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Discussion Starter #1
Simple question.

Djokovic, the greatest returner in the game, made it look like mince meat today. Clearly other guys Nadal faced struggled, but let's be honest his draw was pretty easy up until the Final. If Nadal starts playing some more solid returners who are more experienced, I also think they could return the serve. I don't even think it's anything that special, more pace, but readable for sure.

In my opinion, what Nadal really needs to work on is his return game. When his return was decent in the past (it's never been the best but good enough to get into the rally), he never needed to rely on his serve. His old serve worked well enough. His returning today vs Djokovic was just bad. I know Novak's serve has become great again in the past year or so (deserves more credit than Rafa's one off improved serve), but Nadal was making him look like a serve bot on some of the points. So many short ball returns and errors off the return.

Thoughts?
 

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I don't think the old serve would have made any difference today against Djokovic. But I agree the return of serve has to improve a lot. Today it was abysmal. He got a look in at Djokovic's second serve many a time, but did not make any impression. There are a whole range of things Nadal needs to improve to beat Djokovic particularly on the hard courts- it I should not just one or 2 things.
 

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I honestly think the new serve is going to be made to look silly soon once people start getting a read on it. It's nothing special and people only struggled with it because it was something new/different. The serve CAN be an important factor to ones game, but IMO for Nadal having a good ground game and return is way more important right now.
 

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IMO his serve was not really something new. JMac also said that in pre match show. What was new was the aggressive follow up. It worked well against inexperienced youngsters and helped him keep grind to a minimum.

Nadal's average serve speed Wimbledon '18 SF - 1st 183 km/h 2nd 152 km/h
AO '19 F - 1st 185 km/h 2nd 157 km/h
It's same serve speed basically. More flat is even easier for Novak to control.

For him, it's all about fitness so he can grind patiently and wait for his chance to pounce. Now, how will his body react to more grinding? His old style days may be numbered, on HC at least.
 
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