Great article: Carl Bialik of WSJ analyses Nadal's clay season so far

Discussion in 'Pro Match Results and Discussion' started by falstaff78, Apr 19, 2013.

  1. falstaff78

    falstaff78 Professional

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    #1
  2. bullfan

    bullfan Legend

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    Nadal didn't play very well today. He had a bad net game as well as making some poor shots in the middle of the court as opposed to angles. He also seemed to check out after the first set. All in all not one of his better matches, but it goes in the win column none the less.
     
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  3. VAMOSDNA

    VAMOSDNA Banned

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    Nadal said that he didn't have the intensity after the 1st set. It indeed looked like his level dropped (similar to last year's clay loss to Verdasco). He probably felt like it was going to be another 6-2 6-4 and like you said he checked out mentally. The writer of the article has definitely confused himself.
     
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  4. bullfan

    bullfan Legend

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    I didn't read the article, I just went by what I saw. Even the commentators had switched topics at the beginning of the second set thinking it would be a wipeout. I chose to walk the dog and was surprised to see what I saw after walking the dog.
     
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  5. veroniquem

    veroniquem Bionic Poster

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    I agree. Biased article that reflects the writer's fantasy much more than Rafa's actual perf this season. He's on the verge of his 5th final of the season (final has been his worst result so far), 4 of which on clay. More vulnerable? Complete bull. He's having some physical concerns, sure, but he's as dominant over the field as he's ever been. (And it's not like he had never lost sets on clay before: Mathieu, Gulbis, Almagro, Isner... So what, he's not a machine. But he (almost) always gets the win and that's why he's the clay king).
     
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  6. VAMOSDNA

    VAMOSDNA Banned

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    That's true, after seeing how much he struggled in 2011 clay season, and then seeing him breeze through 2012 clay season, it seems like Nadal doesn't have a consistent decline, just ups and downs (and the downs are victorious enough).
     
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  7. falstaff78

    falstaff78 Professional

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    hey Clarky

    You get a lot of flak on the forum for your appraisals of Nadal's clay performances despite the fact that he wins. I must say I was cynical about your outlook also.

    But I was surprised to see that Nadal's dominance ratio on clay is down from 1.57 last year to 1.38 so far this season, even though his win pct is comparable (94% vs. 96%). i.e. the data are telling us that despite winning at a comparable clip, he's not playing as well as last year.

    Gotta hand it to you. Respect.
     
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  8. stringertom

    stringertom G.O.A.T.

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    The article is a pretty fair analysis of his clay events so far but Barcelona is not exactly "watered-down" next week...Ferrer is there, along with Berd, Nico, Pico, Raonic, Nishikori and most probably Gulbis (needs a win vs a 30-year-old career Futures warrior to qualie). And, of course, a certain Serb awaits tomorrow. Little energy was wasted today vs the beFogged Italian. Should be a good final!
     
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  9. falstaff78

    falstaff78 Professional

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    Thanks for the contributions Vero and Vamos.

    Before I give my two cents I should disclaim that primarily being a fed fan I regrettably don't watch as much of Rafa as I should (and in a few years when the clay genius retires I'll probably regret this!) Thus I am going a bit by the numbers here.

    Having said that, and being an economics grad student, I feel compelled to ask don't you think the dominance ratio tells us anything? 1.57 was the highest clay DR in, ahem, world history. whereas 1.38 is the lowest DR that Rafa has posted on clay in the last 7 years! (the exception being 2009, where Rafa's DR was 1.34)
     
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  10. veroniquem

    veroniquem Bionic Poster

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    To be honest, only the wins matter. For his first event on clay, Rafa was just back from a 7 months break. So, of course, that fact is bound to lower the stats a bit. Still, if he beats Novak tomorrow, what more is there for him to fear during clay season? 1 match lost out of 4 events and that 1 match was mostly due to rust. I say his domination and aura are intact.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2013
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  11. VAMOSDNA

    VAMOSDNA Banned

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    Don't you think its relevant that Nadal missed 7 months? Did you think Nadal would return as sharp as ever without any match practice? Nadal was never going to look sharp in South America, after such a long absence. And at MC if you saw the semi vs Tsonga, Nadal beat Tsonga in exactly the manner that he regularly does. 21 winners, 12 unforced errors, 80% of first serves in. And the Dimi match is a great example of why Dimi is so talented. Got to give Dimi some credit. He's no ordinary player. He's like a young Federer but without the mental scars. The fact Nadal won Indian Wells, with a backhand far superior to what he displayed in 2012, is indicative of how hard it is to judge Nadal's level from year to year. And what about 2011 when Isner took him to 5 sets at RG?
     
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  12. falstaff78

    falstaff78 Professional

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    fair enough. as you say, can't argue with the Ws. as I posted in another thread until I actually see Rafa have a disastrous clay season I will not bet against him on the dirt. the onus is on everyone else to go out there and beat him, regardless of what the numbers say!

    but it CAN sometimes be interesting to take a look at what the numbers are telling us. so i took a look at the relationship between dominance ratio and winning percentage, on clay, across the careers of Rafa, Roger, Novak and David.

    I found that dominance ratio explains 80% of the variation in winning percentage. furthermore this result is hugely statistically reliable (12 std deviations away from being 0.) I will post a thread in gen discussion about this.

    interestingly, after reading your post I looked up how Rafa's clay DR has changed over the course of this season. you will be glad to know that in the first 8 matches he played on clay it was 1.26 - whereas in the next 8 matches he has played its been 1.51 (not including today.)

    interesting times!
     
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  13. VAMOSDNA

    VAMOSDNA Banned

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    For the record, Nadal's current win/loss record is the best start he's EVER had to a year. That stat is the most telling. Also the fact he won Indian Wells (which he doesn't usually win) tends to say a lot about his game.
     
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  14. veroniquem

    veroniquem Bionic Poster

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    To Falstaff: You see, it's getting better ;) He just needs to get back into the groove.
     
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  15. falstaff78

    falstaff78 Professional

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    as I said I am a numbers guy. see my post in response to vero above. rafa's dominance ratio on clay has improved over the course of the 2013 clay season. which backs up the point you are making.

    also gotta agree with you on dimi. he really is like a baby fed with no scars. watching him stand up to rafa on clay was a little watching rafa stand up to fed 8 years ago.

    I must disagree with your assessment of the article. I don't think the writer was saying that dimi solved nadal's game. he merely wrote that nadal's game has regressed from last year. (which on average it has - notwithstanding above statistical evidence that it is improving...)
     
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  16. VAMOSDNA

    VAMOSDNA Banned

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    And if Nadal wins the MC final (that would mean he's played 5 events, made 5 finals and won 4 of them - including wins over Ferrer, Federer, Berdych, Del Potro, Tsonga, Djokovic), that would show the 1.57, 1.38 stats are a useless waste of time....
     
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  17. falstaff78

    falstaff78 Professional

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    haha. yeah indeed. but let's not forget he's also never had the luxury of starting a season from clay.

    anyway I think at this point we are not disagreeing about anything substantial. the improvement in Rafa's DR has convinced me for the moment.

    let's re-analyse after tomorrow's match....
     
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  18. falstaff78

    falstaff78 Professional

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    okay I take that back. we are disagreeing about something. namely a philosophical view point about the nature and usefulness of statistics.

    I would refer you to this post.
     
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  19. TheTruth

    TheTruth G.O.A.T.

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    I think the author got it right. Stats are interesting, but they can't predict future outcomes. Nadal has been fortunate to win as much as he has, his concentration is not as sharp, his decision-making not as complete, and it will take some time to knock off seven months of rust during your most crucial part of the season. His career shouldn't even be being judged on the basis of five tournaments over the span of a 7-month layoff. I don't understand people who expect him to come back without having lost anything against battle tested opponents.
     
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  20. falstaff78

    falstaff78 Professional

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    Vero. I contacted the author of the article and pointed out to him that Rafa's DR was 1.26 for the first half of the clay season and 1.50 for the second half. he sent a fair response.

    he said the 1.26 included two full tournaments (Santiago and Sao Paolo), but the 1.50 did not include the final of MC. and that to compare apples to apples you have to include the hardest matches of tournaments on both sides of the comparison, as they tend to lower DRs.

    so after the completion of MC, here's how it stands.

    santiago+sao paolo, Rafa DR = 1.26
    acapulco+MC, Rafa DR = 1.35
    2013 Rafa clay DR = 1.32

    2012 Rafa clay DR = 1.57
    2011 Rafa clay DR = 1.41
    2010 Rafa clay DR = 1.49
    2009 Rafa clay DR = 1.34
    2008 Rafa clay DR = 1.47
    2007 Rafa clay DR = 1.50
     
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  21. veroniquem

    veroniquem Bionic Poster

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    Thanks for the good work. What really surprises me is that his % in 2012 was so much higher than in 2010. Actually 2012 seems to be his highest. I would never have thought.
     
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  22. falstaff78

    falstaff78 Professional

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    yeah well I guess that shows how high your level has to be to take 7 out of 8 sets on clay vs. nole 2.0!
     
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  23. stringertom

    stringertom G.O.A.T.

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    If stats don't lie, the Vamos Brigade should now be nervous...very nervous!
     
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  24. Clarky21

    Clarky21 Banned

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    As a Nadal fan, I'm not one bit nervous. As a member of The Golden Purse Brigade, you certainly should be, though.
     
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  25. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    The article is fairly self-evident. Bialik isn't exactly a genius here. Save yourself reading the whole thing and read the last sentence... Bialik's conclusion:

    Duh. Thanks, Carl. As if we didn't know this. If Nadal doesn't find his form from last year... then he'll do worse than last year. Jeez. Captain Obvious.
     
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  26. stringertom

    stringertom G.O.A.T.

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    Nope, never nervous about SexiSwissSorceror...after the completion of Project XVII and reascension to #1 for the all-time record anything else accomplished is pure gravy!
     
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  27. Chanwan

    Chanwan Legend

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    he said something to that effect - that he was unfortunate he had to take a break as he felt he was playing better than ever.
     
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  28. falstaff78

    falstaff78 Professional

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    Any writer will tell you the ability to condense a message into a couple of sentences is a GOOD thing.

    The problem would potentially have been if that were the ONLY content in the article - except it's not. The writer carefully constructs his argument and backs up each logical step with statistics and links to other equally well-researched and informative articles.

    So, yeah, gotta disagree with you. There's a reason why we are squabbling on an Internet forum and he's writing for the WSJ.
     
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