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View Full Version : Advice for Roger - Article on how strategies to beat Nadal on Clay


routine125
04-26-2007, 02:46 PM
Advice for Rogerby: Stephen Tignor, TENNIS.com
posted: Wednesday, April 25, 2007 | Feedback | Print Entry
filed under: Tennis

There's only one story in tennis right now, Roger, and I think you know what it is: Can you beat Rafael Nadal on clay in time to win the French Open?

When the year started and Nadal had his biceps handed to him by guys named Gonzalez and Youzhny, you probably liked your odds. But put Rafa on a dusty red court and he's a new man. He left you slump-shouldered again in Monte Carlo on Sunday. Afterward, you said the right things about gathering more useful "information" about his game.


What more is there to learn? You're 0-5 against Nadal on clay. You've been "getting closer" to him for a year now. You seem to think that if you keep playing your normal game you'll pass the Spaniard the way you did your old tormentors, Lleyton Hewitt and David Nalbandian. I mean, where are those guys now?


You're right -- why would you change anything? Still, there must be a seed of doubt; you don't shank 20 forehands long against anybody but Nadal. I know you're bombarded with advice about how to play him, but hopefully you won't mind 2 cents more from someone who's sat through all five of your clay-court demises.


Don't change your game, but use more of it
You're a complete player, but usually you don't need to be. You can win by rallying and waiting for a mistake or drilling a forehand. That doesn't cut it against Nadal on clay. He doesn't miss enough, and when you play defense, he bullies you.


Learn from James Blake (I know that's tough to swallow, but just do it) and use combinations. Go hard to the forehand to push Nadal back and open up the backhand, or slice low to his two-hander to get a short ball. Your forcing shots don't need to be perfect. Make him beat you with a pass; it's better than sailing a forehand long.


Guess on the return
Nadal almost always serves to your backhand, yet you miss many of those returns. Lean that way and try to get in after the return early in the match; you might get in his head.


Think first-serve percentage
You made 55 percent of first serves Sunday. That's too low. Nadal attacks second serves, but on first serves he often sends back a hacked, floating slice backhand. Get the first serve in.


Push him back, not wide
It's hard to beat Nadal out wide. But his long strokes mean he can be handcuffed by a deep drive down the middle, even on his forehand side. This may earn you a high, short mishit.


Listen to Pete
You're a baseliner, so it's hard to become a net-rusher. But consider Pete Sampras' words about Nadal. He says he would have liked his chances because he could have gotten to the net on him. This is difficult on clay, but Sampras' confidence and mindset shouldn't be ignored.


Change the routine
Nadal pumps his fists, you hang your head. Don't let him monopolize the intensity in the arena. You're going for history -- getting pumped up now and then will remind you of that, and change a negative dynamic.


Have no regrets
Try everything in your arsenal. If he beats you after that, it wasn't meant to be.


Remember this is all easier said than done. You're still No. 1, and surface variety is the spice of tennis.


Go win Wimbledon
And let us not speak of clay until next year.

The Gorilla
04-26-2007, 03:10 PM
yeah, I agree with you about the use of combinations, but you have to be mentally prepared to set them up again and again and again because he will run down the vast majority of them.

grizzly4life
04-26-2007, 03:40 PM
http://www.mensvogue.com/health/feature/articles/2007/04/roger_federer?currentPage=1

i saw this at the magazine store and hadn't seen it posted here... the photos are pretty entertaining.

not totally sure but i think if you click on different things, there's a major article, a major interview and whole bunch of photos.

sorry if it's been post before... i hadnt' seen it and i'm here every day.

TennisandMusic
04-26-2007, 04:05 PM
I like how everyone assumes Federer needs to just catch up to Nadal and that's it, he will beat him. No one ever mentions the idea that just maybe Nadal is improving on Clay at the same time. You can still be the best and improving. Just perhaps Federer will never catch Nadal on clay? How come there are no giant articles trying to help Nadal beat Federer on grass?

The one sidedness of it all is a bit silly. I just find it amusing that people talk about Nadal's clay game level like it's a stationary thing and Federer just needs to listen to all the laymen to beat him...

dh003i
04-26-2007, 04:17 PM
TennisMusic,

Pray tell, what exactly could Nadal do to be better on clay?

In any event, no-ones talking about what Nadal should do to beat Federer anywhere because Nadal isn't chasing history in terms of a calendar year GS.

Bassus
04-26-2007, 07:55 PM
I like how everyone assumes Federer needs to just catch up to Nadal and that's it, he will beat him. No one ever mentions the idea that just maybe Nadal is improving on Clay at the same time. You can still be the best and improving. Just perhaps Federer will never catch Nadal on clay? How come there are no giant articles trying to help Nadal beat Federer on grass?

The one sidedness of it all is a bit silly. I just find it amusing that people talk about Nadal's clay game level like it's a stationary thing and Federer just needs to listen to all the laymen to beat him...


Its quite simple really. Federer has dominated every surface except clay, and he's come close to dominating clay also. Put another way; he would most have won two French Opens if not for Nadal, as well as Rome, and two Monte Carlos.

Nadal has not dominated any surface other than clay, and has not come close to a calendar year slam as Federer has twice done. Maybe he will some day -- he's only 20 afterall -- but so far he's only made one great run at a grandslam outside of Paris.

The reason there is no great examination of Nadal overtaking Federer on grass is because they have only played once on that surface. If Nadal makes a habit of losing to Federer on grass, then you'll see more how-to articles for him. Unfortunately, the too-short grass court season, and the fact that they play different Wimbledon tuneups means that there is only going to be one shot each year.

Bassus
04-26-2007, 07:58 PM
If his forehand is misfiring as badly as it was Sunday, it would be interesting to see Federer play a more no holds barred attacking style, and see what happens. He may very well get thumped in embarrassing fashion, but I agree with the author here that its better to make Nadal hit a great passing shot than to shank yet another ground stroke into the net or several feet out of bounds.

psamp14
04-26-2007, 08:49 PM
wow what a great read....no one can really give federer advice...but thats really big for 2 cents...from the basics of getting 1st serves in and not letting nadal capitalize on federer's "hanging his head"...to the big things like listen to pete...last year's match in rome was a great example of it...federer came to net a lot and won a lot of points doing it....he should implement that more...he is the more complete player

crazylevity
04-26-2007, 09:33 PM
Interestingly enough, in the VOGUE interview, it seems that Federer is almost eager to play Nadal. I like this mentality though...

Nadal has been in excellent form this season, since returning to the red dust. He's won 69 matches, but the last few have been surprisingly easy. Losing 9 points on serve in two matches? Previously unheard of. Makes Federer's 4 & 4 loss look good.

Federer's forehand was misfiring a great deal in Monte Carlo. Once he finds that again, and if Nadal doesn't keep this incredible level up, the very unlikely Grand Slam may just happen.

caulcano
04-27-2007, 12:21 AM
Learn from James Blake (I know that's tough to swallow, but just do it) and use combinations. Go hard to the forehand to push Nadal back and open up the backhand, or slice low to his two-hander to get a short ball. Your forcing shots don't need to be perfect. Make him beat you with a pass; it's better than sailing a forehand long.


I more or less agree with most of the articule except the Blake thing. Federer doesn't have a problem with Nadal on any surface except clay therefore I don't see Blake troubling Nadal on clay. Actually, I can't see anyone troubling Nadal on clay.

tennis_hand
04-27-2007, 12:26 AM
Talk is cheap.

austro
04-27-2007, 01:54 AM
http://www.mensvogue.com/health/feature/articles/2007/04/roger_federer?currentPage=1

i saw this at the magazine store and hadn't seen it posted here... the photos are pretty entertaining.

not totally sure but i think if you click on different things, there's a major article, a major interview and whole bunch of photos.

sorry if it's been post before... i hadnt' seen it and i'm here every day.

This is teh firsttime I see his girlfriend looking good! I like his style! Doesn't even dress that expensive for a multi-millionaire...

caulcano
04-27-2007, 03:03 AM
Talk is cheap.

So are w*****.

jelle v
04-27-2007, 05:45 AM
Change the routine
Nadal pumps his fists, you hang your head. Don't let him monopolize the intensity in the arena. You're going for history -- getting pumped up now and then will remind you of that, and change a negative dynamic.

I actually believe that this is the most important thing to change. Nadal is flaming on the court. Federer always stays quiet. Maybe it's not quiet in his head, but if you shout "come on" a couple of times after winning a point, you send a message to your opponent. But as far as sending messages, it always is oneway traffic. Nadal does al the pumping himiself up and shouting. With that, you give Nadal a mental advantage.

I was watching Monte Carlo and all match long I was thinking, when is Federer gonna shout something..?

snapple
04-27-2007, 07:32 AM
I actually believe that this is the most important thing to change. Nadal is flaming on the court. Federer always stays quiet. Maybe it's not quiet in his head, but if you shout "come on" a couple of times after winning a point, you send a message to your opponent. But as far as sending messages, it always is oneway traffic. Nadal does al the pumping himiself up and shouting. With that, you give Nadal a mental advantage.

I was watching Monte Carlo and all match long I was thinking, when is Federer gonna shout something..?

Did borg feel the need to shout? Shouting doesn't give Nadal a mental advantage UNLESS Fed allows it to, which would be the case if Nadal's theatrics compel Fed to change his natural court demeanor.

pound cat
04-27-2007, 03:58 PM
Roger should read this illustrated article on the tactics Rafa uses to beat him (bbc.co.uk)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/skills/5019976.stm

FD3S
04-27-2007, 06:19 PM
"What more is there to learn? You're 0-5 against Nadal on clay. You've been "getting closer" to him for a year now."

Anyone else think this smacks of A-Rod's problems with Fed? (Just with different number values?)

David L
04-28-2007, 08:11 PM
Few people will have a better idea of what Federer has to do than Federer. He knows what he has to do. It's all in the execution. Maybe some of these back seat drivers should try playing Nadal on clay themselves.

PrinceO3TourOS
04-29-2007, 11:43 AM
*****The only thing Roger needs to beat Rafa on clay is a 95 in. or 100 in. racquet head*****
...and more patience ;)

Aykhan Mammadov
04-29-2007, 01:23 PM
IMO, there is nothing to advise Fed.

The only thing - is VERY STRONG BELIEF in himself, he must struggle for every single point, not relax in advance, not become stressed after losing one game, even 1 set. He must think about every single point, not about result of a set, match and etc...He must imagine that his match plays no role in the history like when he plays in Playstation with anonimous opponent.

If this psychological advice helps him I insist he must send me big present.

obsessedtennisfandisorder
04-30-2007, 08:32 PM
I'm surprised the serve and volley tactic is not mentioned more.

I'm mystified as to federer serving and volleying alot when he was younger to the likes of sampras...who had quite flat shots and could be an aggressive returner...yet Fed won't even serve and volley one point against nadal.

The best time to come to the net against a passive returner is the beginning...kuerten...many will remember...stayed a long way back on the return as well. Rafter,Sampras and Henman , in all their matches with guga I didn't see one point where they stayed back.

nadal's making hard work of a guy ranked 300 in the world giving him all sorts of fits..with a simple tactic.

Fed won't even try it...it's sad really.

The first few games might be hard because i would imagine the amount of topspin nads puts on the ball you might have to alter the volley a fraction...but if you can reach the volley...you can finish the point....

it would take nadal's high bouncing fh to fed bh totally out of play.

Sometimes the best time to come to the net is at the beginning...because the longer the rally goes on..the more nadal forces his opponents into a situation where approaching the net then is too risky/easier to pass.

As for Nadal's service games....just do runaround bh's. It amazes me Fed did it repeatedly against Safin in the 2004 AO final...safin with a bigger serve and all...yet won't risk anything against nad.

my 2 cents.:D

Dilettante
05-01-2007, 05:28 AM
I'm surprised the serve and volley tactic is not mentioned more.

S&V hasn't ever been the appropiate tactic to win on clay. I wonder why should it be the appropiate tactic to beat one of the strongest claycourters ever.

The "universal" goodness of S&V is a myth held by some, like you do. On clay you'll need other tactics. Specially in these days, when there are a lot of players grown on clay who have strong -and specific- weapons to play in that surface.

It's like saying "Nadal should try more topspin, defense and long rallies to win indoor carpet tournaments". Nonsense.

To win on clay, you need clay game, not grass or fast HC game.

skiracer55
05-02-2007, 11:13 AM
S&V hasn't ever been the appropiate tactic to win on clay. I wonder why should it be the appropiate tactic to beat one of the strongest claycourters ever.

The "universal" goodness of S&V is a myth held by some, like you do. On clay you'll need other tactics. Specially in these days, when there are a lot of players grown on clay who have strong -and specific- weapons to play in that surface.

It's like saying "Nadal should try more topspin, defense and long rallies to win indoor carpet tournaments". Nonsense.

To win on clay, you need clay game, not grass or fast HC game.

...all kinds of people have won the French playing S&V at least some of the time...Roy Emerson and Yannick Noah are two who come to mind. Sampras won Rome playing lots of S&V. Whether Roger can beat Nadal on clay with some, or all, S&V, is not exactly the point. I agree that Roger has to believe he can beat Nadal on clay...but I think he already does. What's more important is to come up with something other than the "same old, same old" that's given him close, but no cigar against Rafa on clay. Here's one nobody's going to believe (but I do, otherwise I wouldn't be saying it): neither one is going to win the French this year. I don't know who it is, but it's going to be a real surprise, a la Gaston Gaudio...

jrgfederer
05-02-2007, 11:31 AM
i pretty much agree with everything you say except that federer is a baseliner. Hes naturaly a S&V player, but he plays back because really he can dominate people on hard and grass from anywhere. Until a year or two ago he was almost strictly serve and volley. When he first one wimbledon he serve and volleyed like 90% of his 1st serves (not sure exactly of the percent).

Grimjack
05-02-2007, 12:58 PM
LOL @ "Stephen Tignor" -- WhoeverTF he is -- giving the world's 2nd best claycourt player advice on how to win.

Bassus
05-02-2007, 07:43 PM
i pretty much agree with everything you say except that federer is a baseliner. Hes naturaly a S&V player, but he plays back because really he can dominate people on hard and grass from anywhere. Until a year or two ago he was almost strictly serve and volley. When he first one wimbledon he serve and volleyed like 90% of his 1st serves (not sure exactly of the percent).


If that is so, you'll have to go back more than one or two years. He served and vollyed a lot (pretty much every first serve) in the classic Sampras match at Wimbledon, but since the grass got slower at Wimbledon, he's won it pretty much from the baseline in all four of his victories there. And I can't ever remember him S&V'ing much on hard courts.

In an earlier time, I do think Federer would have excelled at S&V, but with the conditions today, and his near total non-clay dominance, there is no reason for him to even try.

skiracer55
05-03-2007, 08:54 AM
If that is so, you'll have to go back more than one or two years. He served and vollyed a lot (pretty much every first serve) in the classic Sampras match at Wimbledon, but since the grass got slower at Wimbledon, he's won it pretty much from the baseline in all four of his victories there. And I can't ever remember him S&V'ing much on hard courts.

In an earlier time, I do think Federer would have excelled at S&V, but with the conditions today, and his near total non-clay dominance, there is no reason for him to even try.


...and you're right on target. The fact that Fed can play an S&V point doesn't mean he can or wants to pull it out of the closet in the final of the FO against Rafa. Having said all that...if he wants to win the F), and I gotta believe he does, he has to do something different, because just trying to be a couple of points better at the end is too risk a proposition, IMHO...