Is Djokovic still in Nadal's head?

Discussion in 'Pro Match Results and Discussion' started by Mike Sams, May 19, 2013.

  1. Mike Sams

    Mike Sams Legend

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    Despite Nadal's fabulous streak of finals since his return, it seems that in the Monte Carlo final, he has a look on his face showing a certain discomfort which isn't apparent against any other opponents. Almost like he knows Djokovic is going to force the action and put him into an uncompromising position and usually a defensive one (finding Nadal's backhand more than anybody ever has).

    Even though Nadal has admitted that attaining victory and improving his game is more important than conquering any specific foe, is there something about Djokovic that still makes him uncomfortable even now?

    Nadal shows the look of a warrior with the snarl and the ferocity against the likes of Federer and Berdych. But against Djokovic, he seems to have a slight look of anxiety and worry. What I'm saying is that the warrior fierceness that Nadal displays against any other player isn't as evident against Djokovic.

    What is it about Djokovic that is making Nadal feel uncomfortable even on the clay court, other than the fact that Djokovic is making a mockery of Nadal's serve and finding his backhand in just about every rally? Hmmm, think I may have answered my own question right there. But would still like another viewpoint or two.
     
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  2. Tenez101

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    Novak might have damaged his pysche a little throughout their encounters. I've noticed that Rafa tends to have mental lapses a lot more when he's serving for a match than he used to (today's final against Fed is a good example). Then there was that horrible game serving at 6-5 in the second set in the MC final. Must be mental scarring from 'the streak'.

    So yes I think he's in there somewhere...tends to show in key moments.
     
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  3. Mike Sams

    Mike Sams Legend

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    Nadal is never in a winning position against Djokovic even when up a break. Djokovic broke him twice in that second set in MC. It wasn't a rare occurence for Nadal to get broken when in a position to serve out a set. Much like AO 2012 where he was up 4-2 in the final set and Djokovic still broke back twice. Nadal's serve just doesn't work against Djokovic as well as it does against the other lapdogs on the tour.

    "His return is something unbelieveable, no?" -Nadal
     
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  4. Sid_Vicious

    Sid_Vicious G.O.A.T.

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    I'm thinking less and less of djokovic's win over Nadal at mc by the week. Nadal probably does struggle most mentally against djokovic as compared to everyone else on tour. However, on clay, Nadal can handle Djokovic
     
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  5. Tenez101

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    Yup, definitely a major part of it is the match-up. Nadal can't rely on abusing Djokovic's backhand like he does with 1989/1990 = 99.949748743% of the tour. Too often Nadal's ball just lands right in the wheelhouse and Djoker can rip it down the line. Rafa's serve also isn't as potent because of Nole's all-time great return game.
     
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  6. Tennis_Hands

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    I was actually quite amused by the reaction of the commentators in the MC final, after Nadal broke Djokovic for 6-5 in the second.

    "And Nadal"s decade of dominance here, at MC .. he is not going to give it up without a fight"

    and then

    when Djokovic equalized, breaking him to love

    some mumbling in the mic. and then "And we are onto a tie-break", like it was nothing exceptional to break him back in such a way in the deciding game of the set.

    :lol:
     
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  7. Sid_Vicious

    Sid_Vicious G.O.A.T.

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    Nadal was attacking the hell out of djokovic's backhand during last years FO final to devastating effect. His forehands were kicking up so high that even Djokovic had no hope . When the conditions got damp, djokovic found his footing quickly.honestly, RG conditions can be so unpredictable that it's hard say much about how well someone's forehand or backhand will work on the final day.
     
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  8. World Beater

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    The one thing that has hurt federer and most of nadal's rivals, is their return of serve against nadal.

    For a serve that isn't overwhelming, nadal gets cheap pts, and is able to get ahead in the rallies by placing his serve well esp on the important pts...

    But when djokovic dials the return in against nadal...nadal is scrambling from the first ball.
     
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  9. aldeayeah

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    Weird RG conditions in the past have enabled even Soderling to beat Federer.
     
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  10. Readers

    Readers Semi-Pro

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    LOL, people read why too much into one match, don't forget who bashed DJ 2.0 back to 1.0 last year and allow others to cap No.1 and GS title.
     
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  11. tennis_hack

    tennis_hack Banned

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    I don't know why the world doesn't seem to realize that Nadal has a backhand as well. It's not like he's a forehand-off-both wings groundstroke machine.

    His constant abusing of righties' backhands should be like throwing stones from a glass house as he, as a lefty can equally have his backhand abused by right-handed forehands.

    Why doesn't anyone try to 'Nadal' Nadal?
     
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  12. sbengte

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    Djokovic did. Even Federer did it in IW 2012.
     
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  13. pds999

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    When Rafa hits short (he was poor at MC) then yes I think Djokovic gets in his head. If he plays like he did yesterday and Saturday then Djokovic doesn't really get much of a look in. I would expect that if they meet in RG and the form of Nadal continues, it'll be a similar straight sets win like most of last season. Maybe 4 at best.
     
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  14. Hitman

    Hitman G.O.A.T.

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    That Monte Carlo final shows that Djokovic does indeed hold some real estate in Nadal's head. It becomes to apparent when it comes to crunch time. Against everyone else, Nadal is very sure of himself, but when he goes against Djokovic, you can see the uncertainity in his game.
     
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  15. veroniquem

    veroniquem Bionic Poster

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    Djoko is the best returner in the game after Rafa and his backhand is top notch (not easy to attack). If it comes down to who will hold serve that extra time, Novak often gets the edge because his first serve is a bit more solid. I don't think Novak hurt Rafa's mental (in general ) at all. But Rafa knows that Djoko is his most difficult matchup. I'm sure it's in his mind somewhere when he plays him. That being said, if Djoko's form is a bit subpar (2012 clay season), Rafa will still roll over him on clay. Djoko didn't even manage to take the RG match to a 5th last year.
     
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  16. octogon

    octogon Semi-Pro

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    I don't think so. Not like he was in 2011 anyway.

    I think Nadal mostly got the monkey off his back during the 2012 claycourt season where he beat Djokovic everywhere on clay.

    Djokovic is his toughest match-up and always has been. Djokovic's game has been built to counter Nadal's (moreso than the field), so he'll always give him problems when he's playing lights out tennis. Djokovic had to play at his highest level to beat Nadal in Monte Carlo, and I don't think Nadal was playing at his highest level. Djokovic was simply better on the day. Don't think it was a mental thing that Nadal lost.

    I think Monte Carlo simply came a bit too early for Nadal at that point in his comeback to face his toughest match-up. Nadal has been winning, but without playing at his highest level. He''s only looked like like his peak self on clay in his last two matches in Rome (against Berydch and Federer). I think Nadal could have overcome Djoker in Rome.

    I definitely feel Nadal is now in the sort of form that he should be able to overcome Djokovic at Roland Garros, should they meet.
     
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  17. Fiji

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    You bet.

    ...........
     
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  18. JohnnyMac Fan!

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    **** at MC was a different animal than **** at Rome. He started to make some headway in Madrid also as far consistency of his shots goes and rhythm

    If Djoko and **** were to meet at RG, on a good sunny day. More likely than not, Nadal could beat Djoker more so Djoker beating Nadal.

    One thing to put thing in perspective. If you look closely at Nadals mindset at MC.
    **** was definitely frazzled by Dimitrov and Tsonga matches. I can't help but thinking that those 2 performances got under Nadals skin and affected his confidence. If this was the case, this was a mental factor on that final.

    In any case we will never know until they meet and play.

    cheers
     
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  19. Warmaster

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    John Isner?
     
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  20. Legend of Borg

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    I dunno, that MC final looks like a freak occurance now.

    Doesn't seem to be relevant after those Madrid and Rome titles Hafa won in the last weeks.

    All will be revealed at RG though.
     
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  21. FreeBird

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    Yes he is. Nadal took the psychological vantage in 2012 due to Nole's grandfather's death which he capitalized in Rome and FO but not this time.
     
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  22. JohnnyMac Fan!

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    Not entirely accurate. That argument may stick on MC. At FO Djoker was simply beaten and outplayed.
     
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  23. tennis_hack

    tennis_hack Banned

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    Why does it seem like a freak occurrence?

    Djokovic actually played Nadal at Monte Carlo. Played and won.

    He didn't play Nadal afterwards. It's not like he faced Nadal at Madrid and Rome and lost both times. Only that would make it a freak occurrence.
     
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  24. FreeBird

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    Nadal beat nole in Rome and FO in 2012 because he had mental advantage over Nole and this brought the best tennis out of him while Novak looked subdued. Djokovic brought back the demons in Nadal's mind with his MC win.
     
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  25. JohnnyMac Fan!

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    I'll take a crack at a possible scenario at FO.

    The more likely scenario if they meet, will be Djoker starting with the same aggressive strategy. It can be possible for Djoker to take the first set. If the environment conditions are ideal, Nadal will rise his level is as he is now, he will not choke as he did at MC. Nadal would take the 2nd on a very tightly contested. The 3rd set might be easier for Nadal. Knowing Djoker behavior, he will comeback and take the 4th something like 6-2 pushing the game into a fifth. However on clay and on a 5 setter, I'll give it to ****! This wont be AO '12 repeat.

    cheers
     
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  26. FreeBird

    FreeBird Legend

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    Lol...You must become a oracle.
     
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  27. JohnnyMac Fan!

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    Only because Djoker beat Rafa at MC doesn't meant he can beat him at FO. He CAN beat Rafa, but Rafa CAN beat Djoker just as well.

    Djoker success rate will depend on the matches leading to their potential match up. Last Year Rafa went it determined to win. You can bet Rafa MC will not the Rafa at FO.
     
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  28. JohnnyMac Fan!

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    Mate... is called a speculation or illustration.

    You do not need to agree. Sharing thoughts you know!:)
     
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  29. pds999

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    Not really. Rafa just had a poor first set in MC and the conditions weren't helping him much. Second set he should have won and then would have won the third going away I would imagine. But he is playing at a different level now than he was at MC. If they met tomorrow at RG only one winner.
     
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  30. pds999

    pds999 Hall of Fame

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    Exactly right. I also think that if MC had been best of 5 Rafa would have won the next 3 anyway. It takes a superhuman effort to beat him over best of 5 on clay.
     
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  31. pds999

    pds999 Hall of Fame

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    Nah, it'll be the same as FO last year (before and after the rain came). Straight sets.
     
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  32. FreeBird

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    Lol....He was on the verge of getting a bagel from a guy ranking in 40s just 3 days ago. Is this the different level? Ohh Sorry. Earlier he was en route to getting a bagel from World No. 1 and now he almost got it from Gulbis. Hence it can be concluded that Rafa's level has deteriorated. So, you are right about different level. If they meet tomorrow at RG, there is only one winner, Nole. Actually it is not Rafa but his opponents who decide the level at which Rafa would play. He might double bagel the whole world but still would have his troubles against Nole after that MC loss.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2013
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  33. JohnnyMac Fan!

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    I'd like to think so, but there are 2 other variants that weren't last year. Djoker does seem more determined this year. **** does have more sporadic lack of focus at weird times. This can change the outcome to a lesser one sided as last year. But will see.
     
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  34. tennis_hack

    tennis_hack Banned

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    Would you have said the same thing about the lead up to the AO in 2012? Federer was on a great run of form prior to this, winning the WTF and Nadal had looked cr@p until they met in the SF, then Nadal cruises through Federer.

    Djokovic looked in cr@p form prior to meeting Nadal in Monte Carlo 2013. He had lost sets to Youzhny and other journeymen in that tournament. Then he raised his level when it counted and beat Nadal in straights. He gets fired up to play Nadal, just like Nadal gets fired up to play Federer.

    Djokovic is dying to take Nadal's scalp at the French Open. That is not a force to underestimate no matter how smug a Nadal fan you might be.
     
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  35. FreeBird

    FreeBird Legend

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    This. Nadal fans are thinking that by beating players like Ferrer, Gulbis and his bunny Fed, Nadal is on a different level.
     
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  36. spinovic

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    I guess he's "in his head". Nadal still believes he can beat Djokovic though. But, I do think against Djokovic, he isn't quite as certain of himself as he is against any other player on clay.
     
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  37. Legend of Borg

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    Hey this is actually a good post. Really surprised.
     
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  38. JohnnyMac Fan!

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    Oh brother... OK, although you state the obvious. Every player have bad match ups. Gulbis always given trouble to Nadal even when he was at his prime years ago. Its is simply that Gulbis game is effective against Nadal. Nadal wins because he still have superior aspects and mental maturity that make him be resourceful at crucial time.

    There is always a physiological factor that leads to an outcome on games. You can't base your hypothesis on stats alone. They are useful references indeed but you can't lean on them completely (Vero as example heavily lean on numbers). MC was Nadal first major clay comeback (1000 Tourney),
    IW although was a step on the right direction for him, was not the platform to out do Djoker if they had met. If they met at IW, I feel Djoker would have had a easy win over **** as well.

    Nadal was clearly frustrated from Dimitrov and Tsonga. If you can understand Spanish then you could have heard the commentators mentioning about Nadal been upset and mad before Tsongas match. Nadal is the type of player that seems to constantly analyze and scrutinize himself on his performances, as a method to find ways of motivation to improve. He was certainly disappointed at letting somebody to almost beat him on clay whome he felt should have been an easier win (Dimi).
    Almost loosing the second set to Tsonga after been so close to finish the match also affected him. Nadal most likely knew that he was not up to the level to match Djoker at MC.

    Sure some of the history in 2011 still lingers within him and I'm sure he has gained greater respect for the threat that Djoker represents. However, I do not think Djoker is on Nadal head as it was back then. So although a factor indeed not enough for a mental block as long he is confident and playing well.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2013
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  39. JohnnyMac Fan!

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    If Djoker lost that game that would be bad for Djoker. HC is Djokos best surface. So no.
     
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  40. JohnnyMac Fan!

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    Are you for real?! Djoker lost to Dimitrov and Haas.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2013
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  41. FreeBird

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    I agree somewhat with what you said. It is true that Djokovic is not at his 2011 level. But neither is Nadal. I am just saying that Nadal is not a lock if both were to meet at Roland Garros. It is 50/50. That's my honest opinion.
     
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  42. TheTruth

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    I like this post.
     
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  43. TheTruth

    TheTruth G.O.A.T.

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    Great post. Lots of good stuff in this thread.
     
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  44. JohnnyMac Fan!

    JohnnyMac Fan! Professional

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    Correct!!!
     
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  45. The-Champ

    The-Champ Legend

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    I think Nadal is in Mike Sams head, 24/7.
     
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  46. President

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    Probably a little bit, but Nadal wasn't playing great tennis in Monte Carlo anyway so its not like his level suddenly dropped when he played Djokovic in the final. He was awful against Dimitrov and Tsonga, and brought a similar level (probably a little better actually) against Djokovic in the final.
     
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  47. JohnnyMac Fan!

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    Nadal was outplayed at MC. But in Rome he was better. Gulbis game actually helped Nadal greatly. Would have this guaranteed a win against Djoker no...but better prospects.
     
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  48. The-Champ

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    I was actually happy that Gulbis pushed Nadal to the limit. Nadal was super aggressive in his last two matches because of that.
     
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  49. Steve0904

    Steve0904 G.O.A.T.

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    I don't think he really wants to play him at RG deep down. That answer your question?
     
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  50. Antonio Puente

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    No doubt about that.
     
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