Originally Posted by TTMR
Why are most of their rallies this way? Federer, who is better at everything according to his fans, and is the more aggressive player, should be the one dictating play and sending his forehands to Nadal's backhand much more than vice-versa.
This is all pretty straightforward, and has been understood by most people (by which I mean fans, pundits, and Fed and Nadal themselves for years):
Federer FH > Nadal FH (slightly)
Federer BH > Nadal BH
Nadal FH > Federer BH
and most important,
Nadal pattern imposition > Federer pattern imposition.
The last statement means that Nadal is superior at imposing a repetitive pattern of play, namely, his forehand to Fed's backhand in baseline rallies. There are two main reasons for this superiority: First, Nadal has a simpler game, so he doesn't really lose anything by hitting the same shot over and over. If the single shot employed is good -- and Nadal's is very, very good -- then the more the merrier for Nadal. In both tennis and table tennis, heavy topspin has always
been a repetitive, grind-'em-down tool. In contrast, Federer's greater reliance on variety means that he diminishes his own effectiveness by becoming repetitive, even if that approach also hurts his opponent somewhat. A predictable Fed is a lesser Fed.
Second, Nadal is better-equipped psychologically to lock into a single groove for much of a match. He's more dogged than Federer, more obsessive and consistent, and less concerned about aesthetics.