Is there a clay player from the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s that could have beaten Nadal at Roland Garros?

magnut

Hall of Fame
I cant see wilander giving nadal any trouble at all. Nadal would slap him around the court like a rag doll.

I am a Wilander fan more than Nadal but its a horrible match up. I dont think Wilanders incredibly high tennis IQ would be able to penetrate the Nadal game. Nadal would exploit Willanders patient style of play and Matts would have a major problem trying to demoralize Nadal through long vanilla rallys. Matts entire game would probably play into Nadals hands.

would be fun to watch though.
 
Thanks for over-simplifying my comment. The point of my comment was you need to take something away from Rafa's rhythm and you need to make him pay for his court positioning in order to create some space for yourself to explore.

Reacting to Rafa's loopy shots is a losing game.
You may be onto something here. I’d phone any of the top 10 right now to report this revelation.
 

Caol-ila

New User
Even if we cannot prove anything about different eras matches, we can get an idea of the effect of a different technology by considering spaghetti stringing. Vilas, a Nadal before Nadal, lost to Nastase after winning 53 matches in a row. He said he lost to a racquet, not to a player. That stringing transformed normal players into top level ones.
Today’s racquets and strings produce the same outcome with different materials. If we want to know how Nadal would play with normal wood racquets we have to subtract the spaghetti technology from his game. I guess he would be a Vilas-like player.
H2H Borg - VilasNadal is 17-5.
That’s it.
 

chjtennis

G.O.A.T.
With same type of training and equipment, I think Borg, Muster, Bruguera, Berrasategi and Kuerten might have taken a few wins over Rafa at RG. All of these guys have strength that could trouble Nadal.
 

magnut

Hall of Fame
Peak Muster (1995) against teen Nadal (2005), who wins?
:cautious:
Tough one...could go either way. Nadal might pull an upset. Teen Nadal didnt play like a teenager. Moya took out Muster in 96 and was really the first one to penetrate the Muster dominance. Muster had some wars with sergie as well even in his peak. Muster has the experience Nadal has the youth.... would be fun to watch.. Kind of like the old Agassi vs Connors matchups.
 
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magnut

Hall of Fame
With same type of training and equipment, I think Borg, Muster, Bruguera, Berrasategi and Kuerten might have taken a few wins over Rafa at RG. All of these guys have strength that could trouble Nadal.
Guys were training pretty darn hard back then too. Its really just pre 90s where I think the training was a little less emphasized. Muster trained his tail off. Everyone talked about Courier but guys like Muster, Rafter, Chang, and a big group of clay court specialists were working hard. Late 90s everyone was moving like little Changs. They were also all developing bigger serves after what guys like Chang and Rios were doing. Very few players were serving under the 120s on the first serve. I watched Rios pop one at 132 once and his actual height is close to 5'7".... he is tiny. Everyone said Rafter had a weaker serve power wise I he popped a 137 at the Pilot Pen in 97 during his run.

Equipment is overated... poly string and babolats were around back then too. A lot of players dissed poly because the feel was lousy and you had to be able to volley well back then or you would be exploited. You also couldnt control a rally with short spiny balls like they do now. A quality player would just attack it. Players get away with it now because everyone is scared to come to the net.... scared of the dreaded low volley LOL.
 

chjtennis

G.O.A.T.
Guys were training pretty darn hard back then too. Its really just pre 90s where I think the training was a little less emphasized. Muster trained his tail off. Everyone talked about Courier but guys like Muster, Rafter, Chang, and a big group of clay court specialists were working hard. Late 90s everyone was moving like little Changs. They were also all developing bigger serves after what guys like Chang and Rios were doing. Very few players were serving under the 120s on the first serve. I watched Rios pop one at 132 once and his actual height is close to 5'7".... he is tiny. Everyone said Rafter had a weaker serve power wise I he popped a 137 at the Pilot Pen in 97 during his run.

Equipment is overated... poly string and babolats were around back then too. A lot of players dissed poly because the feel was lousy and you had to be able to volley well back then or you would be exploited. You also couldnt control a rally with short spiny balls like they do now. A quality player would just attack it. Players get away with it now because everyone is scared to come to the net.... scared of the dreaded low volley LOL.
It's not just about how hard you train. The technology is more advanced and even the age is being defied to some degree nowadays. Players generally play at higher level now compared 20-30 years ago. Just watch some old matches from 90s. You can see how faster and stronger players are now and the pace of play is on another level.
 

vandre

Hall of Fame
i don't know, but i would love to see a rafa/ (peak) muster or rafa/ guga final at roland garros. if there was a rafa/ borg or rafa/ wilander final, those spectators better have a snickers bar in every pocket!
 
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magnut

Hall of Fame
It's called sarcasm, no need to be triggered by someone disagreeing with you while pointing out how ridiculous your notion is with some healthy sarcasm.

Federer, Djokovic, Murray, Roddick, etc....

These are the names of all the players who were and continue to be BURNED the vast majority of the time they come to the net vs Nadal. The guy has arguably the best passing shot EVER and your whole theory to "disrupt Nadal's game" revolves around coming to the net......ESPECIALLY ON CLAY..........lol get it now?
Rafa is a wicked passing shot artist. Even if your on it he gets it low with so much heavy spin if hard to handle. It practically guarantees a drop volley ot best. None of the players you mentioned are great volleyers. It would take Cash or Rafter level low volleyers to counter Rafa pass and those players just are not there anymore. I dont even think Edberg could handle those balls and I consider him the greatest volleyer ever.
 

magnut

Hall of Fame
It's not just about how hard you train. The technology is more advanced and even the age is being defied to some degree nowadays. Players generally play at higher level now compared 20-30 years ago. Just watch some old matches from 90s. You can see how faster and stronger players are now and the pace of play is on another level.
Its ok to disagree with me as long as your polite....which you were. Thank you

Its an old arguement. They play faster in some ways but slower in other. IMO what you see today is a bit deceptive. The players give each other time in a lot of ways.... lots of short balls which are not attacked....more spinny....slower courts etc. A lot of players in the 90s hit flatter with more depth and jumped on short balls either putting the ball away or working into the net. They more regularly took time away from the opponent resulting in shorter points. You also had players that hit so big that the other player was not allowed to play. Then you had the serve and volleyers... some really good ones.

I still say Krajicek would give nadal fits. Magnus Larson on a good day is onother one. Someone like Becker on a faster surface would blow through nadal if he didnt get hot headed. Nadal would have his hands full if his first serve percentage got low. He simply would not be allowed to play his game against so e of these players. Returning would be a big problem as well.

Faster and stronger.... maybe. Depends what players your comparing. Obvioussly Nadal is fast and strong but there were some pretty strong and fast guys in the 90s. Only slowish heavy mover I can think of for a top player is Becker and Like I was saying.... he was not easy to penetrate because he liked to pull the trigger and had a lot of self belief. I dont see a lot of these current guys being good movers coming forward and when at the net either. Lots of balance problems. Side to side at the baseline many are 90s spanish Armada level...Corretja, Moya, Costa etc. etc. For quick footed movers I would put Chang up against any of them.... rarely off balace, quick, and moved well all over the court. Edberg IMO is the greatest mover the game has ever seen from anywhere on the court... always balanced and seemed to just silently and smoothly glide. Like he could balance a cup of water on his head.

I do think recovery methods have vastly improved and its a big reason why we see all these older guys still around. Diet and nutrition is much better understood as well. Helps to keep a lot of these guys injury free and ready for matches. Then again look at all the issues these guys are having......but that was going on in the 90s as well. Tennis is just a brutal sport on the body. Thats why when you try to copy a players movement you want to go with the smooth movers like Edberg or Cash. Much less taxing on the body and will give you longevity you need to play the sport for a lifetime.

Copy violent movers like Chang or Nadal and your going to deal with lots of injuries. Good training helps but it will still catch up to you as you Age. Edberg, Wilander, Borg, McEnroe, Cash, Sampras etc still move great as they have gotten older..... Meanwhile Connors has had double hip replacements.... Lendl cant move....Andre walks like he is in pain.....etc. etc. This is all best taught at an early age....focus on balance and quiet feet instead of speed and screeching shoes. And throw all this showboat sliding on hardcourts out the door. It may look cool but its an injury waiting to happen.... a bad one....maybe the worst.... not just ankle or knee but also Hips and back.
 
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chjtennis

G.O.A.T.
Its ok to disagree with me as long as your polite....which you were. Thank you

Its an old arguement. They play faster in some ways but slower in other. IMO what you see today is a bit deceptive. The players give each other time in a lot of ways.... lots of short balls which are not attacked....more spinny....slower courts etc. A lot of players in the 90s hit flatter with more depth and jumped on short balls either putting the ball away or working into the net. They more regularly took time away from the opponent resulting in shorter points. You also had players that hit so big that the other player was not allowed to play. Then you had the serve and volleyers... some really good ones.

I still say Krajicek would give nadal fits. Magnus Larson on a good day is onother one. Someone like Becker on a faster surface would blow through nadal if he didnt get hot headed. Nadal would have his hands full if his first serve percentage got low. He simply would not be allowed to play his game against so e of these players. Returning would be a big problem as well.

Faster and stronger.... maybe. Depends what players your comparing. Obvioussly Nadal is fast and strong but there were some pretty strong and fast guys in the 90s. Only slowish heavy mover I can think of for a top player is Becker and Like I was saying.... he was not easy to penetrate because he liked to pull the trigger and had a lot of self belief. I dont see a lot of these current guys being good movers coming forward and when at the net either. Lots of balance problems. Side to side at the baseline many are 90s spanish Armada level...Corretja, Moya, Costa etc. etc. For quick footed movers I would put Chang up against any of them.... rarely off balace, quick, and moved well all over the court. Edberg IMO is the greatest mover the game has ever seen from anywhere on the court... always balanced and seemed to just silently and smoothly glide. Like he could balance a cup of water on his head.

I do think recovery methods have vastly improved and its a big reason why we see all these older guys still around. Diet and nutrition is much better understood as well. Helps to keep a lot of these guys injury free and ready for matches. Then again look at all the issues these guys are having......but that was going on in the 90s as well. Tennis is just a brutal sport on the body. Thats why when you try to copy a players movement you want to go with the smooth movers like Edberg or Cash. Much less taxing on the body and will give you longevity you need to play the sport for a lifetime.

Copy violent movers like Chang or Nadal and your going to deal with lots of injuries. Good training helps but it will still catch up to you as you Age. Edberg, Wilander, Borg, McEnroe, Cash, Sampras etc still move great as they have gotten older..... Meanwhile Connors has had double hip replacements.... Lendl cant move....Andre walks like he is in pain.....etc. etc. This is all best taught at an early age....focus on balance and quiet feet instead of speed and screeching shoes. And throw all this showboat sliding on hardcourts out the door. It may look cool but its an injury waiting to happen.... a bad one....maybe the worst.... not just ankle or knee but also Hips and back.
Yup, we should learn to disagree with respect. From what I see, though, there's a reason why serve and volley is a lost art in tennis nowadays. If you don't absolutely push your opponent with your approach on the backfoot, even with decent half chance, most top 100 players of present era would be able to make the passing shot. Krajicek was a great player on his best days, but I can still envision Nadal keep passing him time after time When RK comes to the net. Federer, one of the all time best movers who possesses great 1st and 2nd serves, tried to come to the net only to get passed so many times during his 90 sq inch days, and that's enough to convince me with the modern game, not many serve and volleyers would've been able to have much success v Nadal with very few exceptions. Krajicek only played Kuerten, the widely accepted frontier of poly strings, once on HC in Indian Wells, and their only encounter went to Gustavo's way, 6-4 6-4. That's too little of a sample, I know, but might be an indication how modern baseliners have made it impossible to play serve and volley as regularly as before. (Also watch Kuerten v Sampras at Masters Cup 2000)
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
There is the issue of height, and it is assumed that today's fine athletes are taller, and that greater height shows that they would win in other eras.

No one talks about the height of Laver, Rosewall, Connors, Borg, Mac. It's assumed that if they had to play taller versions of themselves, in their era, they would have lost. No one talks about the possible advantage of being shorter in an era when balls barely bounced on grass, or how poly and modern rackets with all the added pace and topspin have raised the ideal hitting zone, playing more and more into the hands of taller players.

If you cloned Borg and trained him at the same time as Nadal, with both players then growing up with this equipment, Borg would be at an extreme disadvantage.

If you cloned Nadal and took him back in a time machine to grow up and play in Borg's era, his feet and knees would not have allowed him to win much, so in that scenario Borg would have every advantage.

Wood and gut tennis was a different sport.
 

magnut

Hall of Fame
Yup, we should learn to disagree with respect. From what I see, though, there's a reason why serve and volley is a lost art in tennis nowadays. If you don't absolutely push your opponent with your approach on the backfoot, even with decent half chance, most top 100 players of present era would be able to make the passing shot. Krajicek was a great player on his best days, but I can still envision Nadal keep passing him time after time When RK comes to the net. Federer, one of the all time best movers who possesses great 1st and 2nd serves, tried to come to the net only to get passed so many times during his 90 sq inch days, and that's enough to convince me with the modern game, not many serve and volleyers would've been able to have much success v Nadal with very few exceptions. Krajicek only played Kuerten, the widely accepted frontier of poly strings, once on HC in Indian Wells, and their only encounter went to Gustavo's way, 6-4 6-4. That's too little of a sample, I know, but might be an indication how modern baseliners have made it impossible to play serve and volley as regularly as before. (Also watch Kuerten v Sampras at Masters Cup 2000)

All good points. Honestly I think Nadals biggest strength is his ability to hold focus... best I have ever seen. Almost inhuman and towers above Federer in that area. I think Federer is a child mentally next to Nadal. I also dont look at Federer as a great volleyer or Mover at the Net. Nadal is actually very good up there and is a proactive volleyer. He attacks the volley much more than Roger. Federer can be demoralized a little where as Nadal doesnt seem to let things effect him as much.

However... as I said... some of the Monsters from the 90s just didnt let you play. I remember courier summed up playing the monsters pretty well when he said he felt like he was just marching in a band during return games sometimes. Krajicek was one of those monsters who was also an excellent volleyer. There were a few of those players that just wouldnt let you have rythem. Nadal is a rythem player more than he is a shotmaker. The way you beat a player like that is you dont allow them to get comfortable and set up for a shot. Some players have managed to do it by redlining through an entire match but guys like Krajicek didnt have to redline.... they just had to be healthy. I sound like some Krajicek freak but I am really not. I just look at matchups. Most clay courters would get slaughtered by Nadal. I dont think Kuerten could beat him consistently. I like Guga but he would let Rafa get a rythem.

as for the fed nadal matchup .....on slower surfaces.... Nadals defense was better than rogers offense....... Nadals defense was also better than Rogers defense.....Nadals mental fortitude was a lot better than Rogers.... Federer really had nowhere to go on slower surfaces against Nadal if Rafa was playing fairly well. Rafa needed to have a really bad day which was uncommon. Roger has a good serve but I wouldnt call it great. I get it that hard core fans will overate it though. Roger has a good serve that he backs up with a nice all court game, excellent movement, and also excellent defense. His biggest weakness is his head. He can drift mentally which was prevelant in his early years. Nadal has never been like that... like I said inhuman.
 

morten

Hall of Fame
All good points. Honestly I think Nadals biggest strength is his ability to hold focus... best I have ever seen. Almost inhuman and towers above Federer in that area. I think Federer is a child mentally next to Nadal. I also dont look at Federer as a great volleyer or Mover at the Net. Nadal is actually very good up there and is a proactive volleyer. He attacks the volley much more than Roger. Federer can be demoralized a little where as Nadal doesnt seem to let things effect him as much.

However... as I said... some of the Monsters from the 90s just didnt let you play. I remember courier summed up playing the monsters pretty well when he said he felt like he was just marching in a band during return games sometimes. Krajicek was one of those monsters who was also an excellent volleyer. There were a few of those players that just wouldnt let you have rythm. Nadal is a rythem player more than he is a shotmaker. The way you beat a player like that is you dont allow them to get comfortable and set up for a shot. Some players have managed to do it by redlining through an entire match but guys like Krajicek didnt have to redline.... they just had to be healthy. I sound like some Krajicek freak but I am really not. I just look at matchups. Most clay courters would get slaughtered by Nadal. I dont think Kuerten could beat him consistently. I like Guga but he would let Rafa get a rythem.

as for the fed nadal matchup .....on slower surfaces.... Nadals defense was better than rogers offense....... Nadals defense was also better than Rogers defense.....Nadals mental fortitude was a lot better than Rogers.... Federer really had nowhere to go on slower surfaces against Nadal if Rafa was playing fairly well. Rafa needed to have a really bad day which was uncommon. Roger has a good serve but I wouldnt call it great. I get it that hard core fans will overate it though. Roger has a good serve that he backs up with a nice all court game, excellent movement, and also excellent defense. His biggest weakness is his head. He can drift mentally which was prevelant in his early years. Nadal has never been like that... like I said inhuman.
Wow Magnut. You are my new friend and the things you say is excactly my opinion as well and what i have tried to explain to people for many years. Also back then, before the slower high bouncing court, balls were much faster AFTER the bounce than today, much harder to return those balls. A deep slice f.eks would skid lower and faster than today, and even with poly strings players like Rafa even would have a real hard time. Now the game looks faster, but they often hit shorter and the ball slows down more after the bounce. Back then the balls were more penetrating and simply harder to return because of the heaviness and lower faster bounce. This is hard to see on TV, the rallies now vmcan look more impressive because they rip the ball so hard, and they can because of poly, slower courts giving more time to set up and players hardly approach the net. If you look at rallies before slow courts, you can see how the ball does not lose much pace after bounce, whereas now the ball goes really fast across the net but slows down tremendously.. all this of course in favour of the returner. And tennis turned into a baseline slugfest.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
Wow Magnut. You are my new friend and the things you say is excactly my opinion as well and what i have tried to explain to people for many years. Also back then, before the slower high bouncing court, balls were much faster AFTER the bounce than today, much harder to return those balls. A deep slice f.eks would skid lower and faster than today, and even with poly strings players like Rafa even would have a real hard time. Now the game looks faster, but they often hit shorter and the ball slows down more after the bounce. Back then the balls were more penetrating and simply harder to return because of the heaviness and lower faster bounce. This is hard to see on TV, the rallies now vmcan look more impressive because they rip the ball so hard, and they can because of poly, slower courts giving more time to set up and players hardly approach the net. If you look at rallies before slow courts, you can see how the ball does not lose much pace after bounce, whereas now the ball goes really fast across the net but slows down tremendously.. all this of course in favour of the returner. And tennis turned into a baseline slugfest.
A couple things, and first speed after the bounce:

What subtracts pace after the bounce is grit, whatever grabs the ball. No ball can ever spin nearly as as fast as it moves forward, which means that even with a massive amount of top spin, the ball still grabs the surface and loses forward motion. I can prove that mathematically but won't bother here. For anything even approaching "flat", which is closer to neutral in that a true flat shot is not spinning forward or backward, a huge amount of forward motion before the bounce is lost as the ball grabs the court - or the court grabs the ball, according to your perspective. For slice it's more obvious, which is of course why heavy slice checks as it does.

The moment you make a surface slicker, or the ball act is if it grabs less, the ball appears to lose less speed after bouncing, which converts to the perception of speed. So say back in the 90s, if you courts were slicker, less gritty, smoother (all difference words for the same thing) then balls would shoot through quicker. That's the speed part.

The next part is height of bounce, what I think is the biggest factor. The human brain is very strange in that it will "see" what it expects to see. Anything mushy/more giving/less hard is going to result in a lower bounce. Lower bounce usually means less speed, but to the player and spectator it looks the opposite because of reaction time. If ball A bounced 50% higher than ball B, ball B may actually be moving slower, but you have much less time to react, which is why low bouncing grass took and still demands the quickest adjustments and so the shortest preparation. Old grass not only bounced lower - let's forget about "speed" for a moment - so players were always lunging one way or the other making last minute adjustments to height/trajectory, and back in the Laver days, lower bounce, smaller racket heads, less power from the rackets, less spin, carved up grass, they just had to get to the net to control the point. Think of Borg, obviously not a natural volleyer, force to attack players like Mac. Borg looked like a net player in comparison to most player today because the nature of the game demanded it. On clay he usually came to the net to shake hands, like Evert.

There's even more to this. I spent months doing research, but basically speed is more about perceived speed, meaning the time players have to adjust. On modern clay, for a variety of reasons, European clay is the same gritty monster it always was, even yanking pace of Nadal's heavy topspin. The reason why Nadal's shots on clay are so "heavy" actually works in reverse. That nature of the way grit takes pace of means that Nadal's shots come through slower with topspin than on smooth surfaces, but you don't see it that way because the differential between his heaving slice, more moderate spin and heavy topspin causes a massive change in pace from shot to shot. Players dive forward to try to get a racket on slice, then next they have to jump back no to have the topspin jump out of their strike zone. Also it is possible that making balls that fluff up more, or that have a slightly different felt, will grab even more. Then a variety of changes make the ball sit up really high, so the greater spin of poly makes taller players more and more comfortable and makes players under 6 feet tall damn near strike balls over their shoulders. High bounce means a lot more time on any surface. The biggest factor today is that higher bounce.

It is what makes things look slower, because no matter how fast the ball is moving, if a player has more time between the bounce and when he has to strike the ball, that still gives him way more time. Hence Nadal successfully standing back in the Arctic and the Antarctica even on grass. People slam him for it, but it's mostly smart although extreme, given modern courts and rackets. On old grass he would not even get a racket on many balls - no time.
 

magnut

Hall of Fame
A couple things, and first speed after the bounce:

What subtracts pace after the bounce is grit, whatever grabs the ball. No ball can ever spin nearly as as fast as it moves forward, which means that even with a massive amount of top spin, the ball still grabs the surface and loses forward motion. I can prove that mathematically but won't bother here. For anything even approaching "flat", which is closer to neutral in that a true flat shot is not spinning forward or backward, a huge amount of forward motion before the bounce is lost as the ball grabs the court - or the court grabs the ball, according to your perspective. For slice it's more obvious, which is of course why heavy slice checks as it does.

The moment you make a surface slicker, or the ball act is if it grabs less, the ball appears to lose less speed after bouncing, which converts to the perception of speed. So say back in the 90s, if you courts were slicker, less gritty, smoother (all difference words for the same thing) then balls would shoot through quicker. That's the speed part.

The next part is height of bounce, what I think is the biggest factor. The human brain is very strange in that it will "see" what it expects to see. Anything mushy/more giving/less hard is going to result in a lower bounce. Lower bounce usually means less speed, but to the player and spectator it looks the opposite because of reaction time. If ball A bounced 50% higher than ball B, ball B may actually be moving slower, but you have much less time to react, which is why low bouncing grass took and still demands the quickest adjustments and so the shortest preparation. Old grass not only bounced lower - let's forget about "speed" for a moment - so players were always lunging one way or the other making last minute adjustments to height/trajectory, and back in the Laver days, lower bounce, smaller racket heads, less power from the rackets, less spin, carved up grass, they just had to get to the net to control the point. Think of Borg, obviously not a natural volleyer, force to attack players like Mac. Borg looked like a net player in comparison to most player today because the nature of the game demanded it. On clay he usually came to the net to shake hands, like Evert.

There's even more to this. I spent months doing research, but basically speed is more about perceived speed, meaning the time players have to adjust. On modern clay, for a variety of reasons, European clay is the same gritty monster it always was, even yanking pace of Nadal's heavy topspin. The reason why Nadal's shots on clay are so "heavy" actually works in reverse. That nature of the way grit takes pace of means that Nadal's shots come through slower with topspin than on smooth surfaces, but you don't see it that way because the differential between his heaving slice, more moderate spin and heavy topspin causes a massive change in pace from shot to shot. Players dive forward to try to get a racket on slice, then next they have to jump back no to have the topspin jump out of their strike zone. Also it is possible that making balls that fluff up more, or that have a slightly different felt, will grab even more. Then a variety of changes make the ball sit up really high, so the greater spin of poly makes taller players more and more comfortable and makes players under 6 feet tall damn near strike balls over their shoulders. High bounce means a lot more time on any surface. The biggest factor today is that higher bounce.

It is what makes things look slower, because no matter how fast the ball is moving, if a player has more time between the bounce and when he has to strike the ball, that still gives him way more time. Hence Nadal successfully standing back in the Arctic and the Antarctica even on grass. People slam him for it, but it's mostly smart although extreme, given modern courts and rackets. On old grass he would not even get a racket on many balls - no time.
I would bet money you are a huge Vic Braden fan. I loved that guy.
 

magnut

Hall of Fame
Wow Magnut. You are my new friend and the things you say is excactly my opinion as well and what i have tried to explain to people for many years. Also back then, before the slower high bouncing court, balls were much faster AFTER the bounce than today, much harder to return those balls. A deep slice f.eks would skid lower and faster than today, and even with poly strings players like Rafa even would have a real hard time. Now the game looks faster, but they often hit shorter and the ball slows down more after the bounce. Back then the balls were more penetrating and simply harder to return because of the heaviness and lower faster bounce. This is hard to see on TV, the rallies now vmcan look more impressive because they rip the ball so hard, and they can because of poly, slower courts giving more time to set up and players hardly approach the net. If you look at rallies before slow courts, you can see how the ball does not lose much pace after bounce, whereas now the ball goes really fast across the net but slows down tremendously.. all this of course in favour of the returner. And tennis turned into a baseline slugfest.
we are all friends here. Tennis players have to stick together. Not many true fans of the sport left.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
I would bet money you are a huge Vic Braden fan. I loved that guy.
You are right. I was a HUGE fan. Most of the things that were new at the time are now common knowledge, but at that time he was a pioneer. I am almost mild autism level about getting facts right. ;)

It goes with the territory when you play piano. You have to be incredibly OCD about facts, patterns, tactics for learning, but you have to weld that with emotion, intuition, feeling. It's a delicate blend.

I suspect it is a lot like that for the best athletes in an individual sport, or they get a lot of input from that kind of person. I'm a Fed fan, love his game, but I'm a fan of Nadal's logic because I think he is the best tacticians of the Big 3, which certain stats support. Fed is the weakest in pure logic and thus in always playing the percentages. I think Djokovic is more like Nadal. So I'd like to see a Fed-type player with better understanding about percentages. Just please lets not have a player like that who takes max time between every point.
 

magnut

Hall of Fame
You are right. I was a HUGE fan. Most of the things that were new at the time are now common knowledge, but at that time he was a pioneer. I am almost mild autism level about getting facts right. ;)

It goes with the territory when you play piano. You have to be incredibly OCD about facts, patterns, tactics for learning, but you have to weld that with emotion, intuition, feeling. It's a delicate blend.

I suspect it is a lot like that for the best athletes in an individual sport, or they get a lot of input from that kind of person. I'm a Fed fan, love his game, but I'm a fan of Nadal's logic because I think he is the best tacticians of the Big 3, which certain stats support. Fed is the weakest in pure logic and thus in always playing the percentages. I think Djokovic is more like Nadal. So I'd like to see a Fed-type player with better understanding about percentages. Just please lets not have a player like that who takes max time between every point.
I used to try and force new teaching pros to study Braden. Everything still applies to this day. A lot of people regurgitate his work and act like its some new discovery.

I missed a chance to meet him a year or so before he died. One of the only people in Tennis I ever wanted to shake hands with. Carrilo is another and she is not dead yet so maybe some day.

Braden is a legend. I dont think anyone loved the sport more than Vic. Maybe Collins is up there. Braden was also a very humble and generous man from what I was told by friends who knew him very well personally. He was more into the science than he was chasing after money.... just a fascinating tennis nerd.

You sound pretty interesting yourself. I am not suprised your a tennis nerd. The racquet is more a musical instrument than anything....playing with it similar to performing at a concert....timing..rythem..concentration.....its all there. Some of the best players I produced were music freaks. They just kind of get it.
 

DSH

Legend
i don't know, but i would love to see a rafa/ (peak) muster or rafa/ guga final at roland garros. if there was a rafa/ borg or rafa/ wilander final, those spectators better have a snickers bar in every pocket!
1986/87 Lendl against 2006/07 Nadal, and the winner is...
:unsure:
 

morten

Hall of Fame
A couple things, and first speed after the bounce:

What subtracts pace after the bounce is grit, whatever grabs the ball. No ball can ever spin nearly as as fast as it moves forward, which means that even with a massive amount of top spin, the ball still grabs the surface and loses forward motion. I can prove that mathematically but won't bother here. For anything even approaching "flat", which is closer to neutral in that a true flat shot is not spinning forward or backward, a huge amount of forward motion before the bounce is lost as the ball grabs the court - or the court grabs the ball, according to your perspective. For slice it's more obvious, which is of course why heavy slice checks as it does.

The moment you make a surface slicker, or the ball act is if it grabs less, the ball appears to lose less speed after bouncing, which converts to the perception of speed. So say back in the 90s, if you courts were slicker, less gritty, smoother (all difference words for the same thing) then balls would shoot through quicker. That's the speed part.

The next part is height of bounce, what I think is the biggest factor. The human brain is very strange in that it will "see" what it expects to see. Anything mushy/more giving/less hard is going to result in a lower bounce. Lower bounce usually means less speed, but to the player and spectator it looks the opposite because of reaction time. If ball A bounced 50% higher than ball B, ball B may actually be moving slower, but you have much less time to react, which is why low bouncing grass took and still demands the quickest adjustments and so the shortest preparation. Old grass not only bounced lower - let's forget about "speed" for a moment - so players were always lunging one way or the other making last minute adjustments to height/trajectory, and back in the Laver days, lower bounce, smaller racket heads, less power from the rackets, less spin, carved up grass, they just had to get to the net to control the point. Think of Borg, obviously not a natural volleyer, force to attack players like Mac. Borg looked like a net player in comparison to most player today because the nature of the game demanded it. On clay he usually came to the net to shake hands, like Evert.

There's even more to this. I spent months doing research, but basically speed is more about perceived speed, meaning the time players have to adjust. On modern clay, for a variety of reasons, European clay is the same gritty monster it always was, even yanking pace of Nadal's heavy topspin. The reason why Nadal's shots on clay are so "heavy" actually works in reverse. That nature of the way grit takes pace of means that Nadal's shots come through slower with topspin than on smooth surfaces, but you don't see it that way because the differential between his heaving slice, more moderate spin and heavy topspin causes a massive change in pace from shot to shot. Players dive forward to try to get a racket on slice, then next they have to jump back no to have the topspin jump out of their strike zone. Also it is possible that making balls that fluff up more, or that have a slightly different felt, will grab even more. Then a variety of changes make the ball sit up really high, so the greater spin of poly makes taller players more and more comfortable and makes players under 6 feet tall damn near strike balls over their shoulders. High bounce means a lot more time on any surface. The biggest factor today is that higher bounce.

It is what makes things look slower, because no matter how fast the ball is moving, if a player has more time between the bounce and when he has to strike the ball, that still gives him way more time. Hence Nadal successfully standing back in the Arctic and the Antarctica even on grass. People slam him for it, but it's mostly smart although extreme, given modern courts and rackets. On old grass he would not even get a racket on many balls - no time.
Great. But with the higher bounce the angle is steeper so the ball will come towards the player "slower" right ?
 

Steve0904

Talk Tennis Guru
I assume the OP is aware of a guy named Bjorn Borg?

Not saying he'd crush Nadal or anything, but he would definitely take 2-3 RG away from Nadal IMO.
 

clout

Hall of Fame
I assume the OP is aware of a guy named Bjorn Borg?

Not saying he'd crush Nadal or anything, but he would definitely take 2-3 RG away from Nadal IMO.
Nadal at his best beats Borg at his best on RG imo. Although a peak Borg could definitely beat Nadal in one of his "not as dominant" years like 2005, 2006, 2011 or 2014
 

Steve0904

Talk Tennis Guru
Nadal at his best beats Borg at his best on RG imo. Although a peak Borg could definitely beat Nadal in one of his "not as dominant" years like 2005, 2006, 2011 or 2014
I agree. But the thread question proposes that no one beats Nadal at all, and that simply isn't true. Even in this era he's lost to 2 players at RG.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
I agree. But the thread question proposes that no one beats Nadal at all, and that simply isn't true. Even in this era he's lost to 2 players at RG.
Thread seems to be about anyone using any racket and any strings beating Nadal with his modern racket and modern strings, which to me is total nonsense.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
Great. But with the higher bounce the angle is steeper so the ball will come towards the player "slower" right ?
People seem to talk about "speed" as horizontal movement. Higher bounce by itself really does not change that. What it changes is how long the ball is in the air. The vertical factor is what gives players more time to set up.

Here is a very simplistic explanation: if a ball his hit so that it is moving forward at speed X at the precise moment after the bounce, of the spin is less than X there is something you could think of as "friction" slowing down the ball. Since Nadal's most penetrating topspin forehands are not spinning as fast as the forward movement, when they hit they also "brake". This is counter-intuitive, because at full speed you will assume those balls are rotating forward so fast that the dirt grabs them and makes them jump forward, but the opposite is happening. You know that because the forward spin is greater right before the bounce than afterward.

As a player you experience just the opposite. You get used to the average ball hit against you. Anything flat, even close to flat, "checks" more. The moment you get into a groove against a flatter ball, a heavy topspin jumps at you in RELATIONSHIP to flat, and of course if you get used to slice, there is a radical difference. The greater the grit, the greater the difference. That means on a very smooth hardcourt there will be less difference in speed, but the average speed will be faster. If that hardcourt is more "dead", which is not going to increase the speed, your perception will be the fastest possible court because a lower bounce give you less time to react. Whatever amount of spin you put on the ball subtracts speed. The hardest shot you can hit is flat, but you don't dare do it because without the extra spin to make it drop you can't control it. It's useless to hit harder shots that come down two feet over the baseline.

The huge amount of speed today comes from the spin because with the strings and modern rackets you can hit even a spinning ball so much harder, and it still drops in (Nadal), and that greater arc increases height. What we see is misleading, because you know you have guys hitting shots over 90 miles per hour. They can do that because of the easy power and so much of the "insurance spin" that brings those balls down, but we don't get accurate figures of how fast those balls are moving right after the bounce and as the cross the baseline. This means that the greatest factor that is slowing down grass is not speed at all - it's the higher bounce. Anything you can do to make grass slicker (kind of grass, how short it is cut) will make flat shots shoot through faster, and anything that lowers bounce (mushy grass, softer foundation, something in hardcourts to lower the bounce) cuts down on reaction time. Slick and low produces the fastest tennis in terms of results. Those conditions used to hugely favor servers - and still largely do - but strings/rackets allow bizarre serving to happen on clay. On clay players have so much more time to get to balls, but that doesn't help when they have to make contact either at shoulder height OR take the ball on the rise OR wait for it to come back down again (Nadal so far back), so the giants do very well even on clay serving, though they still are most dangerous on grass.

There is also the matter of the balls themselves.
 

HuusHould

Professional
Based purely on tennis ability and fitness, all past clay specialists would have a shot if Rafa was teleported to their era, because the material wouldn't have allowed Rafa to moonball to his opponent's backhand like he has built his strategy on.
Yes, the answer to the OPs question is very much dependant on who teleports where. I would be interested to see the lasso fh with a wooden racquet.
 

NADALalot

Professional
Wait so the media and fans spend the last 15 years talking about how Rafa-Djokovic took tennis to a new level of physicality, and how Federer has the most insane skills (and still can't beat Rafa at Roland Garros) and now I see a thread about players from decades ago beating them?
Only on Talk Tennis....
 

Musterrific

Semi-Pro
Peak Muster (1995) against teen Nadal (2005), who wins?
:cautious:
Peak Muster would definitely win his fair share of matches against Nadal on clay. Remember, Nadal has never faced a player with Muster's level of animalistic determination, grit, and stamina. I think it would give him fits.
 
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