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I'm not sure if there are stats around but looking back at the highlight reel of the final, it seems as though Nadal made some tactical changes in terms of where he positioned himself in the court.

We tend to think of Nadal as a guy who enjoys running around the back court, metres behind the baseline, getting to a lot of balls and waiting for an opening. However, the Nadal in the RG2020 F actually appeared to minimise this strategy. While he would return from several metres behind as usual, he would quickly step forward, and this was even when he was under attack. So rather than retreating, Nadal made a conscious effort to maintain his ground or even come forward.

This had a major impact in the ball that Novak received in reply. Nadal was actively counterpunching some big shots and thereby reducing Novak's time to plan his attacks well. Ultimately Nadal was able to turn the tables in the rallies much faster. Novak in particular suffered when Nadal went right behind him forcefully.

The points Nadal had least success in tended to be when Novak was able to press Nadal deeper behind the baseline to expose sharper angles. But otherwise whenever Nadal kept his foot near the baseline, he was able to overcome Novak's hitting and reflect it back with interest. Nadal also generally did well at responding to Novak's dropshots.

 

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That was the most aggrressive Rafa i saw,since RG 13/14 + little ammount of ue...Insane,2 sets of pure madness,those crazy angles...2013dal FH vibes
just :worship:

Mb from now on Rafa will always try to play this aggrressive against Nole,because otherwise he is screwed.
 

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Or with one word - Anticipation.

He always knew where Novak was and where his next shot will be.
Novak had to clean a line or two to win a point.

And his level was much higher than any of the last three RG finals 17-19.
Insane high level for his age and completely unplayable

I think that we’ve witnessed peak Rafa in his post 2015 era. He can’t get much higher than this .... he can only maintain it for some time
 
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WWW: 2020 RG Final Nole vs 2017 RG Final Stan.
 

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True.
But this isn't new. He's being doing this, or at least trying to do this, since 2017. Moya.
I thought he was more aggressive against Stan in "La Decima" while he seem more consistent and balanced here.
 

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I thought he was more aggressive against Stan in "La Decima" while he seem more consistent and balanced here.
Consistent and balanced for sure. It wasn't exactly "beast mode" like yes Stan or Delpo 2017 USO.
I thought it was a highly tactical match on Nadal's part, but part of the tactics were to not get into permanent or even lengthy defense if possible.
Well if Djok's making lots of errors--which he was--Nadal was smart to not go for too much himself, he didn't need to.
But he did keep a mainly forward position in the court
 

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Or with one word - Anticipation.

He always knew where Novak was and where his next shot will be.
Novak had to clean a line or two to win a point.

And his level was much higher than any of the last three RG finals 17-19.
Insane high level for his age and completely unplayable

I think that we’ve witnessed peak Rafa in his post 2015 era. He can’t get much higher than this .... he can only maintain it for some time
Yes he had Novak read all the time--it's funny because when Novak rules the court the whole situation reverses, Nadal looks slow, Novak knows where Nadal's shots are going.
Rafa somehow disrupted the usual patterns--mainly by keeping it away from Novak's strike zone on the short CCBH, he got killed a couple times by this but mainly successfully shut down that great shot of Djok's.

But also, I noticed this rewatching last night, Djok was really not on. I mean missing all kinds of routine shots.
Some would say this was because of Rafa, but i think some of it wasn't; I didn't Djok looked that great all along--good enough for TSitsi and PCB but not good enough for Rafa, when Rafa is playing his best on clay. And then Djok would only have played a competitive match and lost.
I expected a good 4 setter going Rafa's way, not a wipe-out.
 

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Consistent and balanced for sure. It wasn't exactly "beast mode" like yes Stan or Delpo 2017 USO.
I thought it was a highly tactical match on Nadal's part, but part of the tactics were to not get into permanent or even lengthy defense if possible.
Well if Djok's making lots of errors--which he was--Nadal was smart to not go for too much himself, he didn't need to.
But he did keep a mainly forward position in the court
This should give him a lot of confidence this coming AO2021.
 

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Yep. That was a very obvious conscious strategic choice and the execution got better and better from the tail end of the QF onward. In terms of both court positioning and shot selection.
 
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Or with one word - Anticipation.

He always knew where Novak was and where his next shot will be.
Novak had to clean a line or two to win a point.

And his level was much higher than any of the last three RG finals 17-19.
Insane high level for his age and completely unplayable

I think that we’ve witnessed peak Rafa in his post 2015 era. He can’t get much higher than this .... he can only maintain it for some time
This is one of the reasons Nole figured Rafa out. Anticipation. If you know what hes going to do and where hes going to try and hit the ball its half the battle. Nole for some reason was predictable. Specially with the dropshots.

Even us MTFers know what Rafa will do when hes playing.

Moya changed that a bit.

Another thing was Rafa was closer because of the dropshots.
Nole when he beat Rafa had 16 dropshots won. Rafa needed to cut that and maybe win a few.
They are getting older and cant rely on their body. They need to play smarter and shorter points like Federer.
 

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OP...yes and I discussed this a few times in the match thread.

For those of you saying Nadal has been doing this with Moya in general that's true but not to this extent and certainly not on clay when pressed. This was a necessary next step in these conditions against Novak


You can see this here in terms of Nadal cutting off the angles for the short angled backhand from Djokovic which forced Djokovic to go for a perfect shot there and drew him into errors.

Nadal took a back hand perfectly on his knee inside the baseline rather than step back against a really good deep return of serve from Novak. That's not typical for Nadal on clay.

Nadal also swatted some quick wrist forehands stretched wide rather than step back and hit some spin.

There were all new developments in the degree and extent of them, particularly on clay. It stole time from Novak who looked like he was having to make decisions before he wanted to.

Along with this we can note the high backhand down the line from Nadal to get a weaker backhand reply from Novak followed by a forehand capable of going toward either corner.

A truly masterful display of tactics combined with brilliant execution and one of the most cold blooded late period versions of Nadal yet seen.
 

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I noticed that Rafa's shots were all very deep with heavy RPM topspin, especially the forehand which was always deep and pulling DJ more and more deeper and wider during the rallys, which would lead to DJ going for a risky shot because he knew that he was eventually gunna make a forced error or a Rafa winner.

Rafa's forehand looked especially whipy and looked to be generating perhaps his highest ever RPM of topspin (is there any way to find out).
Also one other thing was on defence he would hit it very deep giving himself a chance to stay in the rallys.

Final note, Rafa's crosscourt forehand was the dominant point in this match, not even DJ's backhand could deal with it.
 

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I saw a couple of stats on twitter that were absolutely mind blowing:

1) Rafa won 53 points compared to Novak’s 25 points on rallies that lasted from 0-4 shots.

2) Rafa returns made against Novak Djokovic in the 2020 Roland Garros final:

On 1st Serve: 61/65 (93.8%)

On 2nd Serve: 29/29 (100%)

Overall: 90/94 (95.7%)
 

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It's true, but Rafa has been doing it already for a while. Maybe the execution hasn't always been perfect before and yesterday it was but it's not that he employed a completely new tactics in this match.

Another thing that grabbed my attention was the versatility on his BH. Please pay attention to how he mixed it up on his BH yesterday. Almost perfectly.
Down the line with the mix of: normal spins, some slice (which Djokovic didn't use at all) and some loopy ones.
Cross court mainy more aggressive bigger cuts when Djokovic was out of position on his BH side.
That worked beautifully.
 
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