Nadal Resumes Clay Dominance; Beats Back Patchy Federer for Monte Carlo Title
by Sean Randall | April 27th, 2008, 10:44 am
  • 118 Comments

People have been quick to put a period on Rafael Nadal’s dominance on the dirt. But not so fast. Nadal proved again that’s he’s still the undeniable King of Clay after a 7-5, 7-5 victory today over Roger Federer in the Monte Carlo final.

Forget his knee bandages and the injury talk, it’s Nadal’s time of year, it’s his surface. And the way he straight-setted the field in Monte Carlo, I’d say he’s well on his way to again replicating his past clay performances.

Until somebody actually gives Nadal a thorough ass-kicking on the clay it’s going to be hard to bet against him on the dirt this year, or any year really.

Nadal has now won a ridiculous 97 of his last 98 clay matches, with the lone loss coming to Federer last year in Hamburg, a tournament I don’t think Nadal should have even played back then and probably will not play this year assuming he wins in Barcelona and Rome.

No real shame for Federer in losing Nadal. I though he played a some good tennis, I liked the aggressive strategy and the net play but the Swiss’s inconsistency caught up to him in the end. Federer was up a break 4-3 in the first set, and up two breaks at 4-0 in the second, but with each lead came an unusual flurry of errors.

Nadal played some patchy tennis as well, but managed to hang in in the second set and take advantage of those Federer mistakes/gag.

In all, Federer may be disappointed with blowing both leads, but overall he has to be very pleased and encouraged by his performance this week. He should now have his confidence and some of his aura back which is pretty remarkable considering that I think a lot of us – I know I did – had the shovel and dirt ready to bury the Fed when he was down 5-1 in the second round to Hidalgo. But to Fed’s credit he dug deep, rebounded to win that match and then played the best tennis he’s played in a very long time with victories over David Nalbandian and Novak Djokovic.

Under new coach Jose Higueras, Fed’s also added a better slice to his game, a more effective drop shot and seems to be a little more aggressive on his service returns, and that all can only help his cause.

I had said earlier that Federer wouldn’t be a major factor in the clay season, but I’ll take those words back. From what I saw in the last three matches if he can maintain that level he’s going to remain a force again going forward. I just wasn’t convinced we’d see that level anytime soon.

That said, I do think we’ll continue to see some RHH-like lapses, but at least he’s playing good tennis overall again.

And after an incredibly unpredictable first three months to the season, looks like we have some semblance of order restored in men’s tennis with Federer and Nadal claming their first titles of the year in consecutive weeks.


Also Check Out:
Djokovic Edges Murray In Thriller At ATP Finals; Federer Meets Ferrer Thursday
Nadal Tries To Get On Track, Federer Looks To Remain Hot In Rome; Williams Sisters In Action
What Off Season?
Nadal Resumes Comeback Friday In Vina Del Mar; Gasquet Ousts Monfils In Montpellier, Tipsarevic Upset
Djokovic Gets Another Shot to Derail Nadal on Clay

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118 Comments for Nadal Resumes Clay Dominance; Beats Back Patchy Federer for Monte Carlo Title

naresh Says:

way to go Fed, way to go ! yeah he did lose but, that was a great a tournament for him.

He was the only one in the whole field who took the fight to Nadal. he had the lead in both the sets, so it could have been a straight sets victory for him too ! this shows that Fed’s still got the fire in him.. man do i like his chances at RG !!


jane Says:

Congratulations Rafa! Keep sprinkling clay on your cereal. ;-)

Happy Zola?


lynnx01 Says:

I could only ‘watch’ it on livescores online, but I could just feel the excitement! Although I was secretly hoping Federer could win, but like you mentioned, Federer didn’t play too badly, so yeah! Way to go!


Debra Gardner Says:

Way to go Rafa! I’m proud of both my young’uns!


graham Says:

Federer tries to overcomplicate things against Nadal on clay i think. He just needs to be aggressive all the time as he was on his way to the 4-0 lead in the 2nd. Its when he tries to mix things up with too much slice and doesnt play his normal game that he makes these silly errors.

The way to beat Nadal on any surface is to deny him time- and obviously on clay that is amazingly difficult so if he ever is going to beat Nadal at the French Open then it will have to be the best attacking performance of his life. Hes shown he can have good spells against Nadal like when he won the first set at the French 6-1 a few years ago. But these good spells have to last a lot longer than they currently do in a match. And worringly for him he’ll have to do it for potentially 5 sets at the French Open rather than just 3 sets. But Nadal is simply an absolute animal on this surface so there wont be any shame if he never does beat him.


Zola Says:

Jane,
very happy! thanks a lot!. :)

Sean,
I am impressed that you have your article ready just on time, when many other sites clearly were nor prepared for this. Fed came as underdog, but many predicted his win and waited for that to happen.

Great post. I like this line a lot:
**No real shame for Federer in losing Nadal. I though he played a some good tennis,…***

Exactly. I am very happy for RAfa. He deservedly won his first title of the year and his 10th master shield, but Federer, the same guy who people wrote off even for QF and SF, gave RAfa the most trouble. Against anybody else he would have been the champion, but he had RAfa on the other side of the net.

So, it was a great performance for Fed. A great performance for RAfa with that heroic come back in both sets.

And I can’t say how much I love the mutual friendship and respect. I almost wish these two lived in different times so that Fed could win the FO and Golden Slam and Rafa could win the Wimbledon title he wants so badly. But lucky for us we can see these two champions break records one after another.

Again Congratulations and Vamos! to Rafa and his fans.

Hugs to Fed and his fans. He played a great match.


Zola Says:

Oh! Sean!

the spell is broken! your prediction cametrue! .:)


Zola Says:

Arrrgggg…..emoticonz!

Oh! Sean!

the spell is broken! your prediction cametrue. try again. :)


jane Says:

Yeah Sean – you’re prediction hex does seem to be busted.

Fed found some nice angles again today and played aggressively. But Sean gets it right: he was patchy. After that run in the second, errors crept into his game and Rafa started pushing him into the corner to hit one-handed backhands over the shoulder.

It seems like partly a confidence &/or focus issue with Fed too. He gets cantankerous when he’s losing or under pressure.

Rafa’s forehand was utterly lethal in that second set – Wow!


Kozmikwunder Says:

Hello.

Business as usual? If there’s one thing that’s undeniably certain, it’s that Federer LOVES, LOVES, LOVES flirting with disaster.

That was nuts! I don’t know if one can forgive throwing away a well-crafted 4-0 lead against Nadal, on clay of all surfaces. He had control of that second set and should have known Rafael would commence mounting his offensive. Federer backed off a bit too much and paid the price. He should have known better.

For goodness sake, you have to hold serve, Roger!!!
There were more breaks of serve than I care to review. Roger’s a player who has often taken risks and prevailed in brilliant fashion. Not the case on clay. Sadly, he’s been pretty awful for some time at converting crucial breakpoint opportunities, and he didn’t maintain the necessary consistency to stay ahead when he was ahead. He could have taken this match to a third set. Mats Wilander may have been right about the lack of balls, meaning this: the desire to get his hands and clothes absolutely filthy if necessary. Nadal is not invincible, just very consistent in controlling his shots.

No disrespect to the phenomenal Borg and his six Roland Garros titles, but Rafael Nadal must surely be the greatest claycourt player there’s ever been. He dominates every tournament he regularly enters from Monte Carlo to Paris. He’s built for the bounce, which I guess is the real problem for everyone else.

Roger, keep on truckin’, man! You’ve got it in you, somewhere.

PS: where are the North-American players? Hats off to Querrey for showing up to this gig and making it to the quarters. Roddick, don’t be afraid. Blake, get over there. Somebody hunt down Frank Dancevic and see what he’s doing.


tturley Says:

Fed’s lazy cross-court slice plays right into Rafa’s strength– that 3000 rpm forehand. Fed is either going to have to slice down the line, or learn a two-handed backhand to cover this mismatch. On clay, the ball bounces too high for him to come over on that backhand side.


Zola Says:

Jane, Sean,

Rafa won the doubles too. with Robredo.
He is now the second man in ATP history to win a master title both in singles and in doubles.

V..A..M..O..S R…A…F…A!

Jane,
I thought RAfa’s forehand was very off at the beginning of both sets. Federer controlled the majority of the points. One thing I noticed in Fed’s previous matches was that how often he came to the net. It was effective against RAfa on many occasions, but I think then Rafa started anticipating the drop shots and instead of volleying , sent them cross court and maybe that discouraged Fed a bit.

It was a good lesson for both. Rafa should know that Fed and all other players will play more aggressive against him . Will try to get points over the net and on his forehand. He needs to improve his serve and get points off that. Fed’s serve reminds me of Sampras. RAfa needs to learn that because I think fed will be uber aggressive and less patchy in Rome and RG.


andrea Says:

bummer. roger must be disappointed with that second set performance. the commentators hit the nail on the head when they said that roger was doing the right things tactically but only in patches.

that game when he broke rafa in the first set was incredible shot selection. short points, nice mix of shots. when he started to falter in the second set it was back to multi shot ralleys with nadal controlling and drawing the error.

can’t believe he blew a 2 break lead however, i do agree that this will give him some confidence down the road


jane Says:

But his forehand was great in the second set after he was broken the first time, or maybe it was the second – just on fire.

He also took the net away from Roger in the second set not so much the first; Rafa worked him back into the corner when he dictated the points. That, and Roger began to make more errors.

But yes, I saw he won doubles too. That’s awesome. But I hope he’s not going to wear himself out.

I said on the other thread I think Rafa is the most consistently focused player I’ve watched. Borg was like that too.


daniela Says:

We did it!!!

It’s your moment Rafa… singles and doubles titles ;)


Dr. Death Says:

Could this be Nadal’s announcement about all sorts of things? – Davis Cup with the doubles, playing both singles and doubles as to his conditioning, and WINNING over Federer.

Zola – how is that for “the dawn”? Trust you feel better.

See you at the French!


sensationalsafin Says:

To me, this match is Federer’s year so far in a nutshell: patches of greatness but can’t get the job done in the end. He played well here and there, really well in that second set. But his forehand left him and that was the end of the match. But he pushed Nadal more than anyone has all week so to when everyone’s saying Nadal is still the king of clay then it’s safe to say Federer is still number 2 on clay. Hopefully, should they meet in the French final, Federer will be able to elevate his game and really take it to Nadal when it counts most.


PJ Says:

I didn’t get to see the match (spent the night out), but did check the scoreboard. I was happy to see Fed up 4-0 in the second, then next thing I see, it’s 4-all. I figured then Rafa would probably win in straights. Still, as others have pointed out, it’s been a good week for Roger. He should’ve been out in his first match. Then, many were saying even if he loses to Nalbandian or Djokovic, it’ll be good so long as he puts up a fight. He won both of those and really tested Rafa. Still, though, it has to be disappointing because you might not get many chances like that against Nadal on clay. This week can only help Nadal because it has to get into the other players’ heads. Twice this week, he’s been down 2 breaks in a set (to two great players, especially on clay), and didn’t lose a set. You could be up 5-0 40-0 in a set, and I still wouldn’t be surprised to see Nadal pull it out.


fed is afraid Says:

roger doesn’t have the mental strength against the great nadal. he might as well quit now, he will never win another slam.


fed is afraid Says:

roger should wear a dress on court he is like a girl, terrified of nadal. wilander was right; roger has no balls and nadal must grow a third when he sees pansy roger across the net from him


Zola Says:

Sean,
maybe some moderation will help. Why do we need to read insults to the great players?

Dr. Death,
If you were here I would have hugged you. I had a very bad loss and that was a big hit to take. Still, RAfa’s wins really made me happy. If not the dawn itself, very close. On top of that , your nice words are really helful. Thanks a lot.

Jane,
I always like your analytical view on the game. I was so nervous I did not even watch the last two games. But I agree that in the second set RAfa took the net away from Roger. The same way that he did to Davydenko with that impossible get. So both Davydenko ad Fed lost their weapon and I think that can throw them off their rythm. Still Federer is way too smart and he will really take lessons from this loss. I am very sure next RAfa-Roger can be a closer one. So, RAfa needs to do some homework too and be ready.


Von Says:

Zola:

Congrats to you and all Rafa fans. :)

Rafa was consistently peppering Fed’s backhand and also took the net away. In essence, he shrunk Fed’s side of the court, by taking away his time also.

Both players were nervous, as is evidenced by the breaks in the first set — each got broken in their first games. Credit to Fed, he hung in there with Rafa who was unmerciful and relentless in his attack — consistently going to Fed’s backhand and when that happened, Fed made the UEs. However, I saw Fed hit some ridiculous angles, — WOW — it was great to see. I don’t know if anyone saw, that forehand Rafa hit to the back of the court after Fed broke him in the first set. It was somewhat one hit out of anger and frustration. Similarly, to the Ferrero forehand shot after Rafa broke him in the 3rd set. Great shotmaking. A great match from both players and Fed had a shot at this match, but, could not hold onto his lead. Some other time ….


Dave B Says:

I hate to be sacharine but as I watched I said to myself that it was a privilege to watch these two legends playing tennis even though neither played their best and I wanted to see Roger win.


Zola Says:

Von,
thanks. :)

Yes, I think they were both nervous. but they settled nicely and towards the end it was a real match.

I was worried about the angels and Fed’s net game from the beginning of the tournament. I saw him experimenting that. coming to the net more often and I think that is Higueras’s plan. So I was nervous to see how Rafa would handle that. I think he found the answer. Stayed focused and counter-attacked fed. I bet This is Fed’s tactic for RG and I hope Rafa will work more on his serve and his game plan.

DAve B,
you are right. They have had better matches. But they played after perhaps 9 months. So maybe they were both catious. We will see if Rome/RG or Wimbledon will be any better.


FoT Says:

Zola – your 11:39 post said it all in a nutshell.

Congrats to you and all the Nadal fans on your boy winning;

And I’m still proud of Roger. At least he is consistently making the finals against Nadal in clay when all the other ‘contenders’ are at home watching.

I feel a heck of a lot better after this week than I did before the clay season started!


fed is afraid Says:

nadal has mental toughness, roger doesn’t.


Tennis Court Equipment Says:

Fed, Roger is awesome, he will raise is game up.


Zola Says:

FoT,
thanks.
Yes, you should be proud of Fed. He has the heart of a champion.
It was a week of great tennis and just made me respect both Fed and Rafa even more.


Tejuz Says:

Good match by Fed. Nadal played excellent in coming back and finally claiming his 1st title in last 7-8 months. He was so relieved after this win.. He was cerntainly under the hammer at the start of 2nd set when Fed played beautiful attacking tennis to take that 4-0 lead. Then came those UFE from his side.. or rather they were forced by Nadal’s retrieving skills and constant peppering to Fed’s backhand.

But i happy to see the genius(Fed) at work again.. playing those beautiful angles. Fed knows if he plays the right way he can beat Nadal.. and he has done that in patches. Its up to him and Jose to now to make it more consistent before the French Open.

Anyway.. this should be a major boost to Fed’s waning confidence since the start of this year. He suddenly seemed to have found that extra spring in his stride.. which he was lacking during last year’s Monte Carlo finals.


Tejuz.. Says:

Also it seems like Fed is enjoying his tennis again…. he looks more cheerful.


andrea Says:

Dave B,

that is exactly how i felt watching the match. two fighters, so very different. i hope they end up in all the clay court finals together this year cos seriously, i don’t know if there is any other player right now that can take it to nadal on clay other than federer.

sure roger blew his leads in both sets, but no other player has been close to winning two sets off of nadal. if roger would have held serve twice more in both sets after his breaks he would have straight setted nadal on clay!!! he came so close. mental or game breakdown or whatever, i think nadal sensed that this match was close…closer than he would have liked.

i’m dying for another RG match up between these two! i don’t believe it’s a done deal anymore than nadal will win it.


fed is afraid Says:

when is roger going to beat nadal? at french open? lol!!or is he still gathering “information”?


Questions Says:

I did get to watch the match today. Another demonstration of Nadal’s tremendous consistency and steeliness on court.

I believe that what I saw is that Federer will have more to give at Roland Garros. But even if he makes it to the final, and if his mind/nerves will not be in the way it is hard to see how he would win 3 sets out of a mere 5 if Nadal is in the final and is more or less at his usual level of fitness. Maybe 1 set, 2 sets not very likely at all.

Another way to put this: today was another demonstration that being ‘close’ to winning a set off Nadal on clay is still a far cry from winning that set. Let’s call it a 1 chance out of 3. Being ‘close’ in each of two sets is even a farther cry from winnning them both, something like 1 chance out of 3 times the same, thus something like 1 chance out of 9.


sensationalsafin Says:

It’s not like Federer’s never won a set off Nadal on clay. But today he seemed to go away after going up 4-0. He seemed to relax to the point where he was just swinging his arms and hoping something good would happen. His complexion was so different when he was winning those 4 games then losing the next 5. In the beginning of the second set he looked completely focused and played smart on every point. He didn’t give Nadal a chance. Then he stopped thinking and got lazy and Nadal started winning just by playing consistent. One could say Federer pulled a Nalbandian: brilliant tennis followed by walkabout tennis. If he can concentrate 95% of a match then there’s no reason he can’t beat Nadal at the French. Today was about 45%.


Tejuz.. Says:

yes.. kinda agree with SensationalSafin..

its not as tough Fed hasnt taken sets off Nadal. He has taken atleast 8 sets off Nadal in their 8 clay encounters, where a couple of them were 6-0, 6-1 sets. He is only guy to have won against the spaniard in his last 99 matches..

And anyway.. Nadal has started the season more strongly than Fed.. so Fed is slowly coming back to his peak form.. so i wouldnt be surprised if he won in Rome or RG


Lenny Says:

It was just VUNDERBAR to see Rafa & Roger together again :) I’m just a HUGE fan of BOTH of them. Not one of their classics by any means, but hey, even the greatest have their bumps and slumps. And in spite of the shaky match he had here, it DOES seem like Fed’s coming out on the other side. The naysayers are being pretty premature writing off his dominance so soon, imho. Great rivalries like this are what sport – ALL sport – is about. I would love to see Rafa bag Wimby. And, though the sentimental fool in me doesn’t want to see Agassi’s record equalled, another part of me would love to see Fed take RG. Go Fedex! Vamos Rafa!


Stat_man Says:

One oddity that nobody else seems to have noticed: Fed delivered a
226 km/hr first serve (that is around 141 mph) in the last game of the match. This is the fastest recorded serve for Fed that I can remember. The previous fastest was 133 mph against Grosjean at Wimbledon a couple of years back.


Lausanne Says:

Stat_man:

According to the swiss television, the sensor which recorded that speed was crazy all week…

Roger seemed to me extremely relaxed during the match, too much relaxed for optimal performance; as if he didn’t want to win this match (too early ?) or thought he could not…


penise Says:

horrible choke but it proves he can beat Rafa – - it’s all about the French Open for Fed


Apodysophilic Says:

GO ROGER!!!!!!! WHOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

For me, this makes it for him as the greatest player! If in his situation he can keep up with Rafa in the first clay tournament…that awesome! Too bad for him that there is a person like Rafa otherwise he would have done the Grand Slam twice over.


jane Says:

Roger’s new coach has got to be helping; he’s needed someone in his corner for a while to remind him of what he probably already knows and to work on little things. It’s good that Roger’s found someone with whom to work.

I think Roger can beat Rafa in a three-set match for sure; he proved that yesterday by coming so close when he was playing cleanly, aggressively, and focused – using angles nicely again, coming to net.

I’m not sure why he lost that lead though; it seemed like he veered away from his game plan and got stuck in old patterns. UEs came into the picture more too.

The match also revealed Rafa’s strengths; a player cannot lose focus or take his foot off the pedal for one minute against Rafa because he doesn’t “go away”; he is in every point.

The question is whether Roger can stay with Rafa through 5 sets providing he gets to the RG final. imo the jury’s still out on that one. Maybe Rome will reveal more because Roger will have more time to work on his game while Rafa’s playing another tournament.


jane Says:

I should clarify: we know Roger HAS stayed with Rafa through 5 sets before (in Rome 06), but I meant come out on top after 5 sets; and I was referring to clay of too, of course.


Zola Says:

I think both Fed and Rafa were nervous, because they had not played each other on clay for about 9 months and there were all these expectations. Also I don’t think any of them was in their prime clay condition. RAfa just started to play on clay that week ( of course he played doubles as well), and Fed a week before in Estoril. Fed said himself he was getting his fitness back. He just came from the brink ( As he said himself) and had a new coach. So, another match, another time, can be completely different.
I will not write off Fed , nor Rafa , based on the Monte Carlo final.

Jane,
Good point about the 5 set matches. We will see that in RG. If Fed has his fitness back to play best of 5 matches, then it might be tricky for RAfa. I really wish for RAfa to drop out of HAmburg and take that week off. I think playing 4 weeks in a row will drain him mentally and physically. I didn’t want him to play Hamburg last year either I just don’t have a good feeling about it.

Something else to mention about MC, is Same Querrey. I hope he gets a mention in the “funk”. The only American to go and play on clay and reach the QF. Great job.


jane Says:

I agree Zola; I hope Rafa thinks long term and not short term and takes the week off during Hamburg. Especially because I like his chances on the grass, too, so I want to see him excel there.

As much as Federer can learn and take away from this match, Rafa can take away from it too. So as you say, we’ll know more the next time they play. It’s also true that Federer had one week more match play on clay leading into MC so I am not sure what that means, if anything.

But yesterday Rafa was stronger in terms of focus, patience and execution -what I mean is by execution is that although Rafa had more unforced errors than usual (don’t know stat), Roger had more.

One thing Roger did to both Novak and Rafa was push them back behind the baseline; they will have to hold their ground on the baseline and play good passing shots when he comes in. They’re both quite capable of doing so, and Rafa even acknowledged in his interview that he knew this was happening in set 2 and so he adjusted his game. You could see Rafa becoming more agressive just when Roger thought he had the set in the bag. Great stuff. With Novak, he was back on his heels a lot against Roger, so if they meet again, he’ll have to adopt a more aggressive stance, like he does so well on hardcourts.


SG Says:

This whole Fed-Nadal clay thing kind of reminds me of a boxer named Donovan Razor Ruddock (…not sure how to spell his name, sorry). Razor took the best heavyweights to the limit, but never won the big one. When he final had a chance to win a title against a lesser opponent, he choked like a dog. The reason? You don’t build your reputation by losing! Federer has to beat Nadal on Nadal’s turf (Rome, Monte Carlo, RG). That will be the one and only thing that will have some potential to change the momentum. I don’t think that either Nadal or Fed are playing as well as last year, or two years ago for that matter. So, you have two players not really playing their best on a surface that heavily favors Nadal. I don’t see this hex unravelling anytime soon.


Glenn Says:

Didn’t Federer beat Nadal in a tourney last year? I think Federer has got it in him to beat Nadal, and if not for the Mono, I think he could have beat Nadal here (though to be honest, I was routing for Nadal).


jane Says:

Federer beat a rather tired Rafa in Hamburg last year, where the weather is probably more favorable to Roger (he’s won there at least once if not twice before I think) and the court is a bit faster. So with Rafa being a little burnt and Fed in a favorable place, perhaps the edge went to Fed anyhow. Still, Fed bageled Rafa in the third set I think so it was decisive. But that’s the only time Fed’s beaten Rafa on clay.

SG has a point about momentum; if Fed can win at one of “Rafa’s” core tournaments (i.e. Rome) then he may have an excellent shot at RG this year. But there are potentially more players in the mix this year for an upset since the playing field has leveled somewhat from previous years.


fed is afraid Says:

the only way fed wins RG is for someone else to take out rafa. fed doesn’t have the guts to do it.


jane Says:

fed is afraid – who else do you think could take out rafa since we know you don’t think djoko or fed could do it?


fed is afraid Says:

no one will take him out on clay, he will remain unbeaten.


Zola Says:

Jane,
I think Fed has won HAmburg more than twice. I think 4 times.

The more they play, The more familiar they get to each other’s tactics and game. Rafa is a very smart player and adjusts very well, especially on clay. Ferrer is the one that could trouble him. With his speed and double-handed backhand, but he came short with confidence. To beat Rafa on clay, one has to have the physical endurance, perfect game and mental focus and strength for the WHOLE match. Because RAfa is like that.

HAmburg was more mental fatigue for RAfa and the weather was not good. I also think RAfa had a cold. Fed needs to find Rafa in less than perfect conditions and he himself has to be perfect to be able to beat him on clay.

***

Sean,
I am surprised you do not moderate this site. I am a RAfa fan and I get offended by RAfa-fan imposters who take pleasure in insulting other platers. One insulting comment has been repeated all along the posts here. CAn we put a stop to that?


fed is afraid Says:

if you mean me, how am i insulting? i speak the truth about roger and novak, the facts speak for themselves.


Skorocel Says:

Jane said:

“Federer beat a rather tired Rafa in Hamburg last year, where the weather is probably more favorable to Roger (he’s won there at least once if not twice before I think) and the court is a bit faster.”

FASTER? As far as I know, the clay in Hamburg was always considered to be the slowest, isn’t it? But anyway, it’s interesting how contradictory are those so-called “experts” when it comes to fancy Fed’s chances vs Nadal on clay – some of them say his biggest chances are on the Hamburg-type of clay (i.e. a slow one), whereas the others claim he can beat the Spaniard on a quick, RG-type of the dirt…


Zola Says:

Skorocel,
the clay in a rainy, humid Hamburg does not have the same bounce as RG. completely different surface and I have also read that it is faster.


Zola Says:

fed is afraid
why do you get personal with players? It is one thing to talk about their game, execution, etc., or something you liked or didn’t like, and another thing to call them names. I am sure you watch tennis and you have more than that to say. I would like to hear more from you about the tachnical aspects of the game. Name calling becomes irritating.

If you want to keep doing that and if Sean insists on his stand on the first amendmend rights, I beg you to leave Rafa out of it. thanks.


fed is afraid Says:

personality is part of sports,no? rafa has the best one, gracious, nice, kind, respectful of other players, and no i am not as great a person as rafa is, he is one of a kind, always giving credit to opponent, even when said opponent doesn’t really deserve it, but your point is well taken, i respect your point of view.


Zola Says:

fed,
thanks a lot. :)


Von Says:

WOW. Great deliberation going on, and heat too. Very good exchange.

I read last evening that Higueras and Fed have parted until the French Open. Higueras won’t be with Fed for the Rome and Hamburg tourneys. I don’t know whose idea this is, but a bad strategy. There wasn’t enough time for them to work together. Initially, it was stated that Higueras would remain with Fed until after the FO, now, there seems to be some sort of adjustment. Who can figure out these tactical brains? I can’t.

About Hamburg, this is a very slow court. So slow a court that Roddick hates to play on it. The ball soaks up the moisture/humidity and causes it to become so heavy, that makes it impossible for a good sever to rotate his arm. Roddick exited 2 years ago because of this problem. He retired with an injured arm.

Fed is able to win in Hamburg because he has more time to set up his shots. On the MC surface the ball stays up with a lot of spin when it’s Nadal who’s on the oppoisng end. At Hamburg, Nadal can’t achieve the desired top spin. Fed’s problem with MC and Rome, is his impatience to not wait for the ball to hit the dirt, he takes it too early, and when he does that he plays into Nadal’s strengths. Patiennce is the name of the game.

Someone mentioned Fed having a 142 mph serve as the fastest? What about Roddick’s 155 mph serve, that’s been recorded as the fastest ever?

The bullying that’s been manifested has made it difficult to respond to any comments written — I’ve been sand-bagged into silence. How very democratic!!


sensationalsafin Says:

Patience is not the name of the game. The idea of taking the ball early and on the rise is taught in the very beginning of any tennis player’s career (when they’re 2 yrs old). Federer is very capable of taking Nadal’s shots early and pushing Nadal around. The problem in MC was focus. Once Federer stopped focusing- he didn’t lose it, he just stopped- he started missing and losing. Federer needs patience in his game plan. He has to be smart while being aggressive because going for too much too soon is obviously the wrong play. If he keeps working on the drop shot it’ll definitely help him, too.


Von Says:

Zola:

“Ferrer is the one that could trouble him. With his speed and double-handed backhand, but he came short with confidence..”

This is very true — Ferrer does have the same game as Rafa’s to beat him. But, the H2H is in favor of Rafa, and some of this plays on Ferrer’s head. It’s somewhat the same as with Fed, even though there are those who do not like to hear of the hype factor getting into the players head, but it’s true. On the reverse, it is happening to Fed — and the nore he loses to Rafa, the more his brain will be telling his body — you can’t do it. I suppose now some will believe that the hype is worthy of some thought. Roddick is the prime example of this — how many times so close, but those last 2 points became a monumental task. Roddick mentioned this the last time he beat Fed — he had trouble closing out the set. He had to believe he could do it. Ferrer has to believe he can do it, and then we’ll see another warrior on clay.


Von Says:

sensationsafin:

“Federer needs patience in his game plan.” Isn’t this what I said, he needs to have patience in executing his shots. How can he think against Nadal if he rushes to take the ball too early?


sensationalsafin Says:

TOO early is different from early. He wants to take the ball on the rise. It’s the perfect way to counter Nadal’s topspin. That’s how Davydenko beat Nadal in Miami. But, no matter how easy it is to say, it’s extremely difficult to do, even for Federer (as we have seen). But, it’s still the right way to go. Plus, again I will mention the drop shot because I think it’ll help so much. All these years I always said Federer should just hit a dropper during one of their super long rallies because that’s a perfect way of disrupting Nadal’s rhythm. He was actually too stubborn to do it because Federer is also a rhythmic player. But I guess his new coach is getting through to him and that’s great.


jane Says:

Skorocel,

I thought I heard a commentator say the clay at Hamburg was faster. I guess I was mistaken. Thanks for clarifying.


jane Says:

Von,

Your explanation of the clay at Hamburg is well-detailed and clarifies things for me rather than putting me on the spot. I appreciate it muchly. :-)


Von Says:

sensationalsafin:

“That’s how Davydenko beat Nadal in Miami. But, no matter how easy it is to say, it’s extremely difficult to do, even for Federer (as we have seen)”

Davydenko did that on a fast court Miami – hardcourt. His surface. We’re talking clay here. A whole different enchilda. I’m talking, thinking and then pouncing on clay.

“He has to be smart while being aggressive because going for too much too soon is obviously the wrong play.”

In the earlier post you mentioned the foregoing — isn’t that what I’m saying. Also, as crazy as this would seem, if Fed possesed a two-handed backhand on clay, he could do better against Nadal. Think about it.


Von Says:

jane:

“Von, Your explanation of the clay at Hamburg is well-detailed and clarifies things for me rather than putting me on the spot. I appreciate it muchly.”

You’re welcome. I dilkike it when I’m humiliated and put on the spot — most times i try to speak generally, but some indulge in this, and it awakens my protester spirit, and that injustice side. Stick around there’ll be more to come. This is the modus operandi here.


jane Says:

Von,

I don’t profess to be an “expert”; I am an avid tennis fan, having watched it for over 30 years, and like to speculate with the rest on player match-ups,etc. So there’s no need to make someone feel like a dork.

Anyway, I should’ve looked it up before I commented. Here’s what Bruguera says about it:

“Hamburg is one of the best places to play Rafa because it’s very slow and the ball doesn’t bounce too much. That is better for Roger. ”

Munster says this:

“Also Hamburg is really slow, Paris is faster, and that will suit Rafa better to give his top-spin more effect. Hamburg has always been different. “


Von Says:

jane: **** “I don’t profess to be an “expert”; I am an avid tennis fan, having watched it for over 30 years, and like to speculate with the rest on player match-ups,etc. So there’s no need to make someone feel like a dork.”****

Forget the experts whose szpeciality is ‘dxorkism”. I just made up a word. You’re talking to someone who’s only become a great/huge tennis lover for about 18 years — hey girl you’re dating yourself. :) Before that, I was a part-time tennis lover, but primarily baseball and ice hockey fan — a New York past time.

From what I have observed with the experts is that they vary in some ways. You just have to sift out the one important point that stands out, i.e., the consensus of opinion, and from what I have observed, is that Hamburg is a slow court and is a fast server’s nightmare, and can throw off a player’s rhythm, such as Rafa’s. The ball does not have the umpf, it has a slower bounce. Not more bounce to the ounce there. An adjustment is needed from MC and Rome. I suppose that’s why Hamburg is the last one — some sort of prep for RG, in a sense. The weather there being similar to that of Hamburg — cold, dreary, but at RG there’s some sun, and the court does liven up — arrgh, gives me the shivers. I love my Florida sun. I ran from New York. Need I say more how much i dislike those dreary, soup-like days. :) :)


Von Says:

correction: “Forget the experts whose szpeciality is ‘dxorkism”.” s/b “Forget the experts whose specialty is “dorkism”. Sorry, I need to cut my nails, always adding that extra letter, but I dcn’t proof read most times.


sensationalsafin Says:

There’s no need to think about it. It’s true. Imo the only reason Nadal has a 7-1 record on clay against Federer is because of that damned one-hander. I usually hit with a two hander but I’ve experimented with one hand. It’s fun, I’ve hit some pretty shots, but taking the ball on the rise and making sure it doesn’t fly into the sky is so hard. I’m not pro so it’s obviously hard for me but still. Consider me a basic tennis player and I easily prove the theory. The whole time I was watching the match I was truly impressed at how well Federer handles his backhand side. Still with a two hander he’d get a lot more done against Nadal.


NK Says:

Link to a Fed interview. Says a lot about Roger’s maturity and class.
Enjoy.

http://tennisplanet.wordpress.com/2008/04/28/interesting-federer-interview-from-sarah-good-job-thanks/


SG Says:

I have found that in the last year, Fed has become more and more reliant on his first serve. For this reason, he dominates Wimbledon and the USO. But, clay neutralizes the serve. His serve normally puts him right into an offensive mode. But, not against on Rafa on red clay. Rafa finds ways to bring the rallies into play on Fed’s service game, thereby neutralizing his initial offensive advantage. Clay is a natrual offensive neutralizer. Combine this property with Rafa’s stifling defensive tenacity and you have quite a combination. Fed gets stuck in rallies he never has to be in with any other player on any other surface. The result? He starts forcing shots. In a sense, he has to. Fed is the more aggressive player. Staying back and trading groundies with a guy who will never miss isn’t an option. Problem is, to hit winners on clay, you have to be really on. And it’s hard to keep this up mentally for 3 sets let alone 5. For this reason, Fed usually ends up with a lot of UE’s. he has to force the action from the ground. It’s who he is. The problem is, the ball that blows right by Rafa at the USO, keeps coming back on the red dirt. Who knows? Maybe this is a match up that Fed will never figure out. I think it’s fair to say he will never fully dominate Rafa on clay. I think it will require Nadal to have an off day for Fed to ever beat him in Paris. And Rafa has the advantage of younger legs going for him.


PiM Says:

Federer choked. If he hadn’t, he would have won. End of story.


Von Says:

sensationalsafin:

“There’s no need to think about it. It’s true. Imo the only reason Nadal has a 7-1 record on clay against Federer is because of that damned one-hander.”

That one-handed backhand has drawn so much praise from some, but is a big liabilty at times, especially on clay. More and more it’s becoming a problem. I’d say a nice two-handed backhand with an angle similarly to that of Mardy Fish’s would help Fed tons against Nadal. In that MC match Nadal was just peppering that backhand which nullified Fed’s game and drew UEs. I believe that Nadal has the ability to unglue Fed’s backhand, and well, the forehand, Fed does that all by himself, e.g., shanking. Not a good picture for the rest of the clay season, if Nadal is going to meet Fed in the finals. Ferrer can also do some damage to Fed on clay.

I’ve been looking at the stats on the MC tourney, and I’m amazed at the few winners v. UEs against Nadal. Usually the winners tell the story and sadly, there aren’t many. The ratio of winners to UEs is an astounding minus differential.
_________

SG:

“I have found that in the last year, Fed has become more and more reliant on his first serve. For this reason, he dominates Wimbledon and the USO. But, clay neutralizes the serve.”

You’ve said it — clay the great neutralizer or equalizer, depending on whom it’s favoring.

“And Rafa has the advantage of younger legs going for him.”

Yes, and no. In the past yes, but Nadal is slowing down a bit, unfortunately. But, even so, Fed still has to catch him on an off-day, since Fed also is a step slower. It’ll be great to watch as the season unfolds. Here’s to good tennis, or maybe not …


Von Says:

SG:

“Problem is, to hit winners on clay, you have to be really on. And it’s hard to keep this up mentally for 3 sets let alone 5. For this reason, Fed usually ends up with a lot of UE’s. he has to force the action from the ground.”

I forgot to mention the mental factor, Nadal v. Fed. Nadal, until he has personal problems, will always be the more focused and fresher than many more players, e.g., Fed, who is caught up into the ‘extraneous factors’ web. Nadal is not putting unnecessary stress on himself to rewrite history and break records. Nadal’s just contented to play his tennis, and win. I’ve never once heard him speak of breaking records. A very smart mindset for one so young. Hence, he’ll always be the more focused and fresher in mind of the two, and a healthy mind = a healthy body. A very great winning combination.


Daniel Says:

Answering someone asking who could beat Nadal on clay.

Nalbandian! We have to see that match before RG. The two-handed backhand that made a lot of damage in last year finals Master Series. In a similar way, Djokovic gives a lot of trouble to Nadal too, so as Davydenko and Ferrer. Ah, and Hewitt in last year Hamburgo. But Hewitt is now gone, so…


Zola Says:

Von

Great point about Nadal. Great observation. I have never seen anyone point it out but I think it is absolutely true:
***Nadal’s just contented to play his tennis, and win. I’ve never once heard him speak of breaking records. A very smart mindset for one so young. Hence, he’ll always be the more focused and fresher in mind of the two, and a healthy mind = a healthy body. A very great winning combination.****

RAfa focuses on the moment. They ask him about the final, he always says, I tell you if I win the semis and I am here. He doesn’t brag and doesn’t create expectations. It is just great for a person this young.


Glenn Says:

Zola,
Great comment!


Von Says:

Zola:

“Von. Great point about Nadal. Great observation. I have never seen anyone point it out but I think it is absolutely true.”

Well, there are some who won’t agree with you about my comments being great, viz., they feel I’m crazy and/or need a psychiatrist, so how about if we just put this one great point down to one of my more saner moments — shades of sanity, perhaps? :) But, yes, Rafa, is smart and contended, and that comes from a sound and stable family environment. He’s an achiever, but not an over-achiever, and that’s the healthiest mindset one can have. The little guy has got the smarts and game to excel, and the records will come. He has broken the MC record already. There’s nothing worse than looking ahead and fantasizing, one step at a time, but in his case, one match at a time. Enjoy your guy’s tennis. :)


Twocents Says:

But let’s also not to forget that Fed the super no.1 shoulders most of the tension and heat of the moment, making it a lot easier for Rafa. Fed had 3 month but Rafa had 8 month of title drought. Look who got more beat…


Zola Says:

Von,
there will always be people who will disagree with you. Some will call names etc. Just ignore them. Evryone is entitled to his/her opinion. I don’t even read many of those!

I think you are very passionate about what you believe. Some people don’t like it!

Twocents,
correct that Fed shoulders lots of expectations, but come clay season, Rafa takes the heat. It comes with the territory and the way they both have handles this year after year, is just phenomenal.

I also admire the fact that at 27, Federer is still motivated and wants to win more slams and break more records. As I said before, these are two very special players. I want to watch each and every match of them both. We may not see another Federer or Nadal for a very very long time.


Zola Says:

I also want to comment on Federer. He was almost out against Hidalgo, but not only came back from 1-5, he won over Nalby and Djoko and reached the final. Of course if on top of that he also had the trophy, would have been phenomenal. I think it was possible against anybody other than Rafa.

Fed’s efforts to win the FO does worth a mention. He comes year after year, and overcomes the disappointments, all the criticism of the media finding all those faults in his game and tries again. The media can be harsh. Even as a Rafa fan, I don’t like some of the headlines. As if they forget the guy they are talking about is a legitimate GOAT candidate.

I respect Fed for being so determined to win RG. The same goes for Rafa and wimbledon.


Skorocel Says:

Von said:

“Someone mentioned Fed having a 142 mph serve as the fastest? What about Roddick’s 155 mph serve, that’s been recorded as the fastest ever?

The bullying that’s been manifested has made it difficult to respond to any comments written — I’ve been sand-bagged into silence. How very democratic!!”

————————————————

I’m sorry Von, but who the hell is bullying you? Everyone who saw that Sunday’s final has to admit it was an error… 226 km/h wide? Huh? Can’t even remember if Fed has EVER achieved such speed!


Skorocel Says:

sensationalsafin said:

“Still with a two hander he’d get a lot more done against Nadal.”

That’s why I would like to see him play Nalby (a guy with perhaps the best doublehander currently on the tour) on clay… But looking at the Barcelona draw (where Nalby is once again in the opposite half), I don’t have any illusions for that match to happen…

But then again, if you look at the last 3 of Nadal’s losses on clay, 2 of them came against the players with one-handed BH (Gaudio in Buenos Aires 2005 and Fed in Hamburg 2007)…


Skorocel Says:

Von said:

“Nadal is not putting unnecessary stress on himself to rewrite history and break records.”

OK, so according to you, Fed better stop playing tennis now, and let that Pete, Borg or Laver to remain the GOAT, isn’t it? OF COURSE he’ll want to break those records, Von! Who wouldn’t? Or do you think Pete didn’t want to win that SW19 2000 final (where, in case of victory, he could’ve broken that Emerson’s slam record)? Of course he wanted! It’s only logical that when you win 12 slams, 54 tourneys, and rule 222 cons. weeks at the No. 1 spot, you’ll want to break those records… The fact is, Fed’s been touted as a possible GOAT since 2004, but so far, he has coped with the pressure remarkably…


Skorocel Says:

Von said:

“Ferrer can also do some damage to Fed on clay.”

I don’t think so. Fed has Ferrer’s number virtually since their first match (back in 2003 in Vienna), and so far has lost only one single set against the Spaniard (albeit exactly on clay). So far, they’ve met 3 times on the dirt, and (except that last year’s Hamburg quarterfinal) it was always a blowout…


Justin Says:

“Cause and effect”- the answer is so simple yet…

Once the court dries, bounces become more irregular and also the balls fluff/slow up. Nadal’s lethal topspin balls kick up too much (apparently his balls go 4 metres from the point at which they kit the court) and timing full-blooded winners which have a low margin for error become a very high risk proposition. Also very hard to be aggressive with a 1-handed backhand unlike 2-handers (Hewitt, Nalbandian or Djokovic) who have been able to push Rafa on clay. Have you noticed that most of the backhands he hits from Rafa are at shoulder height! The clay in Hamburg is apparently softer than in other places, so the ball doesn’t bounce as high. Federer has to keep breaking early and keep up his current agressive tactics, and one day he will get lucky!


Skorocel Says:

Von said:

“I’ve been looking at the stats on the MC tourney, and I’m amazed at the few winners v. UEs against Nadal. Usually the winners tell the story and sadly, there aren’t many. The ratio of winners to UEs is an astounding minus differential.

I believe that Nadal has the ability to unglue Fed’s backhand, and well, the forehand, Fed does that all by himself, e.g., shanking. Not a good picture for the rest of the clay season, if Nadal is going to meet Fed in the finals.”

That’s what I was talking about since I firstly visited this blog… I just don’t like these matches at all! Yes, I can safely admit that it HAS something to do with the fact that Fed is my favourite player, and that to see him struggling so mightily is simply painful to watch – no doubt about that! But I just don’t get it why the people consider their matches interesting?! Except that Rome 2006 final, Shanghai TMC 2006 semifinal, and that last year’s Wimby final, there wasn’t too much to look at in my opinion… Virtually all of their matches followed (and are following) the same pattern – Nadal’s topspin FH to Fed’s one-handed BH, and sooner or later the Swiss would make an error. That’s what their matches will always be about…

Don’t know about you, but I would love to see Nadal play Pete Sampras – even in an exho! I bet that (even now, with the courts being slower) the Spaniard wouldn’t have a clue how to return those serves and volleys… IMHO, that’s the only way how to beat the Spaniard DECISIVELY – albeit NOT on clay. I bet that had Nadal (even now) faced a 2000-2002 “version” of Sampras at Wimby, the American would most probably have defeated the Spaniard – and this more decisively than Fed in the last 2 years… When you play Nadal, the longer the rally is, the bigger the chances are for the Spaniard to win it, but (as you may know) Pete’s “philosophy” was always to keep the rallies as short as possible… But the problem for Fed is that he doesn’t have THAT good of a serve and volleys as Sampras once possessed, and vice-versa, Sampras doesn’t have that good of a baseline game and versatility to trouble Nadal on clay (whereas Fed has)…


Von Says:

Skorocel:

It seems that you are on a campaign to zero in on everything I’ve written thus far. You’ve systematically gone through every post and made it your business to question me, on every minute detail. Tell me Skorocel, what is it you are looking for? What cardinal sin did I commit against you? I don’t know what’s the problem, but I’m not going to have any discussion with you herinafter, but you’re making it impossible for me to post with you on my back all of the time. Am I going through your posts and questioning you? I don’t think so — I don’t even read your posts. So what’s the problem.


Skorocel Says:

To Von:

So you don’t even bother to read my posts? Goes to say something…


Skorocel Says:

SG said:

“I think it’s fair to say he will never fully dominate Rafa on clay.”

Of course he won’t! 1-7 is 1-7, isn’t it? To beat Nadal on clay, you have to win at least 90 % of the points from the baseline, but in order to do that, you have to outrally the Spaniard – and that’s almost impossible! If you can’t do that on grass or a hard court, then how the hell on clay? Once again, too bad Fed didn’t beat him in that Rome 2006 final! That way, he would’ve had a clear evidence that he CAN beat the Spaniard in his top clay-court shape – and in a best-of-5-set match, no less! Btw, have you noticed that Nadal (so far) hasn’t lost even one single best-of-5-set match on clay? That says it all…

P.S. That guy named Ruddock suffered one helluva beating vs Lewis back in 1992 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ0PX3ZQi7I)! But other than that, he certainly had a pretty decent record (only 5 losses if I remember)…


Skorocel Says:

In my opinion, if Fed is to beat Nadal at RG, it will simply require all those small parts to fit into one big puzzle… That is, Fed needs to serve like he did in that TMC 2007 semifinal (i.e. around 70-80 % or more), and Nadal himself has to have a bad serving day (i.e. around 50 % or less). Btw, have you noticed that in almost all of his matches, his 1st serve percentage is around 70 % or more? In that Sunday’s final, for instance, he hit no less than 81 % 1st serves in… His serve maybe isn’t that good as that of Fed, but if he can keep such a high 1st serve percentage in his matches vs the Swiss, it’ll be always difficult for Fed to stay aggressive – especially when returning Nadal’s serve in the add court (where the Spaniard almost exclusively directs his serves wide to Fed’s BH, thus forcing Fed to open up almost the entire part of his side of the court)…

Also, Nadal in general must have an off-day, hitting some errors from time to time (just like he did in that 1st set of the FO 2006 final), and Fed’s got to be virtually error-free when there’s a decent chance of hitting a winner (i.e. a short ball on his forehand, a smash, easy volley, etc.). On this past Sunday, though, he wasn’t. One perfect example is that rally which occured in the very last game (advantage Federer), where the Swiss had a more than decent opportunity to play an aggressive FH (standing cca 2 m behind the net), but instead of that, he played that shot directly to Nadal’s hands… The Spaniard of course didn’t need more and quickly returned the ball directly at Fed, who (unable to react in time) hit a volley which landed at least 2 m behind the baseline… This in itself says 2 things: 1. Fed’s already „fed up“ with Nadal (well, with such a desastrous H2H vs the Spaniard on clay, who wouldn’t?), 2. Even when he’s in an excellent position to hit a winner, that thought of a possible error lurking in his mind (combined with Nadal’s superb court coverage) will simply get better of him, and thus he’ll either miss, or play the ball directly into the Spaniard’s hands…

The problem also is that Nadal at times literally „teases“ you to hit a winner, and that in itself can make you impatient. You want to end the points as quickly as possible, but soon, a couple of UEs will appear, and from then on, it’s downhill… That’s what exactly happened in that 6th game of the 2nd set, where at 4-1 (Fed serving), the Swiss made 3 easy FH errors – and that was all the Spaniard needed to regain the momentum… From there on, Fed started to be impatient – and the rest is history…

Nadal, however, is a very smart player, and I’ll have to give him credit for that. Just notice when he’s serving to the deuce court – of course, there’s a better chance for Fed to hit an aggressive return off his BH from this side of the court, but Nadal is so damn quick that he’s almost always ready for these shots. That is, once he puts that ball into play, he automatically does a couple of quick steps backwards to be sure that most of Fed’s returns (albeit aggressive) won’t have any effect on him…

Anyway, Fed’s certainly got to vary his game if he wants to have a chance against the Spaniard on clay (well, that’s actually the only way how to trouble Nadal on this surface)… In that Rome 2006 final, he was doing it excellently in my opinion… For example, there was often a situation where he had a more than decent chance to hit a winner off his FH, but instead of hitting a straight shot, he chose to play a very well placed sort of semi-lifted semi-direct FH to Nadal’s BH (as if he wanted to change the rhythm of the rally), and the Spaniard didn’t like it at all…

One would think he should use his BH slice a bit more, but the fact is, this shot is virtually useless against the Spaniard (at least on clay)… If Fed tries a BH slice to Nadal’s BH, then the Spaniard has all the time in the world to run around his BH and play another of those 5000 rpm FHs, and if he tries to hit this shot – albeit a very low one – crosscourt to Nadal’s FH (which, in other cases, would often draw an error against right-handed players from their BH side), Nadal simply won’t make any errors off it with his 5000 rpm FH at all… On the contrary, he will push Fed with that wicked topspin FH even more!

Considering Nadal’s positioning on the court (which is almost exclusively 1-2 m behind the baseline), it would be only logical to try some dropshots here and there, but the fact is that the Spaniard is simply goddamn quick! Fed was maybe quite successful trying these on Sunday, but still, it’s a very risky tactic to do that against Nadal… Unless it’s a perfect dropshot, he’ll almost always reach the ball in time, and that usually means game over for the opponent… But it’s true Fed should try these shots a bit more – no doubt about that!


NK Says:

Interesting story from Kamakshi Tandon on players retiring from matches due to injuries(?)

Fed and Blake are the only two among the current top players that have never retired during a match. Djokovic heads the list, followed by Gasquet and others. Did not realize Andy Roddick retired 7 times.
Interesting article.

http://tennis.com/features/general/features.aspx?id=127724


I have clay in my piratas Says:

To whomsoever it is concerned:

Nadal is so strong he got his ass whipped by Tsonga, Youzhny, Djokovic, Roddick, Seppi and Davydenko. And that is just this year!

Did I say he is nalbandian’s bitch? Enjoy your two months. After that, it is bitch time for a year! This is a player who has won EXACTLY 2 titles in the last 2 years outside of clay. His fans must have some nerve even talking about other players’ efforts on clay. What do we call a guy who wins on clay but is a total wuss outside of it. Oh yeah! Rafael Nadal!


jane Says:

NK,

Thanks for that link; it is interesting to see the retirements mapped out like that. I actually like Djokovic and have tried to be balanced about his latest retirement. On the previous thread, I had mentioned that I was sure many other players had retired as much or near as much but that the timing of Djokovic’s retirements, not to mention his meteroric rise up the rankings, have caused much wrath, attention and speculation.

Anyhow, we’ll have to see how this all plays out.


I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies like Novak Says:

PiM Says: Federer choked. If he hadn’t, he would have won. End of story. ——-

rafa would have won in three instead of two. come down from the clouds fanboy


jane Says:

NK – One more thing about that article (which is really the topic of the other thread): it does boost the notion that perhaps Novak’s breathing problems are anxiety-provoked since he retires in big matches against players of higher or near rank. Others might say he’s calculating (which seems to be more what the article implies) but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt — for now — and see how he progresses.


NK Says:

Jane,
I agree. While it is easy to spot a trend in a bar-graph format, I believe every retirement should be reviewed independently.

Like you, I prefer to give Djokovic the benefit of the doubt.


SG Says:

I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies like Novak Says:
PiM Says: Federer choked. If he hadn’t, he would have won. End of story. ——-

rafa would have won in three instead of two. come down from the clouds fanboy

********************************************

absolutely! i love the built in excuses. whenever fed loses to rafa on clay, he just happens to be having a bad day. the mother of all coincidences i’m sure.

Fed’s game doesn’t match up as well against Rafa on clay as it does against any other player on any other surface. he is fed’s foil (not sure if i spelled this word correctly). and thank the big guy there is one or fed’s head would get so big there woudn’t be a center court big enough for him to play on.


NK Says:

SG:
“absolutely! i love the built in excuses. whenever fed loses to rafa on clay, he just happens to be having a bad day. the mother of all coincidences i’m sure.”

It’s one thing to not like someone, in this case, Federer, but when did Fed ever give an excuse for losing to Nadal. Do you bother to read any of Fed’s post-match interviews — from last year’s FO or last week’s finals. At the post-match interview at the FO last year, Federer had only one answer when the reporters bombarded him with questions about his loss. Nadal.

I suggest you take the time to read what Federer has all along said about Nadal, before or after a match, before you (and other Fed-haters) post your nonsensical posts. If there’s one thing you need to have known by now, it’s that Federer thinks the world of Nadal. So please cut the crap. It’s OK if you don’t like the guy, but don’t accuse him of cooking up excuses where none exists.


Kash Says:

“This is a player who has won EXACTLY 2 titles in the last 2 years outside of clay.”

>>>> In your drivel ( I dont know for who) you mention a fact that goes un-noticed.

It is great to see Rafa win a title (that too without dropping a set, which btw, he did last year too!) but to see him being protrayed as the ultimate fighter for making a come-back on a surface that his game is tailor-made for (or maybe the other way round too) doesn’t make sense.

To put in another way, if you rank players by sheer competitiveness (is that a word?) Rafa may not be in a lot of peoples’ all-time top 5 list. I actually put andy roddick and hewitt ahead of nadal in the contemporary never-say give up list.

This is not to undermine Rafa’s results last week but to bring a sense of reality in a blog where some posts portray rafa as a guy who turns around matches on ALL surfaces. While the reality is that he has been able to do so consistently on only 1 surface – clay. I donot think it is a coincidence that it is the same surface on which he is probably the all-time best. So let us reserve the “rafa is the greatest warrior ever” argument to a day where he can rake up impressive numbers on hard/grass courts where his skills are not so over-powering as they are on clay!


Kash Says:

Let me throw in my 2 pennies advice for FED: (hopefully someone in his camp is being wise enough to note all this expert advise we have doled out here and convey to fed or his coach)

Fed needs to have a quality serving day (like wimbledon and masters cup 07) and solid ground strokes like this sunday. If he can put together those two, he will give rafa a tougher time on clay. Another thing that beats me is how fed fails to take advantage of nadal’s serves. How can a guy who breaks a lethal serve like a-rod’s almost at will on faster surfaces, not fail to take advantage of a less chllenging serve like nadal’s. He needs to unlock that puzzle and that might lead him to greater domination in the match.

In Fed’s presser he mentions he is glad he could break nadal a lot of times. (he should be after the 1/17 fiasco in the FO final last year!) So hopefully fed is working on this aspect. All said and done who knows? The kind of year it has been we might not even see fed/rafa or maybe both in the FO final.


Agassifan Says:

Fed and Nadal have played 28 sets on clay in the last 3 years – Fed has won 8 of those sets, while 6 of the rest have been 5-7 or 6-7 losses (and many 4-6) – so he has been EXTREMELY competitive with nadal, on CLAY, in most of the sets he has played with him. That’s a far cry from ANYONE else on the tour.

The truth is – Fed is clearly the second best clay courter over the last 3 years. In fact, in the open era, he could conceivably be a top 10 clay courter (after Borg, Vilas, Lendl, Nadal, Guga, Wilander, and a couple others). He just happens to have played alongside the best ever, or at least the second best clay courter ever (after Borg, if you think he was the best).

can you imagine Fed playing chang in the FO final, or ferrero, costa, gaudio (all FO champions)? Fed would clearly beat them. So he is better than most FO champions, ON CLAY.

Don’t count him out for this year’s FO yet!!


evil bob Says:

I have to say that Monte Carlo final was strange. Rafa was a bit patchy at times, overall his level was mostly the same through the whole match. Rog on the other hand was like a yo-yo. He dominated the start of the 2nd set while Rafa was still playing well, but then shifted from 6th gear to reverse.

Unless Rog finds a way of playing in 6th gear for at least a set and a half, I think this year’s clay court results are going to be the same again.


Ryan Says:

Fed and Rafa will keep battling out all the time with rafa coming on top.It’s just not going to work for fed.I used to think that at some point fed could overcome nadal on clay.Not anymore.The Achilles heel
will be high bouncing balls to his one handed backhand and there is nothing fed can do about it……Absolutely nothing….and he will keep losing to nadal whenever he is going to play him…….SIMPLE
The result of Nadal vs Federer on clay would be just like federer vs roddick on any surface provided nadal is healthy…..
Fed can play great volleys,he can play slice he can do watever but nadal will keep pounding on that one handed backhand and it’s game over for fed.
There is absolutely no solution to this problem.I dont like djokovic but I believe if someone is going to take nadal out it could be him…..His game is as close to fed as possible except for those out of the world shots that fed hits.He has a huge game with good tactics,incredible court coverage,determination,solid off both wings and nadal cant pound on his backhand like he does against fed.


Ryan Says:

By the way I wonder if richard gasquet would be able to handle high bouncing balls on clay to his one handed backhand ?


Glenn Says:

Kash says:
How can a guy who breaks a lethal serve like a-rod’s almost at will on faster surfaces, not fail to take advantage of a less chllenging serve like nadal’s?

Roddick doesn’t really have a lot of variety in his game, so it is quite easy for Federer to beat him on any surface. In other words, Roddick is predicatable. Roddick’s getting a little better, though – but he’ll never be in the same league as Federer or Nadal.

Nadal, on the other hand, has a lot of variety, and on a slower surface, Nadal has more time to display that variety and Federer is not able to read him as well.


Glenn Says:

Ryan, IIRC, Gasquet handles high-bounces pretty well with his backhand. I believe he normally goes cross-court on such shots to allow the ball more horizontal air-time before it drops. When he tries to go down the line in such situations, I think I’ve seen it go long more often than not.


Glenn Says:

Kash,
I just wanted to add that American tennis seems to rely more on power than finesse to win a shot, which is partly why I don’t believe Roddick will ever be in the same league as Federer or Nadal.

I think Chang was the exception.


Agassifan Says:

One handed backhanded is not always a drawback on clay – look at Lendl and Guga.

BTW, from another article…..

“Because he falls so predictably to Nadal on clay, because he lets go even 4-0 leads (second set, Monte Carlo), we forget how capable Federer is on clay, especially for a fast-court practitioner. McEnroe, Becker, Edberg, Sampras won 231 titles on all surfaces between them yet only 10 were on clay. The Swiss already has seven on this shale, out of 54.

Anyone else since that metronome from Sweden, Federer might have rolled past on clay, might have taken the French Open from. Lendl, Wilander, Muster, Gomez, Costa, Kuerten, Courier, Agassi, Bruguera, anyone. But this is different, this is like being the victim of some cosmic conspiracy, for Nadal is like a machine from Planet Sweat, perfectly designed to beat him on clay. He’s a leftie, a masochistic marathoner, a spin guru, the Great Wall of Spain against whom every shot comes back. As Bob Brett, former Becker coach, says when asked to place the Spaniard in claycourt history: “You’ve got Borg, and then you’ve got Nadal.”


NK Says:

Here’s a link to the full article that Agassifan refers to above.
Rohit Brijnath is arguably one of the finest sports writers in the world today.

http://www.hindu.com/2008/04/30/stories/2008043056401700.htm


I like tennis bullies not tennis sissies like Novak Says:

Glenn quote-”I just wanted to add that American tennis seems to rely more on power than finesse to win a shot, which is partly why I don’t believe Roddick will ever be in the same league as Federer or Nadal.”

Blake has a lot of shotmaking finesse but not a powerful serve like roddick


SG Says:

NK Says:
SG:
“absolutely! i love the built in excuses. whenever fed loses to rafa on clay, he just happens to be having a bad day. the mother of all coincidences i’m sure.”

I was referring to Fed’s fans, not Federer himself.


Skorocel Says:

Kash said:

“Another thing that beats me is how fed fails to take advantage of nadal’s serves. How can a guy who breaks a lethal serve like a-rod’s almost at will on faster surfaces, not fail to take advantage of a less chllenging serve like nadal’s.”

——————————————–

Yes, but (as you may have noticed), Nadal usually has his 1st serve pct. around 70 % or higher, so there aren’t that many chances for Fed to pound that forehand off Nadal’s 2nd serve. Also, Nadal serves almost exclusively to Fed’s backhand (where especially in the add court it’s a real pain in the ass for Roger to return those serves)… Nadal usually forces Fed to go wide, who thus opens up at least 2/3 of his side of the court, and this gives Nadal an excellent opportunity to pounce with his 5000 rpm forehand – either crosscourt, or he’ll just wrongfoot Fed as he tries to resume his position in the middle of the court… Just look back at that FO 2006 final, and you’ll see that Fed was virtually hopeless when Nadal was pounding that serve to the add court (the Swiss made at least 15-20 errors just off this particular stroke)…

Nadal’s service in general is a very underrated part of his game in my opinion… It’s maybe not that good as Fed’s, but the Spaniard still gives the ball one helluva high kick, so even if Fed’s got the opportunity to pounce a 2nd serve with his forehand, it’s often difficult for him to hit a pinpoint return…


Skorocel Says:

To Agassifan:

Yes, Fed’s been without question the 2nd best player on clay in these last 3 years (and so far also in this season), but the fact is, he’s got Nadal in his way – and he has no other choice but to face him…


Skorocel Says:

To Ryan:

Tough to say whether Djoker’s got what it takes to beat Nadal on clay… So far, they’ve met 3 times on this surface, and each time it was a beatdown… He maybe has an advantage over Fed in his double-handed backhand, but you know, we need EVIDENCE! So far, Fed’s been the only player who was able to constantly challenge (or at least trouble) Nadal on clay…


Glenn Says:

I like Tennis Bullies,

Personally, I think Blake has more of a game than Roddick, but I constantly hear from commentators during matches that this is a recent development in Blake’s game. Blake’s definitely improved. I’d like to see more American players participate in doubles to help develop their net game – and their finesse – which I think is sorely lacking overall.

I like the fact that Blake is trying to get clay court matches in, though he seems to lose early in Europe. I respect Blake’s effort.


Ryan Says:

To all the haters out there who claim that fed only wins against pussies or opponents who have a lot of weaknesses, and can’t win against real players should explain his win against djokovic…..that also on fed’s worst surface clay.When he was being out rallied on hard courts everyone was wondering what he was going to do on clay.What weakness does djokovic have? He has the guts and a tough ass game but still fed beat him up in that semi final in straight sets(6-3 3-2 ret not even a tie break)…and that proves fed’s greatness…..

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