand are better nowadays. His results seem on a fairly similar level to what he achieved in 2008, bar that Djokovic played a good match to beat him. Socal hasn't said that Novak is a better player than Nadal but it does seem some are very keen to make clear that Nadal's defeats to Djokovic have only occurred because he is post peak, rather than giving Novak credit for being able to play a style of tennis Rafa struggles to cope with.

People can say what they want BS but if you compare Nadal's numbers the last couple of years he has dominated the tour much more than in his early days of 05-08. He simply has lost the big rivalry matches against his top rival that he was winning against Federer in the early days. I agree with the criticism that we have to wait to see how this pans when Nadal starts playing on other surfaces. But judging by how he won IW, and how in recent years Nadal has improved his hardcourt results I am not banking on him having the big drop off on hardcourt that he did in the past. That being said it is all contingent on how he holds up from injury, which has always been the case for Nadal.

Lets look at Nadal's 2011 and 2012 and even compare those years to 2008 and the trend of current Nadal's superiority becomes even more apparent. Never did Nadal so routine reach the finals of almost every hardcourt event that he entered like he did for most of 2011.

And as you correctly noted all this goat talk is really strawman building. Nowhere do I claim Djokovic to be superior to fed or nadal in the GOAT standings. Another very good post BS.

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Post by socal1976 Mon 13 May 2013 - 15:46

banbrotam wrote:It's too early to tell, but certainly on clay he's as good as he was in 2008

Not 2010 though

I'm finding it difficult to find how anyone can think that he was better in 2008 than 2010

It was that form that made his three rivals work harder and get better and we got the brilliant stuff of 2011 to June 2012


Look at 2011 and 2012 he was better against the tour than he was in 08, like you said he had a brilliant run from early 2011 till his injury in 2012, the only difference being that he lost close matches to his top rival as opposed to winning them against Federer. I also think that the spectacle of 08 final has also lionized Nadal 08 in people's minds, but again it was one match, and supposedly as fed fan's tell us against a still sick Federer, if we are to believe their commentary. I also agree Nadal's best year was 2010, but then again Djoko was not the Djokovic we see today in 2010 either.

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Post by socal1976 Mon 13 May 2013 - 15:51

Lydian, don't shift the goal posts to Nadal 08 and 10, the argument put forward that I am doubting are those that claim Nadal of 05-08 is better than current Nadal. That is the time frame that is germane to my discussion. As for Nadal's leg injuries he has had the really since he broke out on tour and every time he has comeback he has basically gone back to winning just like before. He came back from leg injury in 2010 which was by all accounts the best year. He has suffered the same chronic leg pain now really since his early days on tour. I don't think he sells out quite as much today on his defense as in the past but I think he is better in attack now than he was in the past.

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Post by lydian Mon 13 May 2013 - 17:20

If those are your goalposts as OP then fair enough but I only said the other day that his 13 form isn't like his standout clay years of 06/08/10...I didn't just focus on 08. I think Nadal can get back to those heady heights but I'm really surprised if you think at this point in time he's as good as the guy who won RG10...or 08...or 06.
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Post by kingraf Mon 13 May 2013 - 17:29

I think the Nadal of 2010 was supreme. The forehands were massive. The backhands were really good and the serve was for once dominant (USO he lost serve five times out of 111 games. A tie for the USO record, if Im not mistaken).
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Post by socal1976 Mon 13 May 2013 - 18:53

lydian wrote:If those are your goalposts as OP then fair enough but I only said the other day that his 13 form isn't like his standout clay years of 06/08/10...I didn't just focus on 08. I think Nadal can get back to those heady heights but I'm really surprised if you think at this point in time he's as good as the guy who won RG10...or 08...or 06.

Lets focus the discussion on young Nadal vs. supposedly post peak Nadal of the last couple of years. I think in 2010 it is safe to agree that Nadal by no stretch of the imagination was still a young player. My requisite time frame is 05-08 vs. lets say 2011-2013 Nadal. Nadal measured from his first slam victory to his rise as #1. And all my comments here aren't just directed at you Lydian, others keep saying things like if Nadal can reach 08 form Novak doesn't stand a chance. Well the question then begs to be asked how is the form of 08 Nadal better than Nadal of the last couple of years. In answering this question one has take into account the improvement of Djokovic as well and look at how Nadal has performed against the tour as a whole.

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Post by socal1976 Mon 13 May 2013 - 18:54

kingraf wrote:I think the Nadal of 2010 was supreme. The forehands were massive. The backhands were really good and the serve was for once dominant (USO he lost serve five times out of 111 games. A tie for the USO record, if Im not mistaken).


Not the question I am asking but always like your input. Is Nadal of 08 and before superior to the Nadal of the last couple of years. Do you think Nadal of 05-08>than Nadal post 2011?

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Post by kingraf Mon 13 May 2013 - 19:08

Simply put: no. Nadal has come on to be a very complete player. Nadal 05-08 made Slams in two of the GS's. Post 2011 has made a slam final in every one. Despite this I must say I think Nadal could have done even better. He doesnt want to hire an actual tennis coach rather than his uncle. But to answer your question, "Post-modern" Nadal is a better player than the original. I mean the guy is 33-2 for the season, was 42-6 (thereabouts) the season before, last two years he has been 75-8. Two slams, four masters (out eight) nine titles out of sixteen. His actually been alarmingly good and had it not been for Djoko, and in part, injuries, he might be breathing down Federer's All-time total
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Post by socal1976 Mon 13 May 2013 - 19:27

kingraf wrote:Simply put: no. Nadal has come on to be a very complete player. Nadal 05-08 made Slams in two of the GS's. Post 2011 has made a slam final in every one. Despite this I must say I think Nadal could have done even better. He doesnt want to hire an actual tennis coach rather than his uncle. But to answer your question, "Post-modern" Nadal is a better player than the original. I mean the guy is 33-2 for the season, was 42-6 (thereabouts) the season before, last two years he has been 75-8. Two slams, four masters (out eight) nine titles out of sixteen. His actually been alarmingly good and had it not been for Djoko, and in part, injuries, he might be breathing down Federer's All-time total

Yep, exactly how I see in fact I will go one step further a Nadal without chronic leg issues would already be the consensus GOAT with the all time slam record. The key difference here in my mind that flatters young Nadal vs. current Nadal is that in the early years he was beating his biggest rival more often than not in the big matches. The current version is losing the majority of his matches against his top rival, albeit in mostly close contests. Great stat there kingraf, 75-8 the last two abbreviated years is an extremely telling statistic. Nadal today dominates the rest tour of the tour much more than he did in the early years, including the mythical charge of 08. The key difference being that his greatest rival seems to have the recent edge in their rivlarly, this is a function of how much that rival has improved not how much Nadal has degraded from his 08 form.

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Post by HM Murdock Mon 13 May 2013 - 19:54

socal1976 wrote: The key difference here in my mind that flatters young Nadal vs. current Nadal is that in the early years he was beating his biggest rival more often than not in the big matches. The current version is losing the majority of his matches against his top rival, albeit in mostly close contests.
This is an excellent point.

This view of Rafa as being indomitable is a throwback to the Fedal era.

That 07 to 09 classic Fedal period was great but things have changed now. Players have declined and blossomed, dynamics have shifted, mental burdens have been gained and shed, match ups have taken a different turn.

Yet, for many, the belief that Fed or Nadal (especially Nadal now that Fed is in his 30s) can only lose if they are below their best remains.

But the fact is that there is now a player who is both good enough and stylistically a tough enough match up to beat Rafa regularly. It's not Rafa declining, it's the emergence of a serious rival.

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Post by socal1976 Mon 13 May 2013 - 20:10

Precisely, Murdoch we hear it here all the time this view that fed and nadal if at their best can not lose the big matches to lesser mortals, therefore if they are losing those matches it is because they are not at their best. It is never chalked up to improvements other players have made to their games. I think this is unfair and contra factual, you look at nadal post the rise of djokovic and you see that outside of Novak he is absolutely whitewashing the rest of the tour at a frightening pace that outstrips even what we saw from him in the early days.

Also that 08 final because of its fame and notoriety seems to have been etched into everyone's mind as the peak of tennis. Yes it may be the greatest match in history, but at that time nadal was not yet a finished product he was 22 years old. He had never even reached a final on hardcourt. True injuries blur the picture somewhat but I can't ever rember a period where nadal was healthy for a long period of time to measure against.

I think nadal and djoko of today would beat nadal of 2008 senseless. If not we have to assume that these two prodigies entering their primes, playing tennis daily, and getting great coaching along the way have actually regressed. And lets remember that if anything the modern tour has shown us that the best results players are getting is from 25-30 now, not in the early 20s. So contrary to the rest of the tour that is ageing like wine we are asked to believe that in this time period nadal has turned into vinegar all while we watch him stomp the brains out of everyone not named Novak.

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Post by HM Murdock Mon 13 May 2013 - 20:20

Remove Novak from the scene, and Nadal's results from IW11 through to RG 12 may have been his most successful period ever.

Convert all those runner ups to wins and Nadal ends up with 5 slams and 7 Masters in 15 months.

Of course, it's not an exact science, but Nadal was in amazing form in that period.

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Post by CaledonianCraig Mon 13 May 2013 - 20:29

The discussion here though proves how impossible it is to judge eras. I mean there are debates on whether Nadal was better or worse in 2005 to 2008. That is just one player and there isn't agreement and the kind of fluctuations in form happens with every single player on the tennis circuit hence dynamics of the sport are constantly shifting.
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Post by HM Murdock Mon 13 May 2013 - 20:36

CaledonianCraig wrote:dynamics of the sport are constantly shifting.
Exactly. The most overlooked point in all these debates. OK

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Post by socal1976 Mon 13 May 2013 - 20:39

HM Murdoch wrote:Remove Novak from the scene, and Nadal's results from IW11 through to RG 12 may have been his most successful period ever.

Convert all those runner ups to wins and Nadal ends up with 5 slams and 7 Masters in 15 months.

Of course, it's not an exact science, but Nadal was in amazing form in that period.

Exactly, hell even assume he wins half those finals he would have had one of the best periods of his career. Lets remember the timeline here of a Nadal who coming into AO of 2011 had won 3 straight slams, gets hurt in the AO and comes back to reach the final of everything he enters to lose in close matches to one player having a mythical run of his own. I mean what changed from Nadal in the fall of 2010 standing atop the tennis world like a behemouth and the runner up of 2011. It was the improvement in his closest rival, not Nadal falling off, if he did how do you explain all those finals and him going into AO 2011 with a chance at a Rafa slam.

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Post by socal1976 Mon 13 May 2013 - 20:40

CaledonianCraig wrote:The discussion here though proves how impossible it is to judge eras. I mean there are debates on whether Nadal was better or worse in 2005 to 2008. That is just one player and there isn't agreement and the kind of fluctuations in form happens with every single player on the tennis circuit hence dynamics of the sport are constantly shifting.


Well Craig this is not really an era discussion per se. But what I would say is that if you ground your analysis in objective facts you have a good chance of coming up with a strong conclusion.

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Post by CaledonianCraig Mon 13 May 2013 - 20:47

Don't get me wrong socal we do all have opinions but really it is pointless rehashing it all as agreement is never ever reached. I liken them to rotas (shift patterns)at work you are never going to please everyone - many will hate them, some won't mind them and others will be neutral.
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Post by banbrotam Mon 13 May 2013 - 21:21

It's a fair point CC - but I maintain that anyone that thinks his 2008 form was 'some kind of wonderful' that he's rarely reached since, has some kind of agenda against today's game

Fact is everyone, included the likes of serial underachievers like Tsonga and Berdych have improved greatley since 2008 - it's inconciveable that Nadal isn't better, despite the injuries

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Post by socal1976 Mon 13 May 2013 - 22:28

banbrotam wrote:It's a fair point CC - but I maintain that anyone that thinks his 2008 form was 'some kind of wonderful' that he's rarely reached since, has some kind of agenda against today's game

Fact is everyone, included the likes of serial underachievers like Tsonga and Berdych have improved greatley since 2008 - it's inconciveable that Nadal isn't better, despite the injuries

Exactly, banbro, what you touched on so succinctly is one of the main thrusts of my argument. When you look at a tour that where the players are having better results in their late 20s across the board and yet we are asked to believe that Nadal and to a lesser extent Djokovic peaked at 21 and 22? Why would the two thoroughbreds of the period regress while the ferrer, and berdy's of the world have become better or at least are having better results? This argument that Nadal in 08 was better than ever is very convenient for Federer fans and critics of the modern game because it helps paint a picture of a tour in crisis were a spent Nadal is still decimating the tour even when he is just a shell of his former self. It also big ups Fed's competition while downplaying the accomplishments of today's stars.

As for Nadal's leg injuries I am sure it takes a toll but it wasn't like Nadal of 05-08 was healthy and fit all the time either, in fact his best season to date came after a leg injury in 09, which he followed up with his wonderous 2010 campaign. And this isn't just opinion separated from the facts, look at the results Nadal is having and looking at how he is dominating the rest of the tour better than ever by the numbers. Look at the fact that in05-08 he had never even reached a grandslam final on hardcourt, that David Ferrer of all people beat him to a pulp in the 06 USO quarters. Look at his win percentages despite the heavy losses to djokovic and against other top ten players.

The agenda is clear in my opinion, and the agenda is to talk down the current game and the current champions by positing that a crippled Nadal is still dominant force on tour so the competition level is not all that. Especially compared to lionized Nadal who Fed had to contend with in 05-08. As I said this argument fits in so nicely with both Nadal fans, fed fans, and the nostalgics. If Nadal loses to Djoko or lets say murray, well then he is just a shell of himself far removed from his prime. If he wins it is further proof that the players today don't cut it. It is a perfect catch 22 of their own creation and I for one can't really abide by this rewriting of history.

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Post by JuliusHMarx Tue 14 May 2013 - 0:41

Which rewriting of history do you prefer? (I think I know the answer to that one) Smile

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Post by socal1976 Tue 14 May 2013 - 1:29

JuliusHMarx wrote:Which rewriting of history do you prefer? (I think I know the answer to that one) Smile


When I am the one doing the rewriting Julius, you know that.

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Post by laverfan Tue 14 May 2013 - 1:59

What one loses in age, one (re)gains in experience.

Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, ... this interminable line of players in Tennis history is a testament to that.

As players get older, youth gives way to craftier and more elegant solutions. The lack of execution, of such solutions is when discussions of retirement become topics of hushed discussions in the locker rooms.

The injuries to Nadal 2012-2013 have given a fresh impetus to the finiteness of Tennis life of any human, be it Rosewall, or Connors, or Federer or Nadal.

Nadal does want to achieve more and leave his imprint on Tennis history, as have Federer, Lendl, McEnroe, Borg, Laver, et al.

I have seen more UEs from Nadal since his return, then in many years past. A typical bell-curve is a Tennis life, and it will stay that way as long as humans play (even if robots took over). Run

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Post by socal1976 Tue 14 May 2013 - 2:11

That is true Laverfan, just because Nadal maybe doesn't move out wide with quite the same venom doesn't mean he isn't better in a bunch of other areas including maturity that outweigh those differences.

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Post by laverfan Tue 14 May 2013 - 2:32

Quite agree, SoCal. Djokovic also suggests a new-found maturity replacing youthful zeal.

The count of titles is not always a true measure of improvement or lack thereof, but numbers, being cardinal and primitive, seem to have the most convincing effect.

If a player, after a 7+ month layoff, can reach 7 finals, how much has he really lost?

Agassi (with a longer time away from top) came back with a vengeance, has Nadal done the same? chin

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Post by socal1976 Tue 14 May 2013 - 3:30

laverfan wrote:Quite agree, SoCal. Djokovic also suggests a new-found maturity replacing youthful zeal.

The count of titles is not always a true measure of improvement or lack thereof, but numbers, being cardinal and primitive, seem to have the most convincing effect.

If a player, after a 7+ month layoff, can reach 7 finals, how much has he really lost?

Agassi (with a longer time away from top) came back with a vengeance, has Nadal done the same? chin

Not only that Laverfan but we are told Nadal of today is a shell of his past self, well at the same time these people are lionizing the youthful Nadal and discounting the man's actual record the last couple of years. When he has been healthy he has run rampant on anyone not named Djokovic. And even against Novak he went 3-1 last year. How is a player who is 75-8 over the last two years not as good as the 22 year old version of himself?

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Post by lydian Tue 14 May 2013 - 7:35

socal1976 wrote: Not only that Laverfan but we are told Nadal of today is a shell of his past self, well at the same time these people are lionizing the youthful Nadal and discounting the man's actual record the last couple of years. When he has been healthy he has run rampant on anyone not named Djokovic. And even against Novak he went 3-1 last year. How is a player who is 75-8 over the last two years not as good as the 22 year old version of himself?

Socal, my thrust is that 2013 Nadal is not (yet) at the level of previous years....any years! His stats since returning somewhat flatter him and are deceiving. Yes, he's getting better all the time and think we'll now see a difference in Rome but you've been trying to say a guy who was out of the game for 8 months could have popped right back at his previous peak. I don't agree. Nadal himself after winning the Madrid title said: "It’s true these last [two] matches I have been able to reach that goal, that line, that place where I want to be playing, the kind of play that I’m aiming for. Since we started playing on clay in Europe, these last two matches are the best I have played. I’ve realised that my forehand is working again at its highest level and I’m able to open the angles and play a lot of winners. I couldn’t do that in Barcelona or Monte Carlo". Yet you would have us believe his Monte Carlo form was as good as any year 05-12.

So, now we see what happens with Nadal saying this. LF, yes players adapt as they get older, it doesn't mean they are necessarily better, just different. Clay is a brutal surface, we cannot expect Nadal with all those clay miles to simply get better and better, he adapts to try to achieve the same results but he himself knows what level is needed to make the most of his own abilities and only now, despite all the finals/titles, does he feel he's getting towards "that place where I want to be playing, the kind of play I'm aiming for".
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Post by Henman Bill Tue 14 May 2013 - 14:18

socal1976 wrote:

But lets actually examine the facts and compare Nadal 2013 vs Nadal 2008. ....Nadal of 2008 had acquired 5435 points in 20 tournaments in the 52 weeks prior to this week in the year 2008. ....

I would take Nadal of 2010-2013 over Nadal of 05-08.....And the numbers bear it out, Nadal dominates the tour more today than he did in his early days, he just loses to his top rival more than he wins unlike the Nadal of 08.

On your first point, I think you are twisting this to suit your argument. Nadal's greatness in 2008 was about his one sided FO final win and Wimbledon win, you've conveniently picked a week when his ranking points would have been about 60% from 2007 probably. Try looking at his ranking points from early 2009, there was a lot being built up then, similar to what Federer and Djokovic have achieved in their best years, not all that far behind anyway.

I agree with your second point. Nadal hasn't failed to reach a slam quarter since Soderling loss in 2009, apart from the major exception of Rosol. His W/L record now is not much different to 2005 -2008, and if it is lower, it is only because of Djokovic.

I believe 2011 Nadal was as good as 2008 or 2010. If it wasn't for the improved Djokovic he might have had a tremendous year. Of the finals he lost to Djokovic at Wimbledon and the US Open, and at Madrid, Rome, Indian Wells and Miami, he might have won 4 or 5 of those 6 tournaments. Because he wasn't losing to anyone else. I think 2009 AO was probably his absolute peak in my opinion, but I think in 2011 he was playing at a similar level. At AO 2012 against Djokovic he looked to be improving even and almost produced a tremendous victory.

This year though, he hasn't looked at good. Not as good as 2008, 2010 or 2011. It isn't so much in the statistics this time as in watching him play. So many easy forehands into the net, I've not seen the like of it. He beat Federer at Indian Wells because Federer didn't turn up, and Del Potro did him a huge favour in taking out Murray and Djokovic. It was a tremendous tournament for him, but there was nothing there to suggest that Murray and Djokovic are anything other than the top two players, at least on hard court. So what that could mean is that when he DOES get back to his best--watch out. Or it could mean he has been riding his luck off clay and maybe will struggle in the second half of the year.

I'd like to see him play Murray a bit more. That's really the matchup I want to see at the moment. I think that's where we'll find out more. Nadal is clearly playing second fiddle to Djokovic and ahead of the rest, Murray is the matchup that's less clear.

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Post by socal1976 Tue 14 May 2013 - 16:58

lydian wrote:
socal1976 wrote: Not only that Laverfan but we are told Nadal of today is a shell of his past self, well at the same time these people are lionizing the youthful Nadal and discounting the man's actual record the last couple of years. When he has been healthy he has run rampant on anyone not named Djokovic. And even against Novak he went 3-1 last year. How is a player who is 75-8 over the last two years not as good as the 22 year old version of himself?

Socal, my thrust is that 2013 Nadal is not (yet) at the level of previous years....any years! His stats since returning somewhat flatter him and are deceiving. Yes, he's getting better all the time and think we'll now see a difference in Rome but you've been trying to say a guy who was out of the game for 8 months could have popped right back at his previous peak. I don't agree. Nadal himself after winning the Madrid title said: "It’s true these last [two] matches I have been able to reach that goal, that line, that place where I want to be playing, the kind of play that I’m aiming for. Since we started playing on clay in Europe, these last two matches are the best I have played. I’ve realised that my forehand is working again at its highest level and I’m able to open the angles and play a lot of winners. I couldn’t do that in Barcelona or Monte Carlo". Yet you would have us believe his Monte Carlo form was as good as any year 05-12.

So, now we see what happens with Nadal saying this. LF, yes players adapt as they get older, it doesn't mean they are necessarily better, just different. Clay is a brutal surface, we cannot expect Nadal with all those clay miles to simply get better and better, he adapts to try to achieve the same results but he himself knows what level is needed to make the most of his own abilities and only now, despite all the finals/titles, does he feel he's getting towards "that place where I want to be playing, the kind of play I'm aiming for".

You reference the fact that he was out for 7 months, and how could he comeback and be anything approaching the player he was. I am sorry but before 2010 his best year didn't he miss wimbeldon and much of the season in 09 due to leg injury as well. Nadal also missed part of 2011 due to injury, and many years before that. Every time he has comeback he has comeback rapidly to the top, this year I don't see any difference whatsoever to the past trend.

Now again you want to focus simply on clay where he has been the best from day one, so it is hard to judge, I mean the guy almost always wins pretty much everything on clay to begin with so if there is a fall off or an improvement it is very hard to gauge. When you look at Nadal 05-08 and compare him to current Nadal lets even throw out 2010, lets say from 2011-2013 taking into account all the surfaces you see that the Nadal of recent years has a much better record on the other surfaces and loses less often to lower ranked players on hardcourt, the majority surface on tour. Again I am talking about Nadal on all surfaces not just on clay. And I am comparing Nadal of the last couple of years to the Nadal who rose up to the #1 and scored that famous victory over Federer. Nadal of recent years despite being wiped out by Djokovic in the hardcourt finals he has played, has consistently dominated the rest of the tour unlike in the past. Lets remember Nadal in 06 was healthy and lost to much maligned David Ferrer over 5 sets in the USO quarters. He lost grandslam matches to Tsonga and Gonzalez at the AO in a manner every bit as lopsided as his Rosol loss, maybe more.

Your quote nothwithstanding, I am looking at the average of Nadal the last couple of years and comparing that to the Nadal who won his first slam in 05 and rose up to take over the 1 in 08. I am sure he is still getting back to his highest levels but he isn't far off the mark right now and lets look at how far he has come from the Zeballos match. Again the numbers bear out that Nadal is very close to his top level of play, afterall his match record is what 36-2? Was it better than this before in the heyday of 05-08? And by the way you previously mentioned that he won 250s that he wouldn't play in the past, he won in Acapulco, and Barcelona that are 500 pointers, he won a 250 in south America and has won masters titles, one on clay and one on hard.

Nadal being out 7 months is not much of a gauge by my recollection the guy has had a leg injury every 12 to 18 months since he has come onto the tour and has been as good or better than ever each time he has comeback, (ie leg injury in 09, best year ever in 2010)

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Post by socal1976 Tue 14 May 2013 - 17:10

Henman Bill wrote:
socal1976 wrote:

But lets actually examine the facts and compare Nadal 2013 vs Nadal 2008. ....Nadal of 2008 had acquired 5435 points in 20 tournaments in the 52 weeks prior to this week in the year 2008. ....

I would take Nadal of 2010-2013 over Nadal of 05-08.....And the numbers bear it out, Nadal dominates the tour more today than he did in his early days, he just loses to his top rival more than he wins unlike the Nadal of 08.

On your first point, I think you are twisting this to suit your argument. Nadal's greatness in 2008 was about his one sided FO final win and Wimbledon win, you've conveniently picked a week when his ranking points would have been about 60% from 2007 probably. Try looking at his ranking points from early 2009, there was a lot being built up then, similar to what Federer and Djokovic have achieved in their best years, not all that far behind anyway.

I agree with your second point. Nadal hasn't failed to reach a slam quarter since Soderling loss in 2009, apart from the major exception of Rosol. His W/L record now is not much different to 2005 -2008, and if it is lower, it is only because of Djokovic.

I believe 2011 Nadal was as good as 2008 or 2010. If it wasn't for the improved Djokovic he might have had a tremendous year. Of the finals he lost to Djokovic at Wimbledon and the US Open, and at Madrid, Rome, Indian Wells and Miami, he might have won 4 or 5 of those 6 tournaments. Because he wasn't losing to anyone else. I think 2009 AO was probably his absolute peak in my opinion, but I think in 2011 he was playing at a similar level. At AO 2012 against Djokovic he looked to be improving even and almost produced a tremendous victory.

This year though, he hasn't looked at good. Not as good as 2008, 2010 or 2011. It isn't so much in the statistics this time as in watching him play. So many easy forehands into the net, I've not seen the like of it. He beat Federer at Indian Wells because Federer didn't turn up, and Del Potro did him a huge favour in taking out Murray and Djokovic. It was a tremendous tournament for him, but there was nothing there to suggest that Murray and Djokovic are anything other than the top two players, at least on hard court. So what that could mean is that when he DOES get back to his best--watch out. Or it could mean he has been riding his luck off clay and maybe will struggle in the second half of the year.

I'd like to see him play Murray a bit more. That's really the matchup I want to see at the moment. I think that's where we'll find out more. Nadal is clearly playing second fiddle to Djokovic and ahead of the rest, Murray is the matchup that's less clear.

HB, I am not twisting anything to suit my reason. I took the week ending 5/12/2008 and compared it the week of 5/13/2013 in order to compare like to like. Where was Nadal points wise at this time in the season 5 years ago and where is he today. Again you want to go into 09 and so on so forth. My question here is very specific. Comparing the Nadal on the rise from his first slam to his ascent to number in 08 to the Nadal of the last few years. I hear it here and other places all the time. If only Nadal could get back to 08 level he would beat the upstart Djokovic. Wrong, Wrong, and triple wrong. 08 Nadal would get mauled on hardcourt for sure against Djoko 2.0, and I doubt he would do much better on clay or grass either. And Nadal of the last couple of years would also beat 05-08 Nadal, certainly on a hardcourt and probably on the other surfaces as well.

Early on I agree that he was spraying a lot of forehands, it is a complex shot with a lot of working parts with an incredibly fast swing. But recently, I have seen much less of that and his serve looks better than ever. I am not saying that he came off a 7 month lay off and all of sudden is the best Nadal ever. What I am saying is that the average of Nadal in recent years is better than the young lionized Nadal of 05-08. I am sure he has rustiness and issues to work out although I think he is past the worst part of it. Lets remember he has been competing for 3 months now at the highest levels so the rustiness argument I could buy in south America or at Indian wells, at MC and Madrid not so much.

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Post by Gerry SA Tue 14 May 2013 - 18:39

Personally for me having watched Nadal over the years. He's lost a yard of court coverage speed over the last couple of years

Prior to 2011, his defence was unreal but in the last couple of seasons with the 3-5% drop in speed he's later in his defensive play.

Also for me his cross court double handed backhand was considerably flatter until the last few seasons

For whatever reason, he doesn't play that shot as much anymore or has selved it to save wear and tear on his ailing body.

These are my observations so don't slaughter me for them!

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Post by socal1976 Tue 14 May 2013 - 18:48

Gerry, no worries fair points although I disagree on the substance of your posts you are welcome to post your opinions and you contribution is worth while, although I must disagree. What about the fact that young Nadal according to his own coach had the worst serve in the top 100 when he first broke on tour, I remember a Nadal who struggled to break 115 on his serve in recent years he hits up to 130 on the first serve and gets a lot more free points. I still think Nadal has a very good cross court backhand, I think the shot he lacks on the backhand side is the up the line backhand. He didn't really have that shot in the past and hasn't done enough to develop it in recent years.

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Post by Gerry SA Tue 14 May 2013 - 19:18

socal1976 wrote:Gerry, no worries fair points although I disagree on the substance of your posts you are welcome to post your opinions and you contribution is worth while, although I must disagree. What about the fact that young Nadal according to his own coach had the worst serve in the top 100 when he first broke on tour, I remember a Nadal who struggled to break 115 on his serve in recent years he hits up to 130 on the first serve and gets a lot more free points. I still think Nadal has a very good cross court backhand, I think the shot he lacks on the backhand side is the up the line backhand. He didn't really have that shot in the past and hasn't done enough to develop it in recent years.
Yeah I agree his service has improved vastly. He hits plenty(for him) aces these days as well.

The thing about his cross court backhand is, although I feel it used to be hit flatter - I also feel he's lost some of the angles he used to use on that shot. He used to hit it with extraordinary angles that would run the opponent of the court. I haven't seen that shot in recent times.

I also agree about the lack of the backhand up the line.

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Post by Silver Tue 14 May 2013 - 19:19

Henman Bill wrote:I think 2009 AO was probably his absolute peak in my opinion, but I think in 2011 he was playing at a similar level.

I would agree with this. But it's tough to analyse all the intangibles - for example, is 2011 Djokovic as tough an opponent as 2008/9 Federer? Across the whole year, quite possibly and the stats would suggest that Djokovic was the more consistent and better player. But 2009 AO is quite possibly the highest quality match that I've ever seen (main rival - Fed/Novak @ 2011 RG), and it's hard to imagine that version of Nadal losing to anyone. But he did have a very high standard of play throughout the entire year in 2011, culminating in a fantastic performance at 2012 AO. We shouldn't forget that Nadal's tournament that year wasn't just about the final that he lost; he played to an extremely high standard in dispatching Berdych and a red-hot Fed in the preceding two rounds.

Is it fair to suggest that Nadal is a better player across the entire year now, but on a given day he was capable of more destructive and dominant performances back in 2008 and 2009? Bear in mind that he didn't have the mental baggage that he may now carry due to Novak's hoodoo over him. But across an entire tour year, rather than just clay, I'd pick the Nadal of 2012 anytime.

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Post by CAS Tue 14 May 2013 - 20:11

the Nadal of today is better than the younger Nadal, on clay I'm not sure but surely its not even a question all round? 05-08 Rafa wasn't not as good outside of clay so depends what the question is. 08 on clay Rafa was peerless, but he didn't have a confident mature Djokovic so we will never truly know

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Post by HM Murdock Tue 14 May 2013 - 20:21

It's only obliquely related to this but it's interesting how often Rafa came up as "toughest opponent" here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGy0x3KKc6c

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Post by invisiblecoolers Tue 14 May 2013 - 20:35

Nadal's game has certainly gone down, there is no intimidation factor in his game as it used to be, yes he bagelled many player in the 3rd set but in many of those matches he lost a set which prime Rafa of 2008 would not have. OK

2008 Nadal's forehand was a monster, 2013 Nadal's forehand is flat but doesn't have the same effect it had before, people at times do bully that forehand which was never the case before.

2008 Nadal had a way better backhand, now Nadal's backhand is even considered as a weakness and is being targeted.

2013's Nadal serve is better, but Remember 2008 Nadal's serve was very effective and he hardly lost his serve and was very capable of holding onto his breakpoints.

2008 Nadal's stamina was breath taking, now we see Nadal do get tired and his fitness is a concern too.

2008 Nadal was a monster when it comes to Mental toughness certainly not the case now.

Rest of the game like volleying, running shots, smashes drop shots more or less remained the same.

So in comparison 2008 Nadal was on of the best and it refelected in 2010, in 2010 Nadal was a bit lucky as many top players were not in form or out injured, so its not a myth that Nadal of 2008 was better than 2013 version.

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Post by Chydremion Tue 14 May 2013 - 21:23

2012 Nadal on clay was the best Nadal I've ever seen on that surface, he was untouchable.

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Post by socal1976 Tue 14 May 2013 - 22:28

Yes, IC that is why he has the last two years gotten to the final of almost every single tournament he enters across all the surfaces, when was Nadal routinely in the finals of all these hardcourt events and slams circa 2008? Again I direct you to the facts his serve is 12-15 miles an hour faster, and in the last couple of years he has been to 4 hardcourt slam finals, compared to 0 for 2005-08. The reason he seems not to be as mentally tough is that Novak has gotten up inside his dome by beating him. But I mean if Nadal loses to Chang's weak sister on clay in MC he can't be that tough can he so who could argue with your analysis.


Last edited by socal1976 on Wed 15 May 2013 - 1:10; edited 1 time in total

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Post by socal1976 Tue 14 May 2013 - 23:40

CAS wrote:the Nadal of today is better than the younger Nadal, on clay I'm not sure but surely its not even a question all round? 05-08 Rafa wasn't not as good outside of clay so depends what the question is. 08 on clay Rafa was peerless, but he didn't have a confident mature Djokovic so we will never truly know

Precisely, I have always found it hard to believe that Federer is one of the greatest clay courters or a natural clay court player. Nadal had a matchup edge against Federer to begin with, now throw in the fact that he is playing a grass and hardcourt player with one handed backhand and an eastern forehand in all those early FO finals. No wonder the clay GOAT was so untouchable on clay. It was Federer and no one else. Don't get me wrong Fed is a great player who could play well on clay, but his game is not really suited to clay court tennis. Djokovic I am convinced when it is all said and done will be rated a better clay courter than Federer and despite hardcourt being his favorite surface his game with his defense, western forehand, and double handed backhand is much better suite to clay than Federer's. Fed is a grass court player and fast court player who because of his talent can succeed on clay.

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Post by socal1976 Tue 14 May 2013 - 23:41

Chydremion wrote:2012 Nadal on clay was the best Nadal I've ever seen on that surface, he was untouchable.

Yes, and in 2012 I would say Novak gave him quite a bit of trouble in that final to the point that it looked like Novak was going to whitewash late in that match and then they stopped it.

socal1976

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The myth of young Nadal being better than Nadal of today Empty Re: The myth of young Nadal being better than Nadal of today

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