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Tennis Philosopher
07-10-2005, 08:58 PM
Is Rafael Nadal a one Slam wonder? Is he one of the many who thrives on clay but nothing else? In my opinion, he has the ability to win multiple Slams [ though I can't estimate how many ] and at different venues. His energy, flare, intensity, speed, and constantly improving shot making ability works dramatically in his favor. On the other hand, he must improve all aspects of his serve, [ pace, consistency, placement, and, only to a small degree, spin ] his endurance, which fatigues because of the high level of energy that he exerts everytime he steps on the court, his consistency off the ground, his net play, both in coming in more frequently and more effectively, and, in my view, his western-extreme western grip.

With this grip, Nadal cannot drive through the ball and instead vigorously brushes up on the ball. This creates a lot of spin, consistency, and difficult to hit high-bouncing balls that plagues Federer everytime he plays him. The problem with this is Nadal will not hit many winners due to his excessive spin and the resulting lack of depth and penetration. And because of this, he must work a lot harder to win points than a Federer or a Safin. [ I admit Safin has a moderate western grip but, one, as i said, it is only moderate and, two, he's just naturally able to flatten the ball out more and easier ] Also, this having to work harder for every point will undoubtedly take a toll on Nadal's body and might result in serious injuries. Especially when it comes to grips, everything has a tradeoff. While Eastern grips handle low balls well and high balls not as well and Western grips handle high balls well and low balls not as well, Semi-Western grips are a happy medium handling both pretty well. This being the case, I think Nadal should convert to the well rounded Semi-Western grip.

Speaking of well rounded things, I think the alteration that would most benefit Nadal is adopting an all court game. As Roger Federer, the best player in world right now and quite possibly, after his career has ended, of all time, demonstrates, the all court player is in the best position being so versatile and having so many options with which to implement.

Nadal does need to improve but he's young and has a lot of time do so. And in my view, if or when he does, he'll be no pushover and may even emerge as a nascent power.

Phil Daddario
07-10-2005, 09:03 PM
He's not a one slam wonder. He'll be winning plenty of Frenches, POSSIBLY the US Open. Probably not, though..

And...no. Definitely not all court. Yes, he will try to. But you can already identify his strengths. If he stays away from them and tries to force himself into doing what he isn't good at, he'll get a couple of good points and lose a LOT more matches.

Once again, it's not so easy to change your game. Plenty of pros try and screw up. If it WAS easy, then you'd see Hewitt being able to put away points like he wants to. You'd see Roddick volleying a lot more. You'd see Agassi finishing all points at the net.

Converting, and then bringing up your weaknesses to the pro level...is a lot harder than it seems.

TwistServe
07-10-2005, 09:05 PM
He's not a one slam wonder. He'll be winning plenty of Frenches, POSSIBLY the US Open. Probably not, though..



There is absolutely zero possibility of the USO. Maybe if for some reason 30 of the top tennis players all got injured at the same time he would have a remote probability.

Phil Daddario
07-10-2005, 09:09 PM
Not necessarily. Predictable bounces work extremely well with his footspeed, and the topspin still works well on hard courts. It doesn't bounce as high, but still will (with Nadal's HUGE topspin) and it'll jump faster off the ground.

The problem is, there are too many other people who are simpler better on hard courts. The surface definitely doesn't work AGAINST Nadal, but Federer, Roddick, whatever...just better there.

nViATi
07-10-2005, 09:10 PM
i don't think a pro is going to change the grip they've been using for so long and has brought them so far.

Phil Daddario
07-10-2005, 09:12 PM
Yup. Again, if it was so easy, you'd see everyone with SW/Eastern grips at Wimby. Or SW/Western grips on clay, etc. Converting is too hard at that level, you'll never be as good as you would've been if you stuck to your strengths.

You have to do all the "converting" at a young age.

Tennis Philosopher
07-10-2005, 09:52 PM
He's not a one slam wonder. He'll be winning plenty of Frenches, POSSIBLY the US Open. Probably not, though..

And...no. Definitely not all court. Yes, he will try to. But you can already identify his strengths. If he stays away from them and tries to force himself into doing what he isn't good at, he'll get a couple of good points and lose a LOT more matches.

Once again, it's not so easy to change your game. Plenty of pros try and screw up. If it WAS easy, then you'd see Hewitt being able to put away points like he wants to. You'd see Roddick volleying a lot more. You'd see Agassi finishing all points at the net.

Converting, and then bringing up your weaknesses to the pro level...is a lot harder than it seems.


Well there's no doubt multiple French Open's are in his future but I think the problem is that we simply don't know. It's too soon and Nadal's success is too newly found. I agree, as it is now, Nadal's chances in the US Open, Australian Open, and Wimbledon are pretty small. Roddick isn't able to correctly volley because he simply doesn't pay attention to mechanics and positioning. Hewitt and Agassi both have non-existent net games because they don't attempt and practice it nearly enough. There is no reason that I can see why they can't comfortably come to the net if they practice it enough. I just don't see it unless they themselves don't have the confidence, or lose confidence, if or when they lose while implimenting this alteration or if they lack the persistent attitude. Dementieva's serve can be easily fixed if she focuses on her ball toss. Safin's erratic and detrimental mental game can be resolved if he takes 5 minutes in his busy day, talks with himself, and decides whether he really wants to play tennis and if so, whether he is willing to put the work in. Taylor Dent is a bit slow due to his body type ( wide hips ) though he has beautiful vollies and great hands, but this can be cured, at least to some extent, with intensive fitness training and footwork drills. I am in NO way saying this type of change is easy because it is not, but, it IS very possible. It's a matter of long-term progressive improvement combined with a strong and compatible mentality. Nadal is determined and with a few equally determined changes, who knows.

I wasn't neccessarily saying developing an all court game was easy. I absolutely know it's difficult especially if you aren't naturally suited to it. But, as I said, with determination one could make a serious attempt and end up uncovering or discovering a skill they never knew they had. If Nadal, who I easily admit is primarily a clay courter, is willing to put the work in to attain the best results then he might have a chance to be more than a clay courter.

Tennis Philosopher
07-10-2005, 09:59 PM
i don't think a pro is going to change the grip they've been using for so long and has brought them so far.

Again, guys, it's difficult but NOT IMPOSSIBLE. For example, take Venus Williams. According to Dave Rineberg's, who was the Williams' sisters hitting coach for 7 years, book, Venus was able to change her grip from Full Western to Eastern to a comfortable semi-western. As I like to say, Ability is measured in terms of desire.

Tennis Philosopher
07-10-2005, 10:19 PM
Yup. Again, if it was so easy, you'd see everyone with SW/Eastern grips at Wimby. Or SW/Western grips on clay, etc. Converting is too hard at that level, you'll never be as good as you would've been if you stuck to your strengths.

You have to do all the "converting" at a young age.


That is not necessarily the case. Though, especially with Western grips, it is much easier and more frequently seen among juniors, changing grips is absolutely possible. Venus is one example. If you look at Monica Seles from 2000-2005, you'll see, because of a loss of speed, she started using only one hand on the forehand. This is an even more radical change and the reason she was able to do it is because she had to or her career was over. [ Seles, as you know, was never the same after the stabbing ] The reason you don't see pros doing it now is because of the following"
1] They don't practice it enough
2] They don't stick with it
3] They are afraid this will dramatically change their games
4] They are afraid they will lose success either in the short-term or the long-term as a result
5] The thought never crossed their mind for various reasons { i.e. success }
6] Because they know that it is in their muscle memory, and that during the spontaneity of their stroke production, any conflicting muscle memory impulses can result in less than optimum mechanics

It is a risk no doubt but all I am saying is that it is possible. And in the case of Nadal, like in the case of Venus and Gambill's exploration of a one-handed forehand, it could pay off and benefit you in the end. You are right that juniors can risk their careers while pros cannot in making dramatic changes. Keep in mind though, pros make more risks than you think. It hasn't noticeably paid off yet, but Roddick has been making conscious efforts to come to the net.

Besides, most pros, when faced with different opportunities, modify their grips slightly in order to get the spin, or whatever, they want. Also, the grip change would not be necessary if Nadal could hit flatter. I guess the solution is a smaller change to a less extreme western. This can be done.

Boy Wonder
07-13-2005, 09:19 AM
I agree. Using a semi-western grip myself, I don't see why Nadal can not still generate the topspin he wants and he'll be able to flatten it out simpler with a semi-western. He won't have to exert as much energy either. I agree that the semi-western is more versatile than the eastern and western. I'm sure he could perform this change if he wanted to as Venus Williams was able to.

I think Nadal is developing nicely into a more well-rounded player. His considerable doubles play has to surely help improve his serve and volley. He recognizes those weakness and will surely make the improvements needed.

Without these aforementioned improvements, he'll always have a sure-fire chance at the French and possibly on Rebound Ace, but the other two will be tough, especially Wimbledon. I guess the US Open is much more possible than Wimbledon. If these changes do occur, IMHO, his play on fast surfaces especially Wimbledon will improve; by how much? Hard to say.

Don't take Nadal as some who doesn't put in his due work. Check the quote in my signature, the kid wants it!

Rabbit
07-13-2005, 09:30 AM
There is absolutely zero possibility of the USO. Maybe if for some reason 30 of the top tennis players all got injured at the same time he would have a remote probability.

He did rather well at the TMS in Miami. Matter of fact, he had Federer about ready to cash his runner's up check. IMO, he should have put that match away. I believe that Miami is very close in surface to what's in New York?

x Southpaw x
07-13-2005, 09:33 AM
I think Nadal will be risking Kingship over clay if he switches from western to SW.

Boy Wonder
07-13-2005, 03:01 PM
He did rather well at the TMS in Miami. Matter of fact, he had Federer about ready to cash his runner's up check. IMO, he should have put that match away. I believe that Miami is very close in surface to what's in New York?

Have the resurfaced courts in Flushing Meadows really slowed up to the point of Miami? I hear that Miami's surface is a very slow hard court. The new USO and USO series courts are DecoTurf II or Plexipave. Can someone tell if the courts are closer now?

Regarding the Miami match against Federer, as a Rafa fan, he should have put that away. I think he let his inexperience of a young player betray him at that point. Disclaimer- Though he was already mentally tough to not let someone like Federer intimidate him. I think that match was the step stone to even getting more mentally tough. It was really his "breakthrough" into being one of those "top" guys and led him to much more success after that.

Boy Wonder
07-13-2005, 03:05 PM
I think Nadal will be risking Kingship over clay if he switches from western to SW.

IMHO, I disagree. The guys with the more eastern grips like Davenport are suited on faster courts. The guys with the more western grips like Nadal has now are suited to slower courts. Now, you get the guys with the SW grip, who IMO, have the most versatile grip. They can utilize that grip to do their willing(whether it's topspin or flat) on both fast courts and slow courts.

sedwickdotcom
07-13-2005, 03:09 PM
Definitely multiple Frenches, and he has the potential to win at US and AO, but someone (landry or lombardi) once said that potential is what gets you beat. Nadal is a hard worker and someone's signature around here has a good Nadal quote- something to the effect of "Work with humility and never make do with what you've got. Always want more." he's young so his attitude may change but i think hell definitely pull off at least a couple more slams in his career

FedererUberAlles
07-13-2005, 04:07 PM
I think Nadal is pretty close to his ceiling; now we just have to wait for Gasquet.

VamosRafa
07-13-2005, 08:18 PM
I think Nadal is pretty close to his ceiling; now we just have to wait for Gasquet.

Rafa doesn't agree with you, and I think, in the end, that's what will matter. Either we will keep underestimating him, and he will keep pulling rabbits out of his hat (or his bandana, as it were), or we'll realize that he actually is teenage phenom with a future -- which is what many ATP players think.

Things are a bit opposite with Richard right now, where folks overestimate, and then are surprised that he can't produce the rabbits. Will be interesting to see if he can.

Here's what Rafa said a few days ago, as translated from Spanish:

Are there no flaws in this oh so perfect person?

Well, if we really have to come up with something negative, they say that Rafa Nadal will be just another victim of the system that has created him, that he has reached the top far too soon, that he will not be able to keep it up, that injuries, psychological tiredness and growing problems will come along... That it would have been better for him to have kept on being a normal kid doing the things kids of his age do instead of converting himself into a precocious phenomen, as precocious as Mats Wilander, Björn Borg and Boris Becker before him.

- "I don't know if all of this has come along too early or too late for me," says Rafa Nadal when this is put to him. But, that's the way things are. When it comes along, it comes along and you have no choice. I can't choose, can't ever say, when I'm going to win or not. Tennis is a sport that's played by equals and I'm very happy to be up there at the top at my age. But, in any case, I don't think I've reached the summit. I've won a tournament that's important to every player, a Grand Slam. Of course, it's the dream that you've had since you were small - you're always talking about winning one and when you do you're extremely happy and all that. But, obviously you have to keep on training day in day out, as you've always done. If you want to stay at the top and you want to keep on climbing the ratings and winning the odd important tournament, you have to keep on working every day with the same humility and calmness you've always had."

Phil Daddario
07-13-2005, 08:26 PM
Definitely. What's good with Nadal is that he knows what he wants to do with his game and he has a strong desire to make it there.

I honestly don't see him winning a US Open, although an AO is always a possibility (slower courts). Currently, he'll only have a chance on the slowest of hard courts. But he's definitely putting in the effort. It might change.

TEAMRAFA
07-14-2005, 01:22 PM
hey don't forget sampras use to have a 2HBH

Phil Daddario
07-14-2005, 01:56 PM
Then he switched to a one hander, and his game improved SO much because of it.

He was actually a natural one hander. But there are a lot of natural two handers that would do horrible switching to a 1HB as well.