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View Full Version : Federer should be more aggressive


Defcon
06-06-2006, 12:18 PM
As a diehard Fed fan, it pains me to say this, but I fear he's not looking that good. Now this might seem like a strange thing to say after his easy straight set victories. Allow me to explain.

So far, Federer has been playing very safe, conservative tennis. His groundstrokes are hit with lots of topspin and a lot of them land around the service line, except when he goes for winners. Basically, he's been winning because he's more consisten than anyone he's faced, and is relying on his defense a lot. When pushed by an aggressive shot or an approach, he's not winning the point the majority of the times. He's not coming to net as much as in the early rounds. Roger also has very low breakpoint conversions, but he's always had that, so we can discount it.

What's worrying to me is this is exactly the sort of game Nadal likes to face. Nice, loopy strokes, grinding it out. The players Nadal has trouble with are flat hitters and net rushers. We know Fed can hit flat winners and he does do it on occasion but IMO he should be practicing his tactics against Nadal before he faces him, in what amounts to practice matches for him anyway. The one bright spark is Fed seems to be going for more on his 1st serve, and he will be a lot fresher.

Lets hope I'm wrong about this. Wouldn't be the first time :)

sureshs
06-06-2006, 12:41 PM
When pushed by an aggressive shot or an approach, he's not winning the point the majority of the times.


I agree. He basically gives up. He is not good when pushed outside his comfort zone and that could be his undoing this weekend.

dh003i
06-06-2006, 12:42 PM
well, or you could argue, he should focus on the best strategy for whoever he's playing -- and it seems like he's been doing this -- so he has the best chance of getting to the finals. I don't think Fed will need any practice to implement an appropriate strategy against Nadal. Besides, it's not "practice" if he implements it against someone else, who doesn't play like Nadal: then, it's just a poorly conceived strategy.

travlerajm
06-06-2006, 12:50 PM
I think Fed needs to play the way he did in the last 2 sets when he beat Nadal in Miami. Midway through the 3rd set, with Nadal up 2 sets and a break, Nadal started breathing hard after a few long points. Feferer sensed that he might be able to take advantage. He started playing "windshield wiper" tennis, moving Nadal back and forth side to side. He didn't worry about finishing the point quickly - his goal was just to keep Nadal running and getting more tired. By the end of the match, Nadal looked so exhausted it was almost funny. On match point, Federer hit a soft rally ball down the line at the end of a long rally and Nadal could only hobble breathlessly and flail at it.

I think Nadal used that match as a wakeup call that he needed to improved his conditioning, but I think Federer still knows that he has the fitness edge. He commented after the Miami match that he was surprised that Nadal's conditioning failed him. And after the 5-setter that Nadal won last month, Federer commented that he felt perfectly fresh at the end. I think if you read between the lines he was saying that he felt like he was the fresher player at the end, and that was why he said that he should of won.

simi
06-06-2006, 12:56 PM
...He started playing "windshield wiper" tennis, moving Nadal back and forth side to side...

Interesting analysis. There are not two better players who can play "windshield wiper" tennis than those two. Let's hope we see them together on Sunday.

Defcon
06-06-2006, 01:15 PM
Fed has been playing passive, almost lackadaisical tennis. As you say, 'getting the job done'. Thats good enough to beat anyone anywhere except Nadal on clay.

He needs to get mad, play with fire and passion, and play to win. This doesn't mean histrionics like Nadal, just that he should always keep the pressure on and not rely on unforced errors.

ACE of Hearts
06-06-2006, 01:19 PM
Everytime he plays Nadal, his errors go up.Who knows, maybe he isnt showing Nadal anything new until the final if he beats Nalby.

travlerajm
06-06-2006, 01:27 PM
Everytime he plays Nadal, his errors go up.Who knows, maybe he isnt showing Nadal anything new until the final if he beats Nalby.

Fed plays with a racquet setup designed to maximize spin (very low tension). The downside to using a low tension high-spin setup is that it makes the trajectory of your shot much more dependent on the incoming spin level. So when Federer runs up against Nadal's tremendous spin, it tends to make him spray more balls.

Nadal uses a max-spin setup too, but because he usually stands way behind the baseline, he usually takes the ball after the spin has slowed down a lot. Federer tries to take more balls on the rise, which doesn't work very well with low tension against a player like Nadal.

Players like Blake and Sampras who play with much heavier frames at higher tensions are rarely bothered by heavy spin shots, because their shot trajectories don't really vary much with different incoming spin level.

fastdunn
06-06-2006, 02:03 PM
Everytime he plays Nadal, his errors go up.Who knows, maybe he isnt showing Nadal anything new until the final if he beats Nalby.

I think he does that. He himself said he has this multiple layers
of game and he does not feel need to use all of them unless he
needs them to win it. But the thing with Nadal is different. He
has something definite to be improved and he is improving those.

For example, he needs to improve backhand against Nadal's
spinny shots and he needs net game against Nadal.
And his net game failed horribly at Dubai final but did much
better at Rome final.

fastdunn
06-06-2006, 02:08 PM
I agree he turned very conservative from AO of this year.
But his game was always based on spin. He wasn't exactly
a flat hitter from the beginning.. I remember Navratilova's comments
on crazy spin of Federer's shots after she hit with him..


As a diehard Fed fan, it pains me to say this, but I fear he's not looking that good. Now this might seem like a strange thing to say after his easy straight set victories. Allow me to explain.

So far, Federer has been playing very safe, conservative tennis. His groundstrokes are hit with lots of topspin and a lot of them land around the service line, except when he goes for winners. Basically, he's been winning because he's more consisten than anyone he's faced, and is relying on his defense a lot. When pushed by an aggressive shot or an approach, he's not winning the point the majority of the times. He's not coming to net as much as in the early rounds. Roger also has very low breakpoint conversions, but he's always had that, so we can discount it.

What's worrying to me is this is exactly the sort of game Nadal likes to face. Nice, loopy strokes, grinding it out. The players Nadal has trouble with are flat hitters and net rushers. We know Fed can hit flat winners and he does do it on occasion but IMO he should be practicing his tactics against Nadal before he faces him, in what amounts to practice matches for him anyway. The one bright spark is Fed seems to be going for more on his 1st serve, and he will be a lot fresher.

Lets hope I'm wrong about this. Wouldn't be the first time :)

thejackal
06-06-2006, 02:20 PM
The main thing I saw was that his backhands lacked depth. Otherwise I didn't see many other deficiencies in his game.

FedererUberAlles
06-06-2006, 02:21 PM
I think Federer doesn't want to risk it. He said it himself he was pretty afraid that he wouldn't make the semifinals, and that they were his first goal. Federer isn't stupid; he's not going to play right into Nadal's hands, he knows how to play him, it's just a matter of executing. I think defensive tennis saves energy for Federer, and he knows that is the most important thing to Slams.

federerhoogenbandfan
06-06-2006, 02:21 PM
It is ironic that Federer needs to come to the net more on clay then on grass tough, when grass is the surface you are supposed to come in more. On clay he would need to come to the net to beat somebody like Nadal since he cant beat him on clay playing only from the baseline. However on grass there are no current players who can beat him from the baseline so he does not to come to the net at all if he wishes not to, if Nadal played Federer on grass Nadal is the one who would need to try coming to the net since he would have no chance from the baselin, yet he is hopeless at the net which is why he would get crushed.

The tennis guy
06-06-2006, 02:37 PM
Actually it is just opposite of what you are saying. It's Federer's strength to alter his game against different players. Against Berdych and Ancic type of big hitters, why should Federer play too aggressive on CLAY? If he did, it would have meant Nadal got to Federer's head, Federer just focuses all his game on Nadal. Now he plays the way that benifits him the most based on his opponent. When play Nadal, play a different aggressive game. This is why Federer is on top. He is not altering his overall approach based on just one opponent.

FedererUberAlles
06-06-2006, 02:39 PM
Actually it is just opposite of what you are saying. It's Federer's strength to alter his game against different players. Against Berdych and Ancic type of big hitters, why should Federer play too aggressive on CLAY? If he did, it would have meant Nadal got to Federer's head, Federer just focuses all his game on Nadal. Now he plays the way that benifits him the most based on his opponent. When play Nadal, play a different aggressive game. This is why Federer is on top. He is not altering his overall approach based on just one opponent.

I agree; when he plays Nadal, he'll do what he needs to do to face Nadal. As of now, he only needs a defensive game.

arosen
06-06-2006, 02:44 PM
Fed won every match so far without as much as breaking a sweat. The only set he lost was against massu, and that one was a fluke, he just lost concentration for a moment, righted himself and wont the match in the following one. Why should he go for extra when he is winning in straights? Now that he is playing Nalby, that's when he would have to be at the top of his game, and given the donut that Nalby is lugging around, Fed is going to turn the windshield wipers on and attack the net only when he is sure to hit a putaway. Fed said himself that Nalby likes it when Fed is pressing the issue, and staying back agaist him and being patient has won him matches. I believe it will win him matches come semi and the final, provided he doesn't get all rattled and starts going in on every point like he did in Dubai.

darknight08
06-06-2006, 03:35 PM
Everytime he plays Nadal, his errors go up.Who knows, maybe he isnt showing Nadal anything new until the final if he beats Nalby.


Exactly my thinking..

fastdunn
06-06-2006, 04:20 PM
It is ironic that Federer needs to come to the net more on clay then on grass tough, when grass is the surface you are supposed to come in more. On clay he would need to come to the net to beat somebody like Nadal since he cant beat him on clay playing only from the baseline. However on grass there are no current players who can beat him from the baseline so he does not to come to the net at all if he wishes not to, if Nadal played Federer on grass Nadal is the one who would need to try coming to the net since he would have no chance from the baselin, yet he is hopeless at the net which is why he would get crushed.

What Federer truely impressed me at Wimbledon is
his return/defense game against players like Roddick.

But I think Nadal will have similar neutralizing effects
on Federer's baseline game even on grass of Wimbledon.
The dynamic between lefty and righty still same and
it's side spin that bothers Federer more.

And Federer will be more temptd to exploit the net
but I do not think Federer is that confident at the net.
That's why I think Federer vs Nadal match will be closer
than what people think..

simi
06-06-2006, 05:52 PM
That's why I think Federer vs Nadal match will be closer
than what people think..

I think pretty much everyone (who is not biased) is expecting a very close match. It will boil down to a few points and who can play the pressure points better.

federerhoogenbandfan
06-06-2006, 07:34 PM
But I think Nadal will have similar neutralizing effects
on Federer's baseline game even on grass of Wimbledon.
The dynamic between lefty and righty still same and
it's side spin that bothers Federer more.

And Federer will be more temptd to exploit the net
but I do not think Federer is that confident at the net.
That's why I think Federer vs Nadal match will be closer
than what people think..

No offense but that is one of the craziest statements I have ever read in every which way. :rolleyes:

federerhoogenbandfan
06-06-2006, 07:35 PM
I think pretty much everyone (who is not biased) is expecting a very close match. It will boil down to a few points and who can play the pressure points better.

She/he was talking about a match at Wimbledon if you can believe it.

simi
06-06-2006, 07:42 PM
I think pretty much everyone (who is not biased) is expecting a very close match. It will boil down to a few points and who can play the pressure points better.
She/he was talking about a match at Wimbledon if you can believe it.

Oops. Context! Guess my mind is still on this weeks tournament. Sorry.

Re: Wimbledon, I very much doubt that they would ever face each other, unless it is a fluke of seeding. Absolutely, I cannot see them meeting in a Wimbledon finals match. If they ever did meet each other . . . well, it would be like me facing Carlos Berlocq . . . and he would not be the one asking for a double dose of cream cheese.

The tennis guy
06-06-2006, 07:46 PM
What Federer truely impressed me at Wimbledon is
his return/defense game against players like Roddick.

But I think Nadal will have similar neutralizing effects
on Federer's baseline game even on grass of Wimbledon.
The dynamic between lefty and righty still same and
it's side spin that bothers Federer more.

And Federer will be more temptd to exploit the net
but I do not think Federer is that confident at the net.
That's why I think Federer vs Nadal match will be closer
than what people think..

What you forgot about is the topspin from Nadal won't jump up too high on Federer's backhand anymore, and Nadal can't retrieve ball from 10 feet behind baseline on grass effectively anymore.

Grass at Wimbledon bounces much higher than before. However, it is relatively to soft grass only. If you compare to hardcourt, even today's Wimbledon firm grass still bounces much much lower. You saw Nadal on grass last year, his top spin ended up shorter and shorter when he stayed far behind baseline, and his topspin shot just sat there begging to get killed by Mueller. Actually his backhand worked better there because it was flater shot.

As of Federer's net game, if he comes to net a lot during a match like he did against Nadal at Rome, he volleyed remarkablely well. That was the best volley I have seen from him since he became No. 1 - he volleyed like that before he became No. 1. He does tend to shank volley if he comes to net only occasionally. He has been volleying really well on clay this year.

federerhoogenbandfan
06-06-2006, 07:47 PM
A match between Federer on grass would be something like this:

1)Nadal could not compete with Federer from the baseline on grass.
2)Nadal would have a hard time returning Federer's serve on grass.
3)Since Nadal could not compete with Federer from the baseline on grass he would have to come in, and he isnt nearly good enough at the net to do anything up there.
4)Federer would crush returns off Nadal's serves which arent overpowering enough or with enough slice for grass.
5)Where on clay Nadal moves better then Fed, and on hard courts atleast as well if not better, on grass his movement is nowhere near as good as Fed's, his main advantage, aside from the leftiness, and heavy spin gone.

So where on clay a 75% Nadal can still beat a 100% Federer, as the Roma final showed, a 30% Federer could beat a 100% Nadal in straight sets on grass.

BaseLineBash
06-06-2006, 08:26 PM
I think Roger on clay is really about self-preservation. Him giving 100% on clay is not equal to giving 100% on grass or hard-court. People don't realize that you can really hurt yourself pressing on a surface that you are not fully comfortable on and one wrong move could ruin your career. That being said, I think he'll pull through.

federerhoogenbandfan
06-06-2006, 08:30 PM
If he were to win the French he would tie the great Andre Agassi with 8 slams, but only match the great Andre Agassi's accomplishment of winning all 4 majors. Imagine the mens game having 2 guys who have won 8 majors and won all 4 majors, even if only for another 1 or 2, it would be incredable.

monologuist
06-06-2006, 08:54 PM
As was stated previously, the strength of Federer's game is his ability to adapt to different situations.

Against players that are generally more conservative and consistent than he is like Nalbandian and Nadal, look for Fed to employ an attacking game especially in his service games, constantly looking to move forward. It is crucial for him to serve well in order to play his attacking tennis, looking to take control of points immediately. This is compounded when the opponent is an excellent returner like Nalbandian.

On his return games, as is usual for him, Federer will tend to play a bit more conservatively early in the match, rarely opting for an all-out attack, even on second serves. As the match wears on, if he is failing to make a dent on his opponents service games, look for him to step it up and begin returning more aggressively. But in general, he prefers to chip or slice his returns, especially on the backhand wing, as his opponents tend to attack his backhand on serve, often with big kickserves. In doing so, Federer is often successful in neutralizing his opponents second shot after serve, his excellent low, deep, skidding slice returns, proving difficult to attack. I've noticed that on return games, he will frequently employ his short slice to draw opponents to net in order to pass them, particularly if the opponent is not comfortable in the forecourt, such as Nalbandian.

In any case, the one area that I would like to see Fed be more aggressive in is returning second serves against the likes of Nadal and Nalbandian. Returning a lefty kickserve is not a walk in the park, but I feel that he lets Nadal get away with too many weak second serves. You see Nadal tallying multiple love games or 40-15 games, and this is a guy whose serve is one of his greatest weaknesses. James Blake was very successful in this regard and I believe he demoralized Nadal with his aggressive returns. This not only applied more pressure on his first serve, but in general put more pressure on his service games. The resulting deflation of Nadal's spirit was practically visible on his face and in his body language. Whle Federer's larger backsinwg makes it less natural for him to attack serves as Agassi and Blake are so adept at doing, I believe that it would be a worthwhile risk to at least attempt this tactic. Even when the return was not an outright winner, Blake was successful in forcing Nadal into a weak follow-up shot, b/c of the depth and pace of the return, which often resulted in a short ball from Nadal's end, since he himself has such a large swing.

We'll see; it's unlikely that we will see too many new wrinkles to Federer's attempt to finally defeat Nadal. He seemed confident after the Rome final that he had played the match precisely the way he needed to in order to get the win, two errant matchpoint forehands notwithstanding.

FEDEXP
06-06-2006, 09:06 PM
And not stated here (and I know it is obvious) part of Federer's strategy in a Slam is to conserve energy along the way.....

HollerOne5
06-06-2006, 09:16 PM
I agree he turned very conservative from AO of this year.
But his game was always based on spin. He wasn't exactly
a flat hitter from the beginning.. I remember Navratilova's comments
on crazy spin of Federer's shots after she hit with him..

Yeah, I don't understand why everyone only talks about Nadal's crazy topspin, I think Federer hits a lot of junk on his backhand slice especially. I'm sure its real tough for players to get used to, but sometimes his slice hits some crazy spins and angles, and sure skids a lot. Who knows if its ALWAYS intentional.