Rafa's engine and legs are still better then Novak's; he lost because...

terribleIVAN

Hall of Fame
The reason Novak always gave Rafa so much trouble is Rafa's tactic of pounding the BH with middle court loopy shots doesn't work vs Novak; he can feed on it's pace and redirect it with interests. And Novak can do this successfully all match long, contrary to the rest of the field.

So against Novak, Rafa's always forced to play closer to the service line or else be obliged to retrieve constantly Novak's laser-like shots, which saps his energy and legs over the 5 sets distance.

Since Rafa's been playing short balls all fortnight, he had to work extra hard each passing rd and the fatigue became too much to overcome once in the semis; this time, instead of raising his game like last year in the semis and final, he imploded and lost control of the match the further it went.

If he had straight shots that landed near the baseline instead of the mid court, he wouldn't be forced to retrieve like crazy each passing rd and he could conserve his energy for the later stages.

Rafa's still among the fittest players of the field; it's rather his tactics that have finally caught with him.
 
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vex

Hall of Fame
The reason Novak always gave Rafa so much trouble is Rafa's tactic of pounding the BH with middle court loopy shots doesn't work vs Novak; he can feed on it's pace and redirect it with interests. And Novak can do this successfully all match long, contrary to the rest of the field.

So against Novak, Rafa's always forced to play closer to the service line or else be obliged to retrieve constantly Novak's laser-like shots, which saps his energy and legs over the 5 sets distance.

Since Rafa's been playing short balls all fortnight, he had to work extra hard each passing rd and the fatigue became too much to overcome once in the semis; this time, instead of raising his game like last year in the semis and final, he imploded and lost control of the match the further it went.

If he had straight shots that landed near the baseline instead of the mid court, he wouldn't be forced to retrieve like crazy each passing rd and he could conserve his energy for the later stages.

Rafa's still among the fittest players of the field; it's rather his tactics that have finally caught with him.
His results and his own words suggest his body is not holding up past 2-3 good sets anymore.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
Djokovic has always played the same way even when they had tough matches at RG between 2012-2014. In the past, he could not outlast or hit through Rafa’s defenses over 5 sets and at some point would get frustrated, play poorly at the end to lose. In 2015, he blew away Nadal playing the same way when Nadal was in a mental funk. Yesterday, they both played stylistically like they always do, but Nadal didn’t have the legs to outlast Djokovic‘s shots and wore out by the 4th set. Djokovic in contrast raised his level in the fourth set once he started getting his 1st serves in at a high % into the corners of the service box.

In the Fall night conditions of 2020, it was even slower and Djokovic could not finish points and even his drop shots were ineffective - but yesterday, it was not cold enough for that and while the bounce got lower by the end of the match, it wasn’t slow enough to prevent Djokovic from hitting 50 winners and forcing many errors. If the sun had been very hot in a day match, the higher bounce might have given Rafa’s shot enough juice to give Djokovic more problems hitting on the rise with as much precision as he did yesterday. If it had been a cold Fall night, we might have seen a repeat of 2020. Instead, it was perfect from a speed and bounce standpoint on a summer night for Djokovic to take down Rafa by tiring him out physically.

If Roland Garros continues to schedule night matches in the later rounds in the summer, it does not favor Rafa as much as daytime conditions did in the past. Combined with his physical fitness slowly reflecting his age, he might not dominate as long as we thought he would. Rafa was still fast enough yesterday to make drop shots a bad strategy and play corner-corner defense 10 feet behind the baseline - but, he could do it only for about three sets at his prime level. But, it takes a player of Novak’s level on clay or Tsitsipas’ level on hard courts to expose the fact that he is slowly losing the longevity to play with the highest physicality like he did for such a long time.

Maybe he will go work on his fitness and come out stronger next year - I’m never going to write off someone as great as Nadal like many of his supporters seem to be doing.
 
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Raul_SJ

G.O.A.T.
Rafa was still fast enough yesterday to make drop shots a bad strategy and play corner-corner defense
Correct. He was moving just fine corner to corner for most of the match.Could not hit through him. Fatigue in the fourth set.

The drop shot keeps him honest and from hanging out far behind the baseline.

The Djoker drop shot strategy did not necessarily fail as it may have also tired him.

Maybe somebody can post stats on the drop shot points won and lost?

Here is Djoker saving a set point with a daring dropper. Critical turning point.
If he misses this, he is down 2-1, and fatigued Rafa likely limps to the finish line.


 
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Correct. He was moving just fine corner to corner for most of the match.Could not hit through him. Fatigue in the fourth set.

The drop shot keeps him honest and from hanging out far behind the baseline.

The Djoker drop shot strategy did not necessarily fail as it may have also tired him.

Maybe somebody can post stats on the drop shot points won and lost?

Here is Djoker saving a set point with a daring dropper. Critical turning point.
If he misses this, he is down 2-1, and Rafa likely pushes to the finish line.


Great gif, further proof that anyone smart enough to underhand serve Nadal would win the point 90% of the time.
 

beltsman

Legend
Rafa was covering corner to corner at the baseline like a demon, especially in first two sets. Djoker could NOT hit through him, which is why Djoker frequently employed the drop shot...Rafa tired in the fourth set.

Nobody disputes this.
Djokovic couldn't hit through him because it's clay and Djokovic lacks power. Nadal was moving horribly. He let many balls get by him.
 

vex

Hall of Fame
Djokovic couldn't hit through him because it's clay and Djokovic lacks power. Nadal was moving horribly. He let many balls get by him.
Lol this isn’t true at all. 50 winners. More than Rafa’s vaunted forehand produced. Djokovic was CLEARLY the more offensive player with more power than Rafa in this match. Come back to reality.
 

Beckerserve

Legend
The reason Novak always gave Rafa so much trouble is Rafa's tactic of pounding the BH with middle court loopy shots doesn't work vs Novak; he can feed on it's pace and redirect it with interests. And Novak can do this successfully all match long, contrary to the rest of the field.

So against Novak, Rafa's always forced to play closer to the service line or else be obliged to retrieve constantly Novak's laser-like shots, which saps his energy and legs over the 5 sets distance.

Since Rafa's been playing short balls all fortnight, he had to work extra hard each passing rd and the fatigue became too much to overcome once in the semis; this time, instead of raising his game like last year in the semis and final, he imploded and lost control of the match the further it went.

If he had straight shots that landed near the baseline instead of the mid court, he wouldn't be forced to retrieve like crazy each passing rd and he could conserve his energy for the later stages.

Rafa's still among the fittest players of the field; it's rather his tactics that have finally caught with him.
Nadal 7-2 Djokovic at RG. 10-7 overall.
Think Nadal gives Djokovic more trouble than vice versa no?
Nadal.now is 35. So its a chance for Djokovic to take advantage of a diminshed Nadal before his decline starts
2021. The GOAT determinator.
 

Eren

Professional
Man, I hate that you missed peak Rafa lol.
His peak speed was something else. I remember that point against Davydenko in a Rome ATP match IIRC, where he got to that drop shot and returned a killer lob. Perhaps you know which one I mean, I can't find it.

Can only find the 2008 Monte Carlo SF reach in the second set at 1-1, 30-30.
 

Eren

Professional
Nadal 7-2 Djokovic at RG. 10-7 overall.
Think Nadal gives Djokovic more trouble than vice versa no?
Nadal.now is 35. So its a chance for Djokovic to take advantage of a diminshed Nadal before his decline starts
2021. The GOAT determinator.
But Djokovic is like 34 you know. The difference is 11 months, not 6 years.

They had different career phases. Nadal had weak Djokovic in 2006-2008 too.

Agree with your point that this is not peak Nadal on clay. No need to discuss that, it's plain and simple.
 

MrFlip

Professional
Djokovic won mainly because he decided to moonball like Nadal does. Was a gamble, but Nadal couldn't get around them in time to hit big shots into the corners.

Result = lots of ball sat up for Djok to flatten out side to side.
 

toth

Professional
The reason Novak always gave Rafa so much trouble is Rafa's tactic of pounding the BH with middle court loopy shots doesn't work vs Novak; he can feed on it's pace and redirect it with interests. And Novak can do this successfully all match long, contrary to the rest of the field.

So against Novak, Rafa's always forced to play closer to the service line or else be obliged to retrieve constantly Novak's laser-like shots, which saps his energy and legs over the 5 sets distance.

Since Rafa's been playing short balls all fortnight, he had to work extra hard each passing rd and the fatigue became too much to overcome once in the semis; this time, instead of raising his game like last year in the semis and final, he imploded and lost control of the match the further it went.

If he had straight shots that landed near the baseline instead of the mid court, he wouldn't be forced to retrieve like crazy each passing rd and he could conserve his energy for the later stages.

Rafa's still among the fittest players of the field; it's rather his tactics that have finally caught with him.
Maybe Nadal is still one of the fittest player, but far not as fit as he was in twenties i think.
 

beltsman

Legend
Lol this isn’t true at all. 50 winners. More than Rafa’s vaunted forehand produced. Djokovic was CLEARLY the more offensive player with more power than Rafa in this match. Come back to reality.
Not power. Using angles to open the court because Rafa's movement is so heavily declined.
 
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