TB Note: Although as today (November 4) Rafael Nadal has won three titles so far this season (Hamburg, Stuttgart and Buenos Aires), in addition to reaching the finals of Madrid, Beijing and Basel, and the semifinals in Shanghai, and achieve his qualification for the Masters, this session will mean for him the first since 2004 that has failed to win one Grand Slam title, and the first in which it has fallen to tenth place in the world rankings, the lowest of his story from the April 18, 2005 (11). There are many reasons that may have led to the decline of titles and classification. And this is the first comment then crush our analyst.
By Jan Kodes
It is very difficult to find out the feelings of the player, who has lost a little confidence and still is playing very well. I would like to start my opinion on Rafael Nadal comparing to Roger Federer.
Everyone during this season are singing the songs about Roger´s game and his latest performance, even so, he has not won any Grand Slam titles lately.
Yes, Roger changed his strategy game, he found out (or maybe advise from Stefan Edberg) that he was not able to play the same from the back of court with “youngsters” all the time due to his age and physical fitness even if his physical is still good. Roger, in my opinion started to play in that way: “I do not care if I lose, I have nothing to prove”. He tries to play riskiest game ever, coming to the net early, trying to avoid long rallies as much as possible, even in the decisive points! He can’t work so hard from the baseline like before, why should he? He would lose the long rallies from the back anyway. He can do it because his serve is very effective and he is able to reach the net fastly. He has lost some muscle and speed of movement. He hits risky winners from the back, staying inside the court hitting even half volley or coming even after second serve to the net, which he never did to frighten his opponents to make them mistakes on their passing shots. Roger is simply very smart and not afraid to lose, Why he should be? He won everything already, he is happy on the court, travelling with his family and enjoy to be on the circuit, fans like him, he still like to compete, money are there and he likes to show as he is a superstar.
Rafael Nadal is the opposite, the man with the historical record of nine Roland Garros titles, ex number one player, Wimbledon, Australia and US Open champion, Davis Cup winner for his country coming to the court with his game like before, but with heavy responsibility, very serious look which he had probably during his first ever Grand Slam final! His game is just not the same, because in my opinion he is playing too safe, afraid to hit near to the lines, playing too much passive game waiting for his opponents mistakes. His big strokes are much shorter than before, giving more chances to his opponents to hit back winners. Rafael had his health problems also and coming back is not easy, he has lost a few matches, players have stopped having respect to him on the court. Rafael must change his strategy, he must play much more boldly, step inside the court and put more pressure on his opponents. He should get much more from his lefty serve as Drobny, Laver, Fraser, Leconte, López, Ivanisevic, Llodra, etc. and try to be more aggressive like these players. His forehand should be more “drive” than topspine, which started to be too slow and short. Also Rafa must come into the court as a person who do not need to prove anything to anybody. He should not count in his great defense only. I know that he still want to win and prove…but those victories are not so important and necessaries for his life as before, and he should accept this fact. I saw Rafa came to the net to finish volleying a very important point winning his first Wimbledon! But not anymore! Is he scared? Why? He plays now safer than before. All these feeling are just my opinion about Rafa, that he seems to be more nervous during the game. He needs to reconsider his options again…he should be more relax, be happy on the court as Jimmy Connors, who always mention “playing for fans”, and I’m sure he could reach the top again. His schedule is also very important, does he needs to play so much on hard courts? What he needs is put everything together again as before…he is a great Champion and I hope he will…