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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I came accross a very unfortunate MTF thread questioning if matchups existed in tennis :facepalm: That however gave me the idea of discussing the worst matchup issues between top 10/20 players.

I'm not referring to awkward matchups here (eg. Berdych to Federer), more to situations where a certain players finds another (almost) impossible to overcome, extreme matchup issues and the reason why they exist. Here are some - five: (I left Federer vs Nadal out on purpose as that particular matchup has been discussed to death, was more looking to talk about less discussed matchups)

Nadal vs Berdych

Nadal leads 12-3, but has won the last 11 matches, dropping only 2 sets in the process. He won 20 consecutive sets at one point. Berdych played a brillaint match earlier this year in Australia, still didn't take more than a set.

Reasons for this:

-Berdych's game is based on overpowering/hitting through his opponents from the baseline, his serve isn't a huge weapon nor is his net game. Hitting through Nadal on the current uber slow conditions is almost impossible. Nadal just keeps retrieving one more ball until Berdych inevitably makes the error.

-Berdych can't do anything on the Nadal serve. He's one of the best returners on tour, does a lot of damage even on the Federer serve. But against Nadal? Nothing. Even on second serves he can rarely get the initiative off the return.

-Nadal knows how to play against Berdych. He's usually more aggressive vs Tomas than most other matches, can take his time away better than anyone else and also expose Tomas's movement issues (as Tomas himself admitted). He also has no trouble with Berdych's hitting patterns, he actually reads them like an open book and they play into his strengths.

Federer vs Ferrer

13-0 Federer, 3 sets won by Ferrer. Most sets pretty routine for Federer.

Reasons:

-Ferrer thrives on a consistent rythm from the baseline, Federer doesn't give him that at all; he has the variety to completely mess up Ferrer's game and timing and make him leave plenty of short balls

-Federer's ability to put away short balls and volleys. Among the same lines as the first point; Ferrer can be a tricky opponent when he's allowed to rally with his opponent and turn the match into an endurance/griding contest, Federer simply never allows that to happen. Add to that the fact that Ferrer can't return the Federer serve if his life depended on it and you have the most one sided head-to-head in top level tennis, only likely to become even more one sided.

Federer vs Soderling

16-1 Federer, 5 sets won by Soderling overall. Soderling did get him at RG once with a stunning performance, but the matchup issues remain. Reasons:

-Federer can take Soderling's time away/rush him and force him to be constantly on the defensive. This is the main issue really; Soderling loves to unleash his huge strokes and against Federer that is harder than against anyone else. Federer can wrestle the initiative and make him defend more than anyone else on tour and expose his movement issues. Soderling needs to serve huge and return great to have a chance against Federer on any given day, or else he will simply not allowed to have the initiative on most points, therefore being a sitting duck.

Del Potro vs Nishikori

4-0 Del Potro, 10-0 in sets, most of them blowouts. Complete ownage.

Reasons:

-Del Potro's power/foreand. Kei likes (and manages) to dictate from the baseline even against huge hitters like Tsonga and Berdych, but he can't deal with Delpo's power and all. Especially JMDP's forehand that constantly pushes him far behind the baseline. Despite his quickness around the court, Kei lacks world class defensive skills and really struggles when he's forced to play defense, which he invariably is against Delpo. His lack of a serve allows JMDP to have the initiative even on his serve games and break him time and again (20 breaks in 10 sets). Will be tough for Kei to even win a set in this matchup in the future if he can't come up with a different strategy, rallying with Del Potro is a losing battle as the Argentine easily overpowers him.

Djokovic vs Cilic

7-0 Djokovic, one set for Cilic with 9-7 in the tiebreak. All very straightforward wins for Novak.

Reasons:

-Cilic's serve is horrible for a guy his size and a liability in general (not that strong 1st serve, poor %), Djokovic is the best returner on tour... you do the Math.

-Nole can easily frustrate Marin with his defense, making him go for too much and leak errors. Nole can even overpower him at times as well. There's basically no safe place to go for Marin in this matchup.


I know there are more examples (maybe more glarring) and also maybe more reasons for these examples, these were just the first that came to mind. Do feel free to argue these five and the reasons and to indicate others :p

Other matchups discussed - some of them not complete mismatches but still interesting discussions - , with links:

Ferrer vs Almagro

Andreev vs Kohlschreiber

Davydenko vs Gonzalez

Davydenko vs Blake

Del Potro vs Soderling

Gasquet vs Simon

Simon vs Federer

Ferrer vs Gasquet - + most of the posts from #62 to #70

Murray vs Simon

Murray vs Federer

Davydenko vs Berdych

Nadal vs Dolgopolov

Del Potro vs Haas

Haas vs Nadal

Simon vs Tipsarevic - also post #139

Haas vs Davydenko - also post #146

Berdych vs Del Potro

Gasquet vs Nadal

Monfils vs Kohlschreiber

Nalbandian vs Soderling

Soderling vs Tsonga

Ferrer vs Del Potro

Nalbandian vs Gasquet

Nadal vs Wawrinka

del Potro vs big hitters

Worst matchups for Djokovic, Del Potro, Tsonga, Simon (including best matchups) and Murray - most posts from #76 to #117
 

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Re: Worst matchup issues between top (10/20) players

I don't know what to say besides good read :shrug:
 

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Re: Worst matchup issues between top (10/20) players

How about Ferrer-Almagro 11-0? :shrug:
 

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Re: Worst matchup issues between top (10/20) players

One of the reasons Nadal owns berdshit is his lefty kicker out wide that berdshit can't seem to counter. He generally has more trouble with heavy serves and he is more comfortable with ball bashing Olderer's faster, flatter serve back into play with his short backswings rather than dealing with topspin. Olderer is the same way - he returns Roddick's 240kmh serves with ease, but struggles against Nadal's slow 180kmh serves, especially to backhand.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Re: Worst matchup issues between top (10/20) players

I've got another for ya, Berdych-Djokovic, Nole leads 9-1.
This is not explained by matchup, but by Berdych's mental midgetery vs Novak. They have actually split first sets in their matches (5-5) and Berdych has had chances in a lot of them. You could write a book with all the times Berdych choked vs Nole (even in the one match he won). It's a difficult matchup for Berdych for sure, but far from an unsurmountable one from a tennis point of view.

You say that Berdych hitting through Rafa on slow surfaces doesn't work, but I thought that this was pretty much the only way to beat Rafa on slow surfaces, like Soderling and Del Potro can do.

Didn't you also say once that Cilic has a pretty good serve?
Del Potro is far more consistent with his power than Berdych. He doesn't try to hit through Rafa from the baseline, but rather draw a short ball from him to finish the point. Soderling's huge swings allow him to generate more power; Berdych's compact swings are a strength against a guy like Federer who thus can't time his time away, but against Rafa on slow courts you really need to unload yo have a good chance.

Cilic's serve is horrendous. It used to be decent back in late 2009/early 2010 (albeit weak for a big guy), now it's just horrendous in general, I'd say Djokovic serves better.
 

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Re: Worst matchup issues between top (10/20) players

This is not explained by matchup, but by Berdych's mental midgetery vs Novak. They have actually split first sets in their matches (5-5) and Berdych has had chances in a lot of them. You could write a book with all the times Berdych choked vs Nole (even in the one match he won). It's a difficult matchup for Berdych for sure, but far from an unsurmountable one from a tennis point of view.
Well it is explained by mental matchup then, for whatever reason Berd folds when playing him.
 

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Re: Worst matchup issues between top (10/20) players

This is not explained by matchup, but by Berdych's mental midgetery vs Novak. They have actually split first sets in their matches (5-5) and Berdych has had chances in a lot of them. You could write a book with all the times Berdych choked vs Nole (even in the one match he won). It's a difficult matchup for Berdych for sure, but far from an unsurmountable one from a tennis point of view.
Lenders pretty please do Ferrer-Almagro!
 

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Re: Worst matchup issues between top (10/20) players

Andreev-Kohlschreiber 7-0 (8-0 if you include hopman cup)

Analyze away :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Re: Worst matchup issues between top (10/20) players

Lenders pretty please do Ferrer-Almagro!
Mental issues can't be ignored. Almagro has a phobia of beating higher ranked players that I'd never seen before. You can always bet on him to lose even when he's close to winning.

There are matchup issues too though. Outside of clay, Almagro is extremely reliant on his serve and Ferrer can return it excellently. On clay, it's Ferrer's ability to redirect power and force Almagro to hit one extra shot that does the trick. Although Spanish and a clay court specialist, Almagro is much more of a big hitter than grinder, he hits big off both wings and is an offensive player, with limited defensive skills. Ferrer can get more balls back in play than anyone on tour bar Nadal and he usually does it with great depth, leading Almagro to pile on the errors/get exposed as soon as he's put on defense.

With that said, the H2H wouldn't be this one sided if Almagro was tougher mentally.

Andreev-Kohlschreiber 7-0 (8-0 if you include hopman cup)

Analyze away :lol:
Andreev might very well generate more top spin than anyone on tour not named Nadal. Huge topspin FH to one handed BH has bad matchup written all over it. Andreev has also been known to trouble Federer a lot even in Slams, lacking the mental fortitude to close it out. He is a bad matchup to one handers for much the same reason Nadal is too (without the other assets Nadal has to be more than a mere bad matchup though of course).
 

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Re: Worst matchup issues between top (10/20) players

Mental issues can't be ignored. Almagro has a phobia of beating higher ranked players that I'd never seen before. You can always bet on him to lose even when he's close to winning.

There are matchup issues too though. Outside of clay, Almagro is extremely reliant on his serve and Ferrer can return it excellently. On clay, it's Ferrer's ability to redirect power and force Almagro to hit one extra shot that does the trick. Although Spanish and a clay court specialist, Almagro is much more of a big hitter than grinder, he hits big off both wings and is an offensive player, with limited defensive skills. Ferrer can get more balls back in play than anyone on tour bar Nadal and he usually does it with great depth, leading Almagro to pile on the errors/get exposed as soon as he's put on defense.

With that said, the H2H wouldn't be this one sided if Almagro was tougher mentally.
Thanks! :yeah: A nice unbiased analysis!
 

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Re: Worst matchup issues between top (10/20) players

Andreev might very well generate more top spin than anyone on tour not named Nadal. Huge topspin FH to one handed BH has bad matchup written all over it. Andreev has also been known to trouble Federer a lot even in Slams, lacking the mental fortitude to close it out. He is a bad matchup to one handers for much the same reason Nadal is too (without the other assets Nadal has to be more than a mere bad matchup though of course).
Your reasons are valid, but it doesn't explain Andreev-Wawrinka (0-1), Andreev-Gasquet (4-5) or Andreev-Youzhny (1-3) though.
 

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Re: Worst matchup issues between top (10/20) players

You could also argue that Nadal hates Berdshit, which is another reason why he lifts his game against him.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Re: Worst matchup issues between top (10/20) players

Your reasons are valid, but it doesn't explain Andreev-Wawrinka (0-1), Andreev-Gasquet (4-5) or Andreev-Youzhny (1-3) though.
Those players are all much better than Andreev; unlike Nadal with his top spin FH, Andreev doesn't have that much more to his game to be more than an awkward matchup. 4-5 vs Gasquet is far closer than their difference in quality as players for instance.

With that said, although the top spin FH to one handed BH is a big issue, 7-0 suggests that there might be something more in his matchup vs Kohli. Never watched any of those seven matches in its entirety so can't say for sure, but maybe someone who did might shed some light on other patterns of play that led to such a one sided H2H.
 

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Re: Worst matchup issues between top (10/20) players

Those players are all much better than Andreev; unlike Nadal with his top spin FH, Andreev doesn't have that much more to his game to be more than an awkward matchup. 4-5 vs Gasquet is far closer than their difference in quality as players for instance.

With that said, although the top spin FH to one handed BH is a big issue, 7-0 suggests that there might be something more in his matchup vs Kohli. Never watched any of those seven matches in its entirety so can't say for sure, but maybe someone who did might shed some light on other patterns of play that led to such a one sided H2H.
To go slightly off topic, where is Andreev lately, I see he recently played DC, but hasn't played since?
 

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To go slightly off topic, where is Andreev lately, I see he recently played DC, but hasn't played since?


Still in depression after Kiri left him to bang some hockey gorilla.
 

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Re: Worst matchup issues between top (10/20) players

The Berdych vs Nadal matchup is an anomaly honestly... Lenders doesn't acknowledge the fact that Berdych was well on his way to be a true nightmare for Rafa, being 3:1 up in the H2H. But for whatever reason, after Berdych beat Rafa in front of the Spanish crowd and hushed the crowd, he appeared to almost feel bad for Rafa and suddenly lost any sort of belief of beating Nadal. I mean he has the right game to beat Rafa.. tall, flat powerful groundstrokes, strong (but inconsistent) serve and he doesn't mind finishing a point off at the net. He merely lacks confidence.. Look at their matches at the Australian Open and Rome this year. Yes, Rafa played very well, but Berdych played some points very poorly at the most important moments. That lack of confidence is the story of Berdych's life since 2006. I mean you can't tell me you don't see a difference between his mental attitude when he faces Roger the past few years compared to facing Rafa the past few years. Literally it seems like his belief against Roger and Rafa reversed, because at the beginning, he seemed to have no belief against Federer either (aside from their Olympics meeting in 2004), he since that Miami match in 2010 he suddenly got confidence.

Overall, the list is OK, however, perhaps you give technical aspects a bit too much respect in many of these respective matchups. Much of these issues also stem from confidence between two players. I mean there are several examples where a certain player has a positive H2H record against one but a negative H2H record against another yet both opponents have a similar game.. I guess the Nishikori example could work here where Kei hasn't beaten Juan Martin yet he is 3:1 against Berdych. Obviously there are certainly many other factors involved here, and it may be so that Del Potro just plainly may be a better player than Berdych, but their games are comparable. Kei clearly lacks the confidence against Del Potro yet he seems calm against Berdych.
 

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Re: Worst matchup issues between top (10/20) players

Still in depression after Kiri left him to bang some hockey gorilla.
At least he got Kiri in the first place :shrug: :hearts:
 
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