Originally Posted by Mike Sams
Djokovic played at 60% of his level in the clay court season IMO. He didn't play well at all at RG. His performances against Seppi and Tsonga prove that. Even still, he ran Nadal nearly ragged in the final and had Nadal basically just defensively pushing balls back in many of those rallies. Djokovic 2011 would've been an entirely different specimen altogether. Will be interesting to see if Murray, Del Potro, Federer and some surprises pop up this year on clay.
I didn't find Nadal all that dominant against Wawrinka in Monte Carlo last year and he got crushed by Verdasco in Madrid, blue clay or not. Could be some surprises in store this season.
You can keep trotting out the same "Djokovic 2011 was unbeatable" argument. What about Nadal 2010 who also won 3 slams (and beat Djokovic in the US Open final pretty comfortably)? The fact is, every player has high points and low points form-wise. Djokovic was excellent in 2011 and figured out how to do damage to Nadal. Nadal changed his game in 2012 and won the next three matches. He simply didn't let Djokovic play at that level. It's an irrelevant argument to say 2011 Djokovic was 40% better. It's also not true. Djokovic lost to Federer at the 2011 French Open but beat him comfortably in 2012 - why was that?
As for "nearly running Nadal ragged" in that French Open final, the only part of the match he had any hold was when the rain came and the court completely changed. Other than that it was pretty much one-way traffic.
Oh and crushed by Verdasco in Madrid? Are you kidding me? I watched that match live and it was one of the worst performances I have ever seen by either player - absolute rubbish tennis, tentative, full of errors and very low on quality. Now I know you are kidding.
I like the way you highlight one or two performances across an entire clay court season (only one of which he actually lost anyway) as evidence he will struggle this season.
Let's talk facts:
22 Masters Series vs 9 (that's poor)
11 grand slams vs 6
19 to 14 head to head record in Nadal's favour (despite that miraculous 2011 run)
Arguably the two players aren't worth even comparing at the moment in the grand scheme of tennis greats. The gap in achievements is as big between Nadal and Djokovic as it is between Djokovic and Murray. In fact Murray is arguably closer to Djokovic than Djokovic is to Nadal.