Nadal Turns Away Djokovic in Hamburg, Faces Federer in Final
by Sean Randall | May 17th, 2008, 12:07 pm

If you are a fan of clay tennis, or really just tennis for that matter, you had to be impressed with the show Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal put on today in Hamburg. It was billed as a battle for No. 2, and a battle of the two best players this year, and it lived up to the hype in my mind. Good tennis all around by both guys in what I thought was the best clay match of the season thus far. And in the end Nadal was just too damn good, beating a game Djokovic 7-5, 2-6, 6-2 to maintain his No. 2 ranking and advance to the Hamburg final where awaiting him tomorrow will be the well-rested World No. 1 Roger Federer.

Credit to Djokovic who threw just about everything he had at Rafa, but the Spaniard chewed it up and spit it back out especially in a pretty high quality first set.

Rafa had chances to runaway with the second set and the match but couldn’t covert some early second set break points. Djokovic hung tough and eventually grabbed the second. But in the third Rafa regained his control eventually wearing down the Serb in just over three hours of top notch tennis.

As I’ve said before Djokovic, in my mind, is the guy with the best chance of derailing Nadal on the clay at Roland Garros where he’s unbeaten. And I think today Novak showed some of that ability and some of what he can do to Rafa. Djokovic has the lethal mixture of power, consistency and variety. I do still question his mental toughness and his durability, but what he does have can at least get him into a winning position against Rafael, which is more than can be said for just about everyone else on the circuit.

Against Rafa you cannot slug it out from the baseline and expect to come out in front on clay. You have to move forward and make Rafa moved forward and I thought Novak did a good job of doing that today.

But Nadal’s just so tough on clay. He might have the worst attire in the history of the sport, but his forehand’s massive. His backhand doesn’t miss. His serve is improving. It’s virtually impossible to hit a ball by him from the backcourt and he’s probably the mentally toughest guy out there.

So, yes, Rafa’s still the man…

As the commentators said the happiest guy in the building has to be Federer, who has virtually waltzed into the Hamburg final after beating a hapless and tired Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-1 in his semifinal earlier.

Through four matches no one has even won more than three games off Fed in any single set, which is pretty impressive. But Nadal’s a huge step up in class from the players Fed’s beaten this far.

Federer of course upset Nadal last year in this same final and I think he’ll again have a good chance of repeating that effort Sunday. Federer clearly plays his best clay tennis in Hamburg, where the cooler, damper conditions can turn the surface into a virtual super-slow hard court, perfect for Federer. But even though Nadal may very well be feeling some after effects of his physical win over Novak, it’s still hard to bet against the Spaniard tomorrow and at this stage, regardless of the outcome in the final, it’s that much harder to foresee anyone taking three sets from him at Roland Garros. Fortunately, though, with Novak’s loss today, Federer won’t have to face such a tall task until the French Open final at the earliest.

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84 Comments for Nadal Turns Away Djokovic in Hamburg, Faces Federer in Final

jane Says:

Yeah, as I mentioned on the other thread, I think today’s match showed how unbeatable Rafa will be in 5 sets on clay. He should win another French.

Novak did have some chances today but he lost his lead in the first set, and he wasn’t serving as well as he could’ve.

Still, he fought so hard and that was really nice to see! I wonder if the final will compare to this match?

zero Says:

Very very good match. Rafa rolls Joker in 3 hours of entertaining. The last game of the match is sensational, Joker truly fighted till the end, kudos to him

Shital Green Says:

Let me add one thing. The only way Djoko can think of beating Nadal on clay is by perfecting his drop shots. If Djoko had Starace’s volley, he could have matched Nadal today. Remember how Starace had Nadal every time he hit a volley. From baseline alone, Djoko will very likely never have a shot at Nadal.
And today, Djoko’s serve was not on his side today.
Maybe, as you pointed out, he was not quite in par with Nadal’s mental strength, but, to me, it looked like that way mainly because Nadal had his way to wear him out. Again, Djoko has to learn to economize his energy by perfecting his play at the net.

All in all, it was the best match of the clay season. Things are looking good for Djoko as he heads to Roland Garros, even if not as great as Nadal’s prospect there. And Djoko would prefer to play Fed in the semi.

Thanks for the timely write-up.

Von Says:

Absolutely the best match played thus far in Hamburg. Nadal had the most difficult draw and came out with flying colors. Now go out and win the whole darn thing tomorrow, Rafa — you deserve it!! Kudos to Djoko for putting up a good fight and adding some luster to what up until the present, was a very lackluster tournament. Goodluck tomorrow Rafa — you’re the king of the clay!!

jane Says:

Zola, you should be happy your guy is still King of Clay!

Von, you must’ve enjoyed that match! Talk about zeal.

Von Says:

Sean Randall:

Great insightful article!! Seems like it was hot of the press, just waiting for the last ball to be hit. Good job. :)

jane Says:

Yeah Sean – good timing, as usual, on your posting.

Von Says:


“Von, you must’ve enjoyed that match! Talk about zeal.”

Absolutely. I suppose you remember my very lackluster post of a couple of days aga lamenting on the dreary matches? Well, this one made up for the rest. GO RAFA!!! :)

Chris Says:

What a fantastic match today. I am in agreement with Sean in that i believe Novak’s game is a better match up against Nadal. His backhand is more of a consistent weapon opposed to Federer’s backhand. That being said, for Novak to beat Nadal in a five set match is asking a lot. As a federer fan i still want him to win his 1st French open, but if Novak somehow pulls an upset over Federer or Nadal it wouldn’t surprise me in the least

jane Says:

Good luck to Rafa tomorrow; I hope he can win the title here after that win today! His court coverage was phenomenal today!

ckr Says:

That was an awesome match. Djok would have definitely won the match, had he had converted one of two chances to go 4-0 in first set. His volley is not as bad as it was today. I think he still has fair chance to beat Nadal on clay, if he brings all weapons on the day. Remember he is a fast learner….

naresh Says:

All of us have to take a bow to that match and the heart that both these players showed us !!! Rafa’s clearly the king of clay, but Novak showed us why he’s been named the most improved player, two years in a row.

The way it’s going, Djokovic is gonna be No.2 in the world by the end of this year..if not No.1 !

jane Says:

These two – especially Rafa – are often called “grinders” (a word I don’t really like as it seems condescending to a degree) but there was some fabulous, creative shot-making today by both players. Not to mention an electric atmosphere; the German crowd today witnessed a classic.

ckr – That Novak won a set is, for sure, a positive; how many guys have done that? He should take heart for his effort today, no doubt about it. But unless he were to win in straights at the French, I don’t think he could beat Rafa there, and what are the chances of ANYONE beating Nadal on clay in straight sets? Pretty much nil.

andrea Says:

I got my wish. fed and nadal in the final! i can hardly wait. taped the matches and will watch later – sounds like some good stuff.

i’m also glad since nadal will be number two going into the french – i still want to see fed win that thing and the victory will be the sweetest over nadal.

angel Says:

Everything can happen. Haven’t you noticed that this is the first time that Federer gets to Roland Garros with more claycourt games played than Nadal? Interesting…

jane Says:

Djok’s string breaking in the third set, when he had a chance to break back in the second game, was truly bad luck. He had some very good chances to break, but as someone point out, he didn’t convert.

In re-watching this match, it’s hard to deny it could’ve gone either way. And once again, the scoreline is deceptive, as every game, indeed, almost every point (!), was fiercely contested.

Fed-Rafa Says:

Good that Rafa put the beat down on Djokovic in the 3rd set. Novak should have won it in straights but he messed up the 1st set. He could still beat Rafa at RG but he will have to do so in straights. (which is not entirely beyond him)

Federer is still the best bet to beat Nadal in a best of 5 match. Djokovic cannot stay with nadal physically for 5 sets on clay (which means 5 brutal hours of djokovic-nadal tennis). Today after the 2hr mark his level started dipping, there was no doubt in my mind that rafa was going to run away with the 3rd set. I feel davydenko, ferrer or federer will bring the king down at RG this year. Ferrero or nalabandian if they find a semblance of form at Paris can be absolutely lethal to nadal’s goal of a 4th RG (and any other player’s RG ambitions).

As for tomorrow, I wouldn’t be surprised if Fed straight sets nadal. Nadal has been playing below par this week and I didn’t see his fh jumping like it does at RG or Monte-Carlo. If Fed’s ground game stays solid as it has been this week and if he serves like he did in last year’s final, he will remain the emperor of hamburg. I will say fed in 3.

Fed-Rafa Says:

/ In re-watching this match, it’s hard to deny it could’ve gone either way. /

After the 2nd I was sure Novak was not going to win this. I was more confused whether he would pull-out midway or go all the way. Good on him for not quitting. The 1set would have been decisive. Too bad he couldn’t shut rafa out there.

Dave B Says:

A sensational match and a privilege to watch. I couldn’t help feeling that Novak is the smarter and more wily player with a winning strategy which he could not execute. Nadal on the other hand is sheer brute force combined with unbelievable finesse. I was very happy that Nadal won because Novak’s constant self congratulation and pandering to the audience is irritating.

jane Says:


“After the 2nd I was sure Novak was not going to win this.”

Hmmm… not me. Even after Rafa got the break at the beginning of the 3rd, Novak had so many chances. But Rafa is a force even when behind. When he gets the momentum on clay, it’s difficult for anyone to stop him.

“The 1set would have been decisive.”

Yeah, you’re right. The fitness or “brute force” as Dave B aptly puts it, became a factor after that.

Rafa is like a force of nature!

jane Says:

The second break in the third set closed the door; that’s when I really noticed Novak wilt. But he still fought so hard, even when Rafa was serving for it and up 2 breaks, he never gave up. That’s great news.

Dr. Death Says:

“You can’t blame your opponents for applying a strategy that beats your brains out with regularity.”

“You know what makes a good loser? Practice.”

Words to live by are above. You know the game and no cheating, svp.

And thank you for the update and comments while I was asleep meissing the action.

Tennis Fan Says:

… I’ve said it before … Federer is the only player that can beat Nadal on clay when his game is on … Djokovic doesn’t have the stamina req’d … and it showed again today in just 3 sets. Federer has not been playing his best tennis as on late … and so not much of him is expected for the French this year. Maybe thats why this year is his best chance!

Kroll Says:

It was indeed a fantastic match but it seems that we are all overstating Djoker’s chances at RG. After all Hewitt pushed Rafa to the same extent last year at Hamburg and it didn’t seem then that he would be a major contender at RG. As Sean mentioned, (great article BTW) Hamburg is perhaps Rafa’s worst clay surface and negates many of his weapons. Though it is clear that Fed certainly has the advantage now, what with him being much fresher and playing on a clay surface that he is much happier on.
Further I am not entirely convinced that Djoker is much improved on clay. His game is better no doubt but not that much better. As a comparison, he won Estoril last year but won Rome this year on a baby draw, so the results are hard to read as a portend for RG vis-a-vis Rafa or Fed.

Daniel Says:

Angel, I was thinking the same thing!

If Fed wins tomorrow, the resume of the clay season so far will be:

Fed: 16-2 (Win-Loss), 1 Master Series title, 1 MS runner-up, 1 ATP title and 1 MS QF.

Nadal: 14-2, 1 MS title, 1 MS runner-up, 1 ATP title, 1 MS second round.

Djoko: 11-2, 1 MS title, 2 MS semis.

The top 3 would have share the 3 clay MS putting the season back in order.

Looks like Fed would have the best clay campaign, considering that Djoko played one less tournament and Nadal played Rome injured. Even though, interesting!

But, specultation apart, tomorrow match could be an indicator on Fed’s chances in RG, depending on how he wins it, or loose it!

jane Says:


“Further I am not entirely convinced that Djoker is much improved on clay. His game is better no doubt but not that much better.”

I don’t profess to know the definitive answer to your comment above, but here is what Nadal, the guy on the other side of the net, had to say after today’s match:

“”It was special game, because he played a very good game, he has improved incredibly and is getting better,” said Nadal.
“He’s going to be world number one within a few years, he’s very good and very young.”

Dr. Death Says:

Jane – But Djo is such a delicate huckleberry. We will see if he can toughen up physically and mentally to be # 1.

jane Says:

Hi Dr Death,

I thought he hung in there pretty tough today; he got frustrated, but most do playing Rafa on clay! I think it may look like he’s wilting but he’s not. He fought until the very end today.

But you’re right in this – only time will tell. I was quoting Rafa.

TD (Tam) Says:

That was a spectacular clay tennis match and I must give my respects to Djokovic. He really put everything he had out there but it was apparent in that last set he ran out of gas; they always do against Rafa on clay. Still, Novakc’s fans can be proud of their man he is inching closer and closer to Rafa each time they play. Roland Garros looks veeeeerrry interesting this year..

Congratulations to the inimitable Rafael Nadal and good luck to him in the final against Federer, who will clearly be the fresher of the two.

Seth Says:

Well done, Rafa, and congrats to all his fans. Not a big Djoko fan, so this is doubly nice.

naresh Says:

the level of tennis in the Nadal – Djokovic match was way above anything i’ve seen on clay in a while.. Djokovic has improved leaps & bounds on clay and todays match made Rafa play at alevel which i’ve not seen from him b4. So anyone who thinks Djoko’s not really a threat on this surface, had better wakeup and smell the coffee !

Glenn Says:

I didn’t get to watch it live and am watching the Federer-Seppi replay right now. I’m going to dub Federer “the painter” because he paints the lines so consistently and excellently!!!

I’ll forego comments on the Nadal-Djokovic match until I see the replay after the Federer-Seppi match. I would like to say that people are saying that Djokovic is young and will improve, but the same goes for Nadal. So as long as he is without injury, I am absolutely certain Djokovic will not surpass Nadal.

Fed-Rafa Says:

“but here is what Nadal, the guy on the other side of the net, had to say after today’s match”

This is the same guy who always replies “Roger is the no.1, no?” for anyone who suggests he is the favorite in the match they are going to play. (even when on clay). Nadal is the kind of player who enjoys the tag of underdog, in contrast to Djokovic who likes to keep talking up his chances. That said I dont think he denied that Novak’s level dropped after the 2nd set. His ground strokes were landing much shorter and he was just a little late on his shots than he was in the 1st 2 sets!

That said, Novak is definitely getting better though it might still take him some time to beat a game nadal in a best of 5 on clay. It is absolutely essential to hang with nadal for atleast 3hours to achieve such a result. I have not seen that from novak. He was literally gasping through straight set victories during aus open. That is not the stamina level I expect from a contender to “I will beat nadal at FO”

jane Says:

Fair enough Fed-Rafa. We’ll have to see if Novak has the stamina or not. He’s played some marathons (both at Wimbledon and USO last year) but against Rafa on clay, it’s a whole nother ball of dirt.

Dr. Death Says:

Reckon Fed needs a two hour warm up given the draw he had also. In case the final starts late, we know the reason why.

angel Says:

Dr. Death I’m pretty sure Nadal wouldn’t mind starting the final late.

Von Says:

Dr. Death:

“Reckon Fed needs a two hour warm up given the draw he had also. In case the final starts late, we know the reason why.”

There you go with one of my pet peeves regarding the scheduling for the start of matches. Why is there not a 24-hour recovery/delay time period rulle between the last match played in the SFs and the start of the finals? It’s very unfair to the player who plays in the last match. ATP needs to do some revamping about that rule.

What I’ve observed in Nadal’s match today and his previous matches with Federer on clay — it seems that it’s his modus operandi to just pepper his opponent’s backhand and try to draw the error. He was very effective in the MC match against Federer going to the backhand and pretty successful against Djokovic today. He was serving to Djokovic’s backhand 75 percent of the time.

Djokovic should refrain from using the drop shots unless he’s willing to move forward when he does so, because Nadal’s speed just neutralizes that play. Djoko makes the drop shot, then hangs back, or moves to the side, meanwhile Nadal’s anticipation already sets his legs in motion, and he’s able to make the passing shot/volley with Djoko looking somewhat cemented and/or riveted to the spot from where he initiates the drop shot.

It almost appears to be an impossibility beating Nadal on clay — he has a God given,instinctual talent to anticipate his opponent’s play and set himself in motion. That’s not something that can be learnt or taught — just a blessing for a God given talent that’s almost akin to being genetic. An exceptionally blessed and gifted athlete on clay. “This is the short and the long of it”.

Tomorrow should be a challenge for Rafa who’s had some tough matches, e.g., Starace, Moya, et al., and not enough recovery time, as opposed to Federer who’s not had to face top quality opponents and has been able to minimize his on-court time, thus Federer will be the fresher of the two in many ways, vis-a-vis, physical/mental. Additionally, from Nadal’s movement, I will hazard a guess that he’s still suffering from the blister problem. However, only time will tell …

“Can one desire too much of a good thing?”. -

Tejuz Says:

Great match.. though am not a great fan of Djoker.. he did play great, especially the way he started.

Happy that Nadal is still No 2 which rules out the possibility of him being in Fed’s half in Paris. This could have made Djoker’s road a lil easier to the finals. Now.. he will have to both beat Fed and Nadal in 5-setters to win the RG.

What Djoker is feeling now.. is just how Fed might have been feeling when he stretched Nadal in that rome 5-setter epic. The feeling that the gap is closing. But i dont buy it.. Nadal is nadal.. it will be very tough to win a 5-setter against him. SO i guess Djoker’s next chance on clay would only be winning a 3-setter in one of the Masters Series next year. You just cant maintain the same consistency and the intensity over a period of 5-sets.

Yesterday when Djoker started .. he won the 1st 14 points out of the 18.. and looked set to bagel Nadal.. but just look how the tide turned..

Anyway.. looking forward to the finals.. hope Fed repeats last year’s feat.. which would mean top 3 would have won a master’s series each on clay. And the ATP race would get more closer.

jane Says:


Great point about the scheduling of finals.

I was also wondering about the drop shot tactic; it certainly worked better for Novak than Murray, but it still seems to be neutralized -overall – by Rafa’s incredible speed and anticipation. It’s a pick em shot, meaning don’t use it all the time. Instead, continue to improve at the net, and learn Rafa’s passing pattern. Djoko was smart in his approach to the match today and may be able to eek out some wins against Rafa on clay in the future – likely not at RG but I suppose you never know.

jane Says:


“when Djoker started .. he won the 1st 14 points out of the 18.. and looked set to bagel Nadal.. but just look how the tide turned..”

Precisely what happened to Federer at Monte Carlos this year in the second set of the final – up 5:1 was it? But still Rafa comes back and wins the set 7:5. He’s something to behold that’s for sure. Novak should feel proud for taking a set the way he did.

Voicemale1 Says:


So you think Djokovic has the ability to thwart Nadal on clay? I’d agree to this extent: in Hamburg. Not so convinced he could in the other venues, for the reason Nadal pointed out in his press conference: the court in Hamburg is slow & heavy, and the slower court doesn’t help his uber-topspin anywhere near as much as in Rome, Monte Carlo or Roland Garros. Contray to belief, the faster & drier the clay court the better it is for Nadal. So today’s venue was actually more advantageous to Djokovic. This court negated about 40-50% of Nadal’s forehand’s uber-topspin, and yet Djokovic still lost the match. And this: Djokovic was patently losing steam by the 3rd Set (the 1st alone set took 74 minutes to play). It’s tough for me to see Djokovic taking 3 Sets from Nadal at Roland Garros any time soon.

But this match shows Nadal’s greatest strength: his match play intelligence. Rafa knows no one is gonna wanna hang in the back court and trade groundstrokes with him; they’ll lose for sure. So, many do what Djokovic did today: come out firing, hoping to stike the dagger in early by building an insurmountable lead, and win it quick (i.e., hard court tennis). But Nadal knows all the energy they expend doing this plays right into his hands; he gets opponents to unwittingly fall into his grind by rarely ever missing. Clay court tennis is a marathon, not a sprint. Nadal can play many points successively without an error, and that puts enormous pressure on the guy trying to end points early. And I disgaree with attacking the net too often against Nadal on clay – Djokovic came to the net almost 50 times today, and won only slightly more than half of those points. So why come in if you’re gonna lose the point almost half the time? Federer tried that in Monte Carlo, losing far more points than he won up there.

Rafa is also uncanny at saving break points: 15 of 19 today. Remember the French Final last year? Saved 16 of 17 against Federer that day. He does it time and again because he’s only peripherally aware of the score. At the forefront of his focus is only the point to be played, and the shots he’ll try to give himself during that point. And nothing else.

The interesting thing will be to see how Djokovic comes out of the match, mentally speaking. He had 2 Break Points for a 4-0 lead in the first set, and ended up losing it 7-5. Given that his advancement up the rankings to World #2 hinged on him winning this match, it’s the kind of squandering that can haunt & linger for a while yet. It could affect him at The French Open. Combine that with how he was running low on fuel today, he’s not all that assured to survive against a few other guys that have the capability on clay to play as long as it takes: Ferrer & Nalbandian, should he meet up with them. And from here on out for the rest of the year, Djokovic has Semi-Final or Better points to defend at the French, Wimbledon, Canada, US Open, Vienna and Madrid. This clay swing offered him chances to gain, which he did. Now he’ll be heavy on Defense.

As for tomorrow, given the slow nature of the court and the cooler damper conditions weighting the balls down, Federer is the favorite. And I think Nadal isn’t gonna be too concerned if he loses. THIS was the match he really needed to win. Dunno that Rafa will be exhausted so much, after all – last year in Rome he played that grueling Semi against Davydenko, then came out the next day and dusted Gonzo 2 & 2 in no time flat. Watching his celebration jumping up & down after the match today, he looked like he could have played another set or two if he had to. And a “W” like Rafa had today can give anyone’s confidence and enormous boost.

Glenn Says:

I just finished watching the replay. I was SOOOOOOO happy for Nadal. Djokovic really needs to be put in his place. It was so appropriate that during the end of the second set, when Djokovic started throwing up the #1 sign, the commentator warned, “you better watch it with that finger.” And Djokovic summarily had his pompous grin shoved in the clay.

Nadal was better than Djokovic in EVERY possible way, even in sportsmanship. Nadal had the frame of mind to applaud Djokovic after a good shot in the second set, but when Nadal made a fantastic winner lob in the third set, all Djokovic could do was laugh at himself with his back to Nadal.

Jane says, “Novak should be proud of taking a set off Nadal the way he did.” I beg to differ. Not only was his sportsmanship lacking, but for the #3 to take a set off the #2 should be expected.

Glenn Says:

BTW, I don’t know why people keep saying that Djokovic managed to dig deep in the third set. You’ve gotta be Djoking (pun intended)! How many chances did Djokovic have in the final game? BUT HE COULD NOT CONVERT! If he managed to break Nadal, then I would agree.

Von Says:


“Instead, continue to improve at the net, and learn Rafa’s passing pattern.”

Easier said than done. One can learn or try to emulate this in practice, but in crunch time on the court with the actual scenario facing him, Djoko has to react in a split second, and unless his reaction is instinctual — then it’ll always be lights out on those points. It’s a learning process for Djoko, but can learning compensate for innate, instinctual, raw talent? Maybe some subliminal tapes might do the trick. You need to use that when you see him playing. :) But, despite all of Djoko’s and your undying efforts, Rafa will keeping saying “I’ll not budge an inch.” :)

“Happy that Nadal is still No 2 which rules out the possibility of him being in Fed’s half in Paris.”

You’re scheming mind is showing through. :)


Subconsciously you’re still beating that donkey to death — a don’t in Catholicism. :)

Sean Randall Says:

Voicemale1, as I wrote I think Djokovic does indeed have the best shot to do it on clay. He has to be playing at his best of course, and opposite to what you say, Hamburg does him a disservice. On a slow court like Hamburg Nadal’s simply going to run down too many balls. And few can really match Rafa’s consistency. So as an opponent you are really left grasping in some ways.

At Roland Garros a few of Novak’s shots he hit today would have gone for winners there. Of course the same could be said of some of Rafa’s, so perhaps it’s a draw in that regard. But the quicker court helps Novak overall I think. His shots are flatter and he can hit his backhand and serve harder which gives Novak a better chance to hit the ball through the court and by Rafa. And he can get to the net more often and more proficiently.

Then again you could make the case that on a slicker court Novak’s not going to be able to slide/move as well compared to Hamburg where he (and Fed) can maintain proper footing. So advantage Rafa.

I guess in the end it’s a draw. Pluses and minuses for both sides regarding Hamburg v. Roland Garros. However, big edge to Rafa in a best 3-of-5 format. That in the end might very well be his greatest weapon.

Sean Randall Says:

Voicemale1, to continue…

We’ve seen Rafa overcome leads a few times this clay season – Ferrer and Federer and i’m sure a left a few out. So we know he can he do it. And that’s a testament to just how tough a player he really is. The guy just doesn’t quit, and as you point out, he plays he utmost best when it matters the most.

So even had Novak won the first or gained the 4-0 lead i don’t think the outcome would have been any different. Rafa still would have won.

As for the tomorrow the result is virtually meaningless either way in my mind. Last year if i recall correctly Rafa destroyed Fed in the first set and was up a break in the second before he ran out of gas. I cannot say for certain if he’s more of less fatigued this time around, but if Rafa’s feeling fresh he’ll win. But like I said, the court is that much different than Paris so at the end of the day it’s nothing more than a confidence boost for the winner. If Fed does win I won’t put much stock in it. Just look how much good it did for him last year.

The match today was more important for Rafa with No. 2 on the line and to continue his mastery over Novak on clay. I think Rafa’s more than proven his worth against Fed on the dirt, so I’d say if he had the choice he’d take losing to Fed over losing to Novak.

Glenn Says:


Your comment about learning Rafa’s passing pattern is a good point. I noticed that when Nadal was playing Moya, Moya was reading Nadal very well in the first several games(obviously, having had a hand in his training). But as the match progressed, other things – something to do with Nadal’s own indomitable style no doubt – made Nadal less prone to being read and anticipated. Nadal can obviously change his patterns.

I also noticed in his game against Djokovic that Nadal eventually adapted to certain winning shots from Djokovic’s (especially the deep cross-court forehand). Djokovic became pretty predictable in the end, something Djokovic could improve. But given Nadal’s speed, I doubt Djokovic could come up with anything anytime soon that would cause Nadal to lose the #2 position.

As far as that donkey, as long as it hangs around, I’m going to be beating it. :)

Sean Randall Says:

And i should also add for Sunday, let’s see how many drop shots Roger hits tomorrow. I really believe the singular purpose of Roger adding that shot is to combat Rafa. And it’s a great tactic.

Novak used it a lot today and at times he used it effectively. Some of you though will be quick to mistake poor drop shots or those that didn’t work in the end for bad ideas. However in my mind it’s still a good tactic. The droppers pay off. They get Rafa thinking. They get him maybe to move slightly closer to the baseline. And I think anything to get Rafa away or out of getting into that rhythmic baseline slugfest is a good thing, even if you do lose a few points here and there.

I really think one of the keys to beating Rafa on clay is having an excellent drop shot. That said, boy would I love to have Guillermo Coria back in the day play Rafa. Even Guga. I think both guys match up really well with the Spaniard. Far better than the guys we currently have.

smbs Says:

I thought Joka was going to quit somewhere along the line but he didnt-maybe past happenings weren’t just a show–anyway great match but nobody can touch Rafa!

Von Says:


“But given Nadal’s speed, I doubt Djokovic could come up with anything anytime soon that would cause Nadal to lose the #2 position.”

Rafa plays best by the light of his burning bridges. When he’s down, he smells blood and the killer instinct comes into effect. His speed, coupled with his mental toughness/tenacity is a great winning combination, and one that’s a potent, lethal, unbeatable weapon.

“As far as that donkey, as long as it hangs around, I’m going to be beating it.”

Be nice! :) In the past you’ve been pretty vociferous about A-Rod being a donkey too — be careful when you beat up on him — he’s my guy/heart throb, and I’ll be nipping on your heels, but I suppose you know that already. So, here’s to future battles between us. All’s fair in love and war. :)

Von Says:

Sean Randall:

“That said, boy would I love to have Guillermo Coria back in the day play Rafa. Even Guga.”

Coria was the quintessential drop shot artist, that aspect of his game coupled with his tenacity, and steely grit made him a very formidable opponent on clay. I can’t remember exactly which match he played after his shoulder injury, but he was down 5-1 in a set, double-faulted on nearly 50 percent of his serves and yet came back to win the match.

Guga was in the same class with Coria with one of the biggest hearts to compete and win, especially when playing from behind. Two great champions!

Gabriel Says:

Voicemale 1: excellent analysis and precise remarks on each aspect. I fully agree. I´ve followed our sport since the 80´s no need to say as for RF and despite I´m a RF fan since he beat Sampras in Wimbledon I don´t need a crystal ball for tomorrow´s final.
If Roger starts up pretty well it will look ahead very interesting ( like making us imagine that yeah! this time Roger wins )but as the match progresses will be the red clay´s same story in the Roger-Rafa classic: Nadal will overcome eventually. And again we will see Roger missing explainably and unexplainably important shots or the ones which would have make the difference.
And we will also witness another trite remake: High and very heavy balls with out-of-this planet topspin to RF´s backhand (maybe only 8 inches less than RG or Montecarlo for instance?. Big difference?.)
And once again- in the REDCLAY backhand side Roger will look pissed off, powerless, doubtful, unconfident, with lowest aggresiveness that little by little will riddle 50% of his in-other-surface great and talented tennis. I mean he is the 2nd best redclay player in the world but against Nadal in clay he looks so diminished.
And all his supporters and those who follow this sport for some decades will confirm in despair one more time: How´s that Federer owning a more-than-good one-handed backhand have not been able so far to master that shot with ease pace and power when it bounces up high over his shoulders. Okay it is not an easy shot but how I miss that almost-whiplash in Guga Kuerten’s backhand, hit at any possible height, the same as Cedric Pioline that could hit high backhand shots as if they were at the waist and with such regularity. Nowadays Richard Gasquet is able to do the same thing and those 3 players got a common trait: They hit with the arm with such a “full extent”, I mean so far away from his body. Watch the videos, compare and will agree. So maybe the difference stems from they were “born” with such a backhand whereas RF was building it up, that´s also because Rog has the best slice backhand ever, he got it since young.
If he could only add this to his clay game in time his confidence will build up and the well known patience will go without saying… not a tibetan will beat him.
I hope he makes these adjustements in time and on time because I bet today Nadal went placidly to bed with one simple thought… “yawning ooohhh just to his backhand and that´s it” and Rog… well I only hope he sleeps well ’cause the nigthmare shall be when awake.
Of course I wish I´m wrong.

Sean Randall Says:

Von, yup. Back in the day – and you can look past he’s last three sets vs. Gaudio at the French Open – Coria was an absolute demon on the clay. Almost a more advanced version of Agassi/Davydenko in that he could hit the dropshot.

In my mind he’s the closet thing to “pong” or Sega I’ve seen. Too bad he’s just mentally toast now.

Guga also matches up real well with Rafa. He’s got a great backhand, great serve, great angles. If they played 10 times on clay I think he could get a split.

jane Says:


“but for the #3 to take a set off the #2 should be expected.”

Yes, but Rafa on clay is arguably an exception to that expectation:

Ferrero (08), Ferrer (08), Davydenko (07), Federer (07), Hewitt (07): in 2007 & 2008 these are the only players to take ONE SET off Rafa on clay. We can now add Novak (08).

I realize you dislike Novak and you’re entitled to beat that donkey as much as you like; still, he he played very well today against Rafa, whom he called the “best defensive player in the history of tennis” after the match.

There is no doubt Rafa deserved to win, however. He is still the better player – on clay he is king. Even if Roger wins tomorrow.

jane Says:

To clarify, I meant one set in any match (Roger took two sets at Hamburg and another at RG, for instance…).

bob22 Says:

Today’s match was Hamburg’s final! It does not matter what will happened tomorrow. Winner of this match deserves the title. I am not sure why on the same side of the draw we had second and third rank? It is a joke to look at Federer’s challenges on this tournament. At this moment he is number ONE . On ATP race he is almost 200 point ahead of Federer.

jane Says:

I read somewhere else something that seems so true about Rafa’s focus: that he’s able to always stay in the present moment. He doesn’t look back, and let past shots, errors, etc, bug him (he’s able to clear his mind), but he doesn’t seem to look too far ahead either. He stays so focused in the point. He’s got to be the mentally strongest player there is at present.

Ray Says:

Todays match was awesome to watch. Obviously a lot at stake for both Nadal and Djokovic. I think Nadal will have another entertaining match tomorrow. I noticed that Federer in his last couple of matches seems to be playing the same style that he was playing until around a year ago. He’s been hitting more spur of the moment creative shots (like the fake dropshot that landed on the baseline that had Verdasco sprinting in the wrong direction). I think Fed (or his new coach) has finally decided to stop paying boring tennis, and Nadal and Djokovic are both playing brilliantly, Roland Garros is going to be best in a long while!

TD (Tam) Says:

I hope Djokovic ends up in Federer’s half of the draw at Roland Garros. Roger is gifted too many cupcake draws. I think Roger would have his hands full with the Brat Prince. :)

Shital Green Says:

Some of the comments are blatantly and offensively biased, who blindly deny all the facts about Djoko’s improvement. Some verge on biological essentialism as if one were born a tennis player and has genetically learned everything in the womb; others, in Heiddeger’s phrase, are onto-theological. Yet, others are hero-worshiping like Mr. A is great today, therefore he should be a great player for life.

About Djoko, he undeniably performed better in every tournament he appeared on clay (or any other surface this, for that matter) this year than last year. RG is yet to be seen. Regardless of one agrees or not, fact is fact, and this is a fact. Until the so-called No. 1 wins one grand slam and two masters series this year, I don’t want to waste my time on meaningless comparison.

About drop shots, one should go watch Nadal vs. Starace match once again. Nadal was able to return less than 10% of those. Djoko does not have as good as Starace’s drop shots. Nothing inborn will help a player much if he has not acquired skills and does not work toward them, either to acquire, better, or maintain them. He began working on drop shots only a few months back. By this time next year, I am confident, he will have much better drop shots, i.e. he will have much more accuracy in sharpness and angles and unpredictability of his drop shots. Will that help him on clay more than other surfaces? We will find out when we see them.

Had it been any other surface, the way Djoko played today was enough to beat any one. It just happened to be the surface the ball loses most of its speed and does not bounce. Yes, Nadal is made for the clay, and no one can beat this guy on this surface on a routine basis, at least for another year or two, but player like Djoko, who is improving incredibly quickly, can surprise and take a win or two from Rafa within a year or so. Well, that the hope. Fed has not shown anything substantive this year to be seriously counted in the mix as a would-be Winner, either in the next tournament or the next. So, RG remains all about Nadal, but Djoko aims to do better than last year there, and that already means something to me. Only time will tell whether that will be ever fulfilled.

jinyongfan Says:

Today’s Nadal/Djokovic match will probably be shown as one of the classics time and time again. That is a good thing for tennis fans and I would catagorised this match as the best clay court match in 2008 so far. Heads up for both players. Djokovic deserves credit for hanging tough in adversity. As for Nadal, gracious as always despite winning or losing, GREATTTTTT JOB. May the best men win tomorrow. VAMOS RAFA!!!!!

perotti Says:

Well, there has been a lot of crap on this thread (thankfully lesser than objective, fair comments) about Djokovic’s sportsmanship, the way he plays, behaves, points his finger, picks his nose, cheers (other players don’t do that, only arrogant Djokovic), etc … Some comments are exceptionally daft, 3rd grade elementary school quality, jealous remarks, one can laugh until death. One even goes and states he openly dislikes Djokovic end tends to exploit that fact in the future! How sick, distorted and morbid can this mind be? There are lots of us who like him, but are not so bluntly disrespectful towards Nadal or Federer.

Nadal has won, hats off. He is still better than Djokovic on clay courts, but for how long? He may win FO and that’s it. How about other surfaces? What beauty/intelligence is in his game? How much improvement can be done? Base line grinder, Mike Tyson of the clay court.

Djoko’s only sin is that he managed to stir ATP list and close on two leading players in an exceptionaly short period of time. With constant, over-night improvements in his game and results, his sin is going to grow much bigger and his haters will proportionally get even more miserable. Luckily inquisition period has long gone.

Fed-rafa Says:


If you do not understand why No.2 and No.3 are on the same side of the draw, maybe you dont deserve to decide who deserves to be the winner? Think about it.


It is highly debatable who the mentally toughest player on tour is. Nadal is in the debate, but by no means is he out and out the best. It is important to remember clay exaggerates nadal’s abilities while not really doing the same to other contenders like federer, roddick, hewitt. (where is that dude). another issue is that it is relatively easier to make such come-backs on clay, where things happen at much slower pace than faster surfaces like grass and hard-court. It is easier to make a comeback from double break down on clay than against andy roddick or ivo karlovic on grass.

Another issue is how do you measure an abstract thing like mental toughness? What is the amount of mental toughness required to bagel players like roddick, hewitt and nadal (players who fight for every darn point) on multiple occassions? or to find your self battered in the clay reason and trail your nearest rival by 200 race points in the middle of the year and then come roaring back to end the year with more than 200 points lead. (federer has done this the last 2 years) or 225 weeks at no.1 with more often than not leading the no.2 by atleast 1000 or more points? or to play on the ever-slowing courts when your game is constructed around a powerful serve (roddick) or to have no strong weapon at all and still stand upto the incredibly talented players that never seem in short supply (like hewitt). Highly debatable, I think.

Personally I rate federer, hewitt and roddick (in that order) ahead of nadal among active players (nadal maybe on par with roddick but definitely a notch below hewitt).

Among the top 3, as of today, on clay it is 2, 1 and 3. on grass 1 2 and 3 and on hard-courts it is 1, 3 and 2. I think there is a strong correlation between mental toughness and how comfortable a player is in a certain tournament or place. For example andy roddick on a US hard-court could be a lot more tenacious than nadal. While on a clay court the results will point to nadal. On grass, federer has made more memorable comebacks (2006 halle and 2004 wimbledon final) than nadal.

tennisballpenetrator Says:


The match you’re talking about where Coria came back from a 1-5 deficit to win despite serving double faults 50% of the time would’ve been in the 2nd round of Monte-Carlo in 2006, where he beat Mathieu, 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-4.
Then in the next round he beat Kiefer, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3, serving 23 double faults! It was so funny, in one of his service games, he served 4 double faults in a row. Amazing. But then in the QF’s, Nadal dealt with him with ease, 6-2, 6-1.

Fed-rafa Says:

From Shital Green:

“About Djoko, he undeniably performed better in every tournament he appeared on clay (or any other surface this, for that matter) this year than last year.”

The same is almost true for Federer. He has done better than last year on each of the clay court tournaments this year than last. (Well he might lose tomorrow in the final, but losing a final against rafa is as good enough rather than winning a final against wawrinka, in my opinion)

From Shital Green :

“Fed has not shown anything substantive this year to be seriously counted in the mix as a would-be Winner, either in the next tournament or the next.”

This sounds totally stupid considering that Federer dominated the supposedly no.2 on clay (according to you – Djokovic) at MC before Djokovic retired in not-so-transparent circumstances and he beat seasoned clay courters like nalbandian and canas. Who is the best clay-courter Djokovic beat? Wawrinka? He has not beat any of the top 10 clay courters like nalbandian, ferrer or davydenko.

Another thing to consider is that Roger played Nadal close at Monte-carlo where the conditions are more similar to RG than hamburg where djokovic played the classic yesterday. Djokovic’s fitness is still up in the air. A guy who retires on a scratchy throat cant be trusted to stand up to tough as nails clay courters.

Ironically your post seems to address some haters but you seem to be biased against Roger yourself with ill-qualified accusations like he has not done anything of note to warrant a contenders tag at Roland Garros.

Von Says:

Shital Green:

“Some verge on biological essentialism as if one were born a tennis player and has genetically learned everything in the womb; others, in Heiddeger’s phrase, are onto-theological.”

Are you addressing my comments on what I presume to be Nadal’s instintual, God given talent? Just a simple analogy, how about if we were to discuss player A v. player B, who attend the same academy, coached by the same coach, know each other’s game; but, when they meet in the heat of a match, player B can sense player’s A reaction to a shot, and punish it, while player A is just groping around trying to make sense of what’s happening. Can this instinct be learnt? I’ll say not. We’ve both enjoyed a very amiable rapport on these threads, and instead of gneralizing my comments with a hint of sarcasm and philosophical indifference, wouldn’t it be more appropriate if you were to objectively address your remarks to me, that way we could debate this point more amicably?

Djokovic played a very strong match today, however, on clay, which is undisputably Nadal’s best surface, fortunately, or unfortunately, Nadal became the victor. I commented on Djoko’s drop shots from what I saw, and stated my unbiased views. He will improve as time goes by, but, and you can dispute this in whichever way you want, I firmly believe that Nadal has a sort of instinctual, sixth sense, akin to an animal smelling prey, and that instinct will 9 out of 10 times override the learnt expertise of most players. That’s just my humble opinion — feel free to disagree.

Von Says:

tennisballpenetrator Says:

The match you’re talking about where Coria came back from a 1-5 deficit to win despite serving double faults 50% of the time would’ve been in the 2nd round of Monte-Carlo in 2006, where he beat Mathieu, 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-4.”

Thank you for supplying the details on that match. I just could not remember Coria’s opponent. However, it was so painful to watch Coria double-faulting on nearly every other serve. What really impressed me with him was his determination to keep on fighting and winning despite that huge handicap. I’m saddened about Coria’s decline — his injured shoulder. Of course, the match that is etched in my mind was the final between Federer and Nadal, and you know who won. :)

Voicemale1 Says:

Shital Green:

Sorry you feel Djokovic is under-appreciated here. But I think it’s more accurate to say you over-rate him. His 3 tournament wins this year we all against unseeded finalists, which more than a few other guys in the ATP Locker Room would have been salivating to meet. Thier resumes would look as good as Djokovic’s.

The fact is Djokovic won Rome without having to face either of the Top 2 Players in the world. When he faced either of them on clay this year – he lost both matches. At best, he’s an opportunist on clay, which is what he’s likely to be throughout his career.

And if you think he’s under appreciated here, then go to the ATP Website and watch a feature there called “The Perfect Player”. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s a 10-minute segment whereby they ask current tour players to evaluate their peers as to who has “The Best..” shot or attribute in several categories (Forehand, Backhand, Serve, Stamina..etc.). Many answers were predictable – many were surprising! NO instance did ANY player interviewed list anything from Djokovic being “The Best” anything (unless you count Djokovic naming himself as having one of the best Mental Strengths on the tour). It’s clear his peers don’t think he’s as dominant as you think he is. Federer, not Djokovic, is the guy still most admired & feared by other tour players. And in the end, what THEY say matters a lot more than any Sportswriter, Blog Poster, or any other Arm Chair Tennis Coach. After all, they actually play the matches the rest of us vicariously do :)

sarad subedi Says:

despite loosing the chance to become no.2 seed djokovic will return as a challenge to nadal and federer both and i hope he will claim the no.1 position in near future.

Voicemale1 Says:


The quicker clay courts MIGHT help Djokovic more, but it’s irrelevant. The quicker courts WILL have Nadal’s topspin kicking up MUCH higher than they do here, forcing Djokovic further back. He wouldn’t be able to play inside the court anywhere near as much as he did here. It really doesn’t matter if Nadal “runs down more shots” in Hamburg (which is disputable anyway); the fact is anything he gets back doesn’t have the kind of effect it would have on faster clay.

Even if I grant that a fast clay court helps any shot of Djokovic’s (and I’m not sure I buy that), the fact is Nadal’s Forehand is helped as much or more. And Rafa’s Forehand on clay is a much better shot than any shot Djokovic has on clay. Period. That’s why Nadal was able to blast him both times they met on faster clay last year in straight sets: Rome & Roland Garros. It was Djokovic’s Backhand today that coughed up the bulk of his Unforced Errors, and that’s WITHOUT Nadal’s Forehand kicking up that much. A higher bouncing Nadal Forehand to an unraveling Djokovic Backhand would have ended the match much sooner.

Dr. Death Says:

KASH – just so you don’t get confused by some the discussions above when you come on line again:

“Onto-theological” (usually referred to as ontotheology)is a sub set of transcendental theology first articulated by Emmanuel Kant.

The word, as some one pointed above, was often used by Heidegger – when he coached the German Davis Cup team in the 1930′s. One of his last comments before he died was that “this guy Becker will never amount to anything”.

Tejuz Says:

Shital Green : “Had it been any other surface, the way Djoko played today was enough to beat any one.”

Well.. that would be only if Djoker was allowed to play the way he did on clay. On a faster surface, there are lot of players who can hit winners on both the wings and aces as and when they want… unlike Nadal in Hamburg. So, Djoker wouldnt have been able to play the same way he played yesterday.

Nonetheless.. Djoker certainly has improved a lot. I still dont like his attitude and the way he was showing that finger (no 1) at his box everytime some shot worked. I recall the commentator saying ‘you better watch it with that finger.’ after the 2nd set .. and Nadal broke Djoker the very next game.

Dunno how much, a win for Fed against Nadal in this final would help his chances at RG, but certainly a MS win this year, would instill some of the lost confidence in him.. and would only help to reach the RG final again.. to get another hit at Nadal. Plus he would inch closer to Nadal and Djoker in the ATP race. So i guess by the end of Wimbldon we would have either Nadal or Fed leading that race(I hope).

Daniel Says:

I can’t believe it again! Fed had 40-30, 5-1 and miss a swing volley. Now look at that! Nadal start to play as he have nothing to loose and is payng the price.

jane Says:

Nadal is simply amazing once again, to come back and take that first set, and now he’s up a break in the third. I hope he can hold and win it; he deserves it.

Another classic, dramatic match today though, with both players really digging.

Fed- Rafa – Thanks for your reply.

Maybe you don’t rate Rafa as the mentally toughest player out there right now, and I agree with you that there are many variables, and many mentally tough players (yes, Hewitt is definitely one of those as well as Fed), but I still think Rafa is one of – if not the – toughest players mentally. [b.t.w. not only where is Hewitt, but where is Baggy?]

Voicemale -

I watched that “perfect player” video and was happy about how many people picked Rafa in several of the categories. I, too, noticed that Djokovic wasn’t singled out as “best” in any category, which supports an earlier argument you’d made about him not having a money shot. I am curious why he does so well and has managed to get to number 3 and challenge Rafa and Fed so quickly. This is a sincere question. Do you have an theories; is it because he’s very good on all surfaces? Because he’s very good at all shots? What? Thanks.

Daniel Says:

I hope Fed break back or get a “medical time out”, as Nadal did to him.

jane Says:

YAY Rafa! Congrats!

I am really happy he won this one since it eluded him previously.

Another fantastic match today, with both players fighting it out until the end. We really have 3 great players at the top (with a lot of variety in style and personality) who gave us two excellent matches in a row; imho, it’s a great time for tennis.

I hope Roddick is better soon and that Murray does well the rest of the year too.

jane Says:


It’s too bad Fed didn’t win today but at least you knw he fought hard and player some Sampras-like volleys; also, he already has won 4 titles here, so it’s not that bad! :-) And, of course, grass is next.

Voicemale1 Says:


The way I see it regarding Djokovic is this: last year was his true “Break Out” year. He’d spent time developing the game he has, which is hard hitting off both sides with genuine accuracy, plus a refusal to give ground from the back court. This style of play is best suited to hard courts where the bounce is true, and you can take the ball on the rise with almost a risk-free regularity when you have shots like his. That’s why he came on full force last year in Indian Wells & Miami, then came back to full force in Canada & the US Open.

But once your break out year is behind you, seeds are planted in the minds of those that played you. They get more familiar with your game by feeling it in a match, and then tinker their strategies accordingly. The first one to uncover where to go against Djokovic was Federer, after losing the Final in Canada. In the US Open Final, Federer started pounding the Djokovic Backhand, and when it broke down, so did his will to fight. And the Djokovic backhand has been the place to go at the ripe moments. Unlike Agassi who had almost no backswing, Djokovic has a big swing on the backhand side, so it’s easier to get the ball behind his ideal point of contact. That’s why he started losing so regularly after the US Open last fall, and it’s the side that Roddick exploited in Dubai, Federer did again in Monte Carlo, and Nadal did yesterday in Hamburg.

Djokovic has solid shots on all sides. But since he doesn’t have “The Weapon”, he doesn’t have anything to compensate for any holes that develop in any part of his game. Basically, he needs everything to hold up almost all the time. He can get away with having holes to lower ranked guys because he hits harder & more precise than them. But against the Top 10′s, he’ll struggle, like he has to this point in his career. His record against the Top 10′s is right at .500 (the only ones he has winning records against are Gasquet and Wawrinka – to everyone else, he’s either even or behind).

Paul Annacone summed up Djokovic’s lack of The Weapon Shot with the positive spin: he said it’s true he doesn’t have one, but then he doesn’t have to “rely” on it. Yes, but..that’s a sword that cuts both ways. Without it, his weaknesses can’t be covered anywhere near as easily.

jane Says:

Thanks for your take on Djoko’s game Voicemale; I appreciate it.

I will be watching to see if he falters, continues to improve, or maybe develops a weapon. I know he’s been working on his net game, so we’ll see if that helps him going forward, especially on the grass. Many predict he’ll be number 1 but I hope, if he has that capability, it doesn’t happen too quickly. It’d be better if he has some time to develop. Besides, Rafa should have some time at number 1 first.

Shital Green Says:

Following is what I meant, though I admit I put it too crudely.
I take instinct to be techne, in Derrida’s sense, rather than falling prey to metaphysical dualism of nature and nurture, which would inevitably lead one to privilege one against the other. To clarify in Lacan’s psychoanalysis, even the unconscious is structured like language, or subconscious is suppressed thought and its technical substrates; once again to put in Derrida’s phraseology, unconscious is gramme or grammatological.

And if Nadal is able to activate this “instinct,” i.e. certain conglomerate of energies that centrifugally gravitate toward an action but is hard to formalize, he does it not from some DNA coding, which would be nonetheless linear procession of information, but from within the unsorted, unformalized techne. The jumble of energies called “instinct” has to be crafted, i.e. technology/ training has to be applied to it with the help of previously acquired data, before it is translated into a currency that is applicable to new occasions required in any play. So, my point is it is untenable to draw a strict firewall between nature and nurture, or instinct and training.

jane Says:

I’m inclined to agree with your point below, Shital Green.

“So, my point is it is untenable to draw a strict firewall between nature and nurture, or instinct and training.”

I believe in both biology/talent and social construction/training; nature and nurture often overlap. Some players may have a little more of one than other, but it takes both, imo, to make a great player.

Paul Says:

Jeez Glen – Take a pill!

Von Says:

Shital Green:

We have two different opposing thoughts and points of view: (1) Philosophical (yours); and (2) psychological (mine, devlopmental psychology, to be more precise). I will speak from a psychological point of view, vis-a-vis, developmental psychology, since that’s where I have the most knowledge and can offer the most input.

The “nature v. nurture” debates concern the relative importance of an individual’s innate qualities (“nature”, i.e. nativism, or philosophical empiricism, innatism) versus personal experiences (“nurture”) in determining or causing individual differences in physical and behavioral traits. The view that humans acquire all, or nearly all of their behavioral traits from “nurture” is known as tabula rasa (“blank slate”). This thinking was once considered to be an appropriate division of developmental influences, but since both types of factors are known to play such interacting roles in development, many modern psychologists consider the question naive – representing an outdated state of knowledge. Hence, we come to the question of “which, nature or nurture, contributes more to personality?”.

In the field of psychology, nativism is the view that certain skills or abilities are ‘native’ or hard wired into the brain at birth. This is in contrast to Empiricism, the ‘blank slate’ or tabula rasa view which states that the brain has inborn capabilities for learning from the environment but does not contain content such as innate beliefs.

Behaviorism or Behaviourism, also called the learning perspective, is a philosophy of psychology based on the proposition that all things which organisms do — including acting, thinking and feeling — can and should be regarded as behaviors.

Operant conditioning is the use of consequences to modify the occurrence and form of behavior. Operant conditioning is distinguished from classical conditioning (also called respondent conditioning, or Pavlovian conditioning, e.g., Pavlov’s Bell) in that operant conditioning deals with the modification of “voluntary behavior” or operant behavior. Operant behavior “operates” on the environment and is maintained by its consequences, while classical conditioning deals with the conditioning of respondent behaviors which are elicited by antecedent conditions. Behaviors conditioned via a classical conditioning procedure are not maintained by consequences.

Operant Conditioning vs Fixed Action Patterns
“fixed action patterns,” or reflexive, impulsive, or instinctive behaviors. These behaviors were said to exist outside the parameters of operant conditioning but were considered essential to a comprehensive analysis of behavior.

In dog training, the use of the prey drive, particularly in training working dogs, detection dogs, etc., the stimulation of these fixed action patterns, relative to the dog’s predatory instincts, are the key to producing very difficult yet consistent behaviors, and in most cases, do not involve operant, classical, or any other kind of conditioning. While evolutionary processes shaped these fixed action patterns, the patterns themselves remained stable long enough to be shaped by the long time span necessary for evolution because of their survival function (i.e., operant conditioning).

According to the laws of operant conditioning, any behavior that is consistently rewarded, every single time, will extinguish at a faster rate while intermittently reinforcing behavior leads to more stable rates of behavior that are relatively more resistant to extinction. Thus, in detection dogs, any correct behavior of indicating a “find,” must always be rewarded with a tug toy or a ball throw early on for initial acquisition of the behavior. Thereafter, fading procedures, in which the rate of reinforcement is “thinned” (not every response is reinforced) are introduced, switching the dog to an intermittent schedule of reinforcement, which is more resistant to instances of non-reinforcement.

Nevertheless, some trainers are now using the prey drive to train pet dogs and find that they get far better results in the dogs’ responses to training than when they only use the principles of operant conditioning which break down when strong instincts are at play.

In sum, one can be taught to respond to certain stimuli or perform certain behaviors, actions, etc., but when there’s crunch time, the innatism or instinctuality of the person will more often than not be the most dependable, and will be the determining factor.

bob22 Says:

To Fed-rafa :
>If you do not understand why No.2 and No.3 are on the same side of the draw, maybe you dont deserve to decide who deserves to be the winner? Think about it.

No,I do not deserve to decide… What I said is Nadal deserves the title not Federer.

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