Novak Djokovic: There’s No Pretending, Rafael Nadal Is Not The Same Player He Once Was
by Tom Gainey | October 12th, 2015, 2:46 pm
  • 63 Comments

Novak Djokovic was all smiles after winning his sixth Beijing title yesterday. And what made it even better was beating his rival Rafael Nadal 62, 62 to win it.

Djokovic still trails Nadal 23-22, but he’s dominated the Spaniard winning seven of the last eight and all seven sets this year including this most lopsided win in the rivalry.

Rafa, of course, has been mired in a slump this year, and Djokovic acknowledged Rafa’s isn’t what he use to be. But he cautioned Nadal could break out of his funk at any time.

“I think it’s obvious that he’s not having the great season this year,” Djokovic said. “Everybody has been talking about it because he had an incredible 10 years, set up such a high standard with results, winning at least one Grand Slam per year.

“I’m sure he understands what he needs to do in order to come back to that highest level, he added. “He keeps on working hard. He’s one of the most hard‑working guys on the tour. He spends a lot of time on the court. Sooner or later that will pay off.

“In terms of comparing his maybe level of the game from the last year or two years ago and now, there is difference. I can’t pretend that it’s the same because obviously results are showing that he’s not, you know, performing as well as he did in last couple of years, and is making more mistakes from the forehand side.
But it’s normal to go through some oscillations in your career, some ups and downs. If there’s anybody that knows and is able to come back, it’s him, because of all the history he has.”

Following the title, Djokovic now heads to Shanghai where he’ll face Martin Klizan in his first match.

“I know the conditions are slightly different,” Djokovic said of Shanghai. “I’m going to get a couple days of rest and practice and get ready. I mean, it’s not the first time I’m playing back‑to‑back weeks. Next week’s tournament is going to be even stronger because obviously all the best players in the world are there.
This positive week definitely encourages me and gives me a lot of confidence for Shanghai.


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63 Comments for Novak Djokovic: There’s No Pretending, Rafael Nadal Is Not The Same Player He Once Was

Wog Boy Says:

Good thinking Nole, keep your feet on the ground and don’t get carried away with this win, there is a lot of work to be done yet…in the next few years.


billy boy Says:

I wonder what it’s like to be the least-loved champion of all time?


jane Says:

“If there’s anybody that knows and is able to come back, it’s him, because of all the history he has.””

exactly-novak is right. nadal’s own history with the sport has taught him that it’s possible to bounce back after tough periods, injury etc. there is no logic to counting him out until he is out. he just played a final. surely that’s a good sign. he beat some quality players too.


Wog Boy Says:

jane,
Don’t worry about billy the silly, his writing is soo familiar, isn’t it?:)


jalep Says:

Was the last tweener Djokovic fell for the winner one Federer hit in the 2009 semi-final USO?

Someone smart please tell me again what the condition difference is between playing Beijing and Shanghai? talking about court speed, humidity, ect…


jane Says:

indeed wog boy; maybe someone’s “cousin”.

jalep i just remember people saying shanghai is faster with a lower bounce.


Wog Boy Says:

jalep,

I did answer that question to you on the other thread but you ignored me and that broke my heart, but I’ll do it again for you, since I likr you very much, I can’t help it.
Bejing court is medium fast with higher bounce, Shanghai court is faster with lower bounce, as for humidity (and smog) they are much the same, very humid and very smoggy.


Wog Boy Says:

Just to add, I watched two matches last night, Lopez/Kuznetsov and Tsonga/Robredo they are acing with no problem, Tsonga/Robredo was nice match to watch.


jalep Says:

hahaha, Wog Boy, if I ever ignore you it’s not intentional! well, I’d give you advance warning like I did Markus. ;) You know I love you, regardless.

Sorry you have to take the time to explain me over again. But thanks.

Well, I asked about the air/humidity thinking about flight of the ball. As far as smog goes, Tour of Beijing — followed a little of that countryside last year and it looked awful.

Well, Dr. Ivo could be dangerous then — Isner, Muller. Raonic. Kyrgios. Anderson and the like…


jalep Says:

The only match I watched was Wu v Cilic. Wee Wu had a match point — could be his home-court and Cilic’s serving hasn’t reached 2014 level.

Asian swing and AO gives my memory trouble because there’s a good chance I’m sleep deprived. When I go back and look up the draws for each year, it comes back to me.

Rafa has lost early – to guys he shouldn’t have lost to in whatever year I look up for Shanghai.

All the more reason to pick him ;)


django Says:

Haha Jane @4:28


elina Says:

Steve Tignor, like myself, has picked Roger to defend his title over Novak this week.

Faster court conditions.


chris ford1 Says:

A considerate comment from Djokovic. No doubt it reflects an attitude of “keep plugging away, I believe it will pay off, you’ve done this many times.” A rival with high regard for another rival is not barred from encouragement. It happens all over in many sports.

As for billy boy trolling, what else can many Fedtards do these days if their idol’s not winning much?? It’s 21-21 with Nole and about to tilt permanently to Djokovic. Rafa leads Fed 23-10 and has dominated him since 2008. Murray has 11 to Feds 14 against Andy and that H2H may end too in the next 14 months.
But in the good old days 2003-07, playing against all-time greats like Roddick and Leyton Hewitt, Fed sure had awesome H2Hs and had 12 Slams for his Slam Count in those glory years. Glory years when he enthralled casual fans into becoming Fedtards who worship the guy. And seem to care more about various player’s “love level”, than care about tennis level since 2008.

PS – Many Fedtards are actually OK. They worship the guy, but also give respect to other players and talk more articulately than “Look at his Slam Count!! Look at how much more loved he is than Pete, or Rafa, or Andre, or Novak!!”


Wog Boy Says:

If Rafa can avoid being knocked out of Shanghai before he is due to meet Roger I would give him good chance to beat him, but Rafa’s problrm is making SFs or Fs this year, once he is there you just can’t dismiss his chances. One the problems that Roger has with Rafa is that Rafa can extend the points as long as he needs to finish them on his terms, even on the fast courts. Just look at his match with Nole, it was 6:2, 6:2 but yet it took Nole over one and a half hours to finish the match. The longer the point goes the less chance for Roger to win it, and SABR won’t help, since Rafa has probably the most accurate passing shots in the game and Roger knows very well that, he got burned so many times coming to the net against Rafa. Problem with Rafa these days is that just about anybody can knock him out before he is due to meet Roger.
On Nole’s side Andy is most dangerous, he plays well in Shanghai and will go full on, he has point to prove, keep #2 for AO and has plenty of time to rest for DC, if they are to meet in SF it will be 50/50 between Andy and Nole.


Wog Boy Says:

I think that billy the silly is actually Rafa fan, well known Rafa fan, just different moniker;)
Bar the few nasty ones, Roger fans are mostly cheering Nole as of lately, besides tenis is not a beauty or love contest, it became the sport of gladiators and people love and respect only winners, the more No1e is winning the more people will start to respect and eventually love him, so keep winning No1e.


elina Says:

WB, TBH I don’t. Not on a faster court like Shanghai.

Remember, Nadal just squeaked out the win over Roger on the slick Cincy courts in 2013 when Nadal was at his best and Roger was struggling with his back using his smaller racquet.

Nadal even at his best would still be a bit of an underdog in Shanghai given Roger’s current level.


elina Says:

I think Karlovic has a good shot at Nadal. Nadal’s ROS is part of his current problem. Still gets the yips too.


jane Says:

rafa served really well against novak i thought; luckily novak handled the body serve tactic well anyhow. he seemed ready for them and didn’t get jammed up. i thought his returning was pretty good, but i didn’t see stats for the match so can’t confirm that.


Wog Boy Says:

elina,
I see Roger as a favorite too, but I don’t see Rafa as a big underdog, everything depends if he is going to make it so far (Roger will make it, no doubt about that) and if he keeps improving from one match to another as he was doing in Beijing.


SG1 Says:

Actually Billy Boy…the least loved champion of all time is Ivan Lendl. Hence the Sports Illustrated cover of “Ivan Lendl…The Champion Nobody Cares About”. While Novak doesn’t have Fed’s popularity, his fan base is pretty damn large and he is liked by many people. And there’s a lot to like about Novak. He has become a very classy champion…save all the yelling at his box which I cannot stand.


jane Says:

and even that story could be disputed SG1; there are probably guys that have been less liked than lendl (ille nastase for example?) it all depends on perspective.


jalep Says:

I remember my dad absolutely loved Nastase and Lendl.

What about Davydenko winning Shanghai in 2009, the year Rafa made the final? Rafa did have some luck in that 2009 draw. His QF and SF opponents retired — Ljubicic and F-Lo, respectively. 2013 Rafa reached the SF but Delpo beat him.

Overall, it’s been dominated by Nole and Andy — agree with Wog Boys assessment.

There are enough breaks in pattern of who does well there to make it tricky to predict what will happen — not so much mystery in the final result as there is getting through the draw.

Kei has a tough 1st round match — Kyrgios. Nick beat Haider-Maurer saving 5 bp’s and hit 13 aces. Kyrgios does seem like someone that could play well there.


Wog Boy Says:

I loved Nastase, what a character. Have you seen him this year in Wimbledon in his major-general uniform in royal box, and btw, he is entitled to wear it since he retired major-general in Romanian army, have a look:

http://www.espn.co.uk/tennis/story/_/id/13211326/nastase-dictates-own-style


elina Says:

SG1 beat me to it.

Lendl for sure least loved.


elina Says:

WB, Nadal had flashes of brilliance. Plus he had little to lose so he came out strong.

But he couldn’t sustain it.

Profuse sweating (an indication of nervousness) was a definite tell towards the end of the first set.

Fact is Nadal’s four games won were the least he’s ever managed against Novak.

Novak is at his highest level in his career ATM and Nadal, while showing some hints at improving is still near his worst.

Shanghai final will be Fedele and it should be a cracker!

I look forward to it.

Ajde Nole!


jane Says:

it’s weird because i specifically remember when lendl was playing and a lot of people i knew really liked lendl! some disliked j-mac because of his cantankerousness on the court, so they preferred lendl’s cool and controlled delivery. i always liked lendl. on player i didnt warm to much – sorry mat4 – was connors.


jalep Says:

:D :D Thoroughly enjoyed that British write-up about Nastase’s fashion, Wog Boy. Nastase and the man next to him. Great picture.

My dad affectionately called him “Nasty Nastase” and they did have a similar features and looks — but in that picture, even more now…jovial, mischievous…


jane Says:

ha, that is a funny outfit. nastase – dictator!


Ngentot Says:

billy boy a.k.a Giles is having a hard time accepting the fact that his beloved bull can no longer compete with the best.


skeezer Says:

“Ajde Nole!”
Fakest cheer ever.


Matt Says:

This nobody-likes-Novak line is a such troll comment. Novak is fine, has a big fan base, etc. Keep in mind two of the biggest heart throbs precede him. Much of Nadal’s “brilliance” is his sex appeal, if you ask me.

And yes there was much animosity for JMac and Lendl, et al. Today’s tour is quite civil in comparison.

And I’m still waiting for someone to explain how Rafa, a player with so much success and high-level history can be in such a funk. That’s not how this works. The only other genuine top 3 player who had that kind of volatility was maybe an Agassi? Pete fell back in the ranks prior to his final USO, but he was burned-out and 31 years old.

This funk, or slump or whatever is BS. He’s not injured. This is more or less a microcosm of his career. Doesn’t add up.

I appreciate Novak’s honesty. Not the same player (but keep plugging away, you’ll get there. . . . )


Giles Says:

Quite correct joker, you should know, the Rafa of a few years ago literally reduced you to tears.


Giles Says:

https://twitter.com/australianopen/status/653739959162040320
Strange that joker wasn’t invited for this launch.


Margot Says:

Crystal balls looking murky, Fed out.


J-Kath Says:

Margot – Wow! and Oooh!
Did you see the match?


Wog Boy Says:

Was it worth to fly all the way from Basel to Shanghai and back just for one match, masters don’t pay appearance fee.

Joking aside, it was good match and Ramos had a plan and managed to execute it. He kept Roger of the balance and wrong footed him more often than not. Roger was anticipating CC shots and Ramos kept hitting either BH or FH DTL almost at will and then hitting pretty flat FHs.


Margot Says:

@Kath
Was checking scores, was so gob smacked watched the last two games.
Think Fed is in a bit of a difficult situation. It’s quite a balancing act, as we know with Andy, between being match ready and being match knackered.


Wog Boy Says:

JK,

If I haven’t seen the match I would have thought that Roger played badly, but it was more of the case that Ramos kept his nerve and played his game. Most of the match was on his terms, he deserved to win.


Wog Boy Says:

When I think better, last year Roger had a lucky escape against Mayer in the first round, Mayer had few match points, and after that he steamrolled everybody including Nole. It could be just a rusty feeling after long lay off, this time around luck deserted him.


J-Kath Says:

Thanks Margot and Wog Boy.

If there is a moral to the story it is “Don’t take anything/anyone for granted”

Good that the player who deserved to win got his “just deserts”.


the DA Says:

Well then, who predicted that? I suppose the tennis gods wanted to balance out the squandered MP by Mayer last year. If you look at the stats you’ll scratch your head as to how Rog lost that. But in the big moments, Ramos played very well. Sometimes that’s all it takes. Muzz needs to keep the #2 spot – every little bit helps. ;)


elina Says:

Commiserations to skeezer my BFF on TX.

Taking a page out of Nadal’s recent playbook, Roger hit a lot of short balls with many UEs making it look like Ramos played the match of his life.

Same rust almost cost him in the 1st round in Shanghai last year when he saved five match points before winning the tournament.


Emily Says:

Left the house as the match was starting and was surprised when it was 3 all, the way the commentators were talking. Then see a tweet about a huge upset, and thought it has to be Fed.

I never thought he was the favorite (just didn’t want to stir up a hornets nest), but this is a result that will have consequences in terms of rankings obviously. Maybe he had too long a lay off, and it is the universe balancing out last years Mayer match. Sorry to his fans, but the seasons not over.

BTW, low blow tennis-x w/ your funk/trunk comments this week


jalep Says:

Thanks for the match report, Wog Boy.

Federer… he arrived in Shanghai and was looking hot in street clothes. That’s all I could tell. Feel bad for Scarlet Li, the Fedfan in Shanghai. From her twitter page:

“Federer won 7 more points, won 70 percent of his net points, hit 23 more winners, made 70 percent of his first serves and still lost.”

First round losses – really hate it when it happens for a legend of the game but he’ll put it behind him fast. Tommy Haas lost too :/

Congrats Ramos.
Fognini won!
Gasquet beat Muller – yay.
Coric won only 3 games v Cilic
Slept through all matches except Tsonga’s. Tsonga’s GF is absolutely gorgeous.


Daniel Says:

Wow, woke up this morning before work and although Fed was hitting a few undorced errors he was impressive on his serve, some games were shorter than 1 min. Seems law of average for last year.
He basically can kiss #2 for this year goodbye now. Murray already got a 800 pts lead on the race and unless he also sufder a major upset if he goes to semis pretty much seal it.

Fed will be under pressure to win Basel and do well at Paris, WTF he always delivers so maybe he’ll have a shot there.

Now seems a good tourney for either Wawa, Nadal, Kei or Raonic to go deep. One of this guys could be in finals most likelly to face Djoko x Murray.


Okiegal Says:

Condolences to all the Fed fans on this forum also to the TX staff. I believe most of them are in Fed’s corner. Didn’t see the match, maybe there is an analysis of it somewhere. Sometimes crap happens! Congrats to Ramos and his followers, I’m sure there are a few out there somewhere……..

VAMOS RAFA!!


jalep Says:

For Fedfans: lots of pictures here – and a very stunned and confused looking Federer at the post match presser:

https://twitter.com/Scarlett_Li?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor


RZ Says:

@Jalep – I guess Fed and buddy Haas will hit the town now. Shame for both, but congrats to Ramos and Anderson.


jalep Says:

Was thinking the same. RZ.

Pictures of them practicing yesterday appear like they were really having fun – Tommy and Roger. Maybe too much fun!


Daniel Says:

If Djokovic wins Shangai he will hold 3 Slams, 1 Slam final, WTF, 6 Masters, 2 Masters finals, 1 ATP 500 and 1 ATP 500 final. The single most dominat last 52 weeks of any player ever holding 11 titles and 4 finals. Unprecedent reaching finals of all major tournaments, WTF and last 8 Masters played by him. Plus 2 500 as bonus. Hope he can do it!!


elina Says:

How is Novak not on the list of nominees for ATP Sportsmanship Award this year?

(ICYMI, this is a rhetorical question.(


Wog Boy Says:

I guess he is not good enough..besides, who is on the list apart of the one that is going to win it anyway?


elina Says:

True that WB.


Lodhi Says:

@skeezer

That’s funny. I’ve always wondered how did YOU happen.


skeezer Says:

@Lodhi aka aka aka,
Since when is this about me or you. Stick to your love. How do you explain a mental injury of sorts? Hammer to the head? Bounced the head on the hard court? Ran your head into the side net post? Sorry, I missed the mental injury thingy. I need clarification.


Lodhi Says:

@skeezer

O I’m sorry if the guy – whose first language isn’t english – didn’t use the term ‘mental issues’ or ‘mental demons’ and ended up using a term that confused the hell out of you (which should not have if you had used common sense).

Speaking of clarification, I need one too: Did the term ‘mental injury’ tick you off because you suffered from one recently ? It sure seems like it.


skeezer Says:

Loki,
My mind feels fine. I’m sorry, but after YEARS of being on tour and the gazillions a pro has made, I am assuming he/she has the means to speak another language decently……at least coherently, or at least pay somebody to interpret to the rest of the world what he/she really means. Apparently, 99% of the pros on tour can speak the language allright, no? Are you saying this is not the case? By the way, this is not me, but some could take this kind of talk intentional(hiding behind ones natural language), which in turns a mock towards the english language, so it can go both ways. Is the english language THE language? No. But in global sports its a neccesary commodity.
Am waiting for more “enlightenment”. Thank you.


Lodhi Says:

@skeezer

Oh my my my! It is UNBELIEVABLE how ONE guy on this thread found this to be completely incoherent while the rest pretty much understood what he was talking about.

First, where the hell did you get the 99% from ? Give a damn source ! Or did you count yourself ? Like did you go and talk to everyone of them ? Besides, I find this guy’s English pretty much discernible. May be despite being a native English speaker, you need to take the TOEFL to develop better comprehension skills. Second, there are so many influential sportsmen, politicians, actors, etc. who do not know English, or do not have proficiency in it despite their constant interactions with people of different backgrounds on the international stage. Putin, Messi, Ronaldo, Hu Jin Tao,Xi Jinping, and the list goes on and on and on. Third, at least the guy can speak discernible English; how many languages do YOU speak other then your mother tongue ? Spanish ? No ? Any of the native American languages ? No ? Just plain English ? That’s it ? I guess that explains why you hold such views.

Get off your American horse. You should know that people who take pride in their ignorance are generally considered fools.

P.S: It’s Lodhi, not Loki. Deliberate or not, it appears there are vision issues in addition to the cognitive issues that need addressing. You should visit a doctor; that’s what ObamaCare is for !

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