Most players do not know how to play Nadal - MensTennisForums.com
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post #1 of 92 (permalink) Old 09-11-2017, 03:35 PM Thread Starter
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Most players do not know how to play Nadal

On a strategic front, I think many players do not know exactly what to do when playing Nadal. Nadal is notoriously difficult to overcome on clay, but going to hardcourt, I still feel a majority of the tour do not know what to do when facing Nadal. And I think most players know this. Nadal is quite good at neutralising the usual gameplan of most competitors he faces.

In theory, one would think power players should have a greater edge against Nadal. A good serve and hard hitting combination might disrupt Nadal. This is noted best at Wimbledon in recent times where the lower bounce of the surface and the slickness makes it hard for Nadal to reposition as well, allowing his opponents greater opportunities to close the net for easier pts. However in general, Nadal handles powerplay quite handily, weight of shot and even deep hitting doesn't necessarily do the trick. In fact, Anderson was trying to play his usual game and dominate off the ground but found himself facing an absolute wall, with no obvious openings, and attempted to get to the net without much success. Berdych is also known to hit clean and heavy but we all know how successful he is against Nadal. The combination of Nadal's agility, court coverage and pace absorbance is every power player's nightmare. Mayer, Dolgopolov and Rublev, Del Potro could not handle this either over the long run. Nadal creates a false sense of security about shots no matter where he is about the court and no shot is final unless it is a clear winner.

On the other hand, being a grinder to carry in long exchanges may keep you in the point longer but Nadal doesn't mind these exchanges and typically still gains the upper hand at the end.

A possible solution, which still isn't very easy to implement consistently, is to trade pure power for a relative advantage in court geometry and timing. Nadal knows where you will hit the ball and how to retrieve it and reset the point. So you need to be smarter and cut off angles, hitting around Nadal rather than through Nadal, and make use of different parts of the court. Nadal will still get to a lot of these balls, and it is a riskier tactic all round in some ways, but it also creates more amenable openings in the end, and even better, it may lead to Nadal producing some slightly shorter balls to attack. My point is that power play theoretically could hurt Nadal but you need to be smarter with how you use it, variety and distribution of pace and placement is absolutely key. Of course this is much easier said than done. A lot of players find it hard to constantly keep pace with Nadal's shots and court coverage to employ this effectively.
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post #2 of 92 (permalink) Old 09-11-2017, 03:54 PM
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Re: Most players do not know how to play Nadal

Davydenko figured it out. Why don't players just watch those replays
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post #3 of 92 (permalink) Old 09-11-2017, 04:06 PM
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Talking Re: Most players do not know how to play Nadal

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Originally Posted by TooBadFed View Post
Davydenko figured it out. Why don't players just watch those replays
as if it is easy to do,lul.Mtf delivers as always
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post #4 of 92 (permalink) Old 09-11-2017, 04:08 PM
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Re: Most players do not know how to play Nadal

People know how to play Nadal. Most people just don't have the backhand to carry out the plan. On grass Nadal's topspin is just not as effective, and he can't chase every ball down. It took Federer years to deal with Nadal's forehand to his backhand. Djokovic can hang with Nadal from the back even on clay because he has a quality backhand. Most players just panic when Nadal starts hammering their backhands.
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post #5 of 92 (permalink) Old 09-11-2017, 04:18 PM
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Re: Most players do not know how to play Nadal

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In fact, Anderson was trying to play his usual game and dominate off the ground but found himself facing an absolute wall, with no obvious openings, and attempted to get to the net without much success. Berdych is also known to hit clean and heavy but we all know how successful he is against Nadal. The combination of Nadal's agility, court coverage and pace absorbance is every power player's nightmare. Mayer, Dolgopolov and Rublev, Del Potro could not handle this either over the long run. Nadal creates a false sense of security about shots no matter where he is about the court and no shot is final unless it is a clear winner.
Del Potro would be doing fine if not for injuries and surgeries, even like this he still has decent H2H against Nadal. Others are simply not good enough and have dire record against entire top 10 not just Nadal.
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post #6 of 92 (permalink) Old 09-11-2017, 04:19 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Most players do not know how to play Nadal

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People know how to play Nadal. Most people just don't have the backhand to carry out the plan. On grass Nadal's topspin is just not as effective, and he can't chase every ball down. It took Federer years to deal with Nadal's forehand to his backhand. Djokovic can hang with Nadal from the back even on clay because he has a quality backhand. Most players just panic when Nadal starts hammering their backhands.
I guess you could put it that way as why they end up playing themselves into a hole because they are compensating in both the ROS and rallies by running around to play their FHs, which is riskier and means Nadal has the DTL. Otherwise they hammer Nadal's BH which is still a pretty steady shot, and then Nadal hits one to their BH where they can't effectively continue controlling the pt.

It does help to have a decent backhand. Saves time, efficiency and gives you more options. I still cite Nishikori's match against Nadal at Madrid in 2014 (before Kei retired) as one of the best examples of running Nadal dry by being solid on both sides and attacking early.

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post #7 of 92 (permalink) Old 09-11-2017, 04:22 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Most players do not know how to play Nadal

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Del Potro would be doing fine if not for injuries and surgeries, even like this he still has decent H2H against Nadal. Others are simply not good enough and have dire record against entire top 10 not just Nadal.
I make this case for Nadal in particular because I think most people understand why it is hard to play Djokovic and Federer. Nadal is surreptitiously difficult to play against and most MTFers, including myself at times, think it is that easy to dismantle Nadal when there are other factors at play. Perhaps in recent times he has displayed certain vulnerability and so we underestimate his difficulty.
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post #8 of 92 (permalink) Old 09-11-2017, 04:25 PM
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Re: Most players do not know how to play Nadal

It's the playing conditions. You yourself said in the OP that Wimbledon, dull is hopeless. Now why do you think that is? Players suddenly grow a pair on grass? If you give Nadal an open field and a tampered high bouncing abomination of a HC where dull can play defense all day, how is he going to be beaten?

I mean even some of DP's rocket FHs were going back with interest and DP had to hit 2 or 3 more FHs just to win a point. This is DP we're talking about , the most powerful FH on the tour right now. So if even he can't penetrate dull's defense, why should we expect other players to?

Look its simple. Speed up the playing conditions big time(that means speed up the court and use lighter balls). It really is that simple. Look what happened at AO. Just a slight increase in speed and dull was sent packing.

For the sake of argument, if there was a tennis body that is specifically assigned to evaluate court conditions and deem courts fit to play, they wouldve deemed USO unfit to play. But there isn't so everyone suffers.
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post #9 of 92 (permalink) Old 09-11-2017, 04:31 PM
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Re: Most players do not know how to play Nadal

what you need against rafa is beeing more consistent than him from the backline like ND can do when playing peak level or the point construction and the killer instinct to constantly finish your points like federer/delpo.

the reason federer has an edge over nadal on faster courts is that nadal cannot run down ANYTHING thrown at him and keep a rally alive.
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post #10 of 92 (permalink) Old 09-11-2017, 04:32 PM
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Re: Most players do not know how to play Nadal

According to our warrior from New Zealand going back to wooden racquets is a solution to stop Nadal.

DJOKOVIC = LEGEND

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post #11 of 92 (permalink) Old 09-11-2017, 04:33 PM
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Re: Most players do not know how to play Nadal

I'd say you're correct about the way to beat a confident Nadal, ie when he's not leaving the ball short, on HC but I think it comes down more to skill than tactics. The key is being able to take the ball on the rise and redirect and/or get it back with depth. This is much easier on low bouncing HC however. Djokovic, Fognini and Nishikori are some of his biggest threats on USO Series HC largely because they're more comfortable than most at absorbing a decent bounce on both wings. Same goes for Davydenko back in the day. I don't think someone like Anderson is capable of executing this game plan. Like Berdych he's best when he has more time to set up his shots. Dolgo can but he's simply highly erratic with his groundstrokes.

ROS is one of the best times to redirect against Nadal with depth and that is a HUGE part of Djokovic's strength against him on any surface. This is another aspect of the game that requires both skill and correct tactics. Anderson was never going to be able implement it and neither was Delpo.

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post #12 of 92 (permalink) Old 09-11-2017, 04:37 PM
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I think he's susceptible to hit servers and players with big backhand
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post #13 of 92 (permalink) Old 09-11-2017, 04:55 PM
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Re: Most players do not know how to play Nadal

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Originally Posted by monfed View Post
It's the playing conditions. You yourself said in the OP that Wimbledon, dull is hopeless. Now why do you think that is? Players suddenly grow a pair on grass? If you give Nadal an open field and a tampered high bouncing abomination of a HC where dull can play defense all day, how is he going to be beaten?

I mean even some of DP's rocket FHs were going back with interest and DP had to hit 2 or 3 more FHs just to win a point. This is DP we're talking about , the most powerful FH on the tour right now. So if even he can't penetrate dull's defense, why should we expect other players to?

Look its simple. Speed up the playing conditions big time(that means speed up the court and use lighter balls). It really is that simple. Look what happened at AO. Just a slight increase in speed and dull was sent packing.

For the sake of argument, if there was a tennis body that is specifically assigned to evaluate court conditions and deem courts fit to play, they wouldve deemed USO unfit to play. But there isn't so everyone suffers.
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post #14 of 92 (permalink) Old 09-11-2017, 04:59 PM
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Re: Most players do not know how to play Nadal

If only more ATP players read MTF's valuable advice more often before playing RAFA...
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post #15 of 92 (permalink) Old 09-11-2017, 05:06 PM
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Re: Most players do not know how to play Nadal

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Davydenko figured it out. Why don't players just watch those replays
It's not that Kolya () "figured it out", it's simply that his gamestyle was more suited for RAFA than most players in the ATP. In short, of of his main features was being able to take the ball extremely early, thus being able to absorve its power and also to hit it back at a comfortable height. This is of course highly valuable against deep topspin balls, the kind of game RAFA likes to play. Thus, he was able to deny RAFA of one of his main advantages v. the general tour.

Why don't other players do the same? Well, taking the ball early is extremely difficult as it requires impeccable timing. Agassi and Rios were players capable of doing this in their prime. It would have been interesting to see how well would they have coped against prime RAFA.

Then again, even Kolya struggled quite a bit against RAFA, which is a testament of how difficult it is to beat him even if your whole gamestyle is suited to play him.

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