Is Djokovic Really a Bad Matchup for Nadal?

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by Murrayfan31, Sep 22, 2013.

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Is Djokovic a bad matchup?

  1. Yes. Bad matchup.

    30.4%
  2. No. Nadal is a bad matchup for Djokovic.

    21.4%
  3. Neutral

    48.2%
  1. Murrayfan31

    Murrayfan31 Hall of Fame

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    I think it is quite a neutral matchup. Depending on who is in form. The better player at the time usually wins. Both have very little weaknesses on slow surfaces. Lucky for them, most courts are quite slow. Djokovic can't really hurt Nadal the same way as Federer, Nalbandian, and Davydenko can on a fast indoor court imo when they were at the peak of their games. Discuss.
     
    #1
  2. MichaelNadal

    MichaelNadal Talk Tennis Guru

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    Neither is a bad matchup for the other. They are both extremely good players and with the styles they play, each match will always come down to 2-3 big points. Dead even, it's about the mental strength on the day. That said, Nadal is a better tennis player, which is why he usually wins ;) #TeamRafa
     
    #2
  3. Backspin1183

    Backspin1183 Legend

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    Djokovic definitely was a bad match-up for Nadal in 2011 and AO 2012. Not anymore it seems.
     
    #3
  4. Sim

    Sim Semi-Pro

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    It's a bad matchup only if you look at one side of the coin...

    Djokovic has so many weapons to hurt Rafa with such as return, backhand, taking the ball early, incredible defense which Rafa also has.

    But Rafa also has many weapons to hurt Djokovic with that deadly forehand and mental pressure (Djokovic had this too in 2011, Nadal is now the one pressuring Djokovic this year).
     
    #4
  5. Tenez101

    Tenez101 Hall of Fame

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    He is. Even when he's playing subpar he's a big challenge for Rafa (like in RG and USO this year...even before 2011 he was always a thorn in Nadal's side).
     
    #5
  6. Kenshin

    Kenshin Semi-Pro

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    Rafa doen't have a bad match up. Hence the amazing head-to-head record against other players. And that's why he is already one of the all time greats.:)
     
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  7. President

    President Legend

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    Djokovic is definitely the worst matchup for Nadal among top 10 players, whether he actually qualifies as a "bad" matchup is up to interpretation. But in comparison to the other players at the top of the game, Djokovic's strengths counter Nadal's very well. It may just be a testament to how effective Nadal's game has become that a player with a relatively even matchup with him is considered a bad matchup.
     
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  8. Kenshin

    Kenshin Semi-Pro

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    Beautifully written. :)
     
    #8
  9. papertank

    papertank Hall of Fame

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    Djokovic is a worse matchup than anyone else for Nadal on tour, but that doesn't mean it qualifies as a "bad" matchup.
     
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  10. NEW_BORN

    NEW_BORN Professional

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    Djokovic is the only person i've seen who can consistently find Nadal's backhand, as well as being one of the only people who can consistently counter Nadal's forehand with his own backhand. This doesn't mean he is a bad matchup for Nadal.
     
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  11. Crisstti

    Crisstti Legend

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    I'd say it does.
     
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  12. NEW_BORN

    NEW_BORN Professional

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    The point is i think Nadal is just as much of a bad matchup for Djokovic as it is the other way around, which in turn cancels itself out.
     
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  13. Strategy

    Strategy Semi-Pro

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    I don't think Nadal even changed anything about his play to reverse this matchup. I think Djokovic just got worse. He can play well from time to time, but can't sustain it throughout the entire match
     
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  14. Fedinkum

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    I enjoy their matches. If they play indoor fast, speed up the rally abit more, even more entertaining.
     
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  15. The Dark Knight

    The Dark Knight Legend

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    You may not think so but the fact is he did change a lot .

    Jokers coach wjotek Fibak actually called Nadal a "genius" and said he was the "Chopin" of tennis .

    Gilbert called Nadal the greatest "problem solver " in history

    Mats Wilander echoed Gilbert and went a step further and called him the greatest problem solver in history.

    John Mcenroe call Nadal the Einstein/ da Vinci of tennis....

    But here is what Toni says Nadal changed :

    hen Nadal won the 2009 Australian Open and 2010 U.S. Open, he did so with grip changes and power, especially on his serve. But realizing he had to shorten points to ease the wear-and-tear on his knees, he and his uncle decided instead to focus on court positioning.

    Toni likened the tactical decision to move closer to the baseline and force the issue earlier in rallies to expanded aural abilities when sight is impaired.

    "When you are blind, you hear so much more," he said Monday.


    He moved closer to the baseline to take away time, pounced on short balls, approached the net more frequently and used his devastating forehand to take control of rallies early in the point.

    [b_He also improved his serve by changing direction, location and spins to elicit weak returns he could punish with his forehand.

    He proved again that as the game's best problem solver.[/b]

    "For me it's unbelievable that people talk about his body because he is so much better in his mind," said Uncle Toni, Nadal's only coach since childhood.
     
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  16. 90's Clay

    90's Clay Legend

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    Not according to Fed fans...


    But Nole definitely presents a bigger matchup for Nadal than anyone else
     
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  17. The Dark Knight

    The Dark Knight Legend

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    I'm not quite sure what Toni meant about being "blind".

    Maybe by Nadal stepping in more he could see less?
     
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  18. bahamasboy32

    bahamasboy32 Banned

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    Djokovic loses about 85% of his matches to Nadal on clay. At RG he was closer to winning than he is 80% of the time. By your logic he must be subpar almost everytime they play on clay, and Nadal always at his best.

    The U.S Open was the best hard court tennis I have seen Djokovic play since early last year and it still wasnt good enough to beat Nadal.
     
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  19. Morj

    Morj Semi-Pro

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    When both are executing their games well, Djokovic's game neutralizes Nadal's. However, it has not seemed that way in the last year or so because Djokovic has lost the consistency and mental focus necessary for him to keep up the pressure against Nadal.

    Look at the FO 2012 final. Djokovic was getting trashed till he suddenly raised his focus and reeled off eight straight games. Its not like Nadal dropped his level, Djokovic just started outplaying him.

    The same thing at this year's FO, Djokovic got trampled in the 3rd set but was able to buckle down in the 4th and win, and then carry his momentum to the 5th. He broke down mentally after the net-touch incident and Nadal held strong to break back.

    At this year's USO Djokovic was completely neutralizing Nadal's game and people were saying Djokovic 2.0 had returned till it was 0-40 in the 3rd set and he just couldn't mentally keep focused against Rafa's toughness.

    Basically Rafa is mentally stronger than Djokovic and is able to fight through, but when Djokovic has confidence and is playing his game there's not much Nadal can do.
     
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  20. The Dark Knight

    The Dark Knight Legend

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    These are amazing observations ....especially about clay!

    Joker actually beat Nadal in Mknte Carlo this year and he did way better at the FO this year than he did last year.

    I know it's hard for certain Fed fans to admit but Nadal simply used his brain and adapted.

    It's something he has been doing since 2008 and what makes him the greatest in my opinion .

    Forget his speed and amazing topspin . His greatest weapon is his brain and determination .
     
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  21. The Dark Knight

    The Dark Knight Legend

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    Not any more . Nadal has adapted.

    You guys are the same people who label him as a clay court specialist . Why you fail to see that the man continually adapts is beyond me.

    He did it to Federer....he lost two wimbledons to Fed.....but he changed his strategy.

    Then he focused on hard courts....changed his grip and his serve and flattened out his strokes .

    And now joker has forced him to change yet again ....standing closer to the baseline and being more aggressive.

    You don't get it .....the man is a tennis genius !
     
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  22. bahamasboy32

    bahamasboy32 Banned

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    I agree with some of that but not all of it. It is completely false Nadal did not drop his level during the 2012 French final. He was very bothered by the rain and let it affect his play substantially. This years French and U.S Open matches his level flucuated throughout too, as did Djokovic's, and Nadal's best tennis during their French Open match was better than any point of Djokovic's best tennis in that match (U.S Open is a closer call in that sense).
     
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  23. The_Order

    The_Order Legend

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    Nadal said it himself, that nobody takes his game to the limit like Novak does.

    The difference is, Nadal has been able to make adjustments and improve in some areas to turn it around against Novak.

    I think he learnt from Federer's mistake of thinking it'll eventually just happen if he sticks to his normal game. Fed was never able to turn it around against Nadal and as a result has not been able to beat him in a major for the last 6+ years.

    People can use the age excuse all they want, but Fed has been able to beat Novak and Murray consistently in majors, or at the very least push them to 5 setters even after turning 30.

    I said this before that the surface isn't the biggest factor between Nadal and Novak anymore, it's more about who can hold it together and make the least mistakes in the crucial moments of the matches that determines the winner.

    Nadal's held it together on the last 3 occasions and hence, has won the matches despite 2 of them being on HC. In fact, Novak's actually played Nadal tougher on clay this year than HC.

    The onus is now on Novak and his team to analyze how they can turn it back in their favor...
     
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  24. The_Order

    The_Order Legend

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    I did look at that final. I saw the rain saturate the court and heavily affect the conditions, nullifying Nadal's topspin, allowing Novak to find his comfort zone.

    It was completely different this year. Nadal was the one who should've closed in out in 3, 4 sets max. Nadal mentally broke down when serving for it in the fourth set and this is the only reason it even went to 5 sets. At 6-5 serving Nadal hit a BH UE and 2 FH UE and played the last point tentatively to allow Novak to hit an easy winner.

    Again, I'm not sure what you're on about, Novak hit a very good deep return when Nadal served at 0-40, it was just that Nadal found something extra and smashed a FH winner off it. Novak then did a FH UE to bring it to 30-40, but let's not forget, Nadal slipped over to give Novak 0-30, so that cancels out. Then Nadal hit an ace to take it to deuce. There's no mental break down there, just Nadal's best serve of the match at that point that saved him.

    Djokovic gets confidence when Nadal plays tentatively. They go hand in hand. Nadal started playing safer, trying to protect his lead and that's when Novak could sense it was his time to attack. Nadal only hit 2 winners in the third set until it was 0-40 at 4 all. At that point he knew he had to play more aggressive and when he did, he regained control of the match.
     
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  25. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yes, he is. Djokovic is the only player who can force Nadal outside his comfort zone in baseline rallies.
     
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  26. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    You fail to mention that this run of games for Djokovic coincided with the clay-court going damp and muddy, thus neutralising a lot of Nadal's topspin.
     
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  27. ripitup

    ripitup Banned

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    This is BS. Nadal kept control and should have closed out the match in the 4th set and it was his choking that allowed Djokovic to even be partaking in a 5th set.

    The match stats show who was the better player by far that day. It was a miracle that Djokovic somehow was that close to winning.
     
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  28. downdaline

    downdaline Professional

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    Neutral, bcos they neutralize each others' strengths.

    Nadal's arguably greatest weapon is his forehand, especially the crosscourt forehand. Djokovic neutralizes this with his strong backhand.

    Djokovic's greatest weapon is his court coverage and his ability to outlast most players. Nadal neutralizes this by being just as good on the court coverage, and with outstanding endurance.

    That's why I think it's a neutral.
     
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  29. Graf=GOAT

    Graf=GOAT Professional

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    Bad match up. Nadal has to serve out of his mind and hit his FH DTL flawlessly in order to win. He doesn't have the stamina advantage over Djokovic anymore either.
     
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  30. The Dark Knight

    The Dark Knight Legend

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    Well another thing that I think greatly affected the AO match between them
    Was that in the fofthe set the match went indoors .

    Nadal has adapted his game to hard courts and grass but has not concentrated on indoor matches.....

    He may have to work on that factor as more and more slam matches are turning into indoor matches as the weather changes .
     
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  31. The Dark Knight

    The Dark Knight Legend

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    Can be that bad.....Nadal has been winning.

    Nadal is the first player to change their game radically to take on am opponent.

    How many player can say that 2 weeks before a slam they change their serve grip and entire serve motion to increase serve speed by 20 mph ?

    Has anyone ever done something like that ?
     
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  32. Nathaniel_Near

    Nathaniel_Near G.O.A.T.

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    Relax folks, ...
    Are you for real bro? You need to improve your general intelligence and tennis knowledge or sumthin', hows about Borg transitioning from the clay to grass back in the day and using what for him was an unusual amount of serve and volley tennis?

    Nadal doesn't do anything differently to other past greats, he simply tries to adapt accordingly for the challenges ahead. Every champ has had to adapt to new challenges and change up their tactics and strategies to beat different players or conditions. Another example; just look at Lendl's drastic adaptation to give himself a shot at winning Wimbledon in the 80's.
     
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  33. 5555

    5555 Hall of Fame

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    Is it a fact or an opinion?
     
    #33
  34. Nathaniel_Near

    Nathaniel_Near G.O.A.T.

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    Relax folks, ...
    What, in your opinion, will be Nole's career end tally of achievements regarding years ending as the no.1 player and number of Majors, YEC's and Masters 1000's?
     
    #34
  35. aldeayeah

    aldeayeah Hall of Fame

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    I think Djokovic is a bad matchup for Nadal because most of Djokovic's strengths play into Nadal's weaknesses, but most of Nadal's strengths play into Djokovic's strengths.

    - Djokovic returns great -> Nadal serves meh
    - Djokovic has very good dropshots -> Nadal plays (played?) far behind the baseline
    - Djokovic has a great defending game -> Nadal has (had?) a not so great attacking game

    - Nadal has a great CC forehand -> Djokovic has a tremendous, versatile backhand
    - Nadal has a great defending game -> Djokovic is patient and consistent enough to hit through him/force errors, especially with his I/O forehand (also with his CC/DTL backhand on shorter balls)

    That's why Nadal had to change some of his patterns of play to beat Djokovic again. If Djokovic's game wasn't a bad matchup, Nadal wouldn't have needed to change anything.
     
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  36. The Dark Knight

    The Dark Knight Legend

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    Bad example but a great analogy....actually proves my point even more.

    Borg like Federer was simply dominating everyone early on.

    Then along came Mcenroe for Borg and Nadal for Fed.

    Mcenroe just beat Borg at Wimbledon and the USO while Nadal got the upperhand on Fed in 2008.

    So what did Borg and Fed do in response ? Well Borg became burnt out and quit....Federer on the other hand just played the same way and kept losing the same way.

    Neither has solved problems like Nadal.
     
    #36
  37. FrontHeadlock

    FrontHeadlock Semi-Pro

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    I agree, though I think this is more a function of the fact that Djokovic is the best player in the top 10 that Nadal has to play, so that plays into why it's the worst matchup for him relatively.
     
    #37
  38. phnx90

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    OP, here is your answer (in my opinion)
     
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  39. phnx90

    phnx90 Hall of Fame

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    Quality post
     
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  40. 5555

    5555 Hall of Fame

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    Your question is off topic. This thread is whether Djokovic is a bad matchup for Nadal.
     
    #40
  41. clayqueen

    clayqueen Hall of Fame

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    Nadal beat Djokovic in 4 sets including a breadstick at the USO - some challenge.
     
    #41
  42. The Dark Knight

    The Dark Knight Legend

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    Is that even a question . The fact is Nadal leads head to head against Joker and has finally figured him out . Silly thread .

    But most importantly Nadal won this poll.....and Nadal never wins polls at TW.
     
    #42
  43. clayqueen

    clayqueen Hall of Fame

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    Nadal says when he was serving for the match at the FO he was serving against the wind that's why he couldn't hold his serve.
     
    #43
  44. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

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    Exactly what is a bad match up?
     
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  45. bahamasboy32

    bahamasboy32 Banned

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    More like it is Djokovic who doesnt have the stamina advantage over Nadal anymore, like he did in 2011. Now it is back to the other way around, and Nadal being ahead there.

    Nadal doesnt have to do anything out of his mind or flawlessly to beat Djokovic. He didnt play even close to his best in any of their matches this year and still won 3 of the 4.
     
    #45
  46. The Dark Knight

    The Dark Knight Legend

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    a bad matchup exists when a very high ranked player cannot get by a MUCH lower ranked player who he should beat.

    Nadal vs. Fed is not a bad matchup because Nadal beats everybody basically. He is just better than everyone.

    a better example would be Safin & Santoro. I believe Safin record against santoro is 2-7.
     
    #46
  47. President

    President Legend

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    It is a bad matchup, Nadal was beating/pushing Federer very hard on HC when he was still an overall HC mug himself. He would get thrashed by a Blake, Berdych, or a Youzhny one day and then go on to beat/push HC king Federer in the next tournament. Nadal did disproportionately well against Federer, much better than he would have been expected to on those surfaces. Now, Nadal has obviously improved and can be considered the best HC player in the world but that certainly wasn't the case back in 2005-2007, yet he still performed very well against Federer on HC in those days. Clear example of a match up issue.
     
    #47
  48. The Dark Knight

    The Dark Knight Legend

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    but that was in finals. How do you think Nadal got to those finals? he beat everyone. Thats not a bad matchup....Nadal is just better.
     
    #48
  49. Nathaniel_Near

    Nathaniel_Near G.O.A.T.

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    Relax folks, ...
    Is that an opinionated fact or a factual opinion?
     
    #49
  50. Nathaniel_Near

    Nathaniel_Near G.O.A.T.

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    Relax folks, ...
    Nadal hasn't needed to make changes to his game that are very drastic to get his results because of the general conditions that pervade the sport at the moment and the fact that he's just generally the best player, therefore it stands to reason that he wins.
     
    #50

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