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where does Nadal go from here?

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Post by socal1976 Thu 04 Jun 2015, 7:19 am

First topic message reminder :

I am not saying he won't have a comeback or that he is done or dusted. But he can't play like Nadal of 20 or 25 anymore. I think that much is clear. His whole formula was based on being able to be the fittest guy, the fastest guy, and the player who could run around 90 percent of his backhands to hit forehands. He just can't anymore. People are wondering why his forehand seems so weak. Well the answer to me is simple. He is asking too much of the FH and of his legs. His style of play requires him to run more than his opponent and to get into position to hit FH from anywhere in the court. This tactic along with his big swings require him to stand back further and to do more running than any guy on the tour. At this stage it just won't work. The reason his FH isn't as penetrating and as good is that he is late on the ball, that he can't get his feet right to hit the ball the way he should. I mean Nadal hasn't forgotten how to hit his forehand. He is either lunging or he can't get his body out of the way fast enough so he gets jammed on the FH wing. It becomes very easy to hit a ball if you are in the right position and you are top pro. If you drop a ball short to him midcourt he still knows how to whack it and angle it off the court. But the top guys aren't going to do that very often to him. They are going into all the space Rafa leaves on the FH side and he is late getting there so he either errors or gives back a short reply that they can then finish. This problem is compounded by the fact that Nadal is not as confident or as good as he used to be at going up the line with that FH. This could be due to the fact that if his opponent gets there the cross court is wide open and he can be hurt if he doesn't do enough with that ball.


So what can Rafa do to get back to the top. I know this sounds crazy but he has to abandon the core of his game. And I personally don't believe that he can do it. Because unlike Federer or Agassi when he got older he doesn't need just minor tweaks and improvements he needs a whole new outlook on the game of tennis. I actually think if he is dedicated enough to a new formula he can pull it off. But I don't think it is likely because it may require a year or more of him actually going backwards to go forwards.

1. He needs to trust the backhand and run around less. His backhand is actually pretty good. I mean it isn't as good as Murray or Djoko's but he can do damage with it and he has improved his down the line backhand. This will relieve the pressure on both his legs, his lungs, and his FH. Instead of running around every backhand just run around the ones that every other pro would run around the mid court ones

2. He has to do more damage with the return and his return position. The whole dropping back to hit a heavy return that gets you back to neutral thing is not going to work against the very best. He doesn't have to hit outright winners but he can take a page here from Djokovic and hit a flatter, earlier ball into uncomfortable positions for his opponent. That is something he did to Novak in the hardcourt swing of 2013 so he can do it, but I haven't seen it since.

3. Maybe hitting with the most RPMs, is hitting with too much RPMS. He needs to flatten out the FH, the FH is the core of his game and right now his current strategy is just not impacting the best guys. He has that flat FH, I have seen it over and over again since 09 and a little before.

4. Point 3 leads to point 4. He needs to move up to near the baseline and play. To hit a flatter FH he needs to be closer to the baseline and shorten his swing. He needs to hit with more mph and less RPM. When he is late on his FH as he often is now the ball either sales long, goes into the net, or drops short and if his opponent is good enough he takes advantage.

5. More variety on his serve. Every one and their grandmother knows where Nadal is going with 90 percent of his serves. Fed and Djoko don't have the biggest serves in terms of mph. I mean Djokovic hits his first serve marginally faster than Nadal. But what he does is that he mixes up his serves and doesn't stick to one tell tale pattern. Fed is particularly brilliant at this as the returner has no idea where the serve is going till he hits it and by then it is too late.

6. He has to go up the line more off both wings. His CC BH is good his down the line BH is weak he needs to improve the frequency and effectiveness of this shot. And he needs to use the down the line FH more and recently he hasn't done much damage with it against the best players.

I honestly don't think he can pull off these changes. Not that he doesn't have the ability but I just think it is very hard for a top pro to completely overhaul like this at 29 years of age. But I don't think he can continue to play the current style in his thirties like Fed has been able to. It asks so much of his legs, his heart, his lungs, and his FH. He should wake up tomorrow and say this is the way I am going to play and if I go 0-39 till I get it right that is what I have to do. Because the current strategy of resurrecting the old (young) Nadal into this Nadal's body I don't think will work. And if it does work it isn't going to work for long.

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Post by temporary21 Thu 04 Jun 2015, 11:42 am

He's currently s clear 8th in the race. A better reflection of his ranking given that he couldn't compete for s good third of the points

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Post by Guest82 Thu 04 Jun 2015, 11:52 am

But there are not loads of points between 8th and 3rd. The matches I remember him losing this year are too Berdych, Djokovic (x2), Murray, Wawrinka, Fognini (x2) & Raonic. So he's losing to top ten players (bar Fognini who has top ten ability on clay).

It's the jump from where he is at the moment to Djokovic or even Murray's level that I wonder if he has left in him.

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Post by LuvSports! Thu 04 Jun 2015, 12:14 pm

I can't see Rafa playing until he is 33 or so. Would like him to though mind.

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Post by bogbrush Thu 04 Jun 2015, 12:56 pm

Well if we're doing the race is it time to mention that the clay season has just ended for him and he's departed the phase where he normally gains most of his points for the year?
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Post by Belovedluckyboy Thu 04 Jun 2015, 1:28 pm

Well, he can win points on the HCs no? I think gaining a good 2000 points from grass to HCs shouldnt be a problem and that will give him >4500 points so staying inside the top ten shouldnt be a problem. If he regains his form, he may gain more points come next year. Its not like he has forgotten how to play tennis, hes still beating those guys he aught to beat despite him not at his best right now. I dont think he has no chance of beating Novak or Murray when he regains his form even if they may beat him more than he beats them.

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Post by Silver Thu 04 Jun 2015, 1:30 pm

One of the best posts on the site in some time, I agree with nearly all of it.

Unfortunately I don't see Rafa being able to alter his gameplan to any significant extent - he has never really displayed that sort of mentality in his career. His Plan A is so good that he's not had to think about a backup before, and while he's technically superb he can be tactically poor in some matches.

Nadal he should draw heart from that 'technically superb' bit and use it. Stepping up to the baseline and trusting his flatter FH would be a very good start, it is a hugely underrated shot and he hits it brilliantly. It may be time to look at serve variation as well, and start looking very closely at the backhand as a whole. What does he want to do with it? If it stays as a rallying shot he is going nowhere. He must be willing to take it on and rip it if needs be. Socal says that he puts huge pressure on his FH, and I agree - time to ease it by bolstering the BH and trusting it more. This'll ease his court position issues and stop him being tugged wide to the FH side as is currently occurring, improving the forehand in the process. There are a bunch of other technical suggestions, but I'll stop there.

He's got to become more aggressive, start dictating points more and become less risk-averse. Those last two words are why I don't think he'll do it. Everything about his game is about playing the margins and it would require a gigantic mental overhaul to accomplish this. Nadal is a huge talent but I fear this is a bridge too far. He won't go away though, and may surprise us yet again. It'd be foolish to write him off completely.

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Post by laverfan Thu 04 Jun 2015, 1:44 pm

@KR... There is no need to make the serve any faster. He has shoulder issues. He dropped out of Paris when he won USO, IIRC.

@Barrystar... No record is ever safe. The CYGS is firmly on the charts for Djokovic, and I hope he gets it. There are many who can stop him, he can have an off day.

This may be too far a surgery on Nadal's game, but can he switch from a DHBH to a SHBH to reduce the amount running needed, to compensate for loss of foot speed.

I always think back to Agassi's statement about writing cheques that cannot be cashed, or something similar.  Nadal had a very quick rise into rankings, and may sleep further.

Changing coaching is much worse than switching from DH to SH for him, IMO.

This article has a funereal tone, which is premature.

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Post by sirfredperry Thu 04 Jun 2015, 1:59 pm

Rafa's whole year has been turned upside down so that he will go into next year not having, for the first time for about 10 years, to defend a stack of clay-court points.
  Perhaps now he will actually have a good second half to the season. Let's face it. The pressure's off. He's finally been beaten again at RG, he's had a (relatively) poor clay-court season. Time to do well at Wimbledon and the USO. Fed had a comparatively poor 2013 and Murray struggled somewhat in 2014. It's not all doom and gloom.

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Post by Jahu Thu 04 Jun 2015, 2:48 pm

Is this a death viewing thread? (or funeral parlor talk (as LF mentioned it))

Love these threads from a poster who is not a fan of a player, but likes to "care" for the players future.

Same as some a few months ago or last year from HN or HE or whoever Nadal fan about Fed's future.

Very caring indeed, NOT!
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Post by Henman Bill Thu 04 Jun 2015, 3:01 pm

right thread right time

I think mental issues could be as much a factor as tactics

I do think he doesn't quite drive through the forehand as much as before - I'm not convinced it's because he isn't running them down because this sometimes also happens from the mid court

more errors than he used to hit

too late to completely overhaul his game, a few tweaks needed

can he really be much different physically to just under 2 years ago when he cleaned up the hard court season in the US having also won the FO?

has been written off so many times...in 2005 they said he would never winn off clay, in 2009 it was said he was finished...in 2011 Djokovic had killed him off...in 2012 injury, finished again...always glorious comebacks or proving people wrong

I didn't have time to read everyone's comments but there's my initial thoughts anyway

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Post by socal1976 Thu 04 Jun 2015, 4:45 pm

bogbrush wrote:
socal1976 wrote:
bogbrush wrote:People are are also underestimating the impact of being pushed to play points most promptly; it's another nail in the coffin, just at a time when he's lost power which is putting him more on the defensive in rallies, he has to find a way to increase recovery between points.


I would believe that if he was being called for ten percent or even five percent of the time he goes over the limit. The rule has been in place I believe since 2013 he had his best year ever then.
They've only started showing any real interest recently.

Another factor affecting him will be (cynical me!) that as he's no longer the top player Umpires will ping him more. The top guys get an easy ride.

One thing that is interesting and I think the real reason they are calling him this FO almost every match is because Nadal asked the ATP to not have Bernardes umpire his matches at least for a little while. This was precisely because Bernardes was enforcing the rule. I mean I think Nadal still gets the star or top player treatment because the ATP agreed and Bernardes hasn't umpired a Rafa match since he made that request. I think the other officials don't like it and are calling Nadal every single match for it out of support for Bernardes. And I agree with them you can not have a player pick and choose or suspend an umpire from his matches.

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Post by socal1976 Thu 04 Jun 2015, 4:51 pm

CaledonianCraig wrote:
socal1976 wrote:
CaledonianCraig wrote:I still stand by what I said earlier in the clay court season. Rafa is striving for missing qualities such as self-belief, confidence and consistency. That was evident yesterday. The fighting spirit was still there and I don't think that will ever diminish but his ground strokes lacked consistent depth. The large portions of the match I saw his ground strokes were landing mostly midway up court or he'd be hitting long occasionally. Only now and again did he manage to pepper the lines and like I assumed once the first set was gone the self-belief built up in the four matches prior to this just seeped away. He desperately needs a win against Novak, Andy or Roger to start building the belief that he still has it. Wins against Berdych, Nishikori etc are good but prove nothing to him or me (frankly). Andy to a degree is at this stage as well needing a big win over Novak but elsewhere his game is at a higher level just now than Rafa's.

The tell tale signs as to where Rafa is at for me is when Andy took him apart on clay in Madrid. Yes Andy is in the clay court form of his life perhaps but that defeat was more about the shell of Rafa for me.

Yes I agree with much of that but there is a reason his balls are dropping short. I mean if you are consistently dropping short or going wide or hitting into the net there are reasons. For example, often if you are hitting into the net it is because you are pulling your head up and looking up and not keeping your eye on the ball. Or if you are consistently hitting wide it is because you are over rotating on your shots. The reason Nadal is dropping or netting so many shots is because he can't continually run around the BH and give up as much court position to get to the ball in time. If you are top pro and you are on top of the ball in time it becomes routine to hit.

Yes and is that not down to lack of consistency? He hit the lines with a few shots but mostly his length was way off - lack of consistency and that is taking on board about his head position etc and court position.

I mean in a way it is consistency in that he is often late too the ball and tries to run around shots that no other pro would run around. I think it has more to do with him just not being able to handle the frenetic pace and work rate he sets for himself and therefore lunging or getting jammed on the FH. He tries to hit FHs from positions that almost no pro does.

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Post by socal1976 Thu 04 Jun 2015, 5:08 pm

Henman Bill wrote:right thread right time

I think mental issues could be as much a factor as tactics

I do think he doesn't quite drive through the forehand as much as before - I'm not convinced it's because he isn't running them down because this sometimes also happens from the mid court

more errors than he used to hit

too late to completely overhaul his game, a few tweaks needed

can he really be much different physically to just under 2 years ago when he cleaned up the hard court season in the US having also won the FO?

has been written off so many times...in 2005 they said he would never winn off clay, in 2009 it was said he was finished...in 2011 Djokovic had killed him off...in 2012 injury, finished again...always glorious comebacks or proving people wrong

I didn't have time to read everyone's comments but there's my initial thoughts anyway

Yeah but I don't ever remember Rafa having a crisis like this. And he is pushing 30. I mean Djokovic was off his game for even a longer period in 09 and 10, but he was 22 or 23 and it was obvious he was having a serving crisis issue and fitness problems. In those other years when he came back he always quickly rushed to dominance. I mean he would recover from injuries so quickly it had some critics claiming he was never injured at all but on super secret suspension. He does miss balls from the middle of the court as well, I mean everyone does but most of the misses I see are when he either gets pulled wide to the FH or when he tries to run into the BH doubles alley or beyond to hit a FH.

I also don't know so I can't speculate but the guy could just have a bit of burnout as well. I mean it takes a lot of work being the absolute best and maybe mentally he doesn't have the same focus to the grind that he used to. I don't know the answer to that really just wondering.

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Post by socal1976 Thu 04 Jun 2015, 5:15 pm

Silver wrote:One of the best posts on the site in some time, I agree with nearly all of it.

Unfortunately I don't see Rafa being able to alter his gameplan to any significant extent - he has never really displayed that sort of mentality in his career. His Plan A is so good that he's not had to think about a backup before, and while he's technically superb he can be tactically poor in some matches.


Yes that is exactly how I see it. I think that was the problem in 2011 he couldn't adjust to the new Novak and his game and for many months he kept trying the same formula with the same result. Then I think in 2012 and 13 he started to employ different tactics in his match up against Novak. He would go up the line more with the FH and would use more body serves and serve Novak more to the FH than the BH which is a reversal of his normal tactics. But this requires in my mind a much bigger overhaul than just a few tweaks and it is a big ask. Because if he does go this way he may actually have to take a step back as changes will mess with his game and possibly create more errors and losses. I am not counting him out either but even if he does get back some of the old Nadal he won't be able to keep it up for very long at all.

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Post by MMT1 Thu 04 Jun 2015, 5:52 pm

So, Nadal himself (and everyone knows) that he has to hit 70% forehands in order to be at his best, and this is because he is technically asymmetrical - his forehand is much more effective in many ways, than his backhand.  Normally, with an asymmetrical player, the key is to force them to hit their weaker shot, and their effectiveness diminishes significantly more than if you did the same against a player who is more technically symmetrical.  The problem with Nadal is that (especially on clay, but even on other surfaces) finding his backhand is hard for three reasons: 1) his footwork to run around the backhand is better than anyone and 2) his ability to defend his forehand is exceptional, even when he's out of position and 3) when it is played into his forehand in the ad court, his best shot is the cross court forehand that pulls his opponent progressively further and further into the opposite ad court.

Now his footwork is still excellent, but he's a human being, and he'll never be quick enough to consistently run around his backhand IF his opponent can reduce his time by stepping into the court and changing direction on him.  Nadal can counter this by more margin over the net, but that leads to shots that land shorter and shorter, so it actually winds up making it worse against a player who can take the ball early.  So, his margin to defend the backhand, when found, and subsequently the forehand is diminished IF you can stay on the baseline and take your backhand early.  In the past, the balance between margin over the net and explosion off the court has been better, but these days, because he's not getting to the ball as quickly, so stepping in easier against him.

Particularly for the players with the best hand-eye coordination and/or the innate strength to handle it, if his defensive shots fall short (as they have this year due to even greater net clearance) Rafa's game drops off significantly more than other more symmetrical players - this is precisely how Djokovic, Murray and even Fognini did him in this year.  So the key to Nadal's success - his ability to run around the backhand and dictate - will only diminish with age and/or injury (to which he is prone), as his movement becomes more limited.  He can try to do the same thing and hope for a better result, but there's no chance of beating father time, and the hourglass is running out of sand.  If it were only Djokovic that can do this against him, he could make small tweaks - but he is more vulnerable to a lot of players, and I'm guessing it has to do with these minute/indiscernible limitations on his movement.  

The alternative is for him to become more technically symmetrical - improve his backhand such that he can be at (or close to) his best with something more than only 30% backhands.  Rafa has made many improvements to his backhand, including adding a better slice, a flatter harder cross-court reply, in addition to his standard low risk/low reward backhands which are meant to keep the point alive.  I believe he'll need to step into the backhand and flatten it more, but he'll also need to do the same on the forehand.  In the past he could wait 2-3 shots longer than your average player with high margin but penetrating cross-court forehands, before going up the line. Today, he still has low risk, but his shots don't penetrate, and he can only defend so much against players who can now step in and dictate, disrupting his patterns. So he'll have to flatten out both sides, but particularly the backhand. He will also need to approach the net more (like he does on grass) which shouldn't be a problem because he's an excellent volleyer.

I also feel his career will not sustain his distance behind the baseline much longer, also because his movement will not get better - it would be hard to be quicker and more nimble than he already is, so he'll need to take up positions closer to the baseline and for that to be effective, and so he has to flatten out his strokes again, because it's actually harder to get the ball up and down from inside the court than from further back.  Finally, he would benefit from another re-engineering of his serve.  Right now he doesn't get free points with it, and I think it would reduce his burden to defend if he could rely on more free points. Also, with all this time-violation business, it will take pressure off his serve to get more free points to stay within the limits.
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Post by socal1976 Thu 04 Jun 2015, 7:04 pm

Great post MMT1, I can not agree with you more. We saw this at the end of Wilander and Chang's careers as well. Wilander tried to finish points off more and go for a little more on his serve. Both those guys were really fast and could outlast pretty much anyone when they were young but could not do it for ever so they had to go for shots more and tolerate a few more winners. Its not that his movement is totally gone or dropped off a great deal it is just that he is a fraction of second later more often than in the past. He still has great wheels. But the style he plays demands that your movement be A plus all the time.

Good point about players who have good two handed backhands troubling Nadal. Davydenko comes to mind at his peak. And of course Djokovic.

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Post by LuvSports! Thu 04 Jun 2015, 7:47 pm

Nalby as well. Remember Madrid and Paris masters 07. Bagelled. Your favourite player Socal.

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Post by bogbrush Thu 04 Jun 2015, 8:47 pm

I'm honestly not dancing on the guys grave or anything, Lord knows I have had to put up with the hugely drawn out twilight of Federer with very little to brighten the picture. I know it's annoying to watch a guy who once seemed untouchable come back down to Earth and get mauled by minions (not saying about Djokovic there, I'm talking about losing to guys like Fognini).

But that said, there's no sense putting sugar on this. He's not playing like a guy coming back from or carrying an injury, he's playing like someone who doesn't have it any more. Forget about getting beaten up by Djokovic; it's dropping sets against Sock, or even worse, beating him by hanging in and relying on his impetuosity. The old Nadal would have pounded him and left him choking on clay.

Federer has had a faster style to go to, and the options his mad touch / timing grants him. I liken Federer to McEnroe, who will be schooling 40 year olds when he's 65. Nadal I liken to Lendl; I doubt Ivan can make much of a show on the veterans tour, his game always needed a physical advantage.
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Post by ZZ Thu 04 Jun 2015, 11:22 pm

what a load of tosh. Apparantly the guy whos won 14 slams now needs a completely new game just to compete. rafa at 95% is good enough to win more slams. You don't go from a slam champ and number 2 in the world in the space of 12 months to someone who nees a completely different game. This is all about confidence,hes just playing a little scared at the moment. That's all. And that confidence was lost because of injury and absence from tour. New forehand new serve stand closer to the baseline better return flatter forehand, more and better backhand. what a load of nonsense. Why don't you ask him to turn into Agassi and Sampras combined

Who else apart from joker would you make a clear favourite against rafa in any of the slams especially once he gets his confidence back. that's roght, no one.

This thread is gonna look so stupid by the end of this year. u can bet youre house on it.

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Post by LuvSports! Fri 05 Jun 2015, 12:23 am

Bet yours?

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Post by bogbrush Fri 05 Jun 2015, 1:10 am

Great post ZZ - the guy who confidently announced when I predicted a straight sets Djokovic win that nobody beats Nadal at RG in three and that it would go "at least" (ha!) to five sets.

I feel your pain but you have to let it go.
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Post by laverfan Fri 05 Jun 2015, 2:14 am

LuvSports! wrote:Nalby as well. Remember Madrid and Paris masters 07. Bagelled. Your favourite player Socal.

That was on HC, LS!. Nalbandian had MPs at IW v Nadal, IIRC.

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Post by TRuffin Fri 05 Jun 2015, 2:44 am

ZZ wrote:what a load of tosh. Apparantly the guy whos won 14 slams now needs a completely new game just to compete. rafa at 95% is good enough to win more slams. You don't go from a slam champ and number 2 in the world in the space of 12 months to someone who nees a completely different game. This is all about confidence,hes just playing a little scared at the moment. That's all. And that confidence was lost because of injury and absence from tour. New forehand new serve stand closer to the baseline better return flatter forehand, more and better backhand. what a load of nonsense. Why don't you ask him to turn into Agassi- and Sampras combined

Who else apart from joker would you make a clear favourite against rafa in any of the slams especially once he gets his confidence back. that's roght, no one.

This thread is gonna look so stupid by the end of this year. u can bet youre house on it.

Considering nadals results the last few years at the greatest and next slam- Wimbledon - when he was full of confidence and coming off a French win-I can name a lot of players who would be clear favorites over nadal there.

with all the well thought out and technically correct statements made on this this thread about why he has declined, i think nadal will have serious difficulties in all slams other than the French.   At the French, he will remain one of 3 or 4 favorites for another couple years-  but he won't beat djoko there again.

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Post by Belovedluckyboy Fri 05 Jun 2015, 3:09 am

Truffin, except for Wimbledon, whos clear favorite over Nadal at the other slams?? Not even Novak is a clear favorite at AO!

Nadal will do better on the HC slams. Why? Because unlike on clay, Rafa plays closer to the baseline and more offensively on the HCs. You're shortchanging him esp on the HCs. Hes the guy who made three out of three finals at the USO that he played and won two of them!

Dobt you think its too soon to write him off?

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Post by Belovedluckyboy Fri 05 Jun 2015, 3:13 am

Why are we talking about Nalby and Rafa at 2007? Rafa now is much better on the HCs than he was in 2007.

Its only Novak now who could trouble Rafa with his DHBH and mostly in BO3. You need more than a great DHBH to beat Rafa, I'm sure Novak knows better than anyone here.

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Post by Belovedluckyboy Fri 05 Jun 2015, 3:18 am

BB, Fed with a faster style still lost, because hes also getting slower as father time beckons. We see a drop off of Fed's level after 2009, in fact its after 2008, he was fortunate in 2009 that Rafa was injured and Novak wasnt ready to challenge him. Its in 2010 that he started losing in QFs of slams and the trend continues...in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015......

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Post by TRuffin Fri 05 Jun 2015, 4:43 am

Belovedluckyboy wrote:Truffin, except for Wimbledon, whos clear favorite over Nadal at the other slams?? Not even Novak is a clear favorite at AO!

Nadal will do better on the HC slams. Why? Because unlike on clay, Rafa plays closer to the baseline and more offensively on the HCs.  You're shortchanging him esp on the HCs. Hes the guy who made three out of three finals at the USO that he played and won two of them!

Dobt you think its too soon to write him off?

4 time Ao champ Djokovic who owns the tour on slow hard courts is not a clear cut favorite over 1 time champ from 6 years ago Nadal at the Ao?! After destroying the nine time champ on his 1 fortress- you now think djoko wouldn't be clearly a favorite over nadal on Ao court? even if you are living in the past, that is ludicrous.
A

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Post by socal1976 Fri 05 Jun 2015, 6:07 am

TRuffin wrote:
Belovedluckyboy wrote:Truffin, except for Wimbledon, whos clear favorite over Nadal at the other slams?? Not even Novak is a clear favorite at AO!

Nadal will do better on the HC slams. Why? Because unlike on clay, Rafa plays closer to the baseline and more offensively on the HCs.  You're shortchanging him esp on the HCs. Hes the guy who made three out of three finals at the USO that he played and won two of them!

Dobt you think its too soon to write him off?

4 time Ao champ Djokovic who owns the tour on slow hard courts is not a clear cut favorite over 1 time champ from 6 years ago Nadal at the Ao?!  After destroying the nine time champ on his 1 fortress- you now think djoko wouldn't be clearly a favorite over nadal on Ao court?   even if you are living in the past, that is ludicrous.
A

Slight correction that is 5 time AO champion. Yeah I don't know how BLB thinks Novak isn't a clear cut favorite over Nadal at the AO. Not to mention the fact that Nadal's problems are not just on clay. He has won one tournament since last years FO in a minor clay court event. He has lost early in numerous other hardcourt events. No one is short changing the guy he hasn't won anything in a long time and hasn't won anything on hardcourt since Doha in January of 2014 that is like 18 months. Unless he gets a great deal better than he is now Novak, Murray and possibly others would clearly be favored over him on hardcourt.

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Post by socal1976 Fri 05 Jun 2015, 6:16 am

ZZ wrote:what a load of tosh. Apparantly the guy whos won 14 slams now needs a completely new game just to compete. rafa at 95% is good enough to win more slams. You don't go from a slam champ and number 2 in the world in the space of 12 months to someone who nees a completely different game. This is all about confidence,hes just playing a little scared at the moment. That's all. And that confidence was lost because of injury and absence from tour. New forehand new serve stand closer to the baseline better return flatter forehand, more and better backhand. what a load of nonsense. Why don't you ask him to turn into Agassi and Sampras combined

Who else apart from joker would you make a clear favourite against rafa in any of the slams especially once he gets his confidence back. that's roght, no one.

This thread is gonna look so stupid by the end of this year. u can bet youre house on it.

No the guy who has one tournament victory in 12 months and is losing to Almagro and Fognnini on clay need to change his tactics and approach. IF you believe Nadal at 29 after a string of injuries can continue to be the guy who runs the most on tour by standing deeper and running around every single backhand then good luck. And lets say he does channel Nadal of 2010 how long can he keep that up can he keep it up in his early to mid 30s?

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Post by Belovedluckyboy Fri 05 Jun 2015, 6:30 am

Come on, the AO is still 8 months away! You guys think Rafa would still be playing like he plays now in 8 months time??

The last time they played at the AO, didnt it took Novak almost 6 hrs to beat Rafa?

If you think Im living in the past, then I say you're living too far into the future!!

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Post by Belovedluckyboy Fri 05 Jun 2015, 6:40 am

Socal, Rafa may not have won a HC title since Doha 2014 but he did reach the final at AO (when Novak reached the QF), reached the final at Miami. Its not like he got knocked out in the first round. He didnt play much in the second half of last year.

You guys are comparing his HC results this year since coming back from long break but Rafa will get better and better as he gets more and more match plays. Ita not like he has forgotten how to play tennis. Why so quick in writing him off?

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Post by kingraf Fri 05 Jun 2015, 7:28 am

I'd say it's a very real possibility that Nadal is kaput. Nothing wrong with that, of course. Tied for the second most slams, and in a league of his own on clay. But we have to be realistic. Nadal was out for a few weeks with his wrist. Then had a minor operation. It's hardly DelPo type lay offs. And more importantly, the problem isn't that he isn't winning... he isn't even competing. Straight sets to Berdych. Every defeat on clay was in straights this spring. Then you look at his forehand. Even on low bouncing surfaces, Nadal hits his forehand with his back leg as the power base. When that happens, you put a lot pressure on your back during the rotational component of a forehand. Nadal's back isn't quite right, and it's probably wreaking havoc on the shot which his entire game revolves around.
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Post by Belovedluckyboy Fri 05 Jun 2015, 7:40 am

Well kingraf, what you said may be true but then whatever you know do you think the Nadal camp is not aware of? If they still want and think Rafa could still compete for the big prizes, certainly theyre smart enough to find a solution.

We have to see how things unfold. BTW, Rafa had his stem cell treatment done on his back end of last year so he had missed a training block at end of last year.

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Post by CaledonianCraig Fri 05 Jun 2015, 7:55 am

It doesn't matter how good the coaching team is if that ability to compete at the highest level has gone there is nothing that can be done about it. Don't forget that this thread is not just a knee-jerk reaction to Djokovic defeat. As has been pointed out his major titles dried up a year ago and it is 18 months since he won a hard court title. Hardly, knee-jerk stuff is it?

Others suggest burn-out or physically not capable of implanting game plans that he could before - that is possible but we shall see. As you said Murray was floundering last year (hence my epitaph thread) and this may be Nadal's dip but it has now gone right through the clay court season (unheard of for him) so that must be a worry.


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Post by kingraf Fri 05 Jun 2015, 7:57 am

Well yes, they may be smart enough to look for solutions, but that doesn't mean they'll find any.

For what it's worth, Rafa probably has the raw materials to reinvent, and be dominant, or at least competitive
Indomitable will
Potential for a huge serve
dictatorial forehand
and net skills which are good enough to warrant additional forays.

Bit too late for a leopard to change his spots though you'd think. In some ways, Djokovic got it spot on. All the tinkering he did probably cost him a few slams, but it's put him in a place where he can roll out the same strategy for the next few years without too much exertion.
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Post by Belovedluckyboy Fri 05 Jun 2015, 8:43 am

18 months without a HC title, but he only played 10 HC events from AO last year to Miami this year, three of which ( Beijing, Shanghai, Basel) were when he was back after a wrist injury. He wasnt even playing a full HC schedule and he did reach two more finals (AO, Miami) before he had his wrist injury.

Kingraf, why did you say its too late for Rafa to change? Do you think he wont be able to play the way he played during 2013 esp during Canada to NY that year? To me, he failed on clay this year because he was playing a defensive game, way back behind the baseline. He has to play with aggression even on clay, like the way he played vs Novak in the FO final.

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Post by CaledonianCraig Fri 05 Jun 2015, 9:00 am

Belovedluckyboy wrote:18 months without a HC title, but he only played  10 HC events from AO last year to Miami this year, three of which ( Beijing, Shanghai, Basel) were when he was back after a wrist injury.  He wasnt even playing a full HC schedule and he did reach two more finals (AO, Miami) before he had his wrist injury.

Kingraf, why did you say its too late for Rafa to change?  Do you think he wont be able to play the way he played during 2013 esp during Canada to NY that year?  To me, he failed on clay this year because he was playing a defensive game, way back behind the baseline. He has to play with aggression even on clay, like the way he played vs Novak in the FO final.  

You can paint it how you want but the cold hard facts are this is Rafa'a leanest spell by a mammoth margin of his career and lets remember he has had injuries before and bounced back faster from them so then you have to query why not this time? And that beggars questions like have been posted here such as is the magic still there? Is he physically up to producing the brand of tennis he produced in the past? Is he simply burnt-out? Is he past his best? Remember people were acting rather blase-like saying that 'Oh everything will be fine at RG just you wait and see' but it evidently hasn't so why hasn't it? Why does he need longer to get back on the winning streak compared to last year when he was also returning from injury? These facts all mount up to suggest deep problems for Rafa. Hopefully, he sorts them out and fast but it doesn not look good in the slightest.
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Post by Belovedluckyboy Fri 05 Jun 2015, 9:22 am

CC, Rafa has already warned his fans not to expect too much too soon during this comeback, so all these speculations about Rafa's decline and doomsday, isnt that too soon?

Rafa is realistic, unlike some here who expect Rafa to have a comeback similar to his 2013. In fact many of his fans have come to accept that he can no longer dominate on clay, ever since his 2014 clay season, but it seems its the non fans who keep expecting him to extend his dominance.

Like I said, just give him time and see how things unfold. Hes two years older now compared to when hes in 2013, so he may need more time now. He wont dominate on clay again, that I (we) have come to accept and expect, but he still can win some titles there I'm sure.

This loss at the FO will serve as a wake up call for him - he cant afford to start slow and plays catch up all the time, esp against top opponents. He has to dictate from the get go, hes already doing that vs players ranked below him, he has to learn to do that against opponents like Novak and Murray.

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Post by dummy_half Fri 05 Jun 2015, 9:38 am

From what I've seen of Rafa this year, the big problem is that he can't rely on the forehand, which has always been the big weapon. Some too short and loopy, others flying much too long - it looks to me as though his timing is not as accurate as it used to be (and given the insane racket head speed he relies on to generate the spin, it was a miracle it was so reliable in the past).

The big thing though is that Rafa's tactics have always been to make fewer UEs than his opponent and to keep them under pressure until either they make an error (forced or unforced) or he gets an opening to attack. You'd normally expect a good Rafa performance to have only 5 or so UEs per set and perhaps twice as many winners. Against Djokovic he had 30 UEs and 15 winners in 3 sets - very unlike a good Nadal performance.

He can maybe take heart from the fact that last year Murray went through similar difficulties coming back after surgery, and only rediscovered his A game late in the season and particularly coming into this one. However, Rafa is a year older, has a lot more miles on the clock and (at least as far as we understand) had less significant surgery than Andy. Overall, while I would not write Rafa off based on this year, it is possible that this year marks the start of the decline.

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Post by Belovedluckyboy Fri 05 Jun 2015, 9:53 am

Yep, he looked slow out there. Also, he had more mis-hits from his FH, the timing of his shots was not right. It reminded me of Fed's 2009 where Fed had lots of shanking due to mistiming of his shots maybe because he's half a step slow. Fed has since improved on that but he still has some shanking here and there though not as much. I think Rafa will overcome that problem, not completely but bringing it under control with some mishits here and there, I think that's inevitable when he's half a step slower now.

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Post by superflyweight Fri 05 Jun 2015, 10:00 am

When Mike Tyson was past his best and had lost his head movement and ability to throw combinations he was just a small heavyweight with a decent punch. If Nadal has lost his movement and his forehand, is he just another clay court grinder?

Unfair?

P.S. I borrowed this analogy from someone who posted on the Guardian website and thought it was an interesting one.

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Post by CaledonianCraig Fri 05 Jun 2015, 10:18 am

Belovedluckyboy wrote:CC, Rafa has already warned his fans not to expect too much too soon during this comeback, so all these speculations about Rafa's decline and doomsday, isnt that too soon?  

Rafa is realistic, unlike some here who expect Rafa to have a comeback similar to his 2013.  In fact many of his fans have come to accept that he can no longer dominate on clay, ever since his 2014 clay season, but it seems its the non fans who keep expecting him to extend his dominance.

Like I said, just give him time and see how things unfold.  Hes two years older now compared to when hes in 2013, so he may need more time now.  He wont dominate on clay again, that I (we) have come to accept and expect, but he still can win some titles there I'm sure.  

This loss at the FO will serve as a wake up call for him - he cant afford to start slow and plays catch up all the time, esp against top opponents. He has to dictate from the get go, hes already doing that vs players ranked below him, he has to learn to do that against opponents like Novak and Murray.

My comments are more towards those confidently predicting the real Rafa would return at RG (I could dig out the comments if you wish) and yet that has not materialised - far from it. Lets be frank he wasn't just beaten by Novak - he was marmalised. So on to grass but look at the disasters Rafa has had on that surface in recent years so you'd need to be smoking Rastafarian Old Holborn to believe anything big will happen on the grass after he flopped on a surface he has owned for 10 years. That then leads us onto hard court and until we see even the merest glimpse of form ie beating one of the top players such as Novak, Roger or Andy he will remain in the trough he is in. Sure his ranking may not slip too much further due to no points of note to defend but he still needs to put a strong run of form together to maintain some modicum of belief.
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Post by Belovedluckyboy Fri 05 Jun 2015, 10:32 am

So, like I said, we have to see how the rest of the season unfolds. He won't be getting any worse that I'm sure, as he's steadily improving. Also I don't expect him to play from way behind the baseline on the HCs, so clearly he won't have to run so much to defend all the time.

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Post by CaledonianCraig Fri 05 Jun 2015, 10:33 am

And if people think I am being overly harsh on Rafa and/or his fans here this was my reaction to Andy Murray's slump last year:-

https://www.606v2.com/t56027-an-early-epitaph-for-andy-murray
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Post by Matchpoint Fri 05 Jun 2015, 11:18 am



socal1976 wrote:

One thing that is interesting and I think the real reason they are calling him this FO almost every match is because Nadal asked the ATP to not have Bernardes umpire his matches at least for a little while. This was precisely because Bernardes was enforcing the rule. I mean I think Nadal still gets the star or top player treatment because the ATP agreed and Bernardes hasn't umpired a Rafa match since he made that request. I think the other officials don't like it and are calling Nadal every single match for it out of support for Bernardes. And I agree with them you can not have a player pick and choose or suspend an umpire from his matches. 
The Umpire Strikes Baaaaack!
Minus extra time needed, no first serve, no game, can't go anywhere. Collaspe.  Run

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Post by Matchpoint Fri 05 Jun 2015, 11:20 am

CC, you're not being harsh, just honest.thumbsup

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Post by sirfredperry Fri 05 Jun 2015, 11:39 am

I really thought that Rafa would win the French this year, despite his clay-court form. Having not learnt my lesson, I'm now predicting that he'll have a good rest of the year.
  He'll be more relaxed going into Wimbledon (180 points to defend) and the USO (no points to defend) than for many years. He must have been dreading the clay-court season and RF in particular, knowing that he was below par. He's always happier being the hunter than the hunted, so let's hope he starts enjoying himself again.
  I'm not even a big fan of Rafa, but I love what he brings to the sport in terms of commitment.


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Post by laverfan Fri 05 Jun 2015, 12:28 pm

If Nadal can stay healthy, that is the paramount requirement, to be able to inject any new stuff into his coaching regimen.

He has been on tour for 10+ years, he had a meteoric rise, but hope he has a softer landing, whenever that will be.

It may be the end of the world for his fans, but it is not for him. It is very hard to give up what you have pursued as a career all you life.

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Post by It Must Be Love Fri 05 Jun 2015, 2:01 pm

Everyone knows I'm not the world's most optimistic Nadal fan, but nonetheless I would say this:

Don't write off my hero just yet.

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Post by Henman Bill Fri 05 Jun 2015, 2:13 pm

Interesting point made above. To expand a bit: In this whole season, whether on clay or not, Nadal is generally beating lower ranked players but losing to top 10 players (very very roughly), whether on clay or hard.

Actually the opposite trend to the rest of his career where he has built strong head to heads against the other top players but suffered more surprise defeats than other top players perhaps.

Not sure what to read into that.

http://www.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Players/Top-Players/Rafael-Nadal.aspx?t=pa

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