Just to put the "Elevation" of Madrid thing in perspective...

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by DNShade, May 20, 2009.

  1. DNShade

    DNShade Professional

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    Everyone keeps talking about how fast the ball moved at the "high" elevation of Madrid and what terrible placement of the tourney right before the FO etc...

    Well Madrid is only like 2000 or so feet. That's not very high at all. That's Las Vegas elevation if that. Not really a factor at all. It's not like they were playing up in the mountains in Aspen or something. Now not trying to start anything out here - I'm a big fan of both guys and love to see the rivalry continue...I just wanted to put the whole elevation thing into some real perspective. I've played in real elevation - 8000+ ft and that does take some getting used to...but Las Vegas elevation or the foothills around Los Angeles? Not really.
     
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  2. VGP

    VGP Legend

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    I've played in Vegas and the altitude is a factor. At first, I was thinking, "what the hell?" and the ball was flying quite a bit and it was on me faster than I expected.

    It's probably one of those in between altitudes where you don't go to high altitude balls and normal ones can feel pretty quick.....

    That's my experience, imagine if it were the pros......
     
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  3. DNShade

    DNShade Professional

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    It's there...but it's barely a factor. I've played in Vegas a lot. I think the very dry air probably has more to do with it that anything.

    If it was a real factor in Vegas - pros wouldn't be training in Vegas for AO, IW and Miami - all at sea level. I'm just saying that's it's really not that much of a factor - not much of an adjustment - and wasn't that bad in Madrid. Just putting the whole thing into a little perspective. It's just the way some of the people were posting made it seem like they were playing at camp #2 on Everest and had sherpas for ball boys...

    The condition of the new clay surface seemed to be more of a concern to me.
     
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  4. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    It makes a huge difference to the pros. They fine tune their string tensions. I have also seen several references to this on TTC when teaching pros in resorts in Colorado were interviewed.
     
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  5. DNShade

    DNShade Professional

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    1,500 ft doesn't make that much of a difference. And on TTC they were in Colorado Springs (elev. 7,000 ft) and Aspen/Snowmass - elev. 8,000 ft. A little difference there my friend from Madrid. About 6,000 ft difference.

    And don't talk to me about "pros" like I don't know anything...I hit with pros, okay? I know a bit about it. 1,800- 2,000 ft isn't all that big of a deal. That's all I was saying. My god people...chill out a bit. All this looking for excuses every time your fav looses. It's all part of the sport. What makes it fun. The ups and downs. Do most of you guys even play tennis?

    Yes, the ball is a little faster. But not that much. Again - not like this was up in the mountains or anything. All I was saying.

    This was just a little public service about the "thin air" that Madrid was played in. You know what, you're right...I'm surprised they didn't use oxygen masks...

    Wow. They are playing in Kitzbühel in the Alps this week...I wonder how many of them will die from altitude sickness?
     
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  6. TheTruth

    TheTruth G.O.A.T.

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    I'd rather go with McEnroe on this.
     
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  7. thejoe

    thejoe Hall of Fame

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    ^Only because it fits what you want to believe.
     
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  8. R_Federer

    R_Federer Professional

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    Awwwww elevation. How cute. Sissies. Just go play in Mars!
     
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  9. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

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    Small differences make a huge impact at the pro level. I agree; the elevation did make a difference. It isn't as big as most people make it out to be, however it was enough to give Federer a significant advantage.
     
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  10. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    The bottom line is that the curse of 13 worked.
     
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  11. DNShade

    DNShade Professional

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    I'm not saying that it wasn't a factor - it was - and was for everyone of course - as were the courts themselves being a little dodgy the whole week. I wasn't trying to say that there wasn't a difference in the pace through the air - but I was just pointing out how the elevation wasn't as high and drastic as some people were trying to make it out to be. That is all.
     
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  12. fastdunn

    fastdunn Legend

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    The difference between top pros are laser thin. Even the seemingly minute edge plays huge factor. Especially between top 4, it could all that makes difference.
     
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  13. veroniquem

    veroniquem Bionic Poster

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    I agree, except on clay it's mostly the top 3 (unfortunately).
     
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  14. slicefox

    slicefox Banned

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    If they are good at the game, they should be good in all elevations.

    Not like 1PSI of pressure difference would make you completely suck at the sport. They don't "fine tune" their game, their game has to be dynamic because every bounce is different. It depends more on the spin/angle of the ball coming at you from your opponent, and the type of ball and court.

    Elevation doesn't do squat.
     
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  15. slicefox

    slicefox Banned

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    Ye because Murray can't play on clay. On the other hand, verdasco is pretty good on clay. And we also have Monaco, Ferrero and others who are good clay courters
     
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  16. ty slothrop

    ty slothrop Semi-Pro

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    while we're performing public service, let's remember that federer's greatest success has come on the slowest clay of all -- Hamburg. Why people would automatically presume that "faster" clay conditions would help Federer is beyond me...
     
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  17. Rhino

    Rhino Legend

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    The elevation in Madrid does make a difference. I do skydiving all around the world, and I always notice in Madrid that the landings are super fast, you can really notice it.
     
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  18. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Well, I have to disagree with the OP on this one.

    For example, when I toss on my serve >>> the few feet of elevation form the ground are enough to have considerable effects on controlling the ball. I've even noticed the ball flies off the string bed, much more so than when I hit a volley near ground level. :)
     
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  19. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Then Karlovic must have trouble breathing the rarefied air up there :)
     
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  20. Blade0324

    Blade0324 Hall of Fame

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    The OP is mostly incorrect on this one. Being someone that lives and plays regularly at altitude (Denver about 5300ft.) I wish to add this. The ball does not fly faster at altitude but rather it goes farther with the same pace. There is less pressure and less resistance at altitude so at about 2000ft. the ball will fly about 1 ft. farther than at sea level. At my elevation it is closer to 2-3 ft. farther. Also spin is less effective in thinner air as the ball again has less resistance so the spin does not move the ball as much. Baseball pitchers will tell you the same thing, curveballs move less at altitude.
    At the pro level 1ft. is huge difference as they are used to going close to lines with shots regularly so a ball that is normally 6 inches in will now be 6 inches out. Also for Nadal who plays with more spin than anyone else on tour the lessened effect of the spin will make a noteable diffence in the results of his game and his shots. Those that say 2000 ft. is not much difference don't really know. It is a difference!!!!
     
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  21. shell

    shell Professional

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    But at the end of the day, they all played on the same courts at the same altitude. So if they had to make slight adjustments, then the better adjuster has a slight advantage. No different than wind, sun in your eyes on serves and on and on.
     
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  22. obnoxious2

    obnoxious2 Semi-Pro

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    It's hardly a factor. You'd have to be OCD to feel like you really are feeling the effects. Now Denver is a complete different story.
     
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  23. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    That is not true. I met a teaching pro in Vegas (I think he worked in the tennis courts owned by Ballys) and he said altitude in Vegas made a big difference.
     
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  24. Winners or Errors

    Winners or Errors Hall of Fame

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    OK. I looked at some more scientific sites and found the following. Air density decreases pretty dramatically from sea level to 2000 feet, from 1.2 kg/m³ to roughly 0.9 kg/m³. That reduction in air density is enough to guarantee that the ball will go quite a bit farther. I found a calculator, and for an initial speed of 120kph with an object of the diameter and density of a tennis ball, the difference was greater than 10% in terms of distance travelled.

    Now, here's the question. Sure, a serve struck is going to travel further at 2,000 feet than it is at sea level. I don't see how that benefits the server, since it makes it harder to keep the serve in the court, just like it is harder to keep groundstrokes in the court. If these professionals couldn't adjust to compensate for that, I'd suspect we'd see a pretty dramatic decrease in serve percentage and increase in double faults. Where I see a difference, if there is one for someone like Nadal, is that a player has much less control over the circumstances of hitting a shot like a groundstroke, so the error percentage should be even greater than on the serve.

    I'd be curious if altitude was really much of a factor, and think the easiest way to find out would be to look at the error rate across the entire tournament. I mention this because I know some overzealous Nadal fan is going to point to his error count in the Federer match, but since one match is a statistical anomaly, that's a baseless argument.

    So, bottom line, altitude makes a difference in how far the ball flies for a given speed. I see that as equating to a higher error rate for someone used to how it flies at sea level. If a higher error rate can't be proven, then altitude was a non-factor. A ball that goes in doesn't travel at a higher rate of speed than at sea level, or it would go out...
     
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  25. Blade0324

    Blade0324 Hall of Fame

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    It is as different from sea level to Vegas as it is from Vegas to Denver. Most poeple will be able to notice the difference and pros especially will notice.
     
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  26. Puma

    Puma Rookie

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  27. dem331

    dem331 New User

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    I think this is a really interesting discussion.

    I am probably about to say something stupid, but since the serve is a shot where the ball is travelling along a downward diagonal (ie. there is a strong component of downward force as well as a component of horizontal force) it probably is not affected by the thinner air in the same way as a ground stroke, which has mainly a horizontal component of force. Obviously if I throw a ball vertically downwards from the same height at altitude it does not travel further to hit the ground, but does it hit the ground in less time than at sea level? I don't know.

    I am not a scientist, so please excuse the terminology.

    By the way I saw that the ITF specifies special balls to be used at altitudes over 4000 ft.
     
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  28. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Question is very interesting. On the one hand, gravity is weaker at higher altitudes, so ball should take longer time to reach the ground. On the other hand, the rarefied air offers less drag, so it should take lesser time.
     
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  29. ksbh

    ksbh Banned

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    While the surface/altitude may have played a role in making the courts/ball faster, I don't believe that is the reason Nadal lost to Federer at Madrid.

    Nadal has time & again fully demonstrated his ability to beat Federer on fast courts & across different surfaces, at the slams no less. I believe the reason for his loss are not related to the speed of the Madrid court.
     
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  30. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

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    How did Fed get an advantage? Did he not have to deal with the same conditions? Or...did he get different air than Nadal did? :confused:
     
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  31. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

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    Federer's game is more suited to fast conditions / surfaces. He prefers to keep points short, especially now that he is very inconsistent in rallies. The conditions obviously did favor him quite abit. It still is clay however, and I believe Nadal still should have won the match. Federer simply adapted, and Nadal didn't.
     
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  32. Nadal_Freak

    Nadal_Freak Banned

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    You gotta love it with members try to act like experts. Nadal mentioned before the tournament that he has played in Madrid many times and it takes some getting used to and bad prep for the French Open.
     
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  33. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

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    Like you Mr. I Know More About Tennis than Andy Roddick?
     
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  34. Nadal_Freak

    Nadal_Freak Banned

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    The stats would show that the altitude made a difference as well. I remember hearing there was 2% less breaks in Madrid from Rome and RG.
     
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  35. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

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    Did I say it didn't make a difference? Of course it made a difference. It was very obvious just by watching that the altitude did make a difference.



    However, I'm calling you out on your double standard that you just posted. You are calling people out for acting like they are "experts" when in reality you pose as an "expert" yourself. Heck, you say you are more qualified to verify surface speeds than the International Tennis Federation. You call Roddick an idiot even though he PLAYS on those surfaces.



    Really? Next time, how bout you try practicing what you preach.
     
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  36. Nadal_Freak

    Nadal_Freak Banned

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    I didn't just use biased reasoning. I actually did the stats first. I assumed it would suit the Wimbledon has slowed down theory. It ended up not being that way. I look up the aces. Same story. Wimbledon had no drop in aces or a big effect in break percentage. So my idea is the style of play has changed drastically because of technology and people just not enjoying getting passed all the time.
     
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  37. ty slothrop

    ty slothrop Semi-Pro

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    Is that why Fed has won Hamburg (perhaps the single slowest tournament of the year) 3-4 times, including one win over nadal and a very close match last year that he should have won?!?!
     
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  38. Redflea

    Redflea Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for adding some objective info to the thread...interesting, thoughtful post.
     
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  39. R_Federer

    R_Federer Professional

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    So what if its a factor? Are you really the number 1 tennis player in the world when you cant play in all conditions? lol Its like being named top student when you're only good in math and suck at all the other subjects.
     
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  40. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

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    Completely ignore everything I said and try and jump to another totally unrelated subject. Good job.
     
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  41. Winners or Errors

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    The gravitational constant is not different at different altitudes. Where did you get that information? I think you'd be hard pressed to find a source to support that contention.

    The density of the air is lower at higher altitudes, so there is less drag. In other words, a ball hit with the same initial velocity will lose speed faster at lower altitudes, and be slower when it reaches the other end. That is why the ball goes farther at higher altitudes. Because it can maintain higher speeds, a ball hit at the same initial velocity will go farther at higher altitudes.

    Of course, the fact that it will travel further and be less effected by spin because of air density means that to keep the ball in play it must have lower initial velocity than at lower altitudes to achieve the same result, hence my point about looking at error rates to see if there was a real difference in play at Madrid. Not sure that there is enough of a downward component to serving to make enough difference vis-a-vis a groundstroke. Overheads five feet from the net, yes, but serves? Not sure that flies.
     
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  42. NamRanger

    NamRanger G.O.A.T.

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    Gravity is slightly weaker in certain areas, however the numerical value is so small that it is negligible.
     
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  43. ChanceEncounter

    ChanceEncounter Professional

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    By this logic, the French Open's "seemingly minute edges" give Nadal the advantage, and he isn't really much better than Djokovic or Federer.

    Get real. Nadal got beat. It happens sometimes.
     
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  44. tonyg11

    tonyg11 Rookie

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    I started out playing at high altitude. First time I went to play at sea level I thought something was wrong with the balls or my racquet. It felt like I went form playing on grass to playing on slow clay. That’s how big the difference *felt*.
     
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  45. Nadal_Freak

    Nadal_Freak Banned

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    It is also the lowest bouncing tournament. Also Fed took advantage of a tired field after the week before they were in Rome. Fed lost early and prepared for Hamburg.
     
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  46. ty slothrop

    ty slothrop Semi-Pro

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    all four times?

    and since paris comes after hamburg, I suppose the field was even more tired -- therefore weaker -- for nadal during his four french open championships
     
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  47. ty slothrop

    ty slothrop Semi-Pro

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    and so let's see... high bounces equals advantage federer. low bounces equals advantage federer. fast clay equals advantage federer. slow clay equals advantage federer

    does that about sum it up? it's a wonder that rafa can get ANY wins against federer...
     
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  48. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Could it be the stats were affected somewhat by the level of Federer's play by chance?

    Or, was Federer's play a condition of the statistics?

    Had Federer lost, would the statistics have been less impressive?

    Statistically speaking, Tracy Austin had a higher percentage of 1st serves than any other player on the WTA during her time. Her serves were also clocked by calendars. Does this mean that Tracy Austin had a better serve than say Martina Navratilova?

    For a while, Richard Kraicjek held the record for most aces in one match, 49. This statistic is very impressive until you look at the final score and he lost to Kafelnikov. So, according to you, he really didn't lose the match? The record was recently broken by someone who served more aces in one match....and lost it as well. Are we being deceived?

    I somehow thought the grasscourt tournaments were the owners of the lowest bouncing statistic.

    Is the implication here that Federer lost on purpose in the Italian with the expressly evil purpose of taking advantage of a tired field later in Hamburg? Or, since Federer is fluent in German did the Germans "rig" the clay to bounce lower than Italian clay?

    How exactly is Federer's preparation for Hamburg different than his preparation for the Italian Open? Did he eat smoked herring and not lasagne?



    IMO, the bigger factors than the court were all factors NOT in Federer's favor. First, the surface is not conducive to Federer no matter what kind of red clay it is. Second, I think Federer would have had less to deal with ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD than where he beat Nads. And lastly, if Madrid's altitude is so detrimental to Nads' game, how did he win there on an indoor fast court?

    Nads had a bad day and Federer had a good day. The only question is how much of Federer's play actually contributed to Nads' bad play? I think Federer played, as his good friend Mats Wilander suggested, with balls. He missed shots and didn't pull back. All that said, he did get tight toward the end, but hey....you're beating Nads at home on dirt...who wouldn't?
     
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  49. sh@de

    sh@de Hall of Fame

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    HAHAHAH zomg genius post. :D.
     
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  50. Nadal_Freak

    Nadal_Freak Banned

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    I meant the lowest bouncing of all the clay court tournaments due to extremely heavy conditions and sand duned clay. lol
     
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