Federer and Nadal : two different ways of thinking what they control in a match [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

Federer and Nadal : two different ways of thinking what they control in a match

duong
02-15-2012, 10:20 AM
People have different ways to look at life, and it makes them difficult to understand each other.

I feel from their interviews, also Nadal's autobiography, that Federer and Nadal have two different ways of thinking what they control in a match.

In Federer's interviews there's typically "I think I played a very good match ... or I didn't play a bad match (that's the worst you will hear from him ;) ), in the end I was lucky ... or unlucky".

In Nadal's interview what's typical is that he speaks about his own level, found it good or bad, can say it was bad when he wins, can say it was good when he loses, and also what's typical is "I'm not the favorite : he can play so great".

The common point is that both disconnect their analysis of their actual level of game and the result of the match : I think it's interesting to note for many MTF forumers who often analyze the level of a player only by the result of the match ;)

One first difference is that Federer will never say he played a bad match, he will keep smiling, Nadal will tend to often look unsatisfied.

Tignor recently said that one is positive/optimistic, the other one (who is his favorite player) is quite negative/pessimistic.

One thing which is related imo is that Federer speaks as if his game was "stable", not much about improving or declining, and hasn't panicked after some tough defeats, Nadal speaks a lot about "improving" and has looked very much upset by his defeats against Djokovic.

Another difference is that Fed speaks a lot about luck (it upsets many people when he speaks about that when he loses but if you often read his interviews he also often says that when he wins), Nadal seems to be scared by his opponent.

It's partly explained by their kind of game : Fed plays a risky game, which depends a lot on luck obviously, Nadal plays a less risky game with a high clearance of the net for instance but he can be thrashed by an opponent playing great on that day (think about Flo Mayer last year in Shanghai for instance, or Tsonga in Australian Open 2008).

It's also explained by the way they built themselves mentally, I think :

- Fed's problem when he was young was that he was too easily upset when he missed, and became negative : he worked with a psychologist and it seems to me that the main thing he changed was first always relativizing, not making it too important, and secondly autosuggestion ("Coué method") "staying positive", which played a great role in his success, especially in his best period where he "felt invincible" : I would be interested but I think Björn Borg, who had the same evolution, had quite the same process ;

- as Nadal said in his autobiography, he really often feels his opponents are very good, often better than him, it's not "false modesty", it all comes from what his uncle has teached him, he even said it created inner anxiety and it was not that good for his personal evolution. He said that he often thinks that the others play great and better than him when he watches them play, and that anyway his uncle very often tells him that. Why did his uncle tell him that so often ? I think it's also a way to forget a point you have lost : "you were too good this time, but I will try my best next point".

In the end I think it's also two different ways to deal with what you really control in a match :
- Federer feels there's a whole lot which he doesn't control in the curse of a match, he's just there playing, and "let's see what happens" (I've read that sentence several times in his interviews) ... hence the use of the "luck" term ;
- Nadal feels he is entirely 100% responsible of his own game (look at his face when he misses a shot : I always thought "why does a player of his level who seemingly can't accept he makes little errors sometimes, why can't he think he's the favorite because a player like him who's able never to make errors would be one hell of an invincible player ?") ... but he's not responsible for what his opponent does : he can be "too good" for him.

About "humbleness" now :
- my usual conception of humbleness is quite similar to what Federer seemingly does feel : we are a little thing in the universe, there's a whole lot we don't control in the world, and we don't always "deserve" what we get : it depends a lot on luck (think of the "triumph" ceremony in ancient Roma and the man who was just behind Caesar and kept on telling him that he was just a man, and Gods were superior) ; that looks more like a childish way of looking at life "the world is so big" ; that's more also a French way of looking at life imo : the French are egalitarians because they don't think the inequalities which naturally happen in society were fairly deserved ;

- others' conception of humbleness is that a humble person is a person who works hard, tries his best, but in the end can accept that the other one was better ; that's more of an adult way of looking at life, you accept your own responsibility ; that's more an American way of thinking imo : "you always get what you deserve by your personal hard work".

Both are valid imo : they are just two different ways to look at life and especially at competition.

PS : I expect a lot of anger against the length of the thread and about my personal opinions, I just hope it may be an interesting point of view for a few people, I've often observed in life how different was my conception of life to some others', and how it made us difficult to understand each other.

Sophocles
02-15-2012, 10:31 AM
Spot on. Excellent analysis.

TBkeeper
02-15-2012, 10:34 AM
Hey my father is saying to me every time this phrase "you were too good this time, but I will try my best next point". !!! and when i was a defensive player it really is that way ... DEFENSE is a lot easier on the MIND than OFFENSE !!! when i played before defensively i always felt i give 100% and fight for every point but now with the OFFENSIVE orientation i took i feel thrice as good but mentally i'm a lot weaker ... on important points !
PS.
JUST LIKE Sophocles said EXCELLENT ANALYSIS man !

samanosuke
02-15-2012, 10:34 AM
Great thread :yeah:

Just shame it will be ruined soon

sportstennis
02-15-2012, 10:57 AM
boring.

Djokovic best

Felipe Abe
02-15-2012, 11:07 AM
Very nice topic, duong.

duong
02-15-2012, 11:12 AM
Hey my father is saying to me every time this phrase "you were too good this time, but I will try my best next point". !!! and when i was a defensive player it really is that way ... DEFENSE is a lot easier on the MIND than OFFENSE !!! when i played before defensively i always felt i give 100% and fight for every point but now with the OFFENSIVE orientation i took i feel thrice as good but mentally i'm a lot weaker ... on important points !

Yes, the kind of game is clearly a part of the explanation of these feelings, and it also explains about "feeling tough mentally" : I've often thought that when you are either a great server or a great defender/player who makes little errors, it helps you tremendously to feel comfortable and rely on something on an important point ; it's harder imo on such occasions to build a whole point and finish it with a winner (think of Djokovic saving break point against Murray at 5-5 in last Australian Open with a great down-the-line forehand winner).

duong
02-15-2012, 11:19 AM
Federer owes a lot of his success to luck in his carreer, and I think he knows it because he feels this little control he has in his matches.

Also, players with a one-handed backhand sometimes miss shots or half-miss shots which end being just very hard to deal with for the opponent, like returns just behind the net it happened to him many times in his carreer : I remember the one against Tsonga on match point in their group matchduring last WTF for instance.

Players with a two-handed backhand have less of these "strange shots".

Also, Fed said Djokovic's return on match point in last US Open was lucky, but he often had same kind of "unreal/lucky" moments in his carreer himself, when it seemed the match flew away from him, he looked surprisingly unaffected but had some unreal shots. People may think of the set point against Roddick in Wimbledon final 2009 when a strange passing-shot from Fed's surprised Roddick who missed his volley.

I can't remember how many times I had the feeling that things were "unreal/supernatural" in Fed's matches.

ballbasher101
02-15-2012, 11:34 AM
Great post by the OP. Federer comes across as calm and collected. I think he might have gone too far in trying to hide his true nature. He is an emotional guy who is quite fiery on the inside. He bottles up his emotions and I feel that affects his game at times. Nadal on the other hand does not shy away from expressing what is going on inside. That has helped him intimidate his opponents to great effect. Body language is key and these two could not be more different in that department. When Federer truly pumps himself up like he did last year at the French open he raises his game. The crowds also respond more to him when he is like that. As he gets older he will need the crowds to get him over the finish line more often than not. That sign that says quiet genius at work needs to be revised. Federer needs to pump up the crowds like he did at RG last year if he is to lift another major.
Nadal is always pumped up so the crowds just respond to him.

MaxPower
02-15-2012, 12:22 PM
You make some good points. Federer often downplays his losses but it's obvious to anyone that he is very dissatisfied with his game and feels very bad after big losses

Remember the tears after his slam loss?

Federer might say one thing- but usually he wants to calm the press down as well as himself and not go back to his early more temperamental youth days. Federer is really an emotional guy and much less of a robot/perfect sportsman that he seems but he's realized that being negative doesn't take him anywhere. He knows he lost and dwelling on it and exposing what he did bad to the press takes him nowhere. I think he rather says "I didn't play bad" so he doesn't really have to discuss what was bad any further. And if he didn't want to improve he wouldn't work so hard with his new coach. Annacone has praised how much Fed works to improve himself even at this age.

Nadal is used to being #2. He wants to hunt people. He is much better chasing things than maintaining his position. He doesn't want to be favorite. It worked so well for him throughout the career to try to get rid of pressure by acting vulnerable. Just like his water bottles, buttpicking, entering the court last and so on. It's a tradition that he works hard to uphold. One big reason Djokovic dispatched him from #1 is most certainly a lack of confidence from Nadal's side. He might be fake humble but he isn't really confident in himself as #1. Another just as important difference is that Nadal had his major breakthrough at a very young age and was also quite bad at english at the time (better now but still bad compared to fed) so he probably tried hard to not make cocky statements or overly positive predictions and that kind of stuck with him.

As for luck both Nadal and Federer have had their fair share. It's the way the game works. Federer has been in so many finals, semifinals and big matches and yet the majority of them he was the superior player by far. That he fluked out in a match here and there isn't strange with the sheer number of big matches. He's also had bad luck in about an equal number of big matches. Over a full career it has definitely evened out for Mr.Federer. For Nadal it will also even out as he lose a step in his defensive game and has to do more for himself. Then he will also suffer at the hands of the youngsters coming for his head in the future

Jovard
02-15-2012, 12:26 PM
Too long to read and it is about Nadull and Mugerer so I dont care :wavey:

bokehlicious
02-15-2012, 12:36 PM
Excellent thread.

duong
02-15-2012, 12:36 PM
Federer comes across as calm and collected. I think he might have gone too far in trying to hide his true nature. He is an emotional guy who is quite fiery on the inside. He bottles up his emotions and I feel that affects his game at times. Nadal on the other hand does not shy away from expressing what is going on inside. That has helped him intimidate his opponents to great effect. Body language is key and these two could not be more different in that department. When Federer truly pumps himself up like he did last year at the French open he raises his game. The crowds also respond more to him when he is like that. As he gets older he will need the crowds to get him over the finish line more often than not. That sign that says quiet genius at work needs to be revised. Federer needs to pump up the crowds like he did at RG last year if he is to lift another major.
Nadal is always pumped up so the crowds just respond to him.

it's possible that he has gone too far, it's true that sometimes he managed to raise his game when expressing more, I remember for instance a match like that against Gulbis in Madrid 2010.

But it's not certain either : it has worked so well like that ! I remember some matches where he was losing or in great danger but he looked unbelievably calm, smooth, like passive but he managed to turn it off. Smoothness was the word, nothing imposing or brutal.

And it's dangerous when you're overwhelmed by negative emotions : for instance recently many people felt that when the opponent saved match points against him, they felt that the following was "certain", Fed would let the match go away. Many ones had this impression against Djokovic in the US Open, against Monfils in Bercy 2010, against Gasquet in Roma 2011

... whereas while staying composed, and anyway very smooth, he managed to turn some other matches.

To be honest, my memories about that go rather back to the past, I would need some precise examples when I felt that (not necessarily very famous matches), but it happened quite sometimes.

I think many of us in front of our screen are just eager for him to express more because we just want "something to change", him to "raise his game", but sometimes he managed to turn matches in a completely different way.

The body language effect on the opponents I can understand, but as for explaining what happens inside, I think some just went too far in analyzing Fed's inside from their own attitude which is different from Fed's (I think of Wilander for instance).

As for being helped by the crowds, clearly it doesn't help inspiring the crowds when you just keep smooth rather than expressing in such situations.

duong
02-15-2012, 12:50 PM
Federer often downplays his losses but it's obvious to anyone that he is very dissatisfied with his game and feels very bad after big losses

Remember the tears after his slam loss?

Federer might say one thing- but usually he wants to calm the press down as well as himself and not go back to his early more temperamental youth days. Federer is really an emotional guy and much less of a robot/perfect sportsman that he seems but he's realized that being negative doesn't take him anywhere. He knows he lost and dwelling on it and exposing what he did bad to the press takes him nowhere.

I agree with some points, not with other ones.

I believe that for both Nadal and Federer, it's more than a "composed attitude" towards the press, it's what they really feel.

It's something which is not natural, it's something they have learnt, but it has become part of them with time.

It's not so obvious to me that "he is very dissatisfied with his game and feels very bad after big losses" : sometimes I felt myself very bad but I was very surprised how he could play so great very early afterwards ... for instance I remember how I was devastated after his defeat to Monfils in Bercy 2010 having wasted multiple match points, but two days later I saw him on a Swiss TV program and he was looking the points laughing, and several days later he won the WTF 2010.

He himself says that now, he forgets defeats much more easily than in the past.

Federer is very emotional, it's true, but I don't want to interprete his tears too much as they're something spontaneous, happen also when he wins, during that AO final he had also learnt 4 days before that he would be a father of twins ... Some people (I rather had this impression about "some women") can cry terribly ... and it's just forgotten next day :lol:

I think he has evolved with time more and more according to the attitude he has learnt and more on the opposite side of his "nature".

MaxPower
02-15-2012, 02:53 PM
I agree with some points, not with other ones.

I believe that for both Nadal and Federer, it's more than a "composed attitude" towards the press, it's what they really feel.

It's something which is not natural, it's something they have learnt, but it has become part of them with time.

It's not so obvious to me that "he is very dissatisfied with his game and feels very bad after big losses" : sometimes I felt myself very bad but I was very surprised how he could play so great very early afterwards ... for instance I remember how I was devastated after his defeat to Monfils in Bercy 2010 having wasted multiple match points, but two days later I saw him on a Swiss TV program and he was looking the points laughing, and several days later he won the WTF 2010.

He himself says that now, he forgets defeats much more easily than in the past.

Federer is very emotional, it's true, but I don't want to interprete his tears too much as they're something spontaneous, happen also when he wins, during that AO final he had also learnt 4 days before that he would be a father of twins ... Some people (I rather had this impression about "some women") can cry terribly ... and it's just forgotten next day :lol:

I think he has evolved with time more and more according to the attitude he has learnt and more on the opposite side of his "nature".

To me that doesn't prove much. Just because some people are bad losers and so very angry at themselves after a big loss doesn't mean they have to dig themselves down in a mental hole like Murray did after his two AO final failures.

Some people work twice as hard after a setback. Federer is definitely one of those guys. Many times in his career he raised his level in the very next tournament after a bad loss not because he didn't care but probably just because he cared so much. I think people on MTF often make the mistake of taking press conferences and his public persona a bit too seriously. What do we really know about what's going on in his head? Maybe the very fact that he tries to act like he doesn't care after certain losses means he cares even more than your average player. Some people build a wall and hide everything in themselves because it's too painful to deal with it directly and they could get emotional or say things they regret. I think there is a big difference between Federers public persona and the real Federer. Maybe there isn't but it's just a hunch I have. Hopefully he will open up more after his career.

Johnny Groove
02-15-2012, 03:14 PM
Great analysis, duong.

duong
02-15-2012, 04:07 PM
Some people work twice as hard after a setback. Federer is definitely one of those guys. Many times in his career he raised his level in the very next tournament after a bad loss not because he didn't care but probably just because he cared so much. I think people on MTF often make the mistake of taking press conferences and his public persona a bit too seriously. What do we really know about what's going on in his head? Maybe the very fact that he tries to act like he doesn't care after certain losses means he cares even more than your average player. Some people build a wall and hide everything in themselves because it's too painful to deal with it directly and they could get emotional or say things they regret. I think there is a big difference between Federers public persona and the real Federer. Maybe there isn't but it's just a hunch I have. Hopefully he will open up more after his career.

I understand what you think, but I have another opinion : I wondered a lot about this difference between the public persona and what he thinks inside, especially about Nadal, because he was harder to understand for me than Federer,
but I came to the conclusion (at least temporarily :lol: ) that these constant ways they did analyze their matches really expressed their thoughts (I often say that people shouldn't cut every interview's word too thinly, but when some points are constant in many interviews, that's different imo).

That's the main point of my long :lol: post : making a link between what they constantly say to analyze their matches in interviews and their attitude during these matches, as I said not necessarily "natural" attitude" but an "attitude which has been learnt to win".

I also tried that because I felt that if it was so unnatural for me to understand Nadal's way of thinking of his matches, it must also be as unnatural for other fans to understand what I feel about the way Federer analyses his matches. I'm upset when Nadal says he's not the favourite, other people are upset when Federer says his opponent was "lucky" or, as you say, when he says that he played a good match when he lost.

My point was mostly about these interviews : I can't go much further in analysing what each player should do, if Federer should be "more natural" or else.

I think they both learnt this attitude which for both has some negative points :
- Federer may lack some "rebellion attitude", he may also not be able to adapt enough during a match ;
- Nadal said himself that what his uncle had told him about his opponents being so much better than him has created an anxiety inside him (he said that in his autobiography)... and from what he said during last Roland-Garros especially, I had the impression that it was especially the case about Djokovic. It may be harder for him to get back confidence quick than for Federer.

I don't really think like you that Federer works much harder after his defeats than other players : he may work more than usually but I don't think more than other players. He has always insisted on being constant "if it has worked before, it can work again". That's rather the message of saving confidence which I kept from his words.

Time Violation
02-15-2012, 06:38 PM
Lol, just listened Fed's interview at Rotterdam, the last question was what he can do about Nadal/Djokovic this year to make it happen... he said he just needs to do what he has been doing, and maybe to push more luck, something like that. Really spot on topic :lol: