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What was Nadal's GS HC Peak?

  • US Open 2010

    Votes: 14 35.0%
  • Australian Open 2009

    Votes: 14 35.0%
  • US Open 2013

    Votes: 7 17.5%
  • They were all just as good in terms of peaking in different aspects of his game

    Votes: 5 12.5%
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
All of these 3 winning hard-court slam runs are generally considered to be Nadal at his apex when it comes to his hard-court game. But which one was when he was at his absolute best? I personally believe they were all just as good through different aspects of his game peaking. Let's analyse this.


US Open 2010: Nadal's monster serve was the defining characteristic that helped him towards his first hard-court slam win. In the past, while Nadal's serve was effective in terms of taking advantage of being a lefty through high percentage plays serving at the AD court, his overall serve especially his 2nd serve never felt truly threatening and the latter being particularly attackable when coming up against high-calibre players. In essence, Nadal's temperament when it comes to serving particularly suited to his grinding, aggressive counter-punching style; making high % 1st serves and getting into long rallies right away.

However, by adding more MPHs on his serve, he added an extra dimension to his overall game. Nadal's opponents are dealt with the extra pressure in both the service and return games; Nadal leaves himself with less pressure holding his serve knowing that he can easily gets free points and thus opens up the comfort of being more aggressive in general. Therefore, he can play at both at a fast-paced, 1st strike play of "bang the serve, and bang the forehand" as well as his default style of grinding on court.

As a result, as mentioned earlier, Nadal's serve becoming a weapon allowed himself to become more proactive in his game in general from his forehand and backhand. Nadal's backhand during the US Open 2010 was probably his 2nd/3rd best along with AO 2009 and RG 2012. It was "perfectly solid" as described in Nadal's autobiography at that time where he could really flattened it out on a more regular basis as well as being a great rally wing as usual.

So it's safe to conclude that this type of Nadal was at his serving peak.



Australian Open 2009: You can tell Nadal was at a very, very high level on hard-courts when manged to beat a good Federer at a hard-court final after a tiring 5 set marathon in the semis. Out of the 3 versions listed here on Nadal's "HC" peak, this was still when Nadal was at his physical and endurance peak featured 2005-2008. It's a remarkable observation to consider since my first statement holds little value due to the fact, Nadal showed no visible signs of being tired from his semi-final win in the final.

This type of Nadal in this tournament was a simple continuation when his HC game really started to click during the 2008 American HC swing (Toronto) all the way to Indian wells 2009. It had the right mix of explosiveness in movement through his athleticism on court, stamina/endurance and aggression that complemented perfectly to his overall defensive temperament. But one of the main reasons why this was one of Nadal's highest hard-court level was the bonus of his backhand being at the peak of his powers.

No other tournament that Nadal has played where his backhand looked as good as AO 2009. Roland Garros 2012 and US Open 2010 comes close however. The depth of his backhand was at an all time high during rally shots; it never looked like it could be broken down which some power baseliners in the past exploited in other tournaments. But the biggest difference was he was being aggressive with it. He would consistently be able to go DTL winners from the deuce wing and remarkably during the final against Federer, he was able to draw him wide to his FH from cross-court after absorbing a FH shot on numerous occasions.

So it's safe to conclude that this type of Nadal was at his backhand peak.



US Open 2013: Nadal's hard-court domination and improvement during the American hard-court swing was ultimately a result of aiming to counter Djokovic's game and therefore the rest of the entire field. By 2013, Nadal's physically had obviously slightly declined, so he could no longer be able to chase the type of balls like he did in his heyday. Nadal's overall physical game was the main reason why he's so successful. If this aspect of Nadal's game was weakened, then his overall playing level had diminished. Complementing the fact that his game was thoroughly dissected by Djokovic in 2011, he had to find a way to compensate for this.

It was simple. If Nadal didn't want to worry the fact that he might have to chase down balls that he probably couldn't do in comparison to what he could do when he was younger, he had to look for ways to prevent this scenario. The result came for looking to find ways to be more aggressive in general; not just ball-bashing but finding "solutions" as he calls it to maintain a controlled tempo of the rallies. The key of course was going for FH DTL and stepping inside the court more often. Of course this was originally a tactic planned specifically for Djokovic. When he had to face a player where his backhand wing wasn't bothered by his topspin and often being punished for it (it works 99% of the tour excluding him), he executed this strategy:

When it comes to FH DTL as a viable tactic against Djokovic, he tries to stand close to the baseline and hit this shot early on the rise.

Two reasons for that:

1. It takes time away for Djokovic to defend on his FH side thus making the shot lethal.

2. From the 1st reason above, its lethal because from what I explained earlier, his court positioning and the way he hits it helps him "counter-punch" aka absorbing the pace of Djokovic ground-strokes and redirecting it back.

This was the key to his FO 2014 win and he first implement this back in Montreal 2013/US Open 2013. Throughout the Roland Garros final, he was fishing for this and was trying to anticipate it by turining Djokovic's strength from the backhand side against him in terms of power.


Watch the 1st point of this video at 0:16 to see what I'm talking about.
I copy + paste this post many times before on this forum, but what started out as a counter for Djokovic specifically evolved as a mechanism on how to properly managed and improve his HC game without worrying about injuries from overextending his physicality. No longer we saw Nadal's swashbuckling game where his instincts within his athleticism carried him through his victories, but Nadal's intelligence on when to pull the trigger in going DTL and having a more proactive mindset was the hallmark of Nadal's winning run within the US Open.

So it's safe to conclude that this type of Nadal was at his tactical peak.


So what are your thoughts?
 

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AO 2009. It was the only HC slam he half deserved.

The other two USOs were due to extremely easy cakewalk draw, favorable scheduling and playing exhausted emotionally drained No1e in the finals.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
AO 2009. It was the only HC slam he half deserved.

The other two USOs were due to extremely easy cakewalk draw, favorable scheduling and playing exhausted emotionally drained No1e in the finals.
To be fair, Djokovic's unreal 2011 run was one of the main reasons why it pushed Nadal's HC game to be better. If I was comparing Nadal's HC peak in terms of playing against Peak Djokovic, US Open 2013 is the best form for Nadal to be in to stand a chance, followed by AO 2009. I could make a post on why this is so but.
 

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Did we not already have a thread for this? AO 2009 is the answer, by leaps and bounds. His US Open wins were incredibly weak.
 

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1. AO-12. Nadal has never been so motivated to win a match against a guy who owned him 6x in a row. He needed only 4 sets to beat Federer who played even better than in AO-09 final, but lost in close fashion to Djokovic who is AO GOAT for a reason.

2. USO-13.

3. USO-10.

4. AO-09. Losing 2 sets to Verdasco tells everything about Nadal's level.
 

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Nadal lacked self-belief in 2012 AO, plus he was hitting cross-court too often, hence the rallies went on forever.
He went down-the-line way more in their next 4 slam meetings.
So I was not impressed with the 2012 AO Final, too much cross-court.

As for hardcourt peak, 2010 US Open (and he made the FINAL of the World Tour Finals and took a set from FEderer) was great.
But 2013 overall must be the best hardcourting, because he won 3 hardcourt masters shields and the US Open, plus his playing style was more hardcourt-style than anything he's ever done (even though he wasn't as athletic anymore).
 

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2013 because of the way he did the USO hard court trio...
however 2009 was really high level intensity he was playing with very 'young' legs
 

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Nadal used to be such a beast on hard, I remember his match vs. Murray at the WTF in 2010, what a game and the bull was on fire

top 4 have declined so much :sad:
 

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To be fair, Djokovic's unreal 2011 run was one of the main reasons why it pushed Nadal's HC game to be better. If I was comparing Nadal's HC peak in terms of playing against Peak Djokovic, US Open 2013 is the best form for Nadal to be in to stand a chance, followed by AO 2009. I could make a post on why this is so but.
Nadal's HC game never got better after 2011. It it a myth. The 2013 was an overrated fluke fueled by Novak being distraught by Pascal Maria's robbery in RG, Nadal's gamesmanship in Montreal and Nadal's extremely easy draw compbined with Djokovic's difficult schedule in USO.
 

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OP wrote fantastic post - basically there is nothing more to add. Would love to see more often that kind of stuff.

Personally if I had to choose the biggest peak of those peaks, I would say AO 2009. He never reached that level again in terms of his physicality. Never. During his USO campaigns other factors were decisive.
 

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Nadal's HC game never got better after 2011. It it a myth. The 2013 was an overrated fluke fueled by Novak being distraught by Pascal Maria's robbery in RG, Nadal's gamesmanship in Montreal and Nadal's extremely easy draw in USO.
Djokovic losses has nothing to do with chokes, he just gets toughest draws or schedules(2012) at US Open, but considerling Nole's goat stamina in 2011 he still managed to school Rafa in the final.
 

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Nadal was flat and lacked passion in 2011, he said it, and it was obvious.
Djokovic cashed in, big time.
Even in early 2011, Nadal was taken to FIVE sets by Isner at Roland Garros!
And Djokovic was ONE shot from losing to FEDERER in the US Open semis :lol:
 

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Nadal's HC game never got better after 2011. It it a myth. The 2013 was an overrated fluke fueled by Novak being distraught by Pascal Maria's robbery in RG, Nadal's gamesmanship in Montreal and Nadal's extremely easy draw compbined with Djokovic's difficult schedule in USO.
Wawrinka was also distraught after AO 2013 robbery by N0le but he rebounded to spank Faker next year at the same tournament. Pity Faker is so mentally weak that something that happened months earlier affected him at the USO. Btw Nadal was also robbed first set RG 2014 but he still rebounded to spank N0le.
 

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Nadal lacked self-belief in 2012 AO, plus he was hitting cross-court too often, hence the rallies went on forever.
He went down-the-line way more in their next 4 slam meetings.
So I was not impressed with the 2012 AO Final, too much cross-court.

As for hardcourt peak, 2010 US Open (and he made the FINAL of the World Tour Finals and took a set from FEderer) was great.
But 2013 overall must be the best hardcourting, because he won 3 hardcourt masters shields and the US Open, plus his playing style was more hardcourt-style than anything he's ever done (even though he wasn't as athletic anymore).
:lol:
 

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U.S. open 2011 followed by AO 2012. But of course those wouldn't be included. Let's just talk about us open 2010 when he had a hilarious cakewalk draw and came up against Djoker in his worst year. How impressive. Or 2013 when he only won because Djoker choked outrageously in the third set, one of the worst chokes ever. Nothing he did in those tournaments was impressive, especially considering his draws. You couldn't get luckier than those two wins. AO 2009 was better but still Roger should have won.

Us open 2011 was by far his highest HC level. But his top HC level isn't close to Novak's 50% level on HC. The fact Djoker 1.0 owned him on HC and often beat him in straight sets proves this. I guess poor Dull fans need their delusions more than ever right now though. 7 times in a row, schooling Nadal on ALL surfaces. Nadal's peak just isn't good enough against the big boys, even when they are injured like Nole at us open 2011. Bagelled by an injured guy in your peak year. Ouch.
 

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U.S. open 2011 followed by AO 2012. But of course those wouldn't be included. Let's just talk about us open 2010 when he had a hilarious cakewalk draw and came up against Djoker in his worst year. How impressive. Or 2013 when he only won because Djoker choked outrageously in the third set, one of the worst chokes ever. Nothing he did in those tournaments was impressive, especially considering his draws. You couldn't get luckier than those two wins. AO 2009 was better but still Roger should have won.

Us open 2011 was by far his highest HC level. But his top HC level isn't close to Novak's 50% level on HC. The fact Djoker 1.0 owned him on HC and often beat him in straight sets proves this. I guess poor Dull fans need their delusions more than ever right now though.
Are you a bot who just copypasting the same messages over and over again? By whom you are programmed? Luthi? Vajda? Or maybe by Tio Toni :eek:?
 
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