Originally Posted by krosero
Now getting back to the question of net play today: that match was probably Federer's best ever on clay. And he had a stellar success rate, 76%. But it's not as if we're talking about how a 76% success rate against Nadal on clay should become the norm for all players. That was Federer's best effort and even he is not going to be reproduce it every day. All the more true for lesser players.
But let's just start with the fact that a 76% success rate is possible against Nadal on clay. Then shouldn't it be possible to see Federer, at least (never mind other players, for now), produce similar rates on other, faster surfaces? I know grass is not what is used to be, but there is still common agreement that it's faster than clay and that Federer has a greater advantage over Nadal than he does on clay. Yet Federer does not have net stats on grass, against Nadal, that equal his Rome stats, much less surpass them.
Why is that? It can't be that his level of play in the Rome match was a level above every match he's played on any surface. It was a very, very high level -- but surely he's had such days on grass or hard court. And those surfaces should be more suitable for him to come forward. So the natural question for me is, what happened? Why do his matches after Rome show lower success rates and even lower numbers of net approaches?
It seems to me that Roche's influence can be a large factor in all this.
Remember, I'm not asking why Federer did not become Edberg; and still less am I claiming that the tour as a whole can start attacking just as much as they did in the 70s or 80s or 90s. I don't know whether that is possible. I'm just saying, once Federer showed he could have a certain level of net success on clay against Nadal, then theoretically on faster surfaces he could have even better numbers. Yet Rome, on clay, seems to have been his high point as far as net play. Why is that?
Well i think this is a matter of strategy on federer's part rather than anything else.
If you can end points on the baseline, then why come into net?
Points are generally shorter on faster surfaces, and federer can usually gain the ascendancy using his forehand very quickly in points and actually win points without having to come to net that often. He still is aggressive and does approach the net when the game play allows him to, but its not going to be as conscious of a choice as it is on clay.
On clay, its a different story. Because of nadal's elite movement + defense + topspin...trying to outduel him from the baseline is extremely difficult. So in order for him to end points in his favor, he has to approach the net at some point. Doing this of course implies that he gains the advantage in the rally to allow him to hit an approach shot of sufficient quality. The first window of opportunity, federer usually strikes on clay against nadal...on faster surfaces, federer doesnt need to approach the net and risk getting passed - he can just hit another penetrating forehand - which is a higher percentage shot for him.
apart from clay, federer has fared reasonably well against nadal. I believe they are equal or with federer having a slight advantage.
on the faster surfaces, federer holds the distinct edge - indoor hard courts. slower hardcourts - nadal may hold the slight edge. But the slowest hardcourts are in fact slower than the rome surface.
I don't know federer's win % at net at wimbledon against nadal - but im sure it must have been decent. Maybe not 75%. From what i understand, the grass surface isnt a whole lot faster than Rome. Faster than Roland garros...sure, but not rome.
Hewitt recently commented that the grass is playing slower than RG clay - dont know if this was exaggeration or not..but the fact that he is discussing it shows it is within the same ballpark. henman said something similar before he retired.
the 75% win at net i think is a more a reflection of federer's baseline play that day than his quality of net play, which was good..but it was more due to federer hitting quality approach shots.