Originally Posted by asotgod
Having watched the match, Roger lost because of fitness which definitely played on him mentally. He doesn't need to change his backhand or anything. His backhand held up quite well and he dominated the match. This match must really hurt since he played better than Nadal IMO. Nadal said he upped his topspin and started hitting deeper, but even that did not hurt Roger. What was disgusting though interesting to me was the fact that Nadal's voice seemed louder when he hit harder as if to let Roger know that a harder shot was coming when actually it did not make much of a difference. Even with the upped topspin, Roger should have just flattened the shots and made them shorter to get Nadal to move closer to the baseline. Instead, Roger tried to make them deeper and committed some errors. Some of Nadal's supposedly upped topspin shots were more or less moonballs and they dont have to be hit harder or necessarily deeper but well-positioned and lower than their normal trajectory. Nadal had some good fortune and definitely just hung in there with Roger until Roger self-destroyed in those two games. Nadal kept a positive attitude despite the barrage from Roger as if to say he was fine when actually you could tell from his face that he knew the match lay in Roger's hand, either to win or lose.
Roger was heaving and sweating more than he normally does, and that IMO does not have anything to do with playing Nadal. He just looked very tired from 3-3 in the second set. Even the game Nadal broke to get up to 5-4, Roger just hit a bunch of errors. Like has been said a lot of times, Roger does not have to beat Nadal by being too overly aggressive. He is giving the boy too much respect like he used to give Hewitt and Nalby, although Nalby could hit a winner whenever he felt like. Nadal cannot.
My conclusions on Roger beating Nadal finally is this:
- He has now lost to Nadal. So, he should not be viewed as favorite. Just play your game. He doesn't have to change anything, I think, maybe hit a little flatter on his forehand sometimes. That's all.
- BEAT NADAL physically. This obviously requires Roger to be fit, which he did not look like. Like Ljubicic said, you can only return what you see or something of the form that you cannot be faster than the ball. I cant remember but what I am trying to say here is that Roger should be patient and beat Nadal physically by making him work/run for a lot of shots especially at the start of a match before going for winners. Nadal tries to run for too many balls and will get tired if you make him work. Use the same strategy as you used against Hewitt. Roger should not try to hit too many winners at all. Make it a game of PLACEMENT for many rallies before going for it.
- Having watched the match, Nadal is not a threat against the big guns on hardcourts IMO. I was expecting to see Nadal outplay Roger but saw that Roger self-destroyed. He should also reduce some of those net forays or flatten balls before coming in.
- Hit a lot of body serves and slice serves outwide. I know he hit a lot of slice serves but could have hit a number of body serves when Nadal stepped closer to the court.
Roger should just play his game and get down and dirty to it. I mean, he should be mentally ready for the guy. There was nothing outstandingly special about the way Nadal played, unless you wanna overstate his mentality. Roger was too nonchalant on a lot of balls he could reach. Get into Nadal's head by making him know that he will also have to work for every ball, whether he likes it or not. DONT GO FOR WINNERS ALL THE TIME. Make the boy work.
- On the ad-side, Nadal serves outwide a lot which is typical for a leftie. On some of those serves, go for the return and immediately put the boy on defensive. Don't slice all the time. I know Roger likes going for the lines. He doesn't have to against Nadal. He needs to give himself more margin. Nadal doesn't hit many winners, except when passing opponents at the net. Nadal makes sure he keeps as many ball in play. Beat him at that and take him away from the baseline by using more angles.
I know I may make it sound simple, but Roger should not be losing to this guy at all. Having watched their last two matches, Roger's forehand deserted him. I think when Roger is tight, he should actually put more spin on his forehand instead of trying to hit too deep and making errors. The spins will at least guarantee that most stay in the court until he can finally hit out.
IMO, Roger has all it takes to beat the boy, and he needs to tell himself that mentally. At least, Roger should watch the match and see it for himself. He troubled Nadal with his deep slices, his sharp crosscourt backhands, sometimes flat forehands, even made good volleys. Roger should not beat himself. Here is hoping Nadal can make it that far this time in IW to put paid to all of this. Personally, I think Nadal's draw is very easy. Many guys would have to beat themselves up before playing him and may not get to play him since many are not fit.
Very good analysis.
One thing that stuck out is that he needs to beat Nadal at his own game and keep the ball in play rather than try to hit the lines all the time. Roger has resorted to percentage play lately (albeit on a smaller scale) and that can be a double edged sword. He should use percentage play depending on who he is playing against. Against Haas or Blake, he will get punished but against Nadal it could actually work out.
I don't think percentage play comes naturally to him but I think he is slowly realizing its potential against a certain class of players especially when the chips are down.
I would still like him to show off his incredible strokes ( I think subconsiously he does too) because I enjoy watching them but I do realize that he has to become a partial grinder especially since he has set his sights on the FO.