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I remember 'going to the net and inviting Rafa for passes' meant death 90% of the times. Since 2015, there has been a sharp decline in his passing shots. In fact, apart from improvement in Federer's backhand, this is one of the primary reasons Federer has been able to turn around the rivalry. There can be occasional brilliance but nowadays there is no fear in an opponent's eyes when they go to the net against Rafa. What went wrong? It's not just him but passing shots have become poor for Nishikori too.
 

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The problem is his movement, he doesn't have the explosive speed anymore that's required to get around the outside of the ball.

Players attack the net more carefully now. The days of Roddick rushing to the net like a headless chicken are gone.
That's not it. I literally still see dumb ass cross court approach shots every second game these days.
 

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The good hint is: approach the net more often if you want to beat dull. It was a suicide strategy when his movement was peak. Could work well now when it’s declined. That might be a better idea than get stuck behind the baseline and wait for his topspin botting to push you out of the court.
Having said that the problem is there are very few young players who are sublime volleyers.
 

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As others have said, Nadal's movement has declined slightly, meaning he can't get himself into position to play those passing shots quite as well as he used to. It's hardly surprising, he'll be 34 in June.
 

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He's probably still the best passer in the game, not exactly sure what OP imagines to have seen in the slim sample size of 1-2 highlight videos he watched today.

But his lateral speed has obviously declined with knee injuries, surgeries and age.

Nothing unusual here. He's still the best at it.
 

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Just simply due to aging. Anything related to physicality declines with age. His knee problems probably added to it as well.
 

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Some of Roddicks approach shots were enough laughter for a month.
That's true. On the other hand I always respected A-Rod for his braveness to keep on attacking the net despite the odds were against him it this era dominated by the defensive base liners.
Against most opponents his mindless net rushing was still the most effective strategy he could employ bearing in mind the poor quality of his baseline game.
I'm convinced he wouldn't have been half as successful with a more defensive and base line style of play.
 

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That's true. On the other hand I always respected A-Rod for his braveness to keep on attacking the net despite the odds were against him it this era dominated by the defensive base liners.
Against most opponents his mindless net rushing was still the most effective strategy he could employ bearing in mind the poor quality of his baseline game.
I'm convinced he wouldn't have been half as successful with a more defensive and base line style of play.
I agree with that, I like Roddick and his game and I respect him for actually having the balls to come to the net. Can’t deny though some of his approach shots were hilariously bad, especially against Federer. Of course he definitely wouldn’t have had a better career trying to beat high ranked players from the baseline.
 
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