Mens Tennis Forums banner

1 - 20 of 62 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,583 Posts
"Simply put, Rafa had not faced anyone near the calibre of Djokovic over the last two weeks."

Absolutely agree with that. And the rest.
If he had met just two of Basilashvilli, RBA, Raonic, Coric, Medvedev, Anderson, Cilic, Shapovalov his run would be over a lot quicker.
He ran into mugs, except Tsitsipas who was left wondering how Federer managed to win against Nadal with a single hander.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,805 Posts
Nothing to do with Nadal being old and slow. Djokovic has got inside his skull and made him look that way. Against any other player, except possibly Fed, Nadal would have been his usual self yesterday and that would have been good enough for No 18.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
615 Posts
Just posted on another thread making exactly the same point, not having seen this article. I'd very much agree, though one should say these things are very marginal, it's not like he's suddenly become outright slow, and one could imagine the higher bouncing and slower clay courts will enable him to mask it better than in this final.

Nor do I think this is down to lack of match sharpness/fitness. That is more likely to affect you mentally. No I think this is the first real evidence that age is starting to catch up with Rafa. That is hardly surprising as he pushes towards his mid 30's, and with an awful lot of miles on the clock. I always felt Rafa would have to cash the cheque on the game style he has and the injuries this has brought him. I'm surprised he's managed to get this far before it began to be apparent. All credit to his powers of recovery and his warrior attitude. Though I don't think this version of Rafa would much relish the 5 hour marathons of old. Too much injury risk from that.

That's not to say he can't win another slam, especially the FO. You only have to see how Fed eked out his game in decline and Rafa is right up there with him as an ATG and his capacity to achieve that is no less. However I do think it is the beginning of the end. It remains to be seen how quickly it transitions. Fed's mini phoenix has lasted a couple of years, though arguably maybe not even that whole time, and he does look like he's visibly slipping now. Rafa may have even less time open to him. This year's FO may be his last slam.
 

·
justice for all
Joined
·
13,122 Posts
Indeed. The question is how long they can make it before that happens. It's not out of the realm of possibility that Nadal and Djokovic make it beyond 35 before that happens.
Yes, sure, all of his fans hope for it. But it's sort of an unknown territory. Fed did it but he was a late bloomer and had a much more effortless and less taxing style of play so I'm not sure his example is relevant for either Djokovic or especially Nadal who started his pro career at 16.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,041 Posts
that's the most interesting question: The fact Nadal seemed to have lost a step, that his speed,movement,footwork look slower.
Is is due to lack of fitness due to his recent leg injury and that he was afraid to force on his legs or is it natural decline by aging?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
883 Posts
Yes, sure, all of his fans hope for it. But it's sort of an unknown territory. Fed did it but he was a late bloomer and had a much more effortless and less taxing style of play so I'm not sure his example is relevant for either Djokovic or especially Nadal who started his pro career at 16.
It seems less likely for Nadal considering the knee issues and how dependant he is on his movement. Djokovic hasn't had any lower body issues that I know of and the time he was out with his elbow could potentially allow his legs to last even longer. It seems to be a pretty common thing lately for elite athletes to continue to perform well into their mid to late 30s. Djokovic is also already starting to trim down his schedule and that could easily prolong his career as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,823 Posts
"Simply put, Rafa had not faced anyone near the calibre of Djokovic over the last two weeks."

Absolutely agree with that. And the rest.
If he had met just two of Basilashvilli, RBA, Raonic, Coric, Medvedev, Anderson, Cilic, Shapovalov his run would be over a lot quicker.
He ran into mugs, except Tsitsipas who was left wondering how Federer managed to win against Nadal with a single hander.
Possibly, I think he played very well against the opponents he had, he was never forced to alter his tactics, or pushed out of his comfort zone, he was able to execute the plan perfectly and looked good doing it. If he had faced any of the players above, he would have either lost or been better prepared for someone on Novak's level. I think he could have gotten through one or two tough matches before the final, he was good enough for that, any more and we would have seen a repeat of the US Open.

When I saw the draw, I penciled in a loss to Anderson, obviously the draw didn't pan out. Rafa seemed surprised to be in the final, that kind of lowered my expectations, but I tried to look on the bright side and hoped he would be able to do it. Then of course he got hammered.

I do wish he could have made the scoreline closer, Novak is so obviously in his head. Novak is to Rafa, what Rafa was to Roger. I hate it lol. Still lot's to be positive about, despite the disappointment, I have to remember that I half expected him to retire during the tournament, and he seems to be in good health and motivated for the next few months.

I wonder what the plan is now, he wants matches and more time training without injury, will he continue with the more aggressive approach? It will be interesting to see him back on clay.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,632 Posts
Anyone who didn't start following tennis very recently noticed Nadal has been looking slow and old for quite some time now. Just watch his matches from 10 years ago. The need in sensationalism will be no more.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
883 Posts
Anyone who didn't start following tennis very recently noticed Nadal has been looking slow and old for quite some time now. Just watch his matches from 10 years ago. The need in sensationalism will be no more.
Obviously he isn't as fast as he was at his peak, but there is a pretty big difference between being slower than before and actually being slow. Nadal is still one of the fastest players on tour at his age and I think that will be more evident during the clay season.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,937 Posts
The argument that Nadal wasn't tested properly and thus ended up under-cooked in the final don't stand imo.

It was good for Nadal to rip through the draw. His game was adjusted to do just that because he wasn't in condition to grind points with seamlessly unlimited stamina as he usually does.

In all matches leading up to the final, he was dominating, forcing his style upon his opponents. Against Djokovic, it was the other way around. He was being bossed around and his new quicker/flatter serve was backfiring big time since it was coming back much faster.

One other thing, Novak was wrong-footing him like never before, and I'm not talking about wrong-footing him by big margins once in the blue moon but multiple times in the many single points. Nadal was forced to play many shots out of position and you can't play aggressive tennis successfully on the back foot. Novak upset Nadal's anticipation by going after Nadal's strength - the mighty forehand, wining cross-court exchanges bh to fh by landslide.

I also suspect Nadal's abdominal injury made it uncomfortable for him to constantly make sudden jerking movements to cover the forehand time and time again. Someone in Novak's camp noticed this and devised very smart strategy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27,181 Posts
Absolutely incredible how much RAFA aged in 2 days but big Xisca managed to look as glowing as ever in the same time frame.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,632 Posts
Obviously he isn't as fast as he was at his peak, but there is a pretty big difference between being slower than before and actually being slow. Nadal is still one of the fastest players on tour at his age and I think that will be more evident during the clay season.
Slow is a relative term. Relative to his previous self, he lost a lot of speed and explosiveness. Clay can't really hide that. It just gives the false impression of business as usual.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
21,076 Posts
Hold on, what abdominal injury?
This:

The Spaniard was spotted with tape on his stomach during his quarter-final win against Frances Tiafoe.

When asked about if he was still struggling with the same abdominal injury which forced him to withdraw from the Paris Masters, Nadal remained coy.

“I am in semi-finals. Is not the day to talk about this,” Nadal said.
 
1 - 20 of 62 Posts
Top