Prime Djokovic vs. the post-prime versions of Nadal at Roland Garros?

Who wins?

  • 2013/2015 Djokovic beats 2017-2020 Nadal

  • 2013/2015 Djokovic beats 2018-2020 Nadal, but 2017 Nadal beats Djokovic

  • 2017-2020 Nadal beats both versions of prime Djokovic

  • Other (specify who beats who)


Results are only viewable after voting.

ibbi

Legend
Saying Nadal 17-20 is very broad. He’s another level in 2017 than he is in 18 and 19 (2020 is still an inexplicable aberration to me) I’d likely take 2017 Nadal over any version of Djokovic in the sun. I might take Novak over the other versions considering how close he came in 2013.
 

UnforcedTerror

Hall of Fame
This is one of RS' boring threads.

I'm calling it now, Djokovic fans vote option #1, Fed fans option #2, Bull fans option #3.

In the end, it doesn't matter, what happen-ed in real life happen-ed and what happen-ed on TTW didn't happen-ed and here we are.
 

Kralingen

Legend
I think 2013/2015 Joker could beat 2018dal. 2019dal turned it up when he needed to and I think could/would win in 5.

2017 and 2020dal forms were too good.
Basically this. I think 2019 vs. 2013 would be the best matchup tbh. '19dal was crafty and also a man on a mission after AO19, he would be a great matchup for the huge tireless baselining of '13 Djokovic. Think that would be the most epic 5 setter of the options listed.

Also as good as '20 Nadal was, and I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, I don't think that version is really invincible.

2017 Nadal on the other hand I would take to beat even a peak version of Djokovic/Federer. Monstrous. Only lost one clay match all season to Thiem and bagelled him on PC as revenge.
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
I think Djokovic would win all those matches if he could take them to five as Old'dal's stamina is no where near what it used to be. In terms of form he probably beats all but 2017 anyway.
 

MeatTornado

G.O.A.T.
At first glance he should beat 2018 & 2019. But then again Rafa was barely tested in either of those years. He may have had another level or two to go up if actually pushed. And it's a 100% guarantee that prime Novak would push him harder than Thiem did.

Same goes for 2020. As good as he was and as dominant as the scoreline was, prime Novak would push him back way harder and wouldn't donate his serve so many times after already reaching game point. He'd definitely be able to drag that match out more and see what kind of stamina 34 year old Rafa really had in the tank.

2017 is the only surefire win for the Bull.
 
Saying Nadal 17-20 is very broad. He’s another level in 2017 than he is in 18 and 19 (2020 is still an inexplicable aberration to me) I’d likely take 2017 Nadal over any version of Djokovic in the sun. I might take Novak over the other versions considering how close he came in 2013.
It's not just Djokovic: Nadal of 2017 plays anyone who isn't either another version of himself or perhaps a Borg armed and trained with more contemporary equipment, and the result is a three-set win for Nadal of 2017, or at worst a relatively comfortable four-set win.
 

Third Serve

G.O.A.T.
2017 Nadal is too great an obstacle for any version of Djokovic imo (though some would push him much harder than others). The pure firepower he had that tournament was simply incredible. As a side note, that’s my favorite Nadal to watch.

2018-2020 Nadal was more vulnerable and the very best versions of Djokovic might prove to be a match for him. 2020 would require a bit more effort but I think peak Novak could pull out the win.
 

SonnyT

Hall of Fame
In 2011, prime Djokovic would've beat prime Nadal at RG, so as to make it 7-0 in finals for that year.
 

RS

G.O.A.T.
This is one of RS' boring threads.

I'm calling it now, Djokovic fans vote option #1, Fed fans option #2, Bull fans option #3.

In the end, it doesn't matter, what happen-ed in real life happen-ed and what happen-ed on TTW didn't happen-ed and here we are.
This thread had nothing to do with me.
 

aldeayeah

Legend
2017 Nadal was pretty unplayable. 18-20 would be a great fight, one that Youngovic probably wins more often than not.
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
Kids, take it from this Novak supporter (setting aside the fact that I'm right about everything I pay attention to): Djoker has zero chance vs. any FO-winning version of Bull at RG. Take a gander at Rafa's seasonal GW%s from 2017-20:

17 - 67.9%
18 - 67.8%
19 - 65.7%
20 - 69.0%

That amounts to a 67.3% average, which is at least 4% higher than Novak's career high of 63.0% in '11:


Or pick another standout year for Nole and aside from '15 you're looking at a 4-8% difference. Such a gap is virtually unbridgeable on clay no matter what "matchup issues" you might point to. On this surface with the highest margin for error you're not beating any opponent with that level of advantage barring a historic stinker from him.

So how likely is it that Bull brings his C game to his showdown vs. Djoker? Let's look at his GW%s at RG in said years:

17 - 76.8%
18 - 67.3%
19 - 69.2%
20 - 70.9%

So his seasonal %s if anything shortchange his actual form which one would expect from a thirtysomething who presumably tries to peak for the majors. And you know what Novak's best # was at RG? 64.9% in '16, vs. a very breezy draw with Murray in the final. Even in '11 he faltered at RG with 60.1% which explains why he lost to Fed in the SF despite his seasonal 63.0%. In fact his GW%s at RG tend to be similar to his seasonal ones, unlike Rafa's which often improve by an eye-popping margin.

Of course this is where y'all come back with the '13 SF, but here's the kicker: Rafa won 62.9 for the season and 60.9% at RG that year. In case it hasn't sunk in, '13 was among Bull's weakest CC campaigns - apart from the lost years of '15, '16 and '21 only '06 was worse statistically - but Nole still couldn't put him away. You can drone on and on about younger Rafa's superior endurance, but this factor doesn't come into play unless Novak can actually push him to 5, and given what did happen in the '20 final that's a very speculative "unless."

The only caveat I'll add is that the '20 #s are derived from very limited samples and should be viewed accordingly, but that final really wasn't an anomaly as Rafa has been going for Tysonesque punch-outs on dirt for years now. Simply put it'd take more natural ATG dirtballers to upset 2017-2020 Nadal at RG. Novak's consistency/longevity may be 2nd to none, but his peak is just too steady to seriously threaten his fellow multi-FOers firing on all cylinders, let alone Nadal and Borg.
 

InsideOut900

Hall of Fame
Kids, take it from this Novak supporter (setting aside the fact that I'm right about everything I pay attention to): Djoker has zero chance vs. any FO-winning version of Bull at RG. Take a gander at Rafa's seasonal GW%s from 2017-20:

17 - 67.9%
18 - 67.8%
19 - 65.7%
20 - 69.0%

That amounts to a 67.3% average, which is at least 4% higher than Novak's career high of 63.0% in '11:


Or pick another standout year for Nole and aside from '15 you're looking at a 4-8% difference. Such a gap is virtually unbridgeable on clay no matter what "matchup issues" you might point to. On this surface with the highest margin for error you're not beating any opponent with that level of advantage barring a historic stinker from him.

So how likely is it that Bull brings his C game to his showdown vs. Djoker? Let's look at his GW%s at RG in said years:

17 - 76.8%
18 - 67.3%
19 - 69.2%
20 - 70.9%

So his seasonal %s if anything shortchange his actual form which one would expect from a thirtysomething who presumably tries to peak for the majors. And you know what Novak's best # was at RG? 64.9% in '16, vs. a very breezy draw with Murray in the final. Even in '11 he faltered at RG with 60.1% which explains why he lost to Fed in the SF despite his seasonal 63.0%. In fact his GW%s at RG tend to be similar to his seasonal ones, unlike Rafa's which often improve by an eye-popping margin.

Of course this is where y'all come back with the '13 SF, but here's the kicker: Rafa won 62.9 for the season and 60.9% at RG that year. In case it hasn't sunk in, '13 was among Bull's weakest CC campaigns - apart from the lost years of '15, '16 and '21 only '06 was worse statistically - but Nole still couldn't put him away. You can drone on and on about younger Rafa's superior endurance, but this factor doesn't come into play unless Novak can actually push him to 5, and given what did happen in the '20 final that's a very speculative "unless."

The only caveat I'll add is that the '20 #s are derived from very limited samples and should be viewed accordingly, but that final really wasn't an anomaly as Rafa has been going for Tysonesque punch-outs on dirt for years now. Simply put it'd take more natural ATG dirtballers to upset 2017-2020 Nadal at RG. Novak's consistency/longevity may be 2nd to none, but his peak is just too steady to seriously threaten his fellow multi-FOers firing on all cylinders, let alone Nadal and Borg.
Based on stats, Djokovic should have exactly 0 wins vs. Nadal on clay. He never beat one of the good versions, true, but he came close enough in 2013 and crushed it out of the park in 2015.

I don't see how 2017-2020 Nadal would do better than 2013 Nadal personally. Then there is also 2011 Djokovic, who lost to someone not named Nadal, but still played pretty darn well and 2016 Djokovic too, the one that actually won RG dominantly.

Nadal's dominance against the field in his latter years is undeniable, hence his numbers, but all those numbers can go away in a blink if he faces an elite opponent, which he never did either.
 

DjokoLand

Hall of Fame
I always found it weird after RG21 when Nadal fans said he was nowhere near his best etc but Nadal plays his best on Clay he wins so it’s not a insult really. Djokovic seems to be the only player to expose it when Nadal isn’t playing well.

I always will consider Djokoerer all round better players through a whole season than Nadal is but Nadal on Clay is the highest level ever
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
Based on stats, Djokovic should have exactly 0 wins vs. Nadal on clay. He never beat one of the good versions, true, but he came close enough in 2013 and crushed it out of the park in 2015.

I don't see how 2017-2020 Nadal would do better than 2013 Nadal personally. Then there is also 2011 Djokovic, who lost to someone not named Nadal, but still played pretty darn well and 2016 Djokovic too, the one that actually won RG dominantly.

Nadal's dominance against the field in his latter years is undeniable, hence his numbers, but all those numbers can go away in a blink if he faces an elite opponent, which he never did either.
As me and others have pointed out in multiple threads by now Rafa was nothing special in '15 and '21 ('16 was slightly better but is a moot comparison for obvious reasons). Not just by his own unreal standards, mind you, but by historical ones as he won just 60.7% and 60.1% of his games on clay. In fact even that 60.7% in '15 is misleading cuz when you focus on the CC season proper you're left with a decidedly mediocre 58.3%. To put this in perspective even Sampras, Murray and other non-FO champs have posted higher %s in their best seasons.

And you can't just assume younger = better. '17 Fed, '96 Becker, '16 Murray and indeed 2017-20 Nadal and 2014-16 Stan are among the dozens of players who somehow turned back the clock late in their career.

Nor can you just blame stronger competition for their earlier struggles. Try removing Novak's or Fed's losses to Rafa on dirt and you'll still find that their seasonal GW% don't change all that much. Case in point: '13 Novak posts 61.3% (209/341) on dirt sans his matches vs. Rafa as opposed to an actual 59.2% (247/417). Now a 2% increase is nothing to scoff at, but you can see how silly it is to even think '13 Rafa would somehow duplicate #s from '17 or '18 without Fedovic (who played him all of 3 times that CC season).

Again these #s very rarely lie on clay due to the nature of dirtballing. It's virtually impossible to serve or hit your opponent off the court for an entire CC season, and while prime Novak would be a handful for anyone on dirt he's not beating Rafa at RG without substantial help from the King of Clay.
 

InsideOut900

Hall of Fame
And you can't just assume younger = better. '17 Fed, '96 Becker, '16 Murray and indeed 2017-20 Nadal and 2014-16 Stan are among the dozens of players who somehow turned back the clock late in their career.

Nor can you just blame stronger competition for their earlier struggles. Try removing Novak's or Fed's losses to Rafa on dirt and you'll still find that their seasonal GW% don't change all that much. Case in point: '13 Novak posts 61.3% (209/341) on dirt sans his matches vs. Rafa as opposed to an actual 59.2% (247/417). Now a 2% increase is nothing to scoff at, but you can see how silly it is to even think '13 Rafa would somehow duplicate #s from '17 or '18 without Fedovic (who played him all of 3 times that CC season).

Again these #s very rarely lie on clay due to the nature of dirtballing. It's virtually impossible to serve or hit your opponent off the court for an entire CC season, and while prime Novak would be a handful for anyone on dirt he's not beating Rafa at RG without substantial help from the King of Clay.
I truly appreciate the effort as I could never dip into stats like this and be coherent, but I will just give you the closest example at hand.

By just running the numbers, Federer won 65% of his games at Wimbledon 2015 and 69% of his games at US Open 2015.
He posed better numbers than Djokovic before he met him in the final and better numbers mean straight up amazing numbers and yet he lost both times in 4 sets.

Then there is AO 2016, where again, he posed some good numbers before the semi and got crushed. That's again because of age difference, amplified by the court conditions.

Now, Nadal on clay is the most dominant force out there, so it's about as hard of a task to beat him on clay as it gets.

Yet, probably the most relevant aspect here from my perspective and the main reason why I would take Djokovic in this comparison is how Nadal changed his game latter in his career.

Nadal retooled his game starting around 2010, but really not until 2012 in a way that would specifically counter Djokovic, because he was the biggest threat for Rafa at the time.

Following his physical decline he had to readjust his game (again) in a way that would lower his skill ceilling but increase his consistent performace.
In short terms, he got rid of the very wristy FH he was running in 2012-2014 that brought him so much success against Djokovic because of the high shotmaking cap it was offering with those explosive winners down the line. Once Nadal lost his form and timing on the ball, his peak FH reverted to a terrible loopy mess in 2015, so he had to work on it again.

Nadal retooling his game for consist ballhitting in 2017-2020 rather than high end shotmaking resulted in him beating the crap out of players that are much worse than him, like literally everyone in the last 4 years, but in my view would totally lower his chances of beating opponents on the high spectrum, namely prime Djokovic and Federer, but also other good claycourters from the past, because he would need the extra gear of intensity he had in his prime.
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
I truly appreciate the effort as I could never dip into stats like this and be coherent, but I will just give you the closest example at hand.

By just running the numbers, Federer won 65% of his games at Wimbledon 2015 and 69% of his games at US Open 2015.
He posed better numbers than Djokovic before he met him in the final and better numbers mean straight up amazing numbers and yet he lost both times in 4 sets.

Then there is AO 2016, where again, he posed some good numbers before the semi and got crushed. That's again because of age difference, amplified by the court conditions.

Now, Nadal on clay is the most dominant force out there, so it's about as hard of a task to beat him on clay as it gets.

Yet, probably the most relevant aspect here from my perspective and the main reason why I would take Djokovic in this comparison is how Nadal changed his game latter in his career.

Nadal retooled his game starting around 2010, but really not until 2012 in a way that would specifically counter Djokovic, because he was the biggest threat for Rafa at the time.

Following his physical decline he had to readjust his game (again) in a way that would lower his skill ceilling but increase his consistent performace.
In short terms, he got rid of the very wristy FH he was running in 2012-2014 that brought him so much success against Djokovic because of the high shotmaking cap it was offering with those explosive winners down the line. Once Nadal lost his form and timing on the ball, his peak FH reverted to a terrible loopy mess in 2015, so he had to work on it again.

Nadal retooling his game for consist ballhitting in 2017-2020 rather than high end shotmaking resulted in him beating the crap out of players that are much worse than him, like literally everyone in the last 4 years, but in my view would totally lower his chances of beating opponents on the high spectrum, namely prime Djokovic and Federer, but also other good claycourters from the past, because he would need the extra gear of intensity he had in his prime.
Where did you get those #s for Fed? He actually won 60.9% at '15 Wimby, barely more than Novak's 60.7% - in the OE the only guy who came close to the rarefied 70% mark at SW19 is '84 Mac - while he lost the % game later at the USO, 63.4% to Nole's 64.7%. Excellent %s from both - for most top players making the 60% Club is a rare achievement - but neither comparison shows a decisive advantage for Fed.

Two more problems with these comparisons. One, tournament %s don't tell us much due to their limited sample size, which is why I generally start from seasonal %s. You really should look at both - while there are cases like '11 Novak that peak too early there are also opposite ones like '15 Stan whose seasonal % (55.8% in his case) sees a dramatic increase (to 61.1%) at RG.

Two, GW%s tell us less about respective players as the surface in question gets faster. When an Ivanisevic's serve is clicking on grass your GW% becomes almost irrelevant, and the best you can do is to try to hold your own serve and wait for the eventual window to attack (easier said than done, of course, cuz guys like Goran, Krajicek and Stich can actually hurt you in a variety of ways unlike Karlovic and Isner). Obviously you can't do that on clay, at least not consistently, which is why I'm wont to emphasize its high margin for error when pointing to this or that GW%.

Also Rafa really started retooling his game as early as '07. Fedal fans like to trumpet his 81-win streak as proof of his younger self's superiority, but if you look at his early RG runs he was dropping sets to the likes of Grosjean, Mathieu and Hewitt, players that I rather doubt would've done the same vs. '10, '12, '17 or '18 Rafa (just to pick a few examples). It's easy to say he's become more aggressive because he's had to, but a more likely explanation is that he realized he could play more like (peak) Courier - that is, dealing painful body blows more than running everything down - without sacrificing much margin for error. Yes, the greater risks meant more losses and an end to another comparable winning streak, but they also meant greater rewards if he could strike the right balance between that extra aggression and his trademark topspin. It's safe to say he's been able to do just that when it counted most, again except in those lost years of '09, '15, '16 and '21.

Speaking of which that spin department is where Novak happens to be literally average, on both wings. When I say he's a better "grinder" than Fed I'm referring as much to his mentality than to his actual CC game, which would normally feature crazier topspin for most elite dirtballers of yore. Of course the rest of his package - one of the best FH-BH combos ever, ATG movement and defense, relatively high shot tolerance - is still good enough to earn him many wins on clay, but that relative lack of weight behind his shots would prove fatal more often than not vs. fellow multi-FOers, especially if they can match his defense and court coverage like Rafa, Borg and even Bruguera all of whom boast ball-crushing topspin to boot.

People aren't taking into account this spin factor when they say peak Novak or Fed would be able to exploit geriatric Rafa's diminished defense and mobility. A lot easier said than done when Nadal would be pushing either guy further and further back with his Tysonified groundies. Both could try to counter that by taking the ball early, yes, but against such spin and amped-up power on dirt? Doubt anyone but Agassi would be up to the task. The only other option I see is coming in at every opportunity, but this is different from regular S&V and apart from Mac it would take a specialized net rusher like Panatta or Noah to pull it off on this surface.

Again a 4-8% difference in seasonal GW% is a virtually impossible hurdle to overcome on clay, even more so at RG where the gap is likely to widen with the superior dirtballer holding nothing back. If we were talking an old-fashioned H2H series of say 10 matches I'd say prime Novak gets about 2 Ws. IRL over 4-5 FO SFs and Fs, though? Almost certainly zero.
 

InsideOut900

Hall of Fame
Where did you get those #s for Fed? He actually won 60.9% at '15 Wimby, barely more than Novak's 60.7% - in the OE the only guy who came close to the rarefied 70% mark at SW19 is '84 Mac -
I said before the final.
He played 180 games at Wimbledon 15 and won 117. That's 65%.

USO 15 before the final was 111/161. That's 68.9%
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
I said before the final.
He played 180 games at Wimbledon 15 and won 117. That's 65%.

USO 15 before the final was 111/161. That's 68.9%
You should always include the final cuz crazy good tourney %s prior to the showdown vs. a marquee opponent are more common than you think. Take another gander at this list (missing more recent results, but still a good overview of the OE):


Vilas at '77 and '80 RG (74.9% & 65.8%), Nastase at '73 RG (70.1%), Kodes at '70 RG (67.1%), Roddick at the '04 USO (65.8%) and Emerson at '69 Wimbledon (64.3%) are among the handful of players who posted these seemingly impressive %s without facing a single world-beater... and the first 3 even won the whole shebang (sans '80 RG)! And since this is a list of full Slam runs we're not seeing dozens of other candidates who would've made the list with their toughest match taken out.

Hence my insistence on prioritizing seasonal GW%s. I mean even Pistol was averaging 65.2% (75/115) at '93 RG before the QF vs. GOATing Bruguera, but that doesn't tell us much about his '93 CC season, does it? (FYI Pete's overall % at '93 RG was 60.3% which also happens to be his seasonal % - still damn good, but not good enough vs. that Sergi or Jim whose seasonal 63.8% almost duplicated his career high of 64.5% in '92, both higher than Novak ever managed.)
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
Where did you get those #s for Fed? He actually won 60.9% at '15 Wimby, barely more than Novak's 60.7% - in the OE the only guy who came close to the rarefied 70% mark at SW19 is '84 Mac - while he lost the % game later at the USO, 63.4% to Nole's 64.7%. Excellent %s from both - for most top players making the 60% Club is a rare achievement - but neither comparison shows a decisive advantage for Fed.

Two more problems with these comparisons. One, tournament %s don't tell us much due to their limited sample size, which is why I generally start from seasonal %s. You really should look at both - while there are cases like '11 Novak that peak too early there are also opposite ones like '15 Stan whose seasonal % (55.8% in his case) sees a dramatic increase (to 61.1%) at RG.

Two, GW%s tell us less about respective players as the surface in question gets faster. When an Ivanisevic's serve is clicking on grass your GW% becomes almost irrelevant, and the best you can do is to try to hold your own serve and wait for the eventual window to attack (easier said than done, of course, cuz guys like Goran, Krajicek and Stich can actually hurt you in a variety of ways unlike Karlovic and Isner). Obviously you can't do that on clay, at least not consistently, which is why I'm wont to emphasize its high margin for error when pointing to this or that GW%.

Also Rafa really started retooling his game as early as '07. Fedal fans like to trumpet his 81-win streak as proof of his younger self's superiority, but if you look at his early RG runs he was dropping sets to the likes of Grosjean, Mathieu and Hewitt, players that I rather doubt would've done the same vs. '10, '12, '17 or '18 Rafa (just to pick a few examples). It's easy to say he's become more aggressive because he's had to, but a more likely explanation is that he realized he could play more like (peak) Courier - that is, dealing painful body blows more than running everything down - without sacrificing much margin for error. Yes, the greater risks meant more losses and an end to another comparable winning streak, but they also meant greater rewards if he could strike the right balance between that extra aggression and his trademark topspin. It's safe to say he's been able to do just that when it counted most, again except in those lost years of '09, '15, '16 and '21.

Speaking of which that spin department is where Novak happens to be literally average, on both wings. When I say he's a better "grinder" than Fed I'm referring as much to his mentality than to his actual CC game, which would normally feature crazier topspin for most elite dirtballers of yore. Of course the rest of his package - one of the best FH-BH combos ever, ATG movement and defense, relatively high shot tolerance - is still good enough to earn him many wins on clay, but that relative lack of weight behind his shots would prove fatal more often than not vs. fellow multi-FOers, especially if they can match his defense and court coverage like Rafa, Borg and even Bruguera all of whom boast ball-crushing topspin to boot.

People aren't taking into account this spin factor when they say peak Novak or Fed would be able to exploit geriatric Rafa's diminished defense and mobility. A lot easier said than done when Nadal would be pushing either guy further and further back with his Tysonified groundies. Both could try to counter that by taking the ball early, yes, but against such spin and amped-up power on dirt? Doubt anyone but Agassi would be up to the task. The only other option I see is coming in at every opportunity, but this is different from regular S&V and apart from Mac it would take a specialized net rusher like Panatta or Noah to pull it off on this surface.

Again a 4-8% difference in seasonal GW% is a virtually impossible hurdle to overcome on clay, even more so at RG where the gap is likely to widen with the superior dirtballer holding nothing back. If we were talking an old-fashioned H2H series of say 10 matches I'd say prime Novak gets about 2 Ws. IRL over 4-5 FO SFs and Fs, though? Almost certainly zero.
If Schwartzman could take a set off 2018 Rafa, I don't see why Hewitt, Grosjean and Mathieu wouldn't.
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
Not all matches and games are worth the same value. Despite his impressive GW% Nadal in his later years is obviously not world the beater he was in his youth. This sort of bean counting misses the forest for the trees IMO.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
Also Rafa really started retooling his game as early as '07. Fedal fans like to trumpet his 81-win streak as proof of his younger self's superiority, but if you look at his early RG runs he was dropping sets to the likes of Grosjean, Mathieu and Hewitt, players that I rather doubt would've done the same vs. '10, '12, '17 or '18 Rafa (just to pick a few examples). It's easy to say he's become more aggressive because he's had to, but a more likely explanation is that he realized he could play more like (peak) Courier - that is, dealing painful body blows more than running everything down - without sacrificing much margin for error. Yes, the greater risks meant more losses and an end to another comparable winning streak, but they also meant greater rewards if he could strike the right balance between that extra aggression and his trademark topspin. It's safe to say he's been able to do just that when it counted most, again except in those lost years of '09, '15, '16 and '21.
Pretty sure that if Schwartz can trouble Nadal for set and half (lead by set and break) in RG 18, the others could too. Nadal was withering away by the time of the 3rd set in RG 18 final, but Thiem was useless to not take advantage.
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
If Schwartzman could take a set off 2018 Rafa, I don't see why Hewitt, Grosjean and Mathieu wouldn't.
Diego is no joke on clay. He's actually the only guy besides Nadalovic who has cracked the rare 40% mark in RGW (100 games minimum) on dirt since Ferrer. Even (post-'05) Rusty can't claim that, though clay admittedly wasn't his surface.

Now Diego's weaker service game does mean that, barring an extraordinary set of circumstances, he'll never be a serious FO contender, but if his return is clicking he can make anyone sweat on dirt, yes even Rafa.

P.S. I do see that Mathieu averaged 37.7% on return in '06, so I'll grant I'd underestimated him... somewhat. :happydevil:

Pretty sure that if Schwartz can trouble Nadal for set and half (lead by set and break) in RG 18, the others could too. Nadal was withering away by the time of the 3rd set in RG 18 final, but Thiem was useless to not take advantage.
Thiem's return game is just too mediocre to threaten Rafa (or prime Fedovic or Ferrero, for that matter) at RG. I know it's become a thing around here to dis him as a HC specialist, but that's really the only surface where he can get away with his otherwise fatal weakness due to its more even, predictable bounces.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
Diego is no joke on clay. He's actually the only guy besides Nadalovic who has cracked the rare 40% mark in RGW (100 games minimum) on dirt since Ferrer. Even (post-'05) Rusty can't claim that, though clay admittedly wasn't his surface.

Now Diego's weaker service game does mean that, barring an extraordinary set of circumstances, he'll never be a serious FO contender, but if his return is clicking he can make anyone sweat on dirt, yes even Rafa.

P.S. I do see that Mathieu averaged 37.7% on return in '06, so I'll grant I'd underestimated him... somewhat. :happydevil:



Thiem's return game is just too mediocre to threaten Rafa (or prime Fedovic or Ferrero, for that matter) at RG. I know it's become a thing around here to dis him as a HC specialist, but that's really the only surface where he can get away with his otherwise fatal weakness due to its more even, predictable bounces.
Thiem challenged Nadal a lot more in their next RG match in 19 (in particular the 1st 2 sets)
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
Thiem challenged Nadal a lot more in their next RG match in 19 (in particular the 1st 2 sets)
Of course Thiem's firepower potentially makes him dangerous everywhere, but all the power in the world means nothing unless you have time to set up for your shots and he just doesn't have the wheels or footwork to be so defensive on return (or in semi-neutral positions, for that matter) and still hammer away enough times to upset an elite dirtballer at RG. In the end Fed's and Novak's groundies are bigger weapons on dirt cuz they can take the ball earlier and thus pressure their opponent into taking more risks.

On HC the ball bounces are easier to time so Thiem can afford to stay back a bit more. Still not ideal, though.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
Of course Thiem's firepower potentially makes him dangerous everywhere, but all the power in the world means nothing unless you have time to set up for your shots and he just doesn't have the wheels or footwork to be so defensive on return (or in semi-neutral positions, for that matter) and still hammer away enough times to upset an elite dirtballer at RG. In the end Fed's and Novak's groundies are bigger weapons on dirt cuz they can take the ball earlier and thus pressure their opponent into taking more risks.

On HC the ball bounces are easier to time so Thiem can afford to stay back a bit more. Still not ideal, though.
Thiem was clearly better on clay in 16-19. Things only changed in 2020.
My point was 18 RG Nadal wasn't as good as you are making him out to be. Schwartz had him in trouble and Thiem could've if he had played some better than mediocre stuff.
Significantly different from 10,12,17.

12 is anyways regarded as 2nd best or 3rd best (depending on where you place 2007 Nadal).
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
Thiem was clearly better on clay in 16-19. Things only changed in 2020.
My point was 18 RG Nadal wasn't as good as you are making him out to be. Schwartz had him in trouble and Thiem could've if he had played some better than mediocre stuff.
Significantly different from 10,12,17.

12 is anyways regarded as 2nd best or 3rd best (depending on where you place 2007 Nadal).
I've singled out '08 (1st), '12 and '17 (about a tie) as Rafa's best CC seasons several times so I don't place '18 up there if that's what you were thinking. The fact that he wasn't able to improve on his seasonal GW% at RG despite a rather favorable draw is pretty convincing evidence his peak had fallen from his GOATy '17 level. I just think that Rafa still beats any version of Novak. Bull somewhat underachieved at '12 RG, losing not only a set to a middling Novak (57.6% for the season) but also needing a 6-4 set to dispatch qualifier Schwank which gave him "only" 71.0% for the tourney vs. his career-high 68.2% for the season (sans 69.0% in '20 which is of course somewhat dubious).

Think you meant to say '08 rather than '10, but if that wasn't a typo I can't agree that '10 belongs with the 2008-12-17 threesome. His seasonal 66.6% may be impressive but he posted a ho-hum (for him) 64.5% despite an arguably even weaker field than '18's (which as you may recall is about what Muster and Kafelnikov averaged in their '95 and '96 runs). I'd go with '07 instead - an almost comparable 66.0% for the season (66.5% sans Sttugart) but a better 66.5% at RG w/a turning-forward-the-clock if admittedly somewhat green Novak (just 54.4% for the season, 54.9% for the fortnight) in the SF and of course a feisty Fed (58.0% & 59.0%) in the final.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
I've singled out '08 (1st), '12 and '17 (about a tie) as Rafa's best CC seasons several times so I don't place '18 up there if that's what you were thinking. The fact that he wasn't able to improve on his seasonal GW% at RG despite a rather favorable draw is pretty convincing evidence his peak had fallen from his GOATy '17 level. I just think that Rafa still beats any version of Novak. Bull somewhat underachieved at '12 RG, losing not only a set to a middling Novak (57.6% for the season) but also needing a 6-4 set to dispatch qualifier Schwank which gave him "only" 71.0% for the tourney vs. his career-high 68.2% for the season (sans 69.0% in '20 which is of course somewhat dubious).

Think you meant to say '08 rather than '10, but if that wasn't a typo I can't agree that '10 belongs with the 2008-12-17 threesome. His seasonal 66.6% may be impressive but he posted a ho-hum (for him) 64.5% despite an arguably even weaker field than '18's (which as you may recall is about what Muster and Kafelnikov averaged in their '95 and '96 runs). I'd go with '07 instead - an almost comparable 66.0% for the season (66.5% sans Sttugart) but a better 66.5% at RG w/a turning-forward-the-clock if admittedly somewhat green Novak (just 54.4% for the season, 54.9% for the fortnight) in the SF and of course a feisty Fed (58.0% & 59.0%) in the final.
Nah, 12 was better than 17 clearly

I did mean 10 since 10 was one of the years you mentioned.
10 is below 07/08/12, but better than 17 IMO.
10 RG final vs Soderling, he brought out his very best from the start unlike in 17 RG final where it took him half a set to get going. Physically he was clearly better in 10 compared to 17.
Swept the field at MC. Verdasco was celebrating winning a single game, FFS. Nadal played as well as he needed to at Rome/Madrid and RG before the final of course, but had a clearly higher ceiling in 10 compared to 17 that he did actually reach multiple times (Monte Carlo and RG final)
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
Nah, 12 was better than 17 clearly

I did mean 10 since 10 was one of the years you mentioned.
10 is below 07/08/12, but better than 17 IMO.
10 RG final vs Soderling, he brought out his very best from the start unlike in 17 RG final where it took him half a set to get going. Physically he was clearly better in 10 compared to 17.
Swept the field at MC. Verdasco was celebrating winning a single game, FFS. Nadal played as well as he needed to at Rome/Madrid and RG before the final of course, but had a clearly higher ceiling in 10 compared to 17 that he did actually reach multiple times (Monte Carlo and RG final)
Gotta disagree again here. It did take Rafa a while to start stomping on Stan in the '17 final, yes, but the rest of his outing clearly impressed me more than his '10 one vs. Sod who I never felt had much of a game plan to begin with. That was the 2nd consecutive stinker of a final from Robin and I may be being too harsh on him, but Stan at least tried to use a variety of angles to turn the match around while Sod's Blake-ian hit-hard-hit-harder MO felt more like desperation to me.

'09 was probably the last year I still followed Masters so I'll give you the non-FO verdict. But RG is ultimately what matters, no? Sod might have easily bested Stan in their respective seasons - 56.3% vs. 51.7% (not a typo) - but come RG Stanimal again showed up, raising his tourney % to a more respectable 57.9% vs. Sod's 58.8% despite being subjected to an even more brutal beatdown. That tells me each guy's respective GW% in the F had more to do with his opponent than with his own performance, and I'm not convinced that '10 Sod holds onto his 10 games vs. '17 Rafa who would beat him at his own game and then some. I just reviewed highlights of both finals and Rafa wasn't giving Stan as many loopy balls to attack as he did Robin, and while he might have been a step slower I doubt that would've mattered vs. going-for-broke Sod who would've played right into his hands.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
Gotta disagree again here. It did take Rafa a while to start stomping on Stan in the '17 final, yes, but the rest of his outing clearly impressed me more than his '10 one vs. Sod who I never felt had much of a game plan to begin with. That was the 2nd consecutive stinker of a final from Robin and I may be being too harsh on him, but Stan at least tried to use a variety of angles to turn the match around while Sod's Blake-ian hit-hard-hit-harder MO felt more like desperation to me.

'09 was probably the last year I still followed Masters so I'll give you the non-FO verdict. But RG is ultimately what matters, no? Sod might have easily bested Stan in their respective seasons - 56.3% vs. 51.7% (not a typo) - but come RG Stanimal again showed up, raising his tourney % to a more respectable 57.9% vs. Sod's 58.8% despite being subjected to an even more brutal beatdown. That tells me each guy's respective GW% in the F had more to do with his opponent than with his own performance, and I'm not convinced that '10 Sod holds onto his 10 games vs. '17 Rafa who would beat him at his own game and then some. I just reviewed highlights of both finals and Rafa wasn't giving Stan as many loopy balls to attack as he did Robin, and while he might have been a step slower I doubt that would've mattered vs. going-for-broke Sod who would've played right into his hands.
Stan looked more clueless to me than Sod did. His BH was exposed significantly. His BH has been clearly worse vs Nadal on clay than fed's - which is something not many notice.

About those numbers, they are really misleading without context.
Sod faced Fed+Berdych in RG 10 before the final. 2 in-form opponents before the final.
Stan only faced Murray of RG 17 (who was worse than the above 2)
No question that Sod in RG 10 was the clearly tougher opponent even with a clearly tougher draw.

I wouldn't call RG 09 final a stinker per se from Sod. A bad 1st set yeah. 2nd set was pretty good and 3rd set good. By his level vs Nadal in RG 09, a letdown for sure, but not a stinker per se.
 
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